The age of the internet Lorelei.

Posted by on Jan 5, 2016 in babble | 0 comments

“Sticks and Stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me!” Remember that old chestnut from the playground?  Well, it seems that sticks, stones, parenting forum posts and Twitter can all hurt – and often badly – in this age of the internet, the TWEETS, the LIKE, the SHARE, the COMMENT clicks. I have been doing my job for over 24 years.  I have a huge amount of experience and many hundreds of babies filed away in my heart (many of whom are now at university, secondary school or primary school).  For the first few years of my job, the internet, thankfully, was not available to the majority.  It started as a drip and turned into a raging torrent, and now only very few areas do not have access to it in some form. Internet Forums for mothers flourish, and some of them are kind, well informed and supportive.   However, new mothers, teetering through the early weeks of parenthood, often  take to the interent for advice, for a little reassurance, wanting to be told that they are not alone in their sleep deprived state and that they are doing a great job.  Expecting a kind nurturing arena to greet them, they start by tentatively posting a comment, waiting for gentle spirits to answer their cries for help, only to be met by a modern day equivalent of The Lorelei. In 1824, Heinrich Heine seized on and adapted Brentano’s theme in one of his most famous poems, Die Lorelei. It describes the eponymous female as a sort of siren who, sitting on the cliff above the Rhine and combing her golden hair, unwittingly distracted shipmen with her beauty and song, causing them to crash on the rocks. Mom’s “support” network? It is often more like being thrown to the Lorelei.  It makes me reel when I read comments posted by mothers about other mothers.  Critical, judgmental and crushing in their reponses – not one of them having a clue about what mental or physical condition the enquiring mother may be in, how close to postnatal depression or post -partum psychosis she may be, how many weeks or months she may have been without rest or how many hurdles she may already have jumped.  They pour out their hatred, their poisonous remarks and their bigoted opinions without, for a single moment, considering how this might impact on the original poster. I have no time for those who hide behind psydonyms on ranting parenting websites, only joining in the collective bullying when they see a juicy fight in sight.  I post on one or two forums, always using my real name and with my contact details at the end should anyone have anything they’d like to ask me in person. Playground bullies are cowards, but they are bullies with a face.  Cyber bullies are bigger cowards, as they quivver with misplaced, anonymous indignation about someone else’s beliefs, smashing out hateful comments on their keyboards day and night, showering new mothers with judgment after judgment, accusation after accusation and blinkered opinion after blinkered opinion. These people have never met; they don’t know the first thing about each other yet there they sit on their thrones, “Queen Mums” shall we say, wearing the Crown of Perfection whilst sitting at their computers, writing vile and hurtful comments about parenting choices made by others. Did these same mothers not ever have a bad day?  Did they not arrive home with their newborn feeling just a teeny bit overwhelmed at the responsibility they now bore, the epic journey on which they were about to embark? ...

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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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Eyes without Sparkle & Another Twinkle in the Eye

Posted by on Nov 26, 2015 in babble | 0 comments

Now, I am not an expert in PND but I have helped many cleints who have experienced it.  Luckily, a combination of my knowing enough about the signs and having an amazing support network of incredible women in my life, these mums were able to get the help and treatment they needed.  Many mothers out there have not, and they have struggled or are indeed still struggling with postnatal depression in some form; some of these are new mums, some will have been wading through treacle for many months, unaware that they are ill, feeling too ashamed to admit that they are drowning in misery, that they don’t feel over the moon at being a mother, that they cannot bond or feel any love towards their new baby. Having a baby is a tremendous change, followed by  months/years filled with challenges, testing times and huge responsibilities.  In my role as a postnatal coach,  I offer all new mothers a service which offers mothers and their partners the time and space to adapt to those changes by offering as much guidance, encouragement and help at home as their budget allows. Over the past few years, I have been gently gathering a lovely network of ladies around a lunch table every few weeks.  We are all self-employed, we are all passionate about what we do and we are all connected in one way or another to the world of babies. This Babble is to introduce you to Elaine Hanzak, one of my Ladies Wot Lunch gang. On 26th November 2013, I arranged to meet up with Elaine on one of her many visits to London where she was due to meet with the Royal College of Midwives about pushing for better support for those suffering with Perinatal Illness. With the same punchy sparkle that is sprinkled upon pocket rockets such as Kylie Minogue, Elaine arrived at a little cafe north of Oxford Street to have lunch with me.  Petite, pretty and beaming from ear to ear she bounded over and gave me a welcoming hug.  We sat down and chatted for well over an hour about her life, her challenges and her humbling experience of recoveries from both puerperal psychosis (Postnatal depression at its most terrifying) and the sudden death of her partner not long before.  Sadly, her appointment came around all too quickly and she was gone before I had had time to draw breath.  Like all good speakers, she left me wanting more, so I quickly got in touch again and invited her to join my burgeoning little lunch group.  I am honoured and delighted that she now puts in a regular appearance when she is in London at one of her many demanding events, getting to know the rest of the group and bewitching us with her stories. Elaine Hanzak talking babies to new mum Kathryn Mewes Elaine is now an inspirational speaker on overcoming loss and it has been wonderful getting to know her, hearing her tales which swing me from tears to side splitting laughter in the course of one lunch time.  She still leave me wanting more, more, more! Elaine advises and speaks to audiences who are looking for ways to improve their lives; to health professionals, mothers and family support groups plus at corporate events. Elaine delivers keynote presentations on overcoming loss, postnatal illness and mental health issues drawing from a raft of informative case studies, personal experiences and anecdotal information passed on to her via this website and her public speaking engagements. She is the author of two books. The first: Eyes without...

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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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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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