I'll never forget that incredible feeling of excitement I experienced when I discovered I was pregnant with my first child. I could hardly believe it but seeing my baby on the ultrasound scan made it all so very real. I had a tiny human growing inside me! This was really happening!
Of course with all the excitement came a whole load of questions, and like most mums-to-be, a touch of fear and anxiety about the pregnancy and birthing process itself. Well meaning friends and family offered their own little pearls of wisdom but it soon became clear that the best way to prepare for this life changing experience would be to sign up for antenatal classes. Doing so was one of the best decisions I've ever made.
I was quite excited but also a little nervous before my first class but the teacher quickly put us all at ease and I really looked forward to each and every session after that. Not only did the classes prepare us for the birth and provide us with access to a whole lot of information but we also made some life long friends with other parents-to-be. I really don't think I would have survived those first few months of being a new mum without the support and friendship of my antenatal class-mates and seven years on we're still very close.
There are obviously a range of options out there when it comes to choosing an antenatal class and I'm sure you'd agree that it's a good idea to check out all that are on offer in your local community. Classes are quite often offered by local mums who have trained in antenatal care and in this post, I'm delighted to introduce...
Nina Meekings - Antenatal class teacher for the Daisy Foundation in South Sutton, Banstead, Redhill and Surrey surrounds
Mother of two and antenatal class teacher for the Daisy Foundation, Nina Meekings, talks about why she's so passionate about supporting women and families through their pregnancy and birth journeys and the importance of antenatal classes...
Why did you choose to become an antenatal teacher?
I chose to leave my career in human resources when I was on maternity with my youngest. This was a direct result of how much my life had changed since becoming pregnant for the first time in 2013.
There were so many challenges throughout both my pregnancies and with both babies. Some that I had never even heard of, including hyperemesis gravidarum (keeping me bed bound for 11 weeks with multiple trips to the hospital), gestational diabetes, anxiety, post-natal depression for myself and my husband, problems establishing breast feeding, tongue tie, cow’s milk protein intolerance and reflux to name a few!
Having babies was life changing in many ways for us. I changed as a person and I just had to be part of a world where I could use my experience to support and perhaps influence the way women and their families prepared for pregnancy, birth and life with a baby. I had to know that I could be a support to women in this time of massive change, which society often seems to gloss over. We hear things like ‘getting your life back’, 'snapping back into shape’ and so on when actually, our lives, bodies, minds and relationships will probably never be the same again.
What to you love most about your job?
It’s got to be watching the change in my clients. Seeing expectant mums and dads going from a place of fear and often social conditioning about birth and having a baby (think TV shows/movies portraying births) to a place where they have had time and space to learn and discuss evidence and scientific based research about normal, physiological birth and baby behaviour instead. Hearing Mums tell me (after their birth journey) that they felt confident, able to make informed decisions and remain calm really does it for me!
Why should expecting parents think about attending antenatal classes?
In most other aspects of our lives we do some type of preparation or research before we make a big decision, buying a new house or a car, even booking a holiday. We'll often spend hours going through our options, thinking about the pros and cons and how this decision will affect our lives. Yet having a baby is an even bigger life event. So, no matter what type of antenatal class you choose, take some time and space to prepare, learn, understand and talk. It really is invaluable.
Tell us about the classes offered through the Daisy Foundation?
For expectant mums I teach Daisy Birthing. It’s like a little slice of calm and relaxation every week. It’s a unique class because we learn antenatal education whilst using movement and really embedding those breathing techniques for labour into our muscle memory.
A great follow on to Daisy Birthing is the Daisy Active Birth Workshop. It’s a one off 4-hour workshop for expectant mums and their birth partners. Here we are really focusing in on learning about physiological birth, the role of hormones, the benefits of using movement and gravity to make labour and birth more efficient and preparing the birth partner for their role. It’s perfect for first time parents and for those looking to prepare for a more positive experience the next time around.
Daisy Parent, I admit, is my favourite class! I wish it had been around when I was pregnant. It’s such a comprehensive course. Twelve hours for mum and her birth partner to thoroughly prepare. But it’s special because Daisy Parent doesn’t stop at birth, like most other antenatal classes. We focus on life after birth, mum, partner, baby, emotions, mental health, plus practical skills like changing nappies, soothing and washing baby. It's unique and perfect for new parents to be.
When is the best time to sign up for antenatal classes?
Depending on which type of class you choose, you could be anywhere from 14 weeks to 32 weeks. It’s always best to book in advance, especially with Daisy as we restrict class sizes so that everyone gets the support they need.
What is your favourite photograph you've taken of your children and why?
I take a lot of photos but they’re not normally successful, usually because the girls won’t stay still for more than 2 seconds! But there’s one I took where my youngest was just a few weeks old, having a sleep, and my then toddler was just snuggled up right beside her, holding hands. On the surface the picture is nothing special but for me it reminds me that there were little pieces of love and calm in what was a time of real chaos for us.
How can expectant parents get in touch with you to book?
Sign up for classes with Nina and receive 10% off my photography packages!
I'm very excited to be teaming up with Nina to offer 10% off my photography packages to families who attend Nina's classes in 2018.* Maternity, newborn and family photography are all covered in this exclusive offer so do get in touch with Nina to find out more about her classes.