Posts by hattie

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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Vive La Difference!

Posted by on Dec 14, 2014 in babble | 0 comments

Recently, whilst my husband was out for the evening smashing a little ball around a squash court, I snuggled down in front of my log fire for a bit of what might be described as a “busman’s holiday” evening.  For months I have had a documentary saved on my Watchlist called, simply, “Babies”.  My husband being about as interested in this as he would be with catch-ups of Downton Abbey, I decided to wait until he was out for a suitable amount of time so that I could enjoy it without the inevitable verbal interjections  from someone who would rather be watching Conan the Barbarian or the Star Trek boxed set!   Four babies named Hattie (good choice!), Bayer, Mari & Ponijao are filmed from birth until they are a year old.  They grow up in very different environments, namely San Francisco, Mongolia, Tokyo and Namibia. It was a fascinating insight into how, despite all the perceived Health & Safety issues which most parents spend every waking moment fretting about, each of these babies grow, roll, crawl, learn, topple, bump, cry, explore, laugh and … eventually … stand on their own two feet.  Literally!   Concerns about swaddling (should we or shouldn’t we?) hit the hysterical forums on a regular basis in the UK, yet in Mongolia (where, let’s face it, it is pretty chilly) it is commonplace.  Sophie the giraffe, reputedly the best-selling teething toy of all time, is replace in Namibia by a discarded and meatless sun-baked bone which is picked up from the ground and chomped on, whilst another baby lies on a colourful throw on a bed as the family cockerel wanders past, inches from the transfixed baby’s face.  Feathers are fluffed, clucks are clucked and the baby is fascinated, not scared.  Another wanders around outside the Yurt without a stitch on, sitting and patting two bored, dozing goats before clambering over them to his next adventure.   The documentary goes on to show a bigger brother (possibly 2.5-3 years old) antagonising his little baby brother by repeatedly flapping a cloth across his face resulting in short but heartfelt objections from the baby.  The tormentors are not reprimanded constantly and the baby seems to make his feelings understood by having a shout!   The film moves gently and fluidly through the evolution of each child, ending in the crescendo that is equally the pride and the sorrow of every parent I know … baby’s first steps.  Pride in the achievement: the leap, the effort that it has taken to learn; the sorrow as they recognise that their little one, once attached by their earth chains to the floor until this momentous point, is now growing up and off to discover their new world.   I found it immensely moving and reassuring.  Beautifully and simply it shows that, despite all the gizmos and gadgets of the modern world,  for all the fussing and analysing, for all the “by XX weeks/months your baby should be doing” hype, they all get there in the end.  There is no rush, no schedule, no expectation that one baby will walk before the other.   In my job, I am often lucky enough to revisit some of the babies (and their lovely mums) months or even years after I have left them.  I keep in touch with my ex-clients through a little on-line group so I get the news flashes about the first smiles, first roll-overs, first crawls and first words.  I recently worked with twins for 7 months (from 4 weeks of age).  One of them rolled over for the...

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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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Smooth Talking

Posted by on Nov 29, 2013 in babble | 0 comments

Smooth Talking Newborns: After almost 20 years with them, I still continue to be amazed at what perfect little human beings they are.  I still love cleaning those teeny tiny feet with miniature curly cashew-nut toes and seeing their little eyelashes grow. I recently read another fascinating fact: “A baby has around 10,000 taste buds, far more than adults. They are not just on the tongue but also on the sides, back, and roof of the mouth. Eventually these extra taste buds disappear.” When I talk to first time mums about the importance of healthy nutrition during the weeks following the birth, they often ask about what foods they should or should not eat.  Explaining that breast-fed babies get trace elements of everything the mother eats helps to emphasise how essential it is to have a varied diet.  Your breast-fed babies eat what you eat! A few months ago, on the advice of our osteopaths at Clapham Osteopathic Practice, my husband and I started making our own Green Smoothies.  We bought ourselves a well written book to read up on the nutritional advice and scientific facts about green smoothie making.  Then we took out our Kitchen-Aid liquidiser and stood, rather nervously, looking at the bags of glowingly healthy and 100% organic fruit and veg we had decided to use.  Fresh organic spinach, chard, bananas, papaya, mango and a bag of Spirulina powder.  With trepidation, we peeled and seeded the items that needed it and then put great fist-fulls of the greens into the blender, added a good dollop of Coconut Water and WHIZZZZZZ! The resulting mug full of green goop looked less than appetising, but we nervously took a gulp each.  It was superb.  Had we been blindfolded for this taste test, we probably would have assumed it was a simply fruit smoothie with a slightly fresher edge to it. We are now hooked.  For the past few weeks we have opted to have a box of organic fruit & veg delivered from Riverford Farm (www.riverford.co.uk) so that we never quite know what we will get, we can add to our order as the mood takes us and we get the variation needed in the green element.  I have begun encouraging my mums to try making their own smoothies at home. It always makes me laugh when I see their faces the first time I present one for them to try – like a child confronting a plate full of cauliflower and broccoli for supper!  However, a couple of sips later and I have have a new convert.  All those vitamins and minerals in one glass – and raw – nicely blended with the sweet naughtiness of fresh fruits. Coming to the end of a 4 week postnatal package with a lovely mum, I opened her fridge to see a large green smoothie in a glass – ready for action!  I had introduced this mum to this idea a couple of weeks ago and now, without any further encouragement from me, she is a convert. You don’t have to be breast feeding to benefit either!  The drinks will help boost your flagging energy levels and help you cope with the on-going broken sleep over weeks and months.  Your immune system will get a massive boost and your insides will thank you for reaching for the glass rather than that next chocolate muffin or packet of sugar soaked biscuits. The book we bought was by Victoria Boutenko and is called Green for Life.  Whilst I am not quite going to her extremes of a raw diet lifestyle (I love my...

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