Maternity Consultant

T’was the Night Before Christmas, when all through the house …

Posted by on Dec 24, 2015 in Maternity Consultant | 0 comments

T’was the Night Before Christmas, when all through the house, Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse. The stockings were hung by the chimney with care, In hopes that St Nicholas soon would be there.   I can recite the whole book, well almost, word for word, and the pictures still make me feel a calm and a peace I cannot describe. Over the next few days, hundreds of families will be hunkering down for the Christmas break.  For many it will be a scaled up version of Whacky Races, driving around the country with the car groaning under the weight of gifts to give or gifts received, visiting friends and relatives, spending hours sitting in traffic only to be gleefully handed yet another mince pie or sausage roll on arrival at their destination – and having to muster up the rictus smile as you not-quite-so-gleefully polish it off before being ushered in to the twinkly grotto that was once their sitting room. Love it or hate it – it’s here and it’s here to stay, and thank God for that.  I love the smell of the real tree that I insist we buy, and cover at least 30 miles to identify as MY tree.  My poor husband has to suffer this every year we spend at home for Christmas, driving me miles from pile to pile of miserable trees, wincing as I make the nice man undo the netting again, shaking it out as I prowl around it rather like a sergeant major inspecting his troops, and with an equally critical and dissatisfied face.  “Nope, that’s not my tree”,  I say and, after two or three further scrawny or deformed specimens stand shuddering in front of me, I will jump back into the car and onwards to the next unsuspecting victim until I end up with the tree that calls to me, and the tree that ultimately is just the right one for this year. Some people visit relatives, I visit trees!  I love it. But more than this, I love the memories that my parents left me of all our Christmas Pasts.  I remember hand-bell ringers coming to our home in Somerset when I was barely a toddler; I remember carollers coming to the door to sing their little socks off in the infamous snowfall of 1962-63, when we were snowed in for days and the whole of the Mendips were covered with snow so deep that you couldn’t tell field from hedge, nor hedge from road.  I remember the 12ft snowman I built with my father on the lawn.  I remember Jack Frost on the inside of my bedroom windows the smell of the long, slow smoulder coming from peat slabs in the huge fireplaces in the dining and sitting rooms. I spent my first few baby/toddler years in Somerset but I grew up in Cornwall and we were lucky enough to have hundreds of huge pine trees on our land.  We were able to organise the annual ascent to lop off a suitable candidate year on year, dragging it homewards for the laying out of the (inevitable) non-functioning tree lights and the excitement of dragging the huge metal trunk, bursting at the seams with three generations’ worth of fragile and whisper-thin baubles, bells, icicles and figurines all made of glass.  My mother would put Kings College Cambridge Choir on on the Radio in the kitchen and ban us from coming in for at least four hours, leaving my gently simmering father to keep us entertained with the dressing of the tree whilst she...

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A letter from a Father – at Christmas.

Posted by on Dec 14, 2015 in babble, Maternity Consultant | 0 comments

Hello Babble Readers: This lovely review was sent to me prior to a father wanting to post it on various mummy websites.  I asked if I could share it on my own website.  He said he’d be delighted if I did: “Let me start by saying this – I don’t regularly write posts (this is my first) and I’ve not been asked or paid to write this post. It will seem that way…but it’s not. Hattie isn’t a family member, and nor is she a friend. She is however, someone who I’m now very fond of – you get that way when lovely people make miraculous things happen. We first met Hattie nearly two years ago. We were recommended her by Kathryn Mewes (the three day nanny) as we were looking for someone to help get our 10 week old son to sleep. We couldn’t put him down without him crying. We’d not had a problem with our daughter when she was a baby, but it was a different story for our 2nd and we admitted we needed the help. Having him sleep in our arms was nice – but tiring and limiting. So Hattie arrived. We were dubious about whether she could make a difference in the 5 hours we had booked her for. I mean – how could she? We’d tried everything. Magic dust. That’s the answer. I’m convinced. I mean, Hattie did talk to us about our son’s daily routine, and she did give my wife some top tips to bear in mind when breastfeeding him. She also helped us to spot signs when he was getting tired so we knew when he should be put in his cot. She gave us a huge jolt of confidence too – that we were doing the right things and that our experience was quite common etc. Then, at some stage, without us seeing, she must have sprinkled a load of magic dust on our son’s head and for the first time he slept on his own, in his cot. That night, after she had left, we gingerly followed the same routine. The result? He slept….so long we had to wake him for his next feed. We had the whole evening to ourselves to cook, chat and eat. From that day, he has been a brilliant sleeper. No trouble. No fuss. No tears. Just an absolute delight. For the last two years. Genuinely, an incredible result. So it was an obvious decision to ask Hattie to come back when our 3rd child was 10 weeks old. The result? The same. Well – nearly. Baby number 3 is a bit more fussy and less chilled than our second. So he needed a couple more days to get used to the routine but he quickly picked it up and now sleeps well during the day and at night. Why did I bother writing this post? Well I know how much I debated whether we could afford to pay for Hattie and whether she would really make a difference. So I know what other parents will be thinking. My experience of using her twice? Do it. Book her up. You will not regret it. She is very experienced and knowledgeable, and she gets results. Not only that, she is a genuinely lovely person. (She also does as amazing impression of crying babies!). The benefit we have from three children sleeping from 7pm far far far outweighs Hattie’s costs. It is the best decision a tired parent can make! I would happily chat to anyone should they wish to get in touch.”  ...

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A sneeze became a sniffle, and the sniffle became a snuffle!

Posted by on Dec 10, 2015 in babble, Maternity Consultant | 0 comments

Sneezes! Once a Wish, Twice a Kiss, Three you’ll never grow old, Four for a letter, Five something better and Six you’ll never grow old!   It’s definitely winter now.  I brushed my teeth last night and the rinse water from the tap made me wince it was so cold; at the weekend my husband, smitten with the same bug I had last week but (natch) 10x worse than mine, weakly requested a Green & Blacks Hot Chocolate, as clearly that was the only thing that would save him, as he huddled on the sofa in front of a roaring fire; I had a strange urge to start making jams, chutneys and temptingly dark, gravy laden casseroles.  Yes, it’s definitely November and double definitely the onset of winter! Now, much as I love kicking my way through the last piles of autumn leaves, smelling the vestiges of cordite from the November fireworks drifting away on the damp air, I do dread the arrival of the latest feast of bugs, viruses and infections with my little charges. As we snuggle down into that lull between Halloween/Guy Fawkes Night & the first ghastly rendition of Noddy Holder shouting Merry CHRISTMAAAAAAS from the doorway of every high street shop, our tube trains, buses and shop door handles are generously transporting a veritable smorgasbord of nasties to pass backwards and forwards within the populus of London over the coming weeks. In my experience, a baby with a cold can be one of two things: completely “unbovvered” yet streaming steadily, rather like a chocolate fountain at a wedding reception, or completely without external drainage symptoms yet hot, miserable, inconsolable and very, very “bovvered” indeed. It is distressing for a new mother to watch her little, unsullied new arrival rallying against their first invasion of the dreaded winter cold virus, but it is worth remembering that each cold, each interloper to their systems, will help to strengthen their immunity for next time round. Very young babies, of course, cannot be treated with the vast array of cold remedies that the drugs companies relentlessly peddle to gullible adults, but they will have an army of anti-bodies in place both from their time in the womb and possibly further enhanced if you were able to breast feed for any amount of time.  Remember, our bodies are amazing and have taken millions and millions of years to evolve into the fascinating and complex beings that we have become, but babies under 3 months of age need to be checked when they are poorly, so a quick visit to the GP is a good idea and will help to reassure you that, apart from being snotty and grizzly, all is well. Babies cannot blow their noses or sniff, so they resort to frequent (and usually very generously shared) sneezing bouts.  As messy as this becomes, it is their only way of getting shot of the gunk.  If their are particularly bunged up and you can visibly see a bit of a dried up blockage (just as well I’ve eaten before going into this much detail!), you can use a nasal aspirator to suck out any obstruction which may help your baby breathe more easily. A properly supervised and safe steamer in the baby’s bedroom, a nice warm bath in a steamy bathroom at bedtime and keeping them away from drafts will all help to keep the worst of the symptoms at bay. Saline drops can help to clear the way if bunged up and a dab of Vaseline under their noses if they are streaming will help to avoid...

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My journey with The Three Day Nanny

Posted by on Nov 16, 2015 in babble, Maternity Consultant | 0 comments

I recently had the privilege of working with Kathryn Mewes, The Three Day Nanny.  I have known Kathryn for a number of years both professionally and as a friend, so I was delighted when she announced earlier this year that she was expecting a baby and flattered when, early on in the pregnancy, she asked me to help her settle into her new role as a mum and guide her through those first bumpy weeks. I have to say, it was a little daunting for me.  Kathryn is well known for her Three Day Nanny Book and TV series on Channel 4, one series which has just finished its run and an earlier one aired some two years ago.  I wondered whether working with someone who is a personal friend would be a wise thing on which to embark! Whilst I am very confident in what I do and have vast experience of working with tinies in and around London, I wondered how it was going to pan out – telling the Three Day Nanny what to do and trying to get her to let go of the control for a few weeks , whilst helping her get to grips with the unpredictable and completely “out of control” feeling that a new baby hurls at many new parents. Kathryn, very sensibly, had decided to have her own lovely mum move in with her immediately after the birth.  I always feel that this is a very special time for mother and daughter to spend together; precious moments that never come around again.  A time too short but definitely a period where many new mothers feel slightly shell shocked, often sore and exhausted and certainly not wanting their home frequented by well meaning friends, eager to meet the new arrival.  It is a transitional stage where a new mum is catapulted into her role with no training, no experience and not knowing what to expect.  At least having her own mum by her side, Kathryn was able to recover, rest and allow herself to be cared for  during her recovery from, what turned out to be, a very difficult and prolonged birth experience. I joined Kathryn at her home after a couple of weeks and met my new charge.  Little Harriet – a twinkly eyed, petite and gorgeous little girl peeped out from her cot to greet me. Kathryn was interviewed by The Sun, in the early weeks, for another published article and also twice on Breakfast TV – once just before Harriet was born and again with Harriet as the star of the show.  On both occasions, Kathryn was very open and honest about her experiences.  This is often not the case and many mums feel they must gloss over their birthing experience or their first few weeks as a parent.  If their birthing experience was bad, if they did not bond immediately with their new baby, if they felt breast feeding should be as easy as falling off a log , they frequently feel huge waves of guilt, immense pressure to “succeed” in everything they do and this can lead to a loss of confidence, self doubt and feelings of failing their babies. In my role, I am not there just to help mothers implement routines, teach good sleep habits or take over with a new babe, but to boost that confidence, get them back on the log and then coax, cajole, giggle, reassure and coach that mum through the maze of conflicting advice, the exhaustion, the sleep deprivation, the loss of control and, once she is able to...

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Growth Spurts

Posted by on Nov 14, 2014 in babble, Maternity Consultant | 0 comments

  From the minute they are born, babies are constantly growing and developing in front of your eyes.  Many of their developmental leaps take place in fairly predictable chunks and you may find that these changes happen without your being aware of them. For the first few weeks, first time parents are frequently lost in a new and confusing fog of the unfamiliar lack of sleep, endless advice and opinions from others and hugely variable “factoids” from questionable websites.  However, babies experience growth spurts at approximately 3 weekly intervals and during the first fraught weeks those little developments can be missed if you blink. The first growth spurt happens at around 3 weeks from the baby’s due date.  The 2nd is at around 6 weeks, then 9 weeks, then 12 weeks and so on.  When your baby seems to be feeding and sleeping (or shouting) on a day-to-day basis, it can be hard to recognise exactly what is going on on the inside, so this little babble might help you better understand the changes that your little one is experiencing. Typically, a breast-fed newborn will feed approximately every 3-4 hours and settle well to sleep with a nice full tummy shortly afterwards.  Just as you feel you are seeing a pattern in the chaos, your baby will throw you a curve ball and begin demanding food as frequently as every 1-2 hours.  By feeding more frequently the actual growth spurt (which usually comes a few days after this change in feeding behaviour) will have all the fuel it needs.  Once his demand is met, he will then get on with the important job of developing his next stage, be that perception, muscular or digestive development. During these growth spurts, your baby may rapidly gain weight or lengthen in a very short time.  Coupled with this, physiological changes occur in your baby’s brain which may result in him being unusually fussy, sleepy, short-tempered or clingy.  You may find that the baby-grow that seemed to swamp him just last week is now stretched to capacity with his little toes curling into the feet of the outfit and you have to stretch vests to get the poppers in the crotch to meet.  Thighs start to chub up, the prominent belly button is now receding as that little tum fattens up around it and the orange-shaped face is now lengthening and the back of his head is starting to change shape to accommodate the increase in the size of his clever little brain. Week 3+: Those little eyes which may have looked rather swollen (think Rocky!) from birth begin to blink open more often, looking through a fuzzy veil at the world around him.  His tolerance for a little kick-about on his play mat is increased to more than a few minutes.  This is a good moment to start introducing a little tummy-time, using favourite toys or a mirror strategically placed to keep his attention. Week 6+: Your baby will start to “map” your face, gazing intently at your features and starting to mimic your facial expressions.  He may stare at simple patterns around him so place some black and white patterned books next to him on his play mat, introduce more brightly coloured toys and walk around the house with him showing him pictures on the wall.  Any day now you should start to get your first “true smiles”. Week 9+: Nappy/clothes changing time become much more challenging now.  They start to twist and reach out for items on the changing mat (rather like dressing an octopus!), their hand/eye co-ordination starts maturing...

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Let Me Entertain You!

Posted by on Oct 14, 2014 in babble, Maternity Consultant | 0 comments

Autumn has well and truly arrived and the opportunities for lolling around on a blanket in the park or enjoying a cappuccino beside the Thames are becoming a distant memory.  With winter around the corner, the time spent outdoors with a newbie becomes less appealing and cabin fever looms. Many of my first-time mums ask me about how and when to start getting out to some fun classes to entertain their new babies.  My answer is usually it’s better to wait until baby is about 6 weeks old or more.  Whilst a newborn baby will enjoy interacting with you for short periods at home, they may find a room full of new faces/music rather overwhelming until they are more able to cope. I am acutely aware that it can seem frustrating to be at home for weeks with a new baby, but you can provide your own entertainment by taking them for a nice walk in the buggy with the hood down during their awake time and create your own gentle colourful games at home for a while. Babies love to look around at the lovely autumnal colours of the trees above them, the swaying branches on a blustery day or simply the bright colours of items on the shelves in toy shops or department stores.  At home, you can tie a couple of brightly coloured ribbons on a length of bamboo, or make some glittery pom-poms (fancy dress shops are great for this kind of thing) and leap around the room like an Olympic Event Cheerleader as baby gives you marks out of ten.  Strictly Come Dancing, eat your heart out!   Use empty containers and fill them with objects (like those pictured above) such as little bells, pom-poms, pasta and buttons and show them to your baby as they sit in their bouncy chair or snuggle up beside them on the bed. Once your babies reaches 6 weeks, they will be more receptive to new sensations, sights and smells.  They will have thundered through their 2nd growth spurt and over the next week or two you may see they are starting to “map” your face when gazing at you, their inquisitive little eyes flicking from your eyebrows to your nose, your mouth to your eyes and back again.  If you start to pull faces, poke out your tongue or make cooing noises, you may start to notice your baby trying to copy you.  It is an enchanting time, and the very beginnings of a basic form of communication. As newborn babies cannot really cope with being awake and happy for more than about 1.5-2 hours at a stretch, it can seem daunting to try to calculate how to get to a class on time.  This is partly why I encourage mums to wait a while until the baby can feed well in a shorter time and cope with staying awake for 30-45 minutes at a stretch. Once your babies are more comfortable in their own surroundings and showing a regular interest in patterns, light & shade, music and interaction with you – then is the time to seek out the baby-friendly activities in your area. You’d better brush up on the words of “Wheels on the Bus”, “If you’re happy and you know it” and the “Hello Song” before you head out though!...

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