“Is this your first?” said everyone? “Ah, you’re experienced then” came the reply on hearing that I already had a daughter. “You know what you’re letting yourself in for”. Not really, I thought. In what other circumstances does doing something for the second time be deemed ‘experienced’, particularly when the first go was 4 years previous.
While I do subscribe to the trust your instinct rationale of parenting to a certain degree, I am also of the opinion that a lot of parenting comes down to skills which can be learnt, and taught. Often obsessed with achieving the ‘perfect birth’ (whatever that is) I found a lot of parents I talk to hadn’t given much thought as to what comes after, and what the support network around them will be (not the physical help such as babysitting and meals, but a more intangible kind of safety net).
Whilst ante-natal classes can be a way of achieving this, they also do focus, to my mind, too heavily on the birth and breastfeeding. These are both obviously things that parents need to know about and be prepared for, but they definitely aren’t the only skills one needs, and, dare I say it, largely irrelevant after the first six months (as whatever your feeding choice, that’s roughly when weaning kicks in). That’s not to say that there isn’t a place for doing both, of course, just that once the birth has faded into the distant memory and feeding is established, there are still many things that would be useful to know.
Last time round, I cobbled together my learnings from various places. I did an introductory baby first aid course (mind you, I was also the work first aider at the time, so I felt quite confident back then) and went to several workshops on sleep, behaviour, nutrition and school choices which are offered as part of my Cityparents membership. I was always of the opinion that when I want to learn new skills for work, or this blog, or a hobby, I go on a course and read lots of books. My opinion on parenting was no different and had David Cameron’s parenting courses ever been on offer I would have gladly attended. Negotiating with a toddler requires totally different skills to negotiating with a primary school aged child and so I often attend a repeat of the same Cityparent workshops once Pip moves into the next age category.
The missing part however was that the classes and workshops I was attending were larger lectures, often based in the city and it didn’t give me any of the support network part which I also think is very important. I’ve written on Instagram this week how I do occasionally feel rather lonely in the park on my own, with Pip playing on her own (although I do actually think this has taught her an excellent ability to be self-sufficient) and that I can see the appeal to knowing a group of women with children the same age.
Nurturing Mums – London postnatal courses
Which is where Nurturing Mums comes in. Set up by mothers in North London and now run by city lawyer turned small business owner Lucinda Hutton, Nurturing Mums courses are billed as a “postnatal course that is helpful, non-judgemental and sociable” covering topics such as sleep training, weaning, baby development and first aid.
The course I attended was a small but nicely formed group of local women, the rest of whom were first time mums. We met once a week for 5 weeks at 10am, accompanied by our babies, and discussed parenting on that week’s theme over a coffee and led by an expert in their specific field.
Helpful, non-judgemental and sociable – tap into expert advice without having to pay out large sums of money to see a specialist individually.
Although LB is my second baby, I was really glad I did the course. I found all the sessions really useful, supplementing and adding to my knowledge – after all, advice (and my need to know brain capacity) has moved on, and it is always helpful to get the opportunity to ask specific questions about your own specific baby from an expert. Despite having done it all once before, I still felt I had a lot of questions, particularly around weaning as we have just begun to do this on the earlier side this time round.
After my less than lovely experience with maternity leave last time round, I knew I needed a better strategy this time round and so I made sure I:
- Looked after myself – in addition to the Nurturing Mums course I also did post natal pilates, attended another local post natal course which Nurturing Mums partners with and made sure to get several massages from a post natal expert and also used every opportunity I could to continue getting my nails done and had a hair cut not long after LB was born.
- Arranged things to help get out of the house every day. In addition to the Nurturing Mums course scheduled in my diary, I spread out my admin tasks across the week so there was always a reason to get out and achieve something, even if that something was as mundane as getting LB’s passport sorted out.
- Ensured I had a support network of other parents with kids both Pip’s age and LB’s age too.
5 reasons to do a post natal course:
- Non judgemental experts who welcome questions
- For mum rather than the baby – coffee and adult conversation but also a safe place for baby to roll on a mat, meet other babies and no-one bats an eyelid at any kind of feeding/nappy changing that might be required
- Date in the diary every week
- Meet other like minded local mums going through a similar thing at the same time – the support network continues once the course has finished – 2 mums on my course have become close friends
- Not just for first time mums – it’s amazing what you forget, and also nice to meet new friends going through the newborn phase
If you’re based in North London and either due to have a baby soon, or are already on maternity leave, have a look at the Nurturing Mums course options here.
I was invited to join one of the courses – all views are of course my own. Photos by Polly Geal.