Babyopathy founder Angela Spencer on how her programme helps new mamas relax and enjoy motherhood
Q: What’s your background and why did you decide to start Babyopathy?
Until October last year I owned children’s nurseries for 25 years. My first child was born 22 years ago and didn’t sleep well for three years. I also couldn’t breastfeed – and my second-born was the same! I knew there had to be a better way, so I researched everything that could support pregnancy, birth and baby’s first years to make for a more positive and relaxed motherhood experience. This led me to the biophilia hypothesis, which states that it’s our inbuilt connection to nature that nurtures our wellbeing and development, and in turn the sensory world. Seeing the positive impact as I introduced each element of what later became Babyopathy – specific nutrition plans, aromatherapy, music therapy, colour psychology and meditation etc. – inspired me to formulate the Babyopathy programme as it is today.
Q: Tell us about your M.O. and how it’s instrumental in supporting women through pregnancy, birth, and the baby journey?
Babyopathy is all about mum being relaxed and positive, as simple as that! Pregnancy and motherhood have gathered stressful associations through negative press and social media coverage. Parenting isn’t perfect but negativity is impacting on the wellbeing of both mother and baby! My aim with Babyopathy is to reclaim motherhood and make pregnancy, birth and baby’s first years relaxed, positive and contented – something to be enjoyed, even though things can go wrong and it’s a tough journey.
Q: What is your approach when it comes to birth courses?
Women seem to have lost the confidence in themselves when it comes to giving birth and raising a baby. Women need to be shown that they are strong, that they can do this and that they have other women standing by, supporting them with positivity and knowledge. That is what we bring to mums, through a sensory and immersive programme.
Q: How do you prepare women for the ‘fourth’ trimester?
Sadly, due to the pressures of social media and the lifestyles portrayed by some celebrities, many new mums feel the need to be ‘out there’ and looking perfect the day after having a baby! Coupled with pressure from employers (and the damaging SMP rules) to work up to their due date – which does not allow time for the all-important resting and nesting before birth – mums are stressed and exhausted before baby even arrives, let alone when coping with a newborn. The first weeks of a baby’s life should be about re-connecting with their mum after leaving their previous sanctuary, the sensory world of the womb, and learning to cope with the sensory overload they experience at birth and shortly afterwards. It is about skin-to-skin contact, mum being relaxed and stress-free wherever possible and baby feeling safe, secure and contented. They won’t get that from being bundled in to car seats and off to the outside world to be tagged in photos! We show mums what really matters during the fourth trimester – just them and their baby being relaxed, well rested and content!
Q:What are the most common challenges you see facing women, in your line of work?
As I have already mentioned, negativity and stress play a huge part in the wellbeing of pregnancies and birth outcomes. There is a multitude of research that proves stress during pregnancy can not only dictate a premature birth but can contribute to a stressful or emergency birth, neonatal death or long-lasting detrimental effects on emotional and mental health for baby. This is why I launched the ‘Routine in the Womb’ campaign and awareness month in June, to empower mums with this knowledge and show them effective ways to combat stress.
What also frustrates me are the pressures put on working mums by employers but also the SMP (Statutory Maternity Rules). To maximise their paid leave, which is only six months, pregnant mums are being forced to work as close to their due date as possible. This means that during the crucial last trimester, when they should be resting and nesting, they are still engrossed in the stressful world of work with most likely the added pressures of finishing projects or training a replacement etc. I have seen this result in a premature, stressful or emergency birth so many times now. This needs to change! SMP needs to support mums through their last trimester right through to their baby’s first birthday without the financial pressures to return to work; employers need to educate their female employees on the impact of stress during pregnancy, particularly the first trimester at work, before they become pregnant. Thereafter, they need to support the pregnancy journey and mums need to be much more aware of their own sensory pregnancy journey, with an emphasis on relaxation. A relaxed mum will help result in a contented baby!