Primrose Matheson is the co-founder of lifestyle brand Bedstraw & Madder. She’s on a mission to change fashion for good, creating knickers that are healthy for the wearer and the planet. She lives in Bridport, is a naturopath and is having a baby in October.
Congratulations on your pregnancy! How has it been so far?
Thank you. It has been surreal. That is the only word I can use for pregnancy! During the first three months I felt so sick I couldn’t understand why anyone in their right mind would do this more than once but when that disappears and your body very cleverly forgets it all felt good. Being pregnant has been great in that it has taught me to slow down more, prioritise the most important things in my life exercise more routinely and eat more consciously.
How has being a naturopath impacted your pregnancy?
It is empowering. It gives me the confidence and consciousness to use nutrition and lifestyle to try to create the best pregnancy, birth and post birth period for myself. Since becoming pregnant I have been studying more specifically about naturopathy in relation to pregnancy and managing any health niggles along the way naturally. It has been wonderful to be able to share that information with other pregnant ladies I have met along the way.
What exactly is a naturopath?
A Naturopath is a complimentary health practitioner that uses a range of therapies ranging from nutrition to herbs to homeopathy alongside lifestyle advice to support their patients.
Can you tell us a bit about your journey so far?
During my teens I suffered from glandular fever and ME and because my parents were quite holistic I explored all the complimentary health options I could for a few years to get better. This inspired me to train as a Naturopath straight after school and spend holidays working in health food stores around London. After college I worked for a couple of years in Guernsey as a homeopath. I then started an organic cereal business using fresh local produce called Primrose’s Kitchen - I ran it for 6 years in Dorset, growing it from my kitchen table! I am still involved with this business but became obsessed with natural plant dyes and felt that there was another piece of the jigsaw that needed filling….
You’re launching a brilliant new company called Bedstraw & Madder. I imagine that expecting a baby has made this even more of an important mission for you…has it?
Absolutely. The passion for me behind Bedstraw was about completing the last bit of the jigsaw. We have become so conscious of our diet and the pesticides in our food but our awareness of how our clothing is made is far behind. With our skin being the largest organ of our body, crucial for eliminating unwanted toxins, it is mad to me that we regularly wear up to 8,000 chemicals next to our skin all day everyday. We don’t understand the long term effects of this and it is something I am keen to raise awareness around. We are making knickers that I am so excited about wearing because by combining natural fibres with natural plant pigments they are the purest and most sustainable that they could possibly be.
What’s been particularly important for your health & well-being during pregnancy? Is there anything you’ve absolutely not been able to live without?
I can’t live without kefir every morning. Maintaining a healthy biome in your gut is crucial for a strong immune system for you and your baby. I already had a love affair with hemp but since being pregnant feel it has been crucial to help me maintain energy levels and healthy fats through pregnancy without purely returning to fish sources. I also rely on a herbal tea mix which I drink everyday of raspberry leaf, nettle, and cramp bark which whilst being important for minerals and iron, also tones important areas related to labour and prevents leg cramps at night.
Is there anything that has surprised you during your pregnancy?
The thing that continually surprises me is that being pregnant and becoming a mother for the first time feels like the biggest thing in the world and the idea of giving birth is quite daunting…yet women do it everyday and have done for thousands of years. So it is the most natural thing in the world. I think our culture has become very preoccupied with progress and what is new and that is seen as more exciting. Yet something as pretty incredible as bringing new life into the world has become such a norm and medically institutionalised so often that a lot of the magic and empowerment women can feel gets lost or isn’t respected.
What do most of us probably not know about, that you think we definitely should know about?!
Diet can play a huge part in an enjoyable pregnancy and birth journey. Dramatic changes in diet over the last 50 years in the Inuit community for example which saw them converting towards a more western processed food diet has meant many indigenous women have lost their heritage for an easy birth with changes to the shape of their hips. Certainly for me what I eat makes such a difference to my energy levels and as you get heavier that energy becomes more and more precious!
What are your favourite things in life generally!?
Walking on Dartmoor with my partner and our dogs. Having picnics. Wild swimming in the sea or rivers. Beachcombing and fossil hunting on the Jurassic coast. Foraging in the spring. Plant dyeing. Saunas followed by cold showers (when I wasn’t pregnant!). Dark chocolate and peanut butter. Bombay mix!
And finally (a big one to end on) what is the greatest challenge of our time?
Our biggest challenge is slowing down in a fast paced, technology driven world and looking to the past for wisdom rather than always thinking we have all the modern solutions. Reconnecting to ancient wisdom will help us reconnect to ourselves. I believe it is only through this conscious re-connection and giving time and discipline to understand our reactions, fears and passions we can engage honestly with others and make responsible choices to work together as a loving community with a desire for good. Our challenge is to realise our connection to all living things and understand the importance of protecting nature rather than destroying it if we are to grow ourselves. Looking past our own short term fear-driven needs and seeing how we can serve one another with love is crucial.
Anything else you would like to share?
I really believe regenerative agriculture can transform our world. Dealing with issues of global warming through carbon sequestration, water preservation and increasing diversity. A return to nutrient rich soil, providing food that is nutritious again and supporting community, keeping safe tradition and heritage for future generations.