IIMHCO’s passionate volunteers come from all over the globe and are united by their shared values and vision for an integrative model of healthcare that empowers women with informed choice from conception through pregnancy, while birthing and postnatally.
Kathy FrayPresident & Founding Director
Mother of three adults, Kathy Fray has been a global thought-leader on holistic maternal health since the early 2000s, and in fact was the first to coin the terms “integrative maternity healthcare” and aka “perinatal integrative medicine” – before then this sub-category specialty of general integrative medicine had no name.
Kathy is a senior Midwife trained in New Zealand (a country renowned as having the best maternity healthcare system on the planet), and worked as a case-loading 24-7 on-call self-employed Midwife for most of her full-time career, along with also being a Research Midwife at Auckland University. Over the years Kathy has managed the care of hundreds of primary-care Birth-Centre labors and Home-Births – as well as working with many medically-complicated women requiring complex obstetric hospital care.
Kathy is a prolific maternity writer and author of four books, including “OH BABY…Birth, Babies & Motherhood Uncensored” that has been her country’s #1 best-selling childbirth/mothering guidebook since 2005; and more recently authoring the cutting-edge “OH MAMA: Perinatal Integrative Healthcare” Birth Practitioner guide to holistic maternal/neonatal wellness.
These days Kathy’s midwifery passion is expanding quality maternity education globally via multiple activities and projects, particularly including MothersWise.com and IIMHCO.
Outside of her maternity work, Kathy’s ‘happy place’ is sitting on their coastal deck sipping a good wine with great friends.
Julie CottleVice President and CEO
Julie Cottle is an experienced and compassionate Naturopath and International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) who has been working with mothers and their babies for more than 20 years.
With both clinical and academic interests in postnatal wellness and lactation management, Julie provides an individualized and integrative approach to postnatal healthcare that aims to help new mothers thrive.
Julia BartropHead of Education and Outreach
Dr Julia Bartrop is a mum of two, and Acupuncturist & Chinese herbal Medicine Practitioner.
Julia’s main area of interest is in women’s health, pre-conception and fertility, pregnancy, birth preparation & postnatal care.
Prior to studying Chinese Medicine, Julia worked as a Medical Scientist, so today she is able to utilize her knowledge of both western and eastern science to develop a holistic treatment for everyone.
After surviving a car accident at the age of 19, Julia was drawn to Chinese Medicine through her own experience and now uses her knowledge to gently guide others.
Freya MahalCommunications & PR Director
Freya Mahal, a wife & mum of two, is a no-nonsense British midwife! She qualified in 2005 and set up Expecting in 2010, private antenatal courses and hypnobirthing classes (along with her husband Jake) both online & in person. Freya has journeyed with hundreds of families through ‘Expecting’ and beyond. She’s passionate about realistic antenatal education and has seen first-hand how it makes a difference. This, combined with her love for all things natural, inspires many of her clients. Freya considers being a midwife & a mum a privilege and loved birthing her own kids at home.
Within the NHS Freya practises part-time clinically and has also worked within ‘practice development’, delivering teaching to midwives & lectured student midwives at her local university.
Freya’s passion for midwifery does not just lie in the UK. In 2005 she spent nearly a month in Uganda working with midwives, with a charity called International Needs. She returned twice and has then gone on to support pregnant women on trips to Indonesia, the Philippines & Albania.
As well as being ‘with woman’, Freya loves a decent cup of coffee or gin with friends, being outdoors (with her dog Bear), working out, yoga, growing veg & camping!
Angela JonesHead of Admin & Memberships
Angela is our head administrator who provides invaluable behind-the-scenes crossing of “t”s and dotting of “i”s for keeping the cogs running smoothly within IIMHCO’s operational processes.
Jake MahalMedia Manager
Jake is husband to Freya, step dad to two little humans, a dog (confusingly, called bear), and a flock of chickens.
Jake is a health coach and permaculturist running Whole Life Health – coaching & empowering families to effectively steward their own health and that of the planet. Jake is passionate about seeing families live life well together and helping them unlock their identity as ‘powerful beings’ who can make a difference, starting locally with themselves but lasting, globally, for generations.
Over the years, Jake has worked extensively overseas (particularly in South-East Asia) partnering with local communities to help them develop ways of improving their health and life-outcomes. More often than not Jake has taken teams with him consisting of families and all ages; broadening their global understanding and challenging them act more intentionally in their own locality; bearing in mind the global significance of their local acts.
Jake loves the outdoors and all things natural – firmly believing that living in right relationship with other humans as well as animals and the planet its self is the key to health. Jake geeks out on organic food production, food foresting, sustainable design, essential oils & functional fitness. Jake enjoys pushing boundaries and modeling to others that their limitations are way beyond what they initially think – this is partly done through running NIKO courses which push people physically, mentally and spiritually.
When not doing the above, Jake loves a good coffee, wine, chocolate and monkeying around in one way or another!
Our Back Story
In 2013 a self-employed case-loading New Zealand midwife, Kathy Fray, applied to skincare giant Bio-Oil for a grant to create a first symposium for professionals from across all aspects of maternity health. Kathy had always felt an enormous need for better integration of Maternity Health knowledge and communication between the allopathic mainstream medical disease-care system, and the naturopathic holistic traditional wellness-care modalities. For those unaware, New Zealand has the international reputation as providing the best Maternity Healthcare system on the planet, led by holistic midwifery care, and supported by cutting-edge obstetric medicine. So, it is of no surprise the interchangeable terms Integrative Maternity HealthCare and Perinatal Integrative Medicine were first coined by this kiwi midwife.
In May 2015, called SOMCANZ [Symposium of Maternity Carers Australia & NZ], this world’s first new-millennium inaugural international conference was held in Auckland New Zealand. Sponsorship sold out, wonderful numbers of delegates registered, major international speakers attended including the midwifery goddess Elizabeth Davis, and the world-renown maternity anthropologist Prof Robbie Davis-Floyd. The plenary keynote speakers were phenomenal. The concurrent break-out speakers were fascinating. It was without any doubt, an enormous undertaking and an enormous success. Feedback on the day was off the charts!.
In April 2016 SOMCANZ trialled a professional alignment with AIMA (Australasian Integrative Medicine Assoc) to feature a few maternity-related speakers at their annual conference in Auckland. And a new collegial relationship was successfully formed.
In April 2017 the first truly amalgamated joint AIMA-SOMCANZ conference was held, again in Auckland, NZ. And although it was an absolute privilege, on both that year and the previous year, to work alongside our esteemed general medical colleagues, it became obvious the Maternity aspect of Integrative Medicine requires its own dedicated regular global summits.
With the growing worldwide women-led demand for better access to ‘wholistic’ healthcare, by 2018 the writing was clearly on the wall: SOMCANZ was re-named IIMHCO [International Integrative Maternity HealthCare Organization], and so began its role as global thought-leaders influencing the progression of holistic maternal/fetal/neonatal wellness, and plans began for a second dedicated global summit in late 2019.
However, by mid-2019, it became increasingly evident that the public – the Women themselves as potential consumers of maternity integrative healthcare – also wanted direct access to learning the latest from the world’s leading perinatal wellness specialist experts. So, the decision was made to postpone and reformat the 2019 conference into a health professional & consumer expo called the Maternity Natural Health Symposium, on Sunday 22nd March 2020, with clinician workshops for Health Professionals to be held on Monday 23rd March.
Five days out, with enormous disappointment, this pioneering event was postponed due to COVID-19. The dedicated volunteer team at IIMHCO found ways to adapt and evolve to meet the world’s new needs and successfully hosted the Symposium in a new virtual format. Today our international team are continuing to grow and evolve IIMHCO, including accumulating a vast webinar library of interviews with maternity natural health specialists from all over the world; the publishing of Kathy’s latest book “OH MAMA: Perinatal Integrative Healthcare” being the IIMHCO-endorsed overview guide for Birth Practitioners; the beginnings of creating IIMHCO online training workshops on perinatal integrative medicine; plus many other expansive projects and proactive alliances.