BabyNatal Baby Boom!

So last year there was a Fifty Shades of Grey baby boom predicted, Im not sure about that, but certainly here at BabyNatal there has been a baby boom this year! So many of our teachers (I have honestly now lost count!) are expecting or have just welcomed little bundles themselves!

Something which is integral to our BabyNatal teacher training is about being able to reflect on our own personal decision making and what different factors have influenced the choices we made. Certainly being a teacher becoming a parent again is an interesting dimension, and with this in mind four of us sat down and had a think about what this meant for us this time around… Continue reading

How I learnt to trust my instincts…

I was 28 when I became a mum for the first time – I felt that I was ready, and I felt that I was in a good position to start my own family. But… I was also very aware of the fact that I knew very little about babies, and learning how to look after my own baby would be a steep learning curve. I imagined it’d be exciting, for sure, but also challenging, at first.

I generally felt like I needed someone to tell me what to do. I remember the very first time I felt like that (you’ll laugh at this). It was the very same morning my first son was born – he was only a few hours old, and I was over the moon and so excited! It felt amazing to finally meet him and have him here with us! My husband and I were just looking at him asleep in his little cot when my mum came to see us at the hospital and asked: “Have you changed his nappy?”. Me: “Ehm … am I allowed?”. Now, before you think I’m crazy, let me explain… I had read that hospital staff would want to check the colour of baby’s first poo to ensure that the meconium had come out, so I was half expecting that they would change his nappy! Well, of course, NOT the case! (You should have seen the look on my mum’s face by the way). Continue reading

Being a man talking about men on Radio 4 Woman’s Hour

I had the pleasure of being a guest on Woman’s Hour today (Tuesday 29th January 2013). The discussion was around Fatherhood at birth and in the early days, and we were considering some of the research which Tina Miller has recently highlighted in a piece for the Practicing Midwife.

The majority of Tina’s initial conclusions, I wholeheartedly agree with – and I am delighted that someone is once again bringing this subject to attention. She highlights the fact that expectations of men’s roles have not kept pace with support for them to fulfil these roles. She questions what needs to change in maternity practices in order to make sure that men are supported. She highlights some of the key issues around men also suffering birth trauma, but there being a lack of services designed for them to be able to debrief what they have experienced or get support after the birth.

Reading all of this makes me shout YES very loudly, as anyone who has been reading my blog, attended an event where I have spoken or come to one of my classes will know, these are key topics I feel passionately about.

The debate today was interesting though – to be honest I was expecting more agreement than  debate – but from the small amount of time which we had, what was clear was that there was A LOT up for discussion!

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The Christmas Dad

snowmanI was at the Royal College of Midwives Conference last week, discussing with midwives my work with DaddyNatal and how through midwifery practice we need to be empowering dads more. How do we do this, well firstly we need to empower fathers to know what to do at birth, but secondly we need to stop stereotyping them.

It is with absolute frustration that I then turn on the TV to be bombarded by Christmas adverts which in the main, depict dad as stereotypically a bit useless, either doing nothing, or sitting in the corner while mum sorts everything out. ASDA, Morrisons, Very – these are just a few of the companies who have gone down this stereotype this year. In fact, one of the few adverts which seems to suggest us men are not all entirely useless, is the John Lewis advert – but then of course ‘he’ is a snowman. Continue reading

Enabling our children to be all that they can be

I talk and teach a lot about empowerment of parents. Empowering them to understand their choices through pregnancy, labour, birth and beyond.

Something which sits alongside that though, is about the children themselves, and THEIR empowerment.

How can we empower our children? How can we give them the opportunity to become everything they can be? Continue reading

What are your values?

This week has been one of those weeks where I have spent a lot of time considering values. My personal values, our organisation’s values, the values of others around me.

This weekend I will be welcoming a new intake of 10 BabyNatal trainee teachers from around the country. We always open our training weekends considering our personal values and how they fit with an empowering approach. All teachers who hold a Natal licence have been through a process of learning reflective practice in order to ensure that they are mindful about what and how they teach.

Why is this important? The core values throughout The Natal Family are about empowerment. In order to empower, one must be non-judgemental and unbiased. However, judgement and bias is part of human nature, and we must first be aware of it, in order to manage it. Natal classes aim to present options to parents in an empowering way, and it is this which differentiates us from a lot of education which does exist, teaching specific methods or approaches. Continue reading

Fathers Day – The Real Story

I have recently been involved in a research program by Laura King who tweets @fathersatbirth , the program has been called “from hiding in the pub to cutting the chord” looking at fathers and their roles, this culminated for me in a performance at Warwick Arts Centre and being a member of the discussion panel after.

This led me to reconsider some of what I believed to be the changing roles in fathers over the ages.  I think for me the conclusion I have come to, is fathers have always been quite involved in their childrens upbringing, maybe the way they have done this has changed, but their basic desire has always been that of a father.

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So what is a Babymoon and what comes next?

I have written before about the first days after becoming parents – notably in my piece Life with a newborn (those first few days), but  thanks to @chellemccann and a discussion we had on twitter, I thought Id write a post about BabyMoons, AND what happens when it’s all over…

The term Babymoon was first coined by Sheila Kitzinger in her book The Year After Childbirth when she said “The transition to fatherhood is easier when a man can take time off to be with his partner and baby in what I call a ‘Babymoon’.” The term has, unfortunately, since been hijacked by the travel industry to refer to a holiday for the couple before the baby is born.

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Breastfeeding Dads!

Breastfeeding might be a relationship between a mum and her baby, but did you know that Dads have an influence on breastfeeding relationships too?

Yes, that’s right, dads. They are a crucial element to successful establishment and continuation. Again, those same dads, without adequate support to take a positive role, can also be the reason for failure to establish and all this is being ignored.

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Should Men Be at Birth?

I was asked to write a piece on this subject by a fellow birth professional and midwife. Why I haven’t written it before I dont know, it is something I feel very passionately about.

Michel Odent was famously reported as saying men shouldn’t be at the birth, he even went as far as to blame them for the increase in Cesarean rates. At the time I was incensed by his comments. It was at the time when I was coming to the end of my training and was really passionate about supporting families, but especially in supporting men to prepare for their journey to fatherhood. I used the reflective practice I had learnt through my studies to really look at his comments and my reaction to them.

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