You may have noticed a few interviews with some of our lovely Natal teachers lately, and this week we talk to Zoe, our MummyNatal and BabyNatal teacher for Birmingham (South West), who provides our fantastic Natal classes in her local area through her company Bumps to Bubbas .
Zoe joined The Natal family in 2014 and has been a fantastic advocate of our brand, our ethos and our programmes ever since – in fact, we were very pleased to see her being nominated our ‘Teacher of the month’ a few times! At home, Zoe is a wife and a busy mummy to two adorable little boys, and today we talk to Zoe about her MummyNatal training and the effect it had on her life, both from a professional and from a personal point of view.
Q.: “Thank you for talking to us today Zoe. Tell us about your MummyNatal training – what was your most memorable moment?”
Zoe: “I enjoyed all of my training with Steph and Dean, and there isn’t just one most memorable moment for me; it was great meeting and working with all the other MummyNatal teachers as well as our founders and midwife Lynn.”
Q.: “Did you have any ‘lightbulb moments’?
Zoe: “I did have a couple of ‘lightbulb’ moments where I was able to reflect on my own experiences and discover why I felt a particular way and what I could do going forward. This made me more aware of how I felt and how I would deliver content in classes to make sure that the way I teach is as ‘judgement-free’ as possible.
In particular, I remember the time when we were reflecting on how birth stories that we are being told by other people can impact our own thoughts and experiences. Thinking about it, I found some parallels between a birth story I had been told before having children and the birth of my first child. This made me think about how I re-told and viewed my own story, and it was a really interesting personal revelation! I have used the reflection process in other areas of my life as well, and this has been really invaluable for me”.
Q.: “That’s great Zoe! Sometimes we don’t realise that the way we internalise our own experiences and recount them is heavily influenced by previous experiences, fear, biases and beliefs, and indeed things we have heard from others. It’s great to be able to become aware of that, especially as a teacher, as this awareness can really shape the way you teach. Would you like to share any particular, memorable moments from teaching your MummyNatal classes?
Zoe: “My most memorable moment was when I had a lady who attended one of my MummyNatal terms told me that she no longer feared her impending birth, but she was now accepting of it and of what was to come. I was also amazed at how I noticed that she started to physically relax throughout the weeks and started to participate in discussions in a more ‘positive’ way, rather than coming across more worried and concerned about what was to come. She told me that before she started my course she was feeling so anxious and terrified of her birth that she didn’t even think that a course could really help her change those feelings around anyway; by week 4 of our MummyNatal term she was a completely different person and had found some techniques that were already proving very useful to her in her pregnancy.”
Q.: “That’s a great example of having had an amazing impact onto someone’s journey. I’m sure there are other moments you’d like to share with us from your MummyNatal classes?”
Zoe: “Well, yes, another highlight for me was receiving the first birth story from one of the mums at my classes! This particular lady had her baby prematurely and very unexpectedly, but she said that although she didn’t have the birth that she had originally been planning, she found that the breathing techniques she had learnt in our MummyNatal classes really helped her with the contractions and early labour.
Not to mention how much I LOVE the discussions that we have in each class, and the way in which the ladies all seem to bond with each other and feel comfortable enough to share their experiences and feelings – it creates a great atmosphere in class and enables the discussions to flow really well.”
Q.: “We’re hearing really positive things about the impact that your classes have on expectant mums Zoe – that’s what we are all about! But what has MummyNatal done for YOU – how do you feel about being a MummyNatal practitioner?”
Zoe: “I love being a MummyNatal practitioner! I love and am honoured that I am able to be a part of these ladies’ pregnancies and birth journeys and have a possible impact on the way they view birth, on how they might plan to give birth or use some of the techniques that we cover in class. It is an honour to work with expectant mums and help them prepare for the birth of their babies, whatever their personal journeys will take them. I also love how I continue to learn something new from each of the ladies at every class and during every term, as their stories and experiences aid my development and help me to tweak the classes and add new dimensions to them, so I know that this is actually brilliant for my professional growth as a teacher.”
Q.: “You mentioned ‘techniques’ that you cover in your classes – this is quite key, as at MummyNatal we don’t teach a particular ‘method’. What do you think are the main benefits from the MummyNatal programme, which make it different from everything else that exists out there for pregnant women and their families?”
Zoe: “Well, that’s exactly it – the main benefit of MummyNatal is that it’s ‘non-prescriptive’. We don’t tell mums what the ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ way to birth their baby is, because there is no right or wrong! We recognise that everyone is different, and different things will work for different people. It is YOUR birth and YOUR baby, and our classes allow mums to explore what feels right for them and know that they can use any of the techniques in any type of birth or situation. That’s why it isn’t just for first time mums, as many second or subsequent time mums can either learn something new or reflect on their previous birth experiences and use MummyNatal to help them in their future births, through either making changes and trying something new or reflecting on what worked well for them previously and perhaps focusing on practicing those techniques again.
Also, MummyNatal allows mums-to-be to spend time relaxing and becoming in tune with their bodies, as well as giving them some dedicated time to bond with their babies through some of the activities we do in class. The classes, while just for mums-to-be, are inclusive of the whole family as the education section allows time for discussions that can be shared with Dad, birth partner or other family members and friends. For example, discussions include how everyone close to the baby can bond with them antenatally, and how the role of the birth partner, whoever that may be, has an important influence of the birth.”
Q.: “So what would you say to someone who is considering training to teach MummyNatal classes?
Zoe: “Go for it! It is a great job to have, and it’s amazing to be playing this role in people’s journeys into parenthood. It does take work from you – it’s not just about knowing and understanding the materials used in class, but about understanding how you can make a difference to someone’s birth experience. You can help provide tools that they may not have considered before and allow them the time to discover and learn this for themselves. It does take some work in building your relationships, but once you have your classes it is so rewarding and feeds your desire to do more and work with more mums-to-be.”
Zoe: “MummyNatal had a HUGE impact on my second pregnancy and birth. I was running classes the whole way through my pregnancy, and although I was delivering the sessions to other mums, I was still able to use the music, the breathing and the birth ball movements to be able to relax and bond with my own baby, which was fantastic. I used the techniques we use in classes to allow myself to be in tune with my own body and notice where I used to hold any tension, so that I was able to release it. The birth ball exercises were great for my third trimester to ease those pregnancy niggles and move into positions to allow me to be more comfortable.
The birth education sections and my own MummyNatal training had really helped me to open my eyes to the choices that a pregnant lady has and that I feel were denied to me and my family the first time round, through not being given all the information to make an informed choice. With our second baby, my husband and I were able to make decisions that suited us in during the pregnancy and for the birth. Before my MummyNatal days I wouldn’t have been so confident at asking for what we wanted.
While my birth didn’t go the way I would have preferred (I needed an emergency C-section), I was still able to use my MummyNatal breathing techniques to remain calm, which then enabled my baby’s heartbeat to stabilise. Once in theatre we could still benefit from the choices we had made about delayed cord clamping and skin-to-skin, which my wonderful husband made sure happened, as it was so important to me. There is always more to learn and reflect on with MummyNatal, and I’m sure if I went on to have more babies I would find even more to use for the tools and techniques I learnt through my training!
Thank you Zoe, it was a pleasure talking to you, and congratulations on your beautiful family!
If you would like to know more about training with The Natal Family or about the programmes we offer, you can contact Steph on firstname.lastname@example.org.