Julia gets the inside scoop with London’s favourite Maternity Consultant
Calling all new mums and mums to be! We were delighted to meet Maternity Consultant, Hattie Weeks a number of months ago whilst shooting a newborn shoot (pictured in this blog post!). If you haven’t heard of Hattie and her services yet, you will need to head over to her website and set up a meeting. But before you do, read a bit more about her below.
What led you to work with babies?
Almost 23 years ago, when I was happily globe-trotting and working as a scuba diving instructor/underwater photographer, my brother dropped a bombshell on the family by telling us that the “baby” they’d told us they were expecting later in the summer had turned out to be triplets at the first scan. I dropped my dream job aboard a dive yacht in Kenya to come home to help. The rest is history.
What’s the difference between a maternity consultant and a maternity nurse?
Ideally, as a maternity consultant/baby coach I have contact with the mother-to-be from several months prior to the birth. I am then able to offer practical guidance (what kit to buy, what ante-natal classes are best etc) as she prepares for life with a new baby.
I pop in two or sometimes three times a week to coach, reassure and empower mums. Maternity Nurses tend to live-in and their role is to see to all the baby’s needs, 24 hours a day.
What is your most popular service?
My postnatal support packages. I visit mums fairly frequently during the first few weeks, gradually weaning them off me over several weeks (and sometimes months) as they grow and become more confident in their new role.
What are some common reasons for parents securing a maternity consultant?
I find my clients prefer to be coached rather than employing someone who simply moves in to their home and takes over with their new baby. They feel empowered by learning to deal with the baby themselves but want the guiding hand of someone with a huge amount of confidence and experience to show them the ropes.
This offers them the option of having support peppered throughout the first weeks, or sometimes months, of their baby’s life so that they can be given information and knowledge in bite sized pieces as they go along.
What’s your best advice for new parents?
Well, it goes without saying that I feel all new parents could do with having a few Hattie weeks scheduled into their diary!
But seriously, I think my best advice is to understand that the impact of a new baby into a relationship is a huge upheaval and a challenge. There is a lot to learn and you hit the ground running as soon as that front door closes behind you on your return from hospital. In any other job, you would not expect to start work on a Monday morning with absolutely no experience nor training, so I’d say, don’t hesitate to put your hand up and ask, “Please can someone show me what to do”.
Those tiny-baby moments go by in a flash, and having a bit of guidance can make the journey magical rather than miserable.
Do you have any products that you recommend for every parent?
A brilliant nappy rash balm which is organic, super-effective and smells yummy too: Tiny Troubles by Mama Nature.
Little bags of porridge oats (I use a chopped up muslin cloth to make little “bath tea bags”) dropped into the baby’s bathwater. It’s natural, cheap as chips and helps keep their skin moisturised and silky smooth!
Do you have a favourite baby story that you can share with us?
I think it has to be one of the most emotional bookings I have ever done: a very nervous first-time mum asked me to come to support her for a few hours a day whilst her husband had to fly to the USA on business for a week. Hours after he had left for the airport, whilst doing a nappy change I happened to notice that one of the baby’s testes was bigger and much darker than the other.
We popped to the GP to get it checked but were sent home being told it was nothing to worry about. He thought it was a hydrocele. A couple of hours later, the same GP called back to say he’d like to re-consider his diagnosis and requested that we take the baby immediately to Great Ormond Street where he would arrange for a biopsy. By this point my client’s husband was on the plane, so we were unable to contact him.
The hospital told us that they would be in touch within 24 hours with results. It was a long wait – but the call came the next day, and the receptionist simply told my client that she must travel to the hospital to hear the results – they were reluctant to do this over the phone. Of course, this rang all the “C-word” alarm bells and the distraught mum insisted that they tell her there and then what the outcome was. I stood in the nursery door holding her hand, both of us staring into each other’s eyes, and I then watched her face as the news came …. that it was a benign cluster of mal-formed cells that had somehow been created within and around the testicle itself and that it was nothing sinister, but they would have to remove the testicle.
I saw the sheer relief flood over her face and we both sank to our knees, hugging each other whist her cheerfully oblivious little boy looked on from his cot! The father managed to get a sling-shot flight straight home again in time for the little lad to have the mini-op. It was straightforward and over within minutes. 5 minutes later the baby was gurgling and flirting with the nurses and home within the hour.
I have never lost contact with them and we frequently email or chat on Facebook and, although they subsequently moved to live in the USA, they always meet up with my husband and I for an evening out when they are back in London twice a year. They have gone on to have another little boy and we have remained very close friends for many years since. It was a deeply emotional and hugely bonding 24 hours for us all.
What’s your favourite children’s story of all time?
Oh, that’s a tough one because my mum read books to us every night, but I think I’ll plump for “Sam & The Firefly”, which I made her read over and over again for years. I still have my copy of the book, along with my name scrawled in pencil inside. I was deeply possessive of it too, with two brothers to contend with. I used to read it to my triplet nephews when they were little too.
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Don’t forget to pop over to Hattie’s website to have a closer look at her services or to get in touch. If you are currently expecting and would like more information on our pregnancy and newborn portrait shoots, please do get in touch. We tend to book these sessions in advance, so don’t delay!
We look forward to hearing from you and welcoming your little one into the world.