Can parents have great conversations?

By Amy Beeson

Quite a few of my friends and associates from different background are also Coaches. Although they’re incredibly supportive and insightful to talk to, they also don’t pull their punches from pointing out if the person who is holding me back from something is actually me.

When Mumsnet Babyfest connected us with Barefoot Coaching and suggested we check out their Coaching Cards for New Parents I messaged Coaching Friends to ask if they’d come across them. The resounding answer was “Yes, they’re amazing. I trained with them.” And I’m not a girl who asks for professionals opinions and then ignores them.

kindred spirits

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Kim Morgan and Sarah Beeson

My mum and writing partner (Sarah Beeson MBE) and I were invited to a getting to know you breakfast with Kim Morgan the writer of Coaching Cards for New Parents and one the UK’s most esteemed business and personal coaches and her daughter Saira Aspinall who is the Marketing Director of Barefoot Coaching. When we met it was like we were old friends within minutes because we had so much in common on parenting, being working mums and mother and daughter teams. There was a lot of nodding, animated conversation and women’s laughter in the middle of the dining room of a central London hotel that morning.

Saira and I both have a background in marketing and publishing and are trying to balance the whole being good at my job and at being a good mum thing, and confessed that both of our mums’ (Sarah & Kim) were our 24/7 hotline to letting go of mummy guilt.

Kim and Sarah discovered they’d both been greatly influenced by Dr Mia Kellmer Pringle’s work on the emotional needs of children which shaped Sarah’s research for our parenting book Happy Baby, Happy Family. Kellmer Pringle is also a character in Our Country Nurse. 

We left with an advanced pack of Barefoot Coaching Cards For New Parents to take home and play with and couldn’t wait to see what each of the 50 cards within the pack suggested. Saira and Kim were invited to our launch party for our new book Our Country Nurse and it was great to spend more time with them there.

sarah beeson gives thumbs up for new parents coaching cards

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Sarah and I looked at every card and picked out the top ten cards that resonated with us the most. We came to the conclusion that opportunities for romance may be few and far between with a new baby but trying to be kind to each other and not loosing sight that you’re a partnership as well as parents benefits everyone.

Parents could use Kim Morgan’s Coaching Cards to give themselves time and space to talk about  their lives and share all the lovely moments being a new parent has brought so far. They could also be a tool to start a discussion on any  issues you’re experiencing such as feelings of guilt and self-criticism or feeling under valued by your partner. You might pre-select a card or pick one at random and see where the conversation takes you.

Picking a calm moment and card or two to have an open and kind conversation about your thoughts and feelings since you’ve becoming parents and actively listening to your partner will help you to appreciate how much you’ve already grown as a family.
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Sarah’s favourite coaching card in the pack said, ‘What messages did you receive about yourself as a child? To what extent have these messages stuck with you or become true?’ It’s definitely a theme that runs through our parenting advice and novels. We gave away one of these cards to every reader who came to our book launches for Our Country Nurse and they agreed whoever you are, this question opens  up discussion about your past, present and future.

ASK YOUR PARTNER TO PICK A card

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One evening I got our the pack of Coaching Cards and my husband Takbir and I took turns to pick one each at random. It did give me a opporutnity to talk about some issues I’d been bottling up but also it was good to listen to him. To consider how our very different childhoods are influencing our behaviour as parents and how our greatest strength is working together as a team.

It being the school holidays our daughter Ava had less strict bedtimes and soon wandered into our conversation. She took a turn to pick a card too and asked us questions and answered them herself about her own experiences. As a family it was a lovely way to spend some time together and I noticed we were all very present in the moment. All the devices were turned off and it was nice to have an open discussion about our lives and share in our happiest memories.

great gift for new parents

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Kim asked Sarah if she’d endorse the coaching cards which she did gladly. If you pick up a pack this is the quote you’ll see on the back.

“Using these cards to talk about the highs and lows of parenthood will be good  for you and your family.”
Sarah Beeson MBE, author of Happy Baby, Happy Family

Coaching Cards are designed to make honest, open conversation between new parents easier. They can be dipped into time and again, the cards can be used throughout the first year of parenthood and beyond into the toddler years. Easy to pick up and use, they make a great new baby gift if you’re shopping for a present for new parents or mums to be.

ABOUT BAREFOOT COACHING CARDS FOR NEW PARENTS

Coaching Cards for New Parents by Kim Morgan are available to Buy on Amazon. You can get more information on Barefoot’s Coaching Cards range at Barefootcoachingcards.co.uk and follow them on Twitter and Instagram @barefootcoachingcards.

Behind the Scenes of the BBC (The Archers, BBC Breakfast and BBC Radio 5 Live)

The new iPhone 7 has landed and thank heavens I had my (not new) iPhone on Sunday night because without it I wouldn’t have been able to video, photograph, tweet and navigate my way around Broadcasting House in an evening where I was listening live to The Archers down the pub with Dame Jenni Murray from Woman’s Hour for BBC Breakfast. Then me, Takbir and Ava went up to the studios to talk to Emma Barnett on BBC Radio 5 Live on the top news story of the week for The 5 Live Hit List. Amy x

BBC BREAKFAST

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It was surreal and fabulous in be listening to the radio in the company of other Archers Fans in a cosy pub round the corner from BBC Broadcasting House. As well as me, Takbir and Ava there was Dame Jenny Murri (Woman’s Hour), Claire Cohen (The Telegraph), Lucy Freeman (Radio 4). Polly Neate (Woman’s Aid) and other fans including Sandra Paul, Ursula Knight, Mike Jones and Tom Middlehurst and young listener Annie.

the jury

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We knew all along that Helen was innocent of course but it was rather fun and at times nail-biting to be giving our verdict on The Archers jurors which included Dame Eileen Atkins, Catherine Tate, Nigel Havers, Aimee-Ffion Edwards, Cerith Flinn, Tam Williams and Graham Seed who was formerly Nigel Pargetter in the long running radio soap.

FINAL EPISODE OF tHE ARCHERS TRIAL WEEK

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When we heard Rob Titchener talk to Helen at the end of the episode we all jumped. This is what an Archers fan’s face looks like when they hear his insidious tones. It was a fantastic experience, I hope I get to listen with other fans down the pub again. The hour-long special really kept us on the edge of our seats hoping that Helen would finally be set free.

DR WHO MAGIC AT BROADCASTING HOUSE

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We then raced round the corner for my radio interview at the BBC. Ava skipped into the building (she’s been there before for my interview with Harriet Scott on being a working mum on BBC Radio London) but back then she slept through it in the buggy. Now she was eager to enjoy the sights of the Beeb especially the Tardis and Darlek from Dr Who (she does love that show).

INTERVIEW ON IPHONE 7 AND APPLE BRAND ON RADIO 5 LIVE

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5 LIVE HIT LIST INTERVIEW

You can listen to the interview on the 5 Live Hit List on BBC iPlayer Radio with Emma Barnett, Elinor Mills (Editor The Sunday Times) and author and Wordsby Brand Consultant Amy Beeson. But here’s the highlights. (From 1 hour 46 minutes into the show).

Emma Barnett presents 5 Live’s rundown of the top 30 news, politics, sport and showbiz stories of the week that are making the biggest impact across social media and online. The No. 1 Story of the week shared online was the iPhone 7.

EMMA: It’s the iPhone 7 of course! The latest version was launched this week in San Francisco with the company’s decision to ditch the headphones and socket. Apple says the move was motivated by courage which has brought mixed reactions from many former iPhone fans…Whether you love it or hate it Apple is now arguably the biggest company in the world. The launch of a new iPhone is a major global event but what is it about the company that has given it an almost cultlike following. Elinor Mills is still with me and Amy Beeson who is a brand consultant and author who has been watching the launch for us this week and has more on the most expensive iPhone to date. So, Amy, wireless headphones was it a brave decision or a way to make more money?

AMY: It’s a really tricky question. When I heard about the socket and the headphones I immediately thought not again. I’m going to have to go out and buy all new accessories. My initial reaction was quite a negative reaction. Using  a word like “courage” for this move, as a writer was maybe not the word I would have chosen. I went on watched the actual ad and I remembered the guys and gals who developed it in San Francisco really hold the development of seamless technology in their core brand values. So, on the one hand do we need it? On the other hand, as a brand having seamless technology is the next evolutionary step of the iPhone. It is at such a premium price but Apple is not known as a cheap product.

EMMA: It’s not, it’s a luxury product.  Elinor Mills, when you’re looking at something like this coming out, it’s never on a Sunday these launches. It’s kinda not like any other tech launch is it?

ELINOR: I think it’s fascinating that it’s top of the list and we were all discussing in conference last week that we were going to have something on the iPhone 7 because we know everyone is interested. We know that’s because so many of us spend so much of our lives on these, it’s almost we spend more time with them than we do with our children and anything else, so I think people are very obsessive. On the headphone front I think it’s a disaster. The only way I can find my white headphones in my bag is by pulling the wires. Just two little tiny bits of plastic that sit in my ear I think I would lose them the whole time.

EMMA: You get can big headphones like we’re wearing too and they’ll be wireless.

ELINOR: I also think it’s weird in a brand way because the white headphones was so iconic it was in all their adverts. You’d have people in black with the white wire symbolising the iPod so I think that’s interesting because it maybe wireless technology but the wire they made a real fetish about.

EMMA: A big part of the Apple launches, Amy, are what Tim Cook the CEO has to say. It used to be Steve Jobs. What they seem like is important and him in a car with James Corden doing a bit of Carpool Karaoke to enter the stage. There has been criticism that since Steve Jobs passed away the brand has lost some it’s sheen. Where do you stand on that?

AMY: That’s very true. Where a brand is synonymous with a personality, like Virgin and Richard Branson, it definitely does some damage to the value of that brand. But Apple has never really strayed away from their core brand values that came with Think Different in 1997. Next year it’ll be 20 years since Steve Jobs launched that campaign and it set the bar for what brand is.

ELINOR: I think the problem is though that Apple haven’t really come up with anything new really since Steve Jobs went. He had already got in train the iPhone, iPods were a big success but you could argue that Samsung or those kind of people are doing more innovative stuff.

AMY: I think that’s because Apple have never been about new products, they’re reinventive. So, they’ve always taken someone else’s product and taken it to another level. They weren’t the first people to do MP3s but followed up with the iPod. They put the “I” into that technology, they make it their own and it’s very intuitive technology.

EMMA: There are conspiracy theories. I remember when I used to be a tech correspondent and Steve Jobs passed away there was this whole thing that he had left years of prototypes, that he had left years of what he wanted to come. So, do you think there’s a delay or do you think there’s nothing left in the tank?

ELINOR: I think they’ve run out.

EMMA: You think they have? Amy?

AMY: It’s really tricky. Are you a custodian of that brand or are you leading that brand? And which is worse and which is better? I really don’t know. Steve Jobs is an impossible person to follow, I wouldn’t want to have to do that.

EMMA: You wouldn’t want to have to do that? Now, how do you think people think about Apple apart from expensive?

AMY: Apple really has almost this rock star quality. When they release something like the iPhone 7 it made me think it almost has all the hype around it like Adele’s new album coming out. There’s all the build up towards it, it gets released and they’ll be people queuing up around the block to get one. I know for a fact from a branding point of view they look at music a lot in development. So, not only do we access music through our iPhones as a brand they really draw from music marketing.

ELINOR: I just wonder if the sheen’s coming off a bit? Because the products are really quite cool because Jobs had done them before he went but I don’t think they’ve really come up with anything new and a bit of wireless headphone isn’t really going to cut it. Where’s the new thing? Where’s the new iPad. His was all about creativity and design and giving us objects that we didn’t even know we wanted that would transform our lives in the way that we used technology. I don’t think they’ve had a game changer like that for a long time.

EMMA: The watch was meant to be a big moment wasn’t it?

ELINOR: That was a dud.

EMMA: I don’t see many people wearing them – it’s an anecdotal view. Technology is often very difficult to get right, we saw with Google Glass, somebody wearing something on their face as a glasses wearer that was never going to work out for me. Quick line on that Amy, the double lens camera does that feed into the culture of innovation at all?

AMY: It very key in how people want to use their iPhones. I don’t know how different it is, but in the way the iPhone has become integral in business and personal life it’s definitely going to make things better for them.

EMMA: Definitely going to make things better. Amy Beeson thank you very much for that. Elinor Mills as always a pleasure. That’s it from the 5 Live Hit List tonight.

END. You can listen to the interview 5 Live Hit List on BBC iPlayer Radio

AMY BEESON

Amy Beeson runs Wordsby Communications and has a successful writing partnership with her mum Sarah Beeson MBE. Their new book Our Country Nurse is set in a country village in 1975 and is bursting with stories of mums journeys during pregnancy and motherhood.

Our Country Nurse is a rich tapestry of 1970s life Sarah Beeson MBE on BBC Radio Stoke

Author and former Stafford health visitor Sarah Beeson MBE joins Liz Ellis and Perry Spiller on BBC Radio Stoke to talk babies, parenting and her new book Our Country Nurse.

Missed it? Listen again on BBC Radio iPlayer.

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The Interview

Liz: Let’s take you back to the 70s. It’s was a decade our next guest started caring for babies and their families. Sarah Beeson from Stafford has an MBE for services to nursing and has recently published her second memoir Our Country Nurse on her adventures. Think Call The Midwife 20 years later. Sarah, what are the big differences for you between then and now for babies?

Sarah: Babies really don’t alter. Fashions and fads come and go. The most important thing is the emotional needs of babies. Today’s parents really get that. As well as the care, the breastfeeding or bottle feeding and looking after your baby the emotional needs are very important.

Perry: You’re a health visitor; you’re going into other people’s houses aren’t you? Our Country Nurse is a rich tapestry of 1970s life.

Sarah: It is. I worked in rural Kent. I had a little mini which was given to us by the county as we’d be county council employees and had only just moved into the NHS. The weather could be tremendously harsh in Kent; snow in the winter and the book has the baking hot summer of 1976 where once I parked my Mini when I came back out the steering wheel was so hot I could barely touch it to drive onto my next visit. But knocking on doors for a living has been most enjoyable.

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Liz: You didn’t have children when you started and you were very young when you became a health visitor. What made you want to do it?

Sarah: When I trained at Hackney Hospital on community practice towards the end of my training I went out with a marvellous health visitor visiting high rise blocks and there were terrible conditions in some areas. She was so welcomed by her families, she organised nursery placements, she sorted housing out and I thought I want to that. Later on when they were looking for nurses who wanted to do health visiting I applied and got in.

Liz: You’ve got some really interesting stories. It’s fictional with names changed but loosely it’s based on your life?

Sarah: Yes, it’s my memoir. All the characters names and circumstances are changed except me, Sarah Hill, I’m the only one who is herself and I’m not even completely sure about that.

Perry: So, presumably the main protagonist is you?

Sarah: It’s me narrating and it’s my story but there are some real characters. I dedicated Our Country Nurse to three Staffordshire health visitors who are no longer with us but there wonderful way of working come out in some of my characters particularly Hermione who is wonderful largely based on a dear friend.

Liz: Some of the stories people might find a little shocking. Tell us about the Filipino mum?

Sarah: They was a Filipino couple with a new baby. I went to see them and they worked very long hours for hardly any money. They got one half day a week off on a Sunday and really it modern day slavery.

Perry: How much did they earn?

Sarah: They earned £17 and ten shillings a month between them.

Perry: Good grief.

Sarah: I mean wages weren’t high but that was exploitation. And the excuse from was they got a room – which was an attic, and food – which they weren’t used to and couldn’t eat. They wanted to get away to the United States and their story was largely based on someone I did see.

Perry: What did Sarah encounter with this couple then?

Sarah: The mum was wonderful but she really couldn’t spend enough time with the baby. I used to do a number of clinics and one had bus that went round and picked everyone up and brought them to this monthly country clinic and took them all home again all for free. I more or less said it’s essential she goes to her employer she must come; dereliction of duty on your part if you let them go. She was a very pukka lady and didn’t want to go against that so allowed her to have this afternoon off once a month to come to clinic and that’s where we hatched the plot for her to escape.

Perry: So she escaped!

Liz: You helped her to get out of the situation.

Perry: It says in the book that she was advised to leave the baby under an apple tree so she could carry on working for the family?

Sarah: Yes, what her employer kept telling her was to wrap the baby up and leave her under the apple trees in the orchard and get on with your work, I used to do that on Nanny’s day off. It was January! It was real exploitation. You have to tread very carefully sometimes and that’s the thing with health visiting you have no right of access, you have no right to go in. It’s people’s good will.

Perry: For unmarried mothers back in the 70s was there still stigma there was in previous decades?

Sarah: There was. There’s a story about a young girl, another one I helped to escape from looking after two horrible elderly uncles in a tumbledown farm to a nice little flat of her own. Things were changing in the 70s, it wasn’t as Dickensian as 30s, 40s, 50s but it was still very hard and tough for women at that time generally but particularly unmarried mothers.

Liz: One of the stories from your book which are based on real events is about you going to help a mum with a three year old who’s having issues in the night?

Sarah: This is based on a quite a few incidents because quite a few parents say their child is talking to someone or seeing someone and it’s not that unusual and it’s not usually a ghost, it’s usually imagination and children have seven years before they really separate reality from fantasy.

Liz: What are they doing in the middle of the night though?

Sarah: I can’t give the story away but its not all that it seems. The whole family is really worried because they think they’ve got a poltergeist; things are falling off dressers and crashing to the floor.

Perry: Was this a real story?

Sarah: Yes, but the actual outcome isn’t quite that you might think it was.

Perry: Now that’s a teaser.

Liz: There were a lot of high profile stories in the papers in the 70s about children and ghosts.

Sarah: There is always something going on in that direction.

Liz: You must have thought why are you calling me?

Sarah: When you’re a health visitor people go to you to ask for help and very often you’re not quite the person who has the knowledge but you can be conduit; you can find the right person.

Liz: Did you have any other unusual cases like that?

Sarah: I’ve unblocked drains, I’ve called the environmental health for all sort of infestations – things that I can’t actually deal with though I’m quite good at unblocking drains. In the 70s people didn’t have the money and insurance cover for emergency situations so you did get rung up just as you were leaving the office. For instance on Christmas Eve as I was leaving someone rings with a problem and it was that story that started off the memoirs. A lady rang me and said I can’t settle the baby they’re crying, crying, crying. I went out I was there for absolutely ages talk about breastfeeding, positions and I’d left the minis lights on. I had a completely flat battery and no mobile phones in those days. I didn’t want to go back to the house I’d been there two and a half hours. I walked to the phone box and rang the local garage. Great big snowflakes started to fall and I was stuck in a drift with a flat battery on Christmas Eve and I didn’t have any money with me. This lovely mechanic came out, he started my car and I asked him how much and he said, ‘Nothing, Nurse, it’s Christmas Eve, Merry Christmas.’ I put that into the text of Happy Baby, Happy Family as a little story and my agent said to me you should write your memoirs.

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Liz: Was it because of that going above and beyond dedication that you got the MBE?

Sarah: I got the MBE as a health visitor for working with children and families in Stafford. People put me forward for it without my knowledge. And I understand the Queen often says you get your MBE on behalf of a whole team of people. I just happened to be the one who was going up to get it and representing the profession.

Perry: Here’s the killer question – there’s a lot of people listening who would have been mums in 70s and are the daughters of those mothers. In your estimation are parents better now than they were?

Sarah: This generation of parents is the best there has ever been. Parents these days they really work as a team, they put their child’s welfare, their wellbeing at the heart of what they’re doing. Working parents, working mums especially often feel so torn between work and childcare but working is a good example for your children, whether you’re a stay at home mum, work full time or part time, there has been great improvements in parenting and especially in the emotional needs; that love and security. Recognising your child as an equal, you’re the custodian of those rights.

Liz: You think we do that more now?

Sarah:  A lot more now.

Perry: Is it an attitude of mind thing? In the 70s they were only one generation away from a child should be seen and not heard.

Sarah: That was not quite as bad as it had been but the parents of children then had definitely been told to be seen and not heard. It’s evolved and now parents understand that harsh words can hurt. That’s a big leap forward and I don’t think many parents now would think that smacking children would be OK because it always makes things worse.

Liz: Physically though it was harder for mums back then using terry nappies – we’ve got it easier now.

Perry: And your washing machine saves your life.

Liz: In birth we’re a lot more likely to use pain relief now, there weren’t a lot of options then.

Sarah: We do have wonderful midwifery and obstetrics service these days compared with then but there was every week an antenatal class run by myself and the midwife, there’s a wonderful midwife in the book who was an absolute treasure her mums adored her. We did a topic every week and relaxation every week – taking you through labour – because the NHS is so squeezed and lacking in resources some parents can’t get onto a course sometimes. So yes, I’m all for the new developments, I think it’s wonderful to have them but it’s your wonderful midwife who steers you through it.

Perry: Sarah, it was lovely to speak to you and the new book is Our Country Nurse. There’s quite a few stories drawn from your time in Staffordshire.

Liz: Thank you for coming in Sarah Beeson from Stafford, MBE.

Order a signed copy of Our Country Nurse.

Published by Harper Element.
Paperback at £8.99 available from Amazon, Waterstones, Foyles and WH Smith.
eBook and £6.49 available from Amazon Kindle, iTunes, Google Play and Kobo.
Audiobook £12.99 read by Anna Bentinck available from Amazon Audible and iTunes.

Parents Having A Health Visitor Shouldn’t Be A Nice-To-Have, It Should Be A Right

By Saraimg_4359h Beeson MBE Author and former Health Visitor

I recently had an article published in the Huffington Post on why Health visiting is under threat and that terrifies me, not because health visitors will lose their jobs but because we are putting the health and wellbeing of mothers and babies at risk.

In a letter to the Times the RCN has called for the government to stop the cuts to health visiting but it is the government handing over the commissioning of the NHS to councils at the same time as cutting the funding to the NHS and the local authorities, that has caused this problem in the first place.

The government are breaking the promises made in the Health Visitor Implementation plan that pledged to train an extra 4,000 health visitors. The big government plan that promised to get leavers to return to practice, promised to increase the number of health visitors available locally across the country. If the government don’t stop these cuts all that will be left is broken promises and the end of a service that even pre-dates the NHS and has being providing community nursing to families for over 150 years.

I believe every parent has the right to have access to their health visitor. The right to ask questions; The right to be reassured; The right to be heard.

I’m hoping parents will speak now and join NHS staff to stand up for the rights of their child to comprehensive health care. Because every child matters and every family, whoever they are, will need someone to share in their achievements and offer professional advice during the early years of parenthood.

Because being a good parent isn’t easy. You never know when you’ll need your health visitor. It might be when your baby is two weeks old, or 18 months or four-years-old. When you’ve got money worries, when your marriage breaks down, or when you lose your mum – I’ve been there with families during all these times and know that being able to talk to a health visitor meant the difference between finding the right support and struggling on alone for years, and sometimes the difference between life and death.

I’ve been the health visitor that’s given the children their tea, to give a single mum a break, who’s spotted a baby needs urgent medical attention, that’s taken a mum to a women’s refuge – like many of us have. This is the best generation of parents there has ever been. Today’s mums and dads are so dedicated and work as a team – they’re giving their all and what are they getting back? Already the health service is becoming patchy. Some families haven’t got the service they deserve, but I know where there is still a good health visiting service the parents will stand with us and say we aren’t letting you take away our health visitor.

It’s not that those parents need a health visitor to tell them what to do. In my experience mums and dads are the experts on their own baby and every child is unique. But having someone who will support you, give you advice that’s right for your family – to me that is who a health visitor should be for every family on their caseload. That service shouldn’t be a nice to have – it must be a right.

Health visiting isn’t about ticking developmental boxes. If the local authority are going to be commissioning services they should be designing them around what families need, not what will save a few pence. Because if you skimp on the health of children in the early years the tax-payer and that child ends up paying for it for the rest of their lives.

In an attempt to save money the short-sighted councils are planning to cut the health visiting service. Already we are losing experienced health visitors through redundancy. In March and April this year 433 health visitors were lost from the service. There are now only 9,711 health visitors and last year 697,852 babies were born in England and Wales. If the cuts go ahead there will be even less health visitors and the service I’ve worked in for over four decades will be lost and once it’s gone there is no way to get it back.

I don’t think the government and local councils really understand what a health visitor does. If they did, they’d see that we are uniquely placed to be with parents to ensure the growth, development and health of babies and the mental and physical health of mothers. We are often the person who refers to other health professionals when there is a problem, who flags to agencies when children are at risk, who should be picking up on and supporting mother suffering from postnatal depression.

Already the numbers of health visitors have gone down from 20,000 to under 10,000. Every child matters to us, let’s tell the government and councils they need to matter to them too.

About Sarah Beeson MBE
In 1969, 17-year-old Sarah arrived in Hackney in the East End of London to begin her nursing career. Six years later she went into health visiting, practising for over 35 years in Kent and Staffordshire, and building up a lifetime’s expertise and stories through working with babies and families. In 1998 Sarah received the Queen’s Institute for Nursing Award and in 2006 was awarded an MBE for Services to Children and Families in Stafford by Queen Elizabeth II.

Now she divides her time between Staffordshire and London, writing and meeting wonderful readers and parents. She writes books with her daughter Amy Beeson. The New Arrival is her true story of training to be a nurse in Hackney. Her second memoir Our Country Nurse is set in a country village in 1975 and is bursting with stories of mums journeys during pregnancy and motherhood.

Her parenting book Happy Baby, Happy Family has made her the go-to expert for parenting brands and publications.

How to introduce your pet to a new baby

We were glad to give new parents and parents to be some advice in Mumfidential. New research from The Baby Show with MadeForMums has found that nearly half of new parents today have pets and that three-quarters of parents believe that having a pet is beneficial for a child’s development, teaching them a sense of responsibility and improving their social skills. (Photo credit Bumpkins).

This said, the process of introducing the family pet to a new baby can be a tricky experience and one that needs to be managed and monitored carefully. Expert speaker at The Baby Show, Sarah Beeson MBE, and Head Vet at Notting Hill and Baron’s Court Vet, Dr Emma Nicholas, share some top tips.

Dr Emma Nicholas (Mum of 2) and Head Veterinary Nurse Anna Connell (Mum to be).

Dr Emma Nicholas (Mum of 2) and Head Veterinary Nurse Anna McConnell (Mum to be).

Dr Emma Nicholas’s tips

Prepare your pet
Give yourself plenty of time to let your dog or cat adjust to being demoted in importance before your baby arrives. You can prepare your pet by gently starting to distance yourself, for example, leaving your dog at home for slightly longer periods of time.

If your dog or cat is used to sleeping on the bed or sofa, it’s a really good idea to get them used to a bed or basket of their own nearby while you are pregnant. In this way they won’t suddenly be upset if they are no longer allowed on when the baby arrives. By encouraging your pet to become self-sufficient the stress of the change will be minimised.

Watch out for the cat litter
Pregnant women who own a cat need to keep away from the cat litter. I advise my pregnant clients not to handle the tray because of the risk of Toxoplasma. If you are worried you can ask your doctor to perform a test to see if you have antibodies to the parasite.

Prepare your home
A lot women worry about cats getting into the cot with the baby. When I had my babies I had three cats and I was very worried about this. I bought a cat net to go over the cot to stop any cat jumping in and to put my mind at ease. A stair gate can also be useful for stopping the dog going upstairs (something that will come in useful when the baby starts climbing too!)

Make time for your pet
When your baby arrives, do make time for your cat or dog when you can or she will feel neglected. Try and keep to her routine and give her a cuddle when you can. It’ll do you good too. Studies consistently show that owning a pet is good for us. It drops our blood pressure and creates a sense of well-being.

Having a baby can be challenging at times and maintaining who you are is important. Your previous relationship with your pet may seem at first glance to be a trivial thing to some, but I believe that it helps you to maintain a sense of self whilst everything around and about you is changing. Embrace the fact you have a furry friend!

Keep your pet’s routine
Work out in advance how you can manage caring for your baby alongside your dog’s usual walk times. It is important that your dog doesn’t feel rejected when the baby comes home; forward planning will make it easier to adjust your dog’s routines as your baby’s routines change too.

Ask for help
Having some friends and family who can step in to take on dog or baby duties will help you get the rest you need.

Get some fresh air
It can be really great for mum, baby and dog to go for a walk. I really enjoyed the exercise and the head space it gave me. Everyone’s needs were met so it’s a win-win when you feel up to it. Babies who get out in the fresh air on a daily basis also have much more chance of sleeping well at night. The soothing motion frequently induces slumber so, fingers crossed after you’ve walked the dog you can put your feet up with a cuppa when you return home.

Sarah Beeson MBE (photo credit Our Family Film)

Sarah Beeson MBE (photo credit Our Family Film)

Sarah Beeson MBE health visitor and author of Happy Baby, Happy Family: Learning to trust yourself and enjoy your baby agrees that preparation is the key.

Sarah Beeson’s safety tips for pets and babies

1. No matter how nice your dog or cat is, it’s better to be cautious as accidents can happen in a spilt second.

2. Never leave your pet unattended around your baby or put them close together. If your baby pulls or hits the animal they are likely to retaliate on instinct.

3. Play it cool, don’t try and too hard to get your pet to like the baby, they’ll become friends in their own time.

4. Be realistic about your pet’s ability to understand and recognise what’s happening; it’s natural they may feel pushed out.

Am I changing the nappy right?

You’ll be an expert in no time but who couldn’t do with a few tips from a baby expert on avoiding nappy disasters. Sarah Beeson shares her top tips with Prima Baby magazine.

Safety first

When changing your baby’s nappy Sarah says “It’s safest on the floor. If you have a back or knee problem it’s fine to use a changing table, but you have to be there every second as your baby will soon get to the stage where he can roll off.”

The dirty deed

“Clean him every time, whether he’s done a wee or a poo. I’ve nothing against wipes, but some babies are sensitive and react to them. Alternatively, big lint-free cotton wool pads are good. Use slightly warm water and squeeze it so its not sopping wet.”

Preventing nappy rash

“Use a thin layer of barrier cream at most nappy changes. Every day, give your baby five minutes of nappy-free time kicking on the changing mat on the floor- it really does help prevent nappy rash. Line the mat with some paper towel or an old towel first.”

 

all ready

“If you have a boy, make sure his penis is pointing down when you put the nappy on, otherwise when he wees it will go up his neck!”

About Sarah Beeson

If you’ve got a question about your LO check out Ask Sarah or get in touch.

Sarah Beeson is a health visitor and author of Happy Baby, Happy Family. She writes with her daughter Mumpreneur and writer Amy Beeson. Sarah’s memoir of training to be a nurse in 1970s London The New Arrival is a heartwarming true story published by HarperCollins.

Do you love holding other people’s babies?

I must confess when I first had LO you think your baby is so awesome it’s hard to be interested in anyone else’s. I guess that’s just natures way of making your new baby the centre of your world.

But with LO starting school last week I got to hold other people’s scrumptious new babies at YoBeBe Apps Mums & Bumps Meet Up at Somerset House and man they were just gorgeous.  What a fantastic gathering of mums and mums-to-be. With complimentary gifts from Mothercare.

It was also a pleasure to chat to the pregnant first time mums about bump life. They were already putting such thought and time into preparing for their Little One’s; my mum (author Sarah Beeson MBE) is right this is the best generation of parents ever. I was asked to speak to this group of women about my journey into motherhood, becoming an author and setting up my own business Wordsby.

Along with Marion a parent blogger at Poignee D’Amour who organises Free Meet Ups in Notting Hill and Elisa who teaches ballet with bump and baby from PregDance.  The advice we give in Happy Baby, Happy Family seemed to strike a big cord and one mum who’s read it said our instant baby calmer The Up-Down Technique stops her baby crying every time in seconds!

You can see Sarah for 1-2-1 Baby Advice at Mumsnet Bumpfest in London on 26 Sept.    And at Natures Purest Balham on 29 September.    There really is nothing more we like than talking to mums and expectant mums so please get in touch if your run a group in London or the Midlands.