Category Archives: Mothering

When Mothering Does not Come Naturally – One Mother’s Journey to More Instinctive Parenting

Before children my life was totally unrecognisable from the life that I lead today. I met my husband in Australia and we spent a large chunk of our first 6 years together travelling the world and climbing the career ladder.

When I was 28, I had a cervical cancer scare and the “broody” feelings finally bubbled through and we decided it was time to start our family. We were fortunate that it only took a couple of months before I took a pregnancy test and a blue line revealed to me that my life was about to change forever.

I had a perfect pregnancy and birth experience and my husband and I soon found out that this parenting lark would be the hardest work we’d ever encounter but the most rewarding. My only exposure to parenting methods was that with which I was programmed with through my own childhood and what my peer group were using. I dabbled with a bit of Gina Ford but soon found that the routine was far too strict for my lifestyle. I was one of those mums who spent her whole pregnancy declaring that “this baby was not going to change me, it would just have to fit in around our lives” and to be fair she did. She was a very sociable. I cringe now as remember my attempts to get her onto a 3 hourly breast feeding routine at 6 weeks old because that was what Gina recommended! No wonder she cried. It took a good friend to point out that if I fed her she’d probably stop screaming! I gave up breast feeding at 10 weeks as I wanted “me” back again, I felt sacrificed.

I adored my little girl and was a very proud mummy but looked forward to returning to work when she was 7 months old to restore my ego and fill my days with hitting targets rather than changing nappies. She was happy, I was happy, I worked full time but ensured that I put in some long days so that a few times a week I could be at home with her in the afternoons to spend some time being a quality mummy. By her 1st birthday she was blossoming into a beautiful toddler and I started yearning for a newborn baby again. One flippant comment to my husband about expanding our family and low and behold there was that unmistakeable nauseous feeling and I didn’t even need to do a test this time…. I just knew that another baby was on its way.

In preparation for the arrival of baby no 2, we blindly sleep trained our daughter, using controlled crying. Horrific at the time and one of my biggest regrets, making an uninformed decision without ever considering that I may be damaging my relationship and brain development of my child. Note to self; if it feels wrong, it is wrong!

Newborn - Baby boy

I sailed through my 2nd pregnancy again, a repeat performance from my last experience although this time a friend recommended I try HypnoBirthing as I’d been disappointed first time round to have quit my home birth dreams after hour 23 of labour at home with my daughter arriving 45 mins after getting blue lighted into hospital for no other reason than I lost my bottle.

This time round thanks to HypnoBirthing I had a quick, easy home water birth with hardly even breaking a sweat. Doors were opened in my mind due to my empowered experience. I started to believe in the mind and body connection and felt close to my 2nd daughter through the amount of time that I spent focussing on her, pre-birth. I trained to be a HypnoBirthing practitioner when she was 11 weeks old as I wanted to be able to share this knowledge with my local community. The more couples I taught coupled with the amazing feedback and positive birth experiences that were shared with me, the more and more I believed in the power of our minds. Freya was your typical HypnoBirthing baby, super well adjusted and super chilled. I couldn’t believe it when she only ever woke up in the night to feed and then went straight back off again. She was a little star. She made the transition into having a bigger family very easy as she wasn’t at all demanding. I could divide my time between the girls and give them both the attention they needed

So my maternity leave this time round was different. It wasn’t so easy to take two young children everywhere with you… My favourite pastimes of lunching, shopping & socialising were a distant memory and I spent a lot more time at home alone with the girls. My two girls were brimming with energy, ever so buoyant and cheerful but I felt pretty glum. I felt unfulfilled and undervalued. I missed my old life and its pay-packets.

This time going back to my full time work wasn’t a straight forward decision to make with two little ones. There was a lot of soul searching taken before I handed in my notice. Sobbing as I did so! I am a big believer in fate and honestly believe that that wasn’t the right choice for me at that time as a week later my boss was on the phone offering me a promotion. I was flattered and the pull of a monthly salary once again convinced me to go back. It was much tougher this time round, a new job role, much more responsibility and tons of travel with two demanding toddlers at home. I started to feel guilty about not being there for the girls as much as I’d like when that sicky feeling returned only 7 weeks after going back to work. It couldn’t possibly be what I thought it was. No way. But 7 days later… there was no denying that feeling. I was pregnant again!

Thankfully, I’d also been running HypnoBirthing lessons for many couples at weekends and evenings and was being pulled in a direction that I could never have predicted. I found the successes couples were having with the techniques and the fantastic feedback I received very rewarding. I felt like I was gaining momentum in raising awareness of HypnoBirthing and wondered if I could turn my hobby and passion into a part time business.

About half way through my pregnancy I became aware of BabyCalm and became a huge fan of Sarah’s blog. I was inspired by the information she presented and started to think very differently about my role as a parent. I loved the BabyCalm concepts which coupled with the Montessori education that I became exposed to via my girls preschool, I started to think differently and realise that this family wasn’t all about me and that by becoming more focussed on my children’s needs they could develop into their full potential. This was such news to me and I began to reassess what type of mother I was and wanted to be. This was such a change as I’d been very conscious of doing things “properly” with the girls. Setting strict boundaries and having strong discipline. I was so proud of my well behaved girls that everyone complimented me on their behaviour where ever we went obliviously to the perils of that “good” girl label making them eager to please whatever the cost.

And so my voyage of discovery continued and after my son’s birth I was a much more relaxed parent and started parenting the way that felt more instinctual to me much to my own mother’s disgust. My son breast feed to 18 months old, and has just chosen to leave mummy’s & daddy’s bed to sleep (mostly) in his own bed without any bribery.

I am far from perfect, and since training as a ToddlerCalm teacher I’ve realised how much more self-development I need to accomplish skills such as emotional intelligence and mindfulness so I can pass these valuable life skills down to my cherished tribe.

Being a mother is relentless. I do consider it to be an ongoing adventure with many highs and lows. I know that just doing what has been passed onto me isn’t enough. Simply loving, is a great foundation to start upon but there are many deeper life lessons I can expose my children to in the hope it will enable them to flourish into well rounded, contented, happy beings one day.

I’ve done things very differently with each of my children and I believe that has impacted upon their personalities. My eldest for example is still very needy at night time whereas the younger two settle and sleep really well.

Natural parenting didn’t come naturally to me, it’s an approach that has been drip fed to me via social media and many great books. When it is all backed up with all the science and brain benefits, it feels like the way forward for my unique family and I love sharing that wisdom & inspiration that BabyCalm &ToddlerCalm provides with new families.

By Naomi Newland

BabyCalm, ToddlerCalm and HypnoBirthing Teacher in Worthing, Sussex

For more insight, science and top tips for positive parenting. Sign up for Naomi’s free e-newsletter atwww.uflourish.co.uk

Campaigning for One to One Midwifery Care – Guest Post

Given the choice would any woman opt to have her baby in the presence of people she doesn’t know? Common sense and research would suggest not.

Yet of the 2000 women giving birth today, 1620 will not be attended at any point in their labour by a midwife they have met before.

Despite it being widely evidenced and widely acknowledged that having a known and trusted midwife with them through pregnancy, birth and beyond delivers the best outcomes for mothers, babies and their families (and can save the NHS money), our maternity service is delivering far from this kind of care for the vast majority of women.

This is failing women and their families, as well as midwives.  And it does not need to be this way.

 WHO ARE WE AND WHAT DO WE WANT?

A Midwife for Me and My Baby (http://www.m4m.org.uk) is a new campaign gathering momentum with support from a growing number of maternity related organisations. We’ve identified a shared goal – one that would deliver the woman-centred care that women want, need and deserve, and we’ve started to look at the solutions necessary to deliver it.  Our Manifesto is HERE.

We want every woman to have a midwife that she can get to know and trust, who can support her through pregnancy, birth and beyond, regardless of her circumstances or where her baby is to be born

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WHAT IS WRONG WITH THE CURRENT SYSTEM?

The current system is working against women and it is working against the midwives providing the care. Maternity care has evolved into its current shape not because the women using the service ask for it or because the midwives delivering the care want it, but because policy makers – government, have not created the environment in which a truly woman-centred system can be delivered. The system as is, drives care into hospital, out of the community, incentivises the wrong things and without enough midwives to cope with the rising birth rate, midwives are stretched and pressured to the max. No time to form relationships let alone provide continuity.

Provision of continuity also fails to grow because midwives providing this level of commitment are not paid to do so. In the NHS they receive the same level of remuneration as those working shift patterns. They are also often lacking the management support to provide continuity and are often expected (on top of their case load commitments) to provide cover when the acute unit is short staffed.

birthpic1

HOW COULD CHANGE BE DELIVERED?

With the advent of clinical commissioning every user of maternity services has an opportunity to have a real say about how local services should look. But the ability to shape and influence will continue to be limited just as it has been for years if the barriers that currently stand in the way of true continuity of care are not taken down.

The maternity landscape must change so that continuity of care is encouraged, incentivised and nurtured rather than fought against or not even considered a possibility. This is about breaking down barriers. Only once the barriers are removed can models of care that deliver true continuity and a known and trusted midwife for many more women, start to flourish.

The government must set the scene and the commissioning groups must honour their commitment to commissioning services that the service user wants.

Government

The government acknowledge the improved outcomes that a known and trusted midwife can deliver, yet has failed to create the environment in which this type of woman-centred care can flourish.  It needs to set the system up so that it incentivises the kind of care that delivers the best outcomes. This is about incentivisation rather than central direction, it is not dictatorial. It saves money long run. It incentivises better outcomes. It allows local contracting and negotiation.

  • Continuity should be incentivised, with midwives being paid per woman and savings made from improved outcomes being reinvested into remunerating those midwives working to deliver continuity
  • The midwife shortage should be urgently addressed
  • PBR should also be designed to ensure there is no incentive for intervention and does not disadvantage midwifery-only maternity providers.
  • Capital charges should be changed from a charge for the space to a charge for the person, so there is less incentive to pull all births into consultant units

Commissioners

Commissioners everywhere must commit to contract midwifery provision that delivers the best possible outcomes for women and their babies. This means woman-centred models, such as caseloading must be included in the mix of maternity care. Everywhere.

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WHAT CAN YOU DO?

First and foremost, please sign up to support the campaign at http://www.m4m.org.uk and like us on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/Midwife4Me

The success of this campaign rests largely on policy makers making changes to the maternity care system, so we need MPs to understand the issues women and midwives are facing. We’ve created a print -outable baby for you to send to your MP – You will find all you need here. http://www.m4m.org.uk/takeActionDeliver.php Please do let us know when you hear back from your MP via info@m4m.org.uk or via our FB page

You can also follow us on Twitter @Midwife4me. Please use the hashtag #m4m

And if you want any further information do please contact info@m4m.org.uk

By:

Vicky Garner (Founder, The Birth I Want) on behalf of A Midwife 4 Me

Does the UK Government Know Anything about the Needs of Children? A Guest Blog by Oliver James

Despite the posed pictures of her pushing a baby in a pram (I wonder if its hers?), Liz Truss, the minister for education and childcare, has made it abundantly clear that she knows bog all about small children.

Her starter for one was the proposal that ratios of minders and daycare to children should be increased. As Polly Toynbee amusingly pointed out, minders are supposed to take their charges out of the home once a day. Polly laid down a challenge to Truss: let’s see you take two babies and four under-threes out to the park.

cribs

Not satisfied with having put daycare nursery profits ahead of the needs of children, Truss then weighed in with a demand for our nurseries to be highly structured in their daily schedules. This would increase the educational value of the places (as is supposed to be the case in France, a country which has a negligent attitude to the needs of under-threes – mothers getting their figures back is put ahead of meeting the needs of neonates). Clearly, Truss has no idea that, for under-threes, play is the only really worthwhile activitiy. The words ‘structured’ and ‘play’ are as absurd when conjoined as the words ‘be spontaneous’. If an activity is structured externally, for a two year old, it ceases to be play.

Truss is a symptom of a much wider malaise. Very few, if any, of our present Ruling Elite have ever spent extended periods caring for under-threes. Speaking anecdotally, I would guess that very few of their partners have done so either – a high proportion of MPs or CEOs have partners who are also workaholic killer-drillers. They leave it to others to do the ‘boring’, ‘repetitive’ task of caring for small children. I have several times proposed that no MP should be admitted who has not spent at least one year looking after and under-three year old for at least one year. That would sort the negligent goats from the compassionate sheep.

What is more, as was so graphically illustrated by the recent documentary featuring Boris Johnson, a great many of the Ruling Elite were severely deprived of responsive, loving care in their early years. Small wonder then, that they have so little understanding of under-threes’ needs. In fact, they are allergic to meeting those needs. I would go further: they think ‘nobody loved me, why should under-threes get the care I was deprived of?’ Put bluntly, deep down, it gives the Ruling Elite pleasure to see under-threes being deprived of love and responsive care.

By Oliver James

Oliver James is the author of Love Bombing – Reset your child’s emotional thermostat

(Karnac Books).

Oliver will be speaking at the forthcoming International Parenting Conference to be held at Cambridge University on July 20th and 21st. For more information about the conference, or to book a ticket to hear Oliver speak, please click HERE.