At every opportunity, you will hear me talking about The Natal Family, our amazing programmes, inspiring values and dedicated practitioners. I am so passionate about our work, our ethics, our vision, and how our approach of empowerment really is quite unique!
The Natal Family has grown quite organically, starting in the grass roots 9 years ago, with myself and my husband Dean working as practitioners directly with expectant and new parents, devising and teaching the programmes that we now offer around the UK.
Our starting point was a vision of high quality antenatal & postnatal education, underpinned by the ethics of empowerment, and since then, we have grown into an organisation I am very proud to be a part of.
Family is the heart of everything we do, which is why it’s right there in our name. If you literally consider our name, with ‘natal’ meaning ‘birth’ – The Natal Family is about the birth of a family.
And in line with our core ethics, the Natal Family supports the birth of each unique family, and the journey undertaken to get there.
Whether it is a first baby or tenth new addition, as the family created by the arrival of a new member, is always new.
Whether a baby is birthed or adopted.
Whether it is a single parent family, a same sex family, a blended family.
Whether it is a family unit which also includes other relatives or important individuals, such as siblings, grandparents or friends.
Whether the family member we work with is a mother or a father. We value mothers and fathers equally, recognising their differences, the strength of those differences, and the choices and potential which they both have.
Whatever the race, religion, beliefs or background of the family.
Everything we do begins with family. We have frequently worked with parents who have been refused access to antenatal education elsewhere, because they don’t fit the ‘conventional’ image of family, perhaps because they are adopting, or are going to be parenting alone. But true empowerment does not exclude or label, and our ethics mean that we believe that every family, and each family member, deserves the opportunity to learn and gain support and without judgement.
Our name – The Natal Family – also reflects our carefully designed offering of a holistic family of programmes and support.
Our trio of programmes – BabyNatal, MummyNatal and DaddyNatal – allow individuals and families, to choose what learning or support they feel is appropriate to their individual circumstances, and wish to access. Our ethics of empowerment extend not just to what we teach, but also how we are structured, offering choice in how parents choose to work with us!
Whether a parent wants to attend a course on their own, whether they want to attend something with their partner, whether they want to learn about birth or baby, whether they want to attend something before or after they have had a baby… our courses are as individual as their wishes, and we offer opportunities for them to choose any, or all, of these options.
Families can choose to attend a comprehensive course, such as ‘Caring for your Newborn’ or ‘Preparing for Parenthood’, as we know some parents like to have the option to choose ‘everything!’ However, we don’t just offer a ‘one size fits all’ antenatal course…
We also essentially offer parents the chance to build their own bespoke plan of learning, which is as unique as themselves, their pregnancy, their birth and their baby. Some may choose to attend BabyNatal Practical Baby Care Workshop, perhaps because they are birthing by Cesarean, or are adopting a baby, and want to focus on that aspect of their antenatal education. Others may choose to attend a MummyNatal or DaddyNatal course, because they want to specifically on learning skills and exploring choices for their birthing experience.
Furthermore, our education is available in a variety of formats to suit the differing needs of those seeking it – through group classes, classes run privately in the parents’ own home, classes run online, or through reading one of our Natal books.
Finally, our trio of programmes cater for the whole family. Mothers and fathers can both equally access antenatal education, we don’t assume that men are just not interested, or are not also an incredibly important part of birth and family life. Many of our courses are also accessible for other important family members to attend, we have had grandparents, sisters and older siblings present in classes too – we will always find a way to work to support your individual family.
Becoming a member of the family
Of course, there is one final element behind the meaning of The Natal Family name. And it is an absolutely crucial one – how our name also refers to our family of practitioners.
It is our amazing practitioners that provide this empowering, high quality education and support to expectant and new parents around the UK. They are an incredible group of people who believe strongly in our ethos of empowerment, who are passionate about supporting other parents to have access to our unbiased and non-judgmental education, which is focused on individual choices rather than directive, ‘do it like this’ education. Our practitioners not only undertake rigorous training and assessment, but also make a commitment to our stringent core values above any personal beliefs they may hold, to ensure that the support we collectively offer upholds our mission of empowerment throughout.
Although Natal practitioners work individually, they are always there to offer support to each other too, sharing knowledge and experience. They are a really great group of people to know, and together we make for a very special family, from whom we all mutually learn and share.
So that’s the story behind our name – The Natal Family reflects our ethics, our mission, our classes and our practitioners. Empowerment is not a buzz word here, and the empowerment of the many unique families that we work with, is where it all begins.
Steph Beaumont is co-founder of The Natal Family, and co-author of The His and Hers Guide to Pregnancy and Birth.