Skip to main content


first pregnancy

What makes for an effective birth preparation class?

By Childcare and Nannying, Education, First Aid, prenancy
by Jackie Whitford

Are you expecting your first baby, or maybe wanting different advice or a different approach for your second or subsequent labour? Well, today you may well be spoiled (or confused) by the many choices and types of class and content on offer. Remember, the cost of the course does not necessarily reflect the quality of that course.

Let’s look at some of what’s available to you:

One day preparation courses
You should be offered an antenatal session (usually a day at a weekend) where you and your partner can attend your hospital’s approved preparation programme. This is usually run by midwives or health care assistants and will cover the physiology of labour, pain relief, breastfeeding, hospital policy and practice, including their policy on induction of labour.

Pros – you will have all the essential practical information and be aware of what to expect of the midwifery service in that hospital from a trained midwife’s or health care professional’s perspective. If you are planning to give birth in hospital, attending their prep session is a good idea – they are also free.

Cons – There may be many expectant parents attending. A lot of information is provided over five plus hours which may be hard to take in, or reflect upon, and discuss within the one day course. There is little chance to establish friendships with other parents-to-be.

Online courses
These are usually promoting a particular approach to labour and birth, and teach to a prescribed set of exercises and labour skills for those keen to have a ‘natural’ birth. Typically these preparation courses are based on hypnobirthing theory as originally devised by the American hypnotherapist Marie Mongan, although a number of British variations to the original programme have evolved.

Pros – Obviously convenience. You can go through the sessions at a time to suit yourself and at your own pace, repeating content if necessary.

Cons – You are unlikely to form local friendships this way. The quality of what is on offer is variable, as is the cost, and there is little or no opportunity for group discussion or any variation to the programme.

Weekly preparation for birth and parenthood courses
These weekly classes (usually two plus hours each class for five or six weeks) are offered from about 32 weeks pregnancy and are a very popular choice for pregnant women.

Each class covers specific topics, with time for discussion and practise of skills taught. Comprehensive weekly classes were started in the l950s by The NCT, although today many independent childbirth teachers offer weekly preparation classes. Women are encouraged to bring their (birth) partners to some or all of the sessions. Course content can vary, according to the affiliation and background of the teacher but should cover physiological labour and self-help skills, pain relief, medical interventions, breastfeeding and early parenthood. Numbers in these classes can be anything from two or three couples to up to 12. Most courses will also hold a postnatal get together when all the babies have arrived.

Pros – This is a more relaxed form of preparation with time to revisit, discuss and practise helpful exercises to assist labour and birth. A good class will take time to share and explore hopes and fears amongst class members. Latest independent research and books can be discussed so that women can feel informed, empowered and in a position to decide what is right for them. Very importantly, usually a strong support and friendship group develops which will be of huge benefit in the early days of parenthood and in many cases lasts for years.

Cons – These classes are usually held in the evenings when you may be tired and also you may not gel with the other women/parents in the group, especially if the group is very small. Also, few NCT classes teach hypnobirthing (which is a programme in itself).

So what else to consider in choosing your antenatal class?
What makes a good teacher? Good antenatal teachers do not emerge from just one place or profession. In fact some of the best teachers of the last 50 years have come from other backgrounds other than midwifery – teaching, hypnotherapy, physiotherapy, anthropology and especially women who have had personal experiences of positive birthing. It is wise to look into the background and relevant experience of your teacher before committing to a particular class – hopefully they will tick several boxes. Antenatal teaching qualifications are not regulated and some ‘would be’ teachers will offer classes after completing just a weekend training course, which issued some certification for paying and attending the course. Recommendations from friends are always a good idea.

In my experience, good antenatal teachers have a real enthusiasm and passion for their subject. They will have a firm belief in the innate ability of women to birth their babies and will spend time and practise teaching skills to aid this. They will also explore variations, special circumstances and medical practices and personal choices so you can work towards the birth you want. The class you choose should equip you for a positive birth however your baby arrives.

Jackie Whitford runs Birth Wise classes in Lewes and Henfield.

For further details please visit


Bringing up baby – who is making you feel guilty?

By Childcare and Nannying, prenancy, Relationships

When it comes to parenthood, I believe we are hard wired like all mammals to fiercely protect, nourish and raise the next generation. Our attention to this biological task makes us particularly susceptible to the perceived wisdom as to how best to do this. Having had a keen interest in baby and childcare and early years education over the last 40 plus years, one thing I have observed is that every childbirth and baby guru of their time is deposed by the new emergent one. Former ‘truths’ on how to best prepare for labour, ensure good feeding/sleep habits/social skills and so on get rubbished as the pendulum swings from left to right. What is the ‘must do’ one decade is ‘avoid at all costs’ the next, with dire warnings of what will befall your impressionable infant in later life if you ignore the latest theory on bringing up baby.

A small example of changing trends is how baby should sleep. In the l950s babies were placed on alternate sides. This was thought to prevent choking, avoid a flat head and to flatten ears. In the l960s-1980s the advice was to place baby on its front to avoid choking, ease tummy aches and strengthen baby’s neck. Concern over cot deaths (more to do probably with smoky rooms, low breastfeeding rates and overheating than position) the advice again changed and from the l990s onward the advice is to place baby on its back with very light cover.

Lets look at the influencers. The first baby and childcare guru was Truby King, a childcare and health reformer from New Zealand. His premise was that a rigid routine of feeding, toilet training, sleeping, exposure to fresh air and limited physical contact led to good health and a robust character in later life. In his 1937 book ‘Feeding and Care of Baby’, Truby King warns “Fond and foolish over-indulgence, mismanagement, and ‘spoiling’ may be as harmful to an infant as callous neglect or intentional cruelty.” Are you appalled? Well, his doctrine spread across the Western world in the first half of the 20th century, and his theories of necessary strict routine, potty training, lots of fresh air, crying being good for the lungs and so on were still popular in the 1950s. The notion he introduced of ‘spoiling baby’ is now refuted, but this would have been the method by which our national treasures were raised (including our late Queen), and your own grandparents! How did they turn out?

So it was with relief that 1960s parents embraced the kindlier advice of Dr Benjamin Spock, an American paediatrician whose book ‘Baby and Child Care’ was one of the best selling books of the 20th century. His first chapter is entitled ‘Trust Yourself – You know more than you think you do’, followed by the reassurance “Don’t take too seriously all that the neighbours say. Don’t be overawed by what the experts say. Don’t be afraid to trust your own common sense“. Great advice, I think, that doesn’t date.

Dr Spock’s theories were followed by Dr Penelope Leach, an English psychologist and baby guru. She started the fashion of baby centred parenting. If you are a young parent or parent-to-be reading this, your own early years are likely to have been heavily influenced by the wisdom of both Dr Spock and Dr Leach. In the last twenty years the ‘Continuum Concept’ theory has been popular leading to many ‘Attachment Focused’ baby and child care publications.

But, guess what? About 15 years ago Gina Ford (neither a mother, nor a paediatrician but a nanny) revisited the concept of establishing strict routines. Her ‘Contented Little Baby Book’ became a best seller and made her the first baby care guru of the 21st century. Along similar lines, Ferber Sleep Training and the ‘Cry it Out’ method is also currently popular with exhausted parents.

And so the pendulum of advice continues to swing back and forth. However, I have never known quite such polarisation of advice competing for validation at the same time. I follow several online support groups for new parents, most following a particular baby care approach. I am concerned that many mums are exhausted to the point of hallucination by feeling they need to observe the doctrine of having their babies and toddlers physically attached to them at all times, and letting baby take the lead on everything, including toddler night feedings. Don’t misunderstand me, if you just love co-sleeping, contact napping, baby wearing or toddler demand feeding, that’s great and you will treasure this special time and confidently bat away those who tell you that you are establishing bad habits or “spoiling” baby. But if baby wearing is not for you, that’s all right too.

It’s also OK to reject the ‘must do’ baby sleep training if it doesn’t gel with your personality or is counter intuitive. Really, experience and observation has convinced me that there’s no one right way of bringing up baby. I suggest you do your own research – ask what is working for your friends and ask what advice worked for your family. Maybe look at your mum’s old copy of Penelope Leach. I’ve had four children spread over 12 years. Each brought their individual personality and sensitivities into the world. What suited one baby certainly didn’t the next, and my baby care needed to adapt to that (although I too was influenced by the latest trend).

Make sure your antenatal course covers the fourth trimester and early parenthood, and that your teacher spends time looking at the different approaches to baby care, so you can consider what feels right for you, your lifestyle and your particular baby. And to quote Dr Spock: “Trust your instincts”.

“I think attending a good antenatal class will prove to be one of your best decisions, with the benefits of ongoing support and friendship.”
Jackie Whitford runs Birth Wise classes in Lewes and Henfield.
For further details please visit
birth advice

Do I need an antenatal class?

By Education, family, Health, prenancy, Relationships

by Jackie Whitford

“I’m pregnant with my first baby and all is going well. My sister has just had a baby and has told me all about it and given me the books she found useful. I think I have all the information and support I need.” I’ve heard this sort of viewpoint expressed ever since I started holding antenatal classes (over 40 years ago) but now followed by… “And of course I can get any other information from the internet!” So why indeed would you need an antenatal class?

Firstly, you will meet a group of women and their partners who are at the same stage in their lives and chances are you will meet your new friendship and support group. My own antenatal class pals are still great friends, meeting up regularly some four decades later!

Early parenthood is a time of big changes and transitions (like starting school or leaving home) and it is great to meet others on the same journey sharing all its excitement and uncertainty. My antenatal classes usually form their own WhatsApp groups – it’s good to chat to someone else who is in exactly the same boat when you are doing a feed at three o’clock in the morning!

Secondly, regardless of what worked (or didn’t) for your sister/friend/mum, labour and birth are as individual as you are. What was OK for them, may well not be for you. A good class will set out your choices. It should give you knowledge, skills and confidence as to where you have your baby and the options available to you. Through looking at the latest research and discussing with others, you can choose what feels right for you – whether it’s an elective caesarean or a hypnobirth.

A good antenatal class should also prepare you for Plan B – what if your labour doesn’t go as you had hoped? In a recent class, one of the women had planned and booked in for an elective caesarean. She was attending classes to make local friends and wasn’t really engaged with discussions about physiological labour. However, her baby decided to make an early and rapid entry into the world. She said, “Although I was shocked, it’s not what I had planned, I knew what to do. Somewhere I could hear you saying breathe out, relax, you can do this.” Labour and birth can be unpredictable and you need to be knowledgeable and confident to cope with all possible variations.

Which class?
I would recommend choosing a class that runs once a week over five or more weeks ideally to start from week 30 or 32 of your pregnancy. This gives you a chance to really get to know others in your group and a chance to practice the many comfort techniques introduced plus plenty of time for questions. Ideally your class will be run by someone with a breadth of experience both personally and professionally and be committed to supporting you in the birth experience that you want.

“I think attending a good antenatal class will prove to be one of your best decisions, with the benefits of ongoing support and friendship.”

Jackie Whitford runs Birth Wise classes in Lewes and Henfield. For further details please visit

How to introduce your second baby to your firstborn

By Education, family, prenancy, Relationships

Introducing a new baby into the family can be an exciting yet nerve-wracking time for parents. In this article, experts at UK-leading baby brand, Nuby, have looked at some of the best ways to prepare your little one for the impending arrival and help them to stay feeling loved and included.

Explain what’s going to happen
This can simply be dependent on how old your first child is. If they’re under the age of two, they may not be that interested and take the new addition to the family in their stride. However, a slightly older child might be bursting with questions or struggle emotionally with the transition.

To alleviate some of this, it helps during this time to help them know what to expect – that the new baby is going to be with mummy or daddy most of the time, and the baby is either going to be sleeping, crying, or feeding. This will also help manage their expectations – that their new sibling won’t be able to sit up by themselves, let alone be a playmate from the moment they enter the home.

The more prepared your eldest feels at this point, the easier it will be for them to make the transition from an only child into an older sibling.

Tell the story of when they were born
One other tip is to show your eldest some old photographs of your or your partner’s pregnancy before they were born, or of them when they were a baby. Talk to them about what it was like when they were younger and how they too cried and fed all hours of the day.

This will not only give you all a few laughs but also help to ease some of their worries and better understand why the new baby needs more attention for the first few months.

Roleplay looking after the baby
Using a doll is a great way to introduce your firstborn to the idea of having a baby around.

They can use this time to practise how to hold the baby, how to talk to them, and how to be gentle with them. Overall, this helps to normalise the idea that there’s soon going to be a new arrival.

Better still, if you’ve got friends or family with small babies of their own, try to set up meetups or playdates so your child can get used to hearing baby cries and babbling.

Get them involved in the planning
Include your child in the naming process. Ask them what they think of the names you’ve got picked out, for example. Chances are they won’t like your choices and would much prefer you to name their sibling Spider Man or Peppa, but the key thing is to value their opinions.

Take them on shopping trips while you’re gathering up your newborn essentials to make the situation feel more real. They’ll feel even more important if you let them pick an outfit for their younger sibling.

If they’re not good with shopping, let them contribute in other ways, such as putting new items away, helping pack the baby changing bag, or even helping you to redecorate the nursery.

Get them involved in the caring
It’s tempting for any parent to be extra cautious when managing a toddler or young child around a baby. However, allowing your firstborn to have some involvement in looking after the baby is key in making them feel included rather than pushed out.

Singing to the baby, helping bathe them, or passing the wipes or a clean nappy are all easy little tasks that can help the new older sibling feel like they have an important role in the family.

Let them meet their new sibling as soon as possible. A hospital can be a big scary place for your eldest, but the more included they feel at this stage, the more they will continue to do so down the line.

One thing to avoid is punishing your first child or telling them to go away if they make a mistake. Just be patient, calmly explain what they should do instead, and let them have another go.

Make them the focus
Family and friends will be enamoured with the new baby, but it can make your eldest feel much more secure and loved if you heap attention on them as well. Being full of praise, especially when they’re around the baby, will really help boost their confidence and self-esteem.

A ‘gift’ from the new baby to their older sibling is also a wonderful way to instil good feelings from the get-go. It also shows how much the newborn loves their older sibling already and can’t wait to meet them.

The stress of the change can cause older siblings to act out or behave badly in order to get attention from you. They may also start to regress and act younger than their age, for example, when it comes to feeding or changing. As they get used to being around a newborn, being patient and praising them for their good behaviour might help reduce this.

When introducing a second child, one of parents’ biggest fears is that their eldest child will feel left out. At some point, they may also feel guilty for not spending as much time with their firstborn. Unfortunately, this is almost certainly going to happen but you shouldn’t feel guilty about it. Focus on the quality of time you spend with your eldest rather than the quantity.

This is a huge change for the whole family, and it’s going to take some time for everyone to get used to the new dynamics. Being patient and following the tips above can help your firstborn feel more involved before and after the little one arrives.

Five tips for preparing your first born for their new sibling

By family, Health, prenancy, Relationships, Uncategorized

When you’re getting ready to welcome another baby into your family, you’ll no doubt want to share the excitement with your first born. By getting them involved with all the pre-baby organising, you can ensure your son or daughter is just as prepared as you are for the new arrival. Here, Kirsty Prankerd, Managing Director at Write From The Heart shares her tips for getting your little one ready for a sibling.

With another baby on the way, there’s sure to be many things you’ll be planning, and one of those should be helping to make it a positive experience for your first born, too. It’s only natural that your little one might feel a bit left out or upset knowing they won’t be mummy or daddy’s only child, but this doesn’t mean they can’t warm to the idea – especially if you get them involved with the exciting preparations.

Here, I’ll be sharing my top tips for getting your first born prepared for their new sibling.

Make a special announcement to them
Telling your little one that you’re expecting another baby can seem nerve-wracking, but if you approach it in the right way, you’ll have nothing to worry about. Creating a special announcement that gets them involved is a great way of doing this. For example, you could throw a mini tea party with plenty of their favourite foods, games, and decorations and reveal it to them during this and tell them they’re soon going to have a little brother or sister who they can do this with.

You could even give them a little gift that they’ll be able to share with their new sibling. This could be a game they could play together when they’re a little older, or a book they could read to the new arrival.

Allow them to help pick decorations for the nursery
If you’re planning on giving your nursery an overhaul before your little one arrives, it might be a nice idea to have your son or daughter help you with it. If your child is too young to help to do any painting, you could get them involved in different ways. For example, once you’ve narrowed down a few options of paints or wallpapers for the walls, you might want to ask them which they like better and go with that one.

If your child loves drawing or painting, you could even have them create something special for the newborn that you can frame and hang in the nursery.

As you will be spending quite a lot of time in the nursery, whether that’s redecorating or organising your baby’s drawers, it’s important that you try to get your little one involved as much as possible. Allowing them to help you make big decisions and being given their own responsibilities is sure to make them feel happier and more prepared to be a big brother or sister.

Get them involved with the naming process
Thinking of a name for your baby doesn’t always come easy, especially when you haven’t met them yet. This is why some parents like to come up with a few good options so that they can see which suits their newborn better once they meet.

If you’re struggling for some first or middle names, or you simply can’t pick between a couple, why not let your little one help? They’re bound to come up with some that you’re not too keen on, but by spending some time together looking through baby name books and writing down your favourites together, your son or daughter is sure to feel special – plus, you’ll have plenty of options when it’s time to meet your new baby!

Read them stories about other siblings
There are sure to still be periods of uncertainty for your child about having a new sibling, even if they appear excited at times. To help ease any worries and show them how fun it can be to have a brother or sister to share family life with, I would recommend reading them stories about siblings.

Whether the storyline is about fun adventures that siblings can go on together or gives your little one ideas about what types of games they could play together when the baby is a bit older, it’s sure to make them a bit more enthusiastic and excited.

To make it a bit more personal, you could even look for books that can have the character names personalised to match your son or daughter’s name, so they feel extra special and relate with the character more.

Let them choose a gift for the baby’s arrival
Letting your child select a gift from them for the baby’s arrival can be a great initial bonding experience, especially when they choose something that your newborn can cherish for years, like a cuddly toy or a blanket.

So next time you head out to the shops for some baby supplies, why not take your son or daughter with you? Head to the newborn baby section with them so you can be sure anything they choose will be suitable for a tiny human.

If you’ve already decided on a name, you could even let them choose a personalised gift, like a soft toy with your baby’s name embroidered on, or a memory box that they can help to fill when your newborn has arrived.

Ease your child’s nerves or jealousy about a new sibling by getting them involved as much as possible with the preparations. By giving them responsibilities and getting their opinions, they’re sure to feel much more valued and excited to meet their new brother or sister!


Breastfeeding help for all new mums

By baby health, family, Health, prenancy, Relationships
by Clare Castell

Many mums-to-be are worried about breastfeeding and they feel apprehensive about whether they’ll be able to do it. Although breastfeeding is completely natural it’s also a skill that needs to be learned – by mum and baby together – a bit like dancing together or riding a tandem.

Clare Castell, founder of Blossom Antenatal, an online antenatal education platform for parents insists there should never be any judgement about feeding choices. She encourages mums to do whatever works for them. “A mother should never feel pressured into breastfeeding or any guilt for the way she chooses to feed. The most important thing for us is that all mothers are supported in their choices.”

Clare shares her insider secrets to help avoid the most common pitfalls.

• The one thing we always recommend to our new parents is to lower all your expectations. You need time to adjust to your new life. The first couple of months are often the hardest as tiny babies need frequent feeding. But, as your baby grows, you should find that this intensity is reduced.

• One of the most beneficial things expectant mums can do to support themselves is attend a breastfeeding class. Blossom runs these for free and our experience is that this helps women to understand how breastfeeding works which really does help them know what they need to do when baby is born.

• Don’t expect your baby to follow the clock. We advise you to watch your baby for feeding cues and respond to their needs. The more time you spend with your baby the quicker you will be at working out what they want. Keep baby physically close to you so that as they stir from sleep you are able to quickly offer them the breast before they start to cry or get agitated.

• Get as much skin to skin contact with your baby as possible. The first hour after birth is often called ‘the golden hour’. But, it’s never too late to start skin to skin. You can do this to calm a baby at any time. Skin to skin is great for bonding and increasing milk supply.

• Another concern new parents have is whether baby is getting enough milk. It’s normal for babies to lose some birthweight in the first couple of weeks, but after this your baby should gain weight steadily. One of the most important indicators is nappy output – what goes in must come out! From day four or five onwards baby should have two soft yellow poos and at least six heavy wet nappies every 24 hours. We know some parents find it hard to tell if a tiny newborn disposable nappy is wet. Our top tip to give you an idea of what to look and feel for is to add two to four tablespoons of water onto an unused nappy and see how heavy that feels.

It’s crucial to locate local sources of support in advance in case things get difficult. If you’re having your baby in hospital there is a lot of support available while you’re there – so make the most of it and ask for help. Search online for local meetups or Facebook groups. We also advise our mums to get the phone number of the Community Infant Feeding Team. Write it on a piece of paper and stick it to your fridge. Every area has a community feeding team and they usually run drop in groups for mums and new babies.

The Blossom Antenatal team consists of midwives, lactation consultants and NCT trained teachers. All classes are taught by these qualified instructors who have years of experience of working with expectant parents. Many currently work in the NHS and are volunteering their time to help teach parents.


On becoming a mother…

By baby health, family, prenancy, Relationships
by Sam McCarthy
UMEUS Foundation

For many women there is a decision made, usually in conjunction with a significant other, to ‘have a baby’ or ‘start a family’. It might be discussed, perhaps somewhat romantically, and framed from our own lived experience of childhood, what we will never do as parents. How many are reading this and remembering the phrases, “it’s not going to change us, we will still travel/go dancing/work…” and “we won’t be talking about our child all the time like (fill-in any parents name you knew before you had a baby)…” Or perhaps you were seduced by the idea of being blissfully radiant in pregnancy, ‘natural childbirth’, ergo slings and shared responsibility?

Even for those who chose to walk the path without a partner, and the many women who have no choice in the matter at all, the decision to bring a new life into the world is one we have no experience in making first time around, even if we’ve been surrounded by babies and children; just ask any midwife, nursery carer or teacher. Within all this thought and talk of pregnancy and the delights we will call our children, how many of us have asked ourselves, how do I become
a mother?

We’ve all had one at some point, some maybe two or more, in the forms of in-law, step or adoptive/biological. But how many of those in the hood have really shared their experience with us BEFORE we were staring into the abyss of broken sleep, emotional weightlifting and relationship upheaval? The monumental shifts that accompany the transition from woman to mother are rarely spoken of outside of this shadowy fraternity.

Perhaps the elemental nature of motherhood can’t quite be understood until we are ‘in’ our experience, or maybe we wouldn’t head on this collision course with life if we knew what was ahead? If this were the case, why do so many of us go on to do it time and again? Creating life can be addictive, because although oxytocin is understood by endocrinologists as an antidote to craving, the positive feedback mechanism that controls its release actually helps anaesthetise us a little, or diminish the sensations of discomfort, and feelings of turmoil that are intrinsically linked with pregnancy, childbirth and motherhood.

When we are deep in the throes of becoming a mother, we often forget ourselves, and without intending to, so do others around us. Whilst pregnancy isn’t necessarily a glowing period for all, many women experience being regarded, honoured even (unless you’re on the 17:59 from London), and taken care of whilst carrying our precious load. What to expect when you’re expecting, pregnancy and birth; the industry around these very specific periods of time are festooned with ideas, methods and opinions, and many are eager to inform. As the excitement mounts, children’s clothes are cooed over, yoga sessions are chanted in and birth plans are written. Whatever happens at birth, statistically, becoming pregnant is the most dangerous thing a woman does in her lifetime. But now there’s a baby and attention shifts from you to your newborn.

We all respond differently to the awakening of motherhood. It’s a realisation that comes quickly for some, and as a quest through a submerged haze for others. The magnitude of decisions that arise as we begin to meet our new responsibility can be weighty and unwieldy. Breastfeeding (or not), back to work (or not), childcare (or not), intimacy with partner (or not), have another child (or not), this list is barely begun.

So, what happens if we meet the responsibility of our new state or experience of having or raising a child and everything that comes with it, not just with gratitude, which helps lessen the sense of heaviness, but also with conviction, so as to empower us?

Wholly embracing that we are the life givers, more often the primary carers, the chefs, the emotional weight bearers, the cleaners, the educators, the travel agents, the event organisers, and so much more, can elevate us, rather than drag us down, and help us to assert ourselves so that we can regard ourselves positively for what we achieve every day. Once we hold ourselves in this regard, it is easier for others to value us and for us to get our needs met.

Researchers at Washington University studied new mothers with varying degrees of stress. They wanted to know if support from community affected the way a parent relates to their children and their ability to raise them. The results were clear. Mothers without strong support from community had higher levels of stress, and mothers with higher levels of stress were more worn down and pessimistic about parenting. They also found the opposite true: mothers with strong support from their communities had lower levels of stress and were optimistic.

UMEUS Foundation was created to support women who happen to be mothers, because as much as not all women carry and birth, most women find themselves being mothers, sometimes as carers, sometimes as partners, often to their own parents, but mostly to humanity.

We believe in cultivating community through compassion and creativity. At UMEUS our central tenets are to trust mindful, yogic and humanistic, person centred approaches to supporting development. That applies to all stages of development, but most importantly our own.

Sam McCarthy, UMEUS co-founder, psychotherapeutic counsellor, mother, creative producer, wrangler of words.

Don’t just Google it!

By baby health, children's health, Education, Health, prenancy

Search engines like Google and Bing are more likely than any other source of information to provoke anxiety during pregnancy, according to research.

A survey of 300 mums who have given birth in the past five years published in the UK Maternity Report by the UK’s leading private midwifery services provider, Private Midwives, revealed that search engines were more likely than any other source to provide information which causes further worry and anxiety.

The news comes following midwife, lecturer and advisor to BBC’s Call the Midwife, Terri Coates, revealed that the Internet was stopping women from turning to their professional midwife for advice.

As many as 41% reported this was the case, while almost the same number (38%) said they had read information about pregnancy in online forums such as groups and chat boards which had caused them concern.

Despite this, 89% admitted that they had consulted the Internet for non-emergency health advice or information about their pregnancy, and outside of midwife appointments, mums-to-be are more likely (53%) to turn to the Internet for non-emergency advice or information than anyone or anything else.

Many will do this regularly throughout their pregnancy – more than one in 10 (13%) searched for advice online on
a daily basis, while more than one in four (27%) did so every few days.

Linda Bryceland, head of midwifery at Private Midwives, said: “Traditionally during pregnancy, women often found themselves receiving huge amounts of conflicting information – everything from well-meaning loved ones, to media and even strangers in the supermarket. But the Internet has opened up a whole range of new sources of information, which in many cases may not be medically qualified and given without context or taking into consideration women’s individual circumstances and medical backgrounds. What’s more, this is available at the touch of the button, on a whim – so it is not surprising that women are finding themselves logging off and feeling more worried than they were to begin with.

“If women have concerns or questions about their pregnancy, the best thing to do is to resist the temptation to quickly search for more information or the answer online, and instead speak to a medical – whether that’s their midwife, the non-emergency NHS 111 phone line or their GP, who can provide professional, clinical information and guidance, which takes into account their medical history and individual circumstances.”

According to the survey, as many as 90% of UK women who gave birth in the past five years experienced anxiety and worry during their pregnancy.

The top five sources of information which provided information which worried mums-to-be during their pregnancy:
1. Search engines – 41%
2. Online forums/groups – 38%
3. People who aren’t medical professionals who I know – 32%
4. Blogs – 27%
5. Strangers – 16%

Private Midwives is a Care Quality Commission registered and regulated service which connects expectant parents with expert midwives who provide antenatal care, birth care and support, and postnatal care at times and locations that work best for parents-to-be.