I love to feature women who have shown guts and changed their lives ideally helping other women along the way. Today, I am pleased to share my interview with Jane who changed her life by setting up the Natural Birthing Company which supports women through pregnancy, birth and life as a new mum.

Natural Birthing

1. Can you tell me a little about your childhood and teenage years?

I grew up with a younger brother who I constantly bickered with! (We do get on now though) I was quite a creative child, and I enjoyed playing music in the school bands. I think I must have always had a strong work ethic as my first job was around the age of 13 as a Saturday girl in a hairdressers. I progressed to working on an egg stall on an outdoor market in all weathers and then left school at 16 to take up a Retail Management Apprenticeship with the local Electricity Board. My Dad was self-employed and my Mum initially stayed at home full time but then as we got older she also had her own business. So I came from an entrepreneurial family.

2. What made you want to become a midwife?

I came into Midwifery later in life after having my children. I’d always been interested in biology at school and my previous jobs had all involved working with the public. Then when it came to being pregnant I was fascinated with it all and I saw the role my midwife played and it really interested me. I looked into it just after my youngest was born but the time wasn’t right with a young baby, so I shelved the idea and did a couple of other jobs before revisiting it again 5 years later. I got in the first time I applied and as the time came to leave work to start the Midwifery training I had a wobble and started doubting my decision – in fact I remember breaking down in tears to my old manager! It was a life changing decision at the time – deep down I knew it was right but to leave a job where I felt comfortable to go into the challenging unknown made me doubt myself.

3. What led to you changing your career?

It started with wanting to offer women an alternative to the antenatal classes available locally. Either the NCT were run people who weren’t Midwives so women were coming into hospital with misinformation. Alternatively the NHS ones were a bit fierce with forceps blades being waved about! So Natural Birthing Company was formed to offer HypnoBirthing, Antenatal and “Preparation for parenting” classes with a natural feel, run by Midwives. Very quickly we decided to book a stand at the Baby Show at Birmingham NEC – the stand was very expensive and we worried about how we would make our money back. We had a love of natural remedies and we used aromatherapy in the hospital with women so we knew the benefits, but we also knew there was nothing available for women to buy that was ready made & safe for pregnancy. So we decided to explore the idea of making some products. To cut a long story short we went to the Baby Show with a pilot range of products and they were really well received by the women. This led us to present the range to high street retailers and it just snowballed from there! Initially there was a lot of juggling of nightshifts, studying for a degree and running the business – never mind having time for my husband & children. I reduced my hours at work, but when we took investment on board and moved to the next level I wanted to reduce my hours again but I wasn’t allowed so I had to make the decision to leave. It’s a shame particularly when they are so short of Midwives and I’d been there 8 years but it ended up being the best result for me because it has given me the freedom to grow the business and I feel so much better in myself by not working shifts.

4. What do you do now?

I’m now the Managing Director of Natural Birthing Company. We are a brand for pregnant women and new mums, providing them with natural products to support them during their journey from bump to baby and beyond. It has been a steep learning curve but I now consider myself as a business woman. We launched the products in 2014 and I’ve worn many different hats within the business over the years, having to juggle finance, marketing, sales, purchasing to name but a few. However I now have a fantastic team around me which enables me to focus on wearing less hats and having the time and energy to be the voice/face of the brand and drive the business forward. I still work as a Midwife as I like to keep current in my practice. I enjoy caring for women and getting to deliver the odd baby! So I have a varied work life with no two days ever the same and I love it!

5. What is special about your brand?

We’re quite unique in that as a midwife I know from experience what women go through during the pregnancy journey. So using this knowledge we’ve developed products that support with issues such as mood swings, hot flushes, swollen ankles, perineal tearing, stitches, haemorrhoids, engorged breasts, low milk supply and sore nipples and anxiety.

The products are all made from naturally derived ingredients so there’s no nasties such as parabens, SLS’s or mineral oils. We are also registered with the Vegan Society giving assurance that the whole range is cruelty free and vegan friendly and everything in Made in Great Britain.

6. Who has supported you as you built your business?

My biggest support has been my husband – he was amazing whilst I was training to be a midwife – he literally did everything at home and for the children for the three years that I was studying and working shifts in placements. Now with the business – he’s still by my side, supporting me every step of the way. Both of my children have got involved as well with some graphic design or helping out at Baby Shows. The District Council and other local initiatives have helped from the beginning with grants and free training and mentorship. After a local Dragons Den we secured two local investors which allowed us to fulfil our Boots contract. A further Director came on board a couple of years ago who has brought so much knowledge and experience it’s really taken the business to the next level– it’s good to have that mix of skills within the business.

7. What are your top tips for someone scared of changing direction?

It’s perfectly natural to be scared of changing direction –it’s the panic of leaving your comfort zone and the fear of the unknown. So try to take the emotions out of your decision making and write down a mind map including things like:- what your plan is, why you want to do it, how you going to achieve it, what you need to be able to achieve it, the pros & cons etc. I think if everything is down on paper it helps you to see more clearly & encourages all the thoughts out of your mind. If the change of direction is fully researched and looks the right thing to do on paper then take that as your answer. A good support network will help you with the understandable wobbles along the way.

8. What is your advice for someone who wants to set up their own business?

Get in touch with your local Council. They tend to run free courses for start-up businesses and they often have grants available too which would help fund things like getting a website built. If they can’t help you they’ll be aware of other initiatives running in your area. Get yourself to everything free that you can, you can learn so much and it’s a great way to network and pick up tips from other business owners. Write a business plan – it really encourages you to think about all the elements of a business.

9. How do you envisage the future of the NHS?

It’s pretty grim! A growing population, a rise in the number of the older generation and obesity are all putting our services under an enormous strain. Staff shortages and cuts in services are just compounding the issue. My parents told me recently that they were frightened to grow old as the thought of waiting on a trolley in A&E for 7 hours or being sent home when they weren’t fit and ready filled them with dread; I find that really sad. I don’t know what the future will bring but I don’t see any light at the end of the tunnel yet.

10. What are you hopes for the future?

We have a lot of exciting new developments in the pipeline and we plan to expand the team this year. I’m looking forward to growing the brand and spreading the word to women so they can learn about the benefits of our products. Top of my “to-do list” is to get vlogging – I went on a course recently but I need to find time to put it into action as I’d really like to connect with women through short video clips of tips & advice – so watch this space!!!

I wish Jane all the best with those exciting video plans and I wish I had known about the company when I had my children as I was so keen to use aromatherapy but scared to do so. I am sure her products would make lovely gifts for mums and I am always very keen on reminding people to treat mum as well as the new baby.

Sharing so openly takes a huge amount of courage so please do consider sharing this post by clicking one or more of the buttons below.

If you would like to share your story on this blog please get in touch.

Winnettes

I imagine most women have knickers for when you have your period. They won’t be flimsy or of the super-sexy variety. Perhaps they are your worst pair of the big Bridget Jones variety. Let’s face it we don’t want our best pants getting ruined by any leaks of blood. Yes menstrual blood, not that blue stuff shown in adverts all too often.

I was sent a pair of WUKA pants to review. I am always keen to try new pants partly because ones that cover my mum tum are few and far between.

So what are the great things about these particular knickers.

1. They are attractive and of a reasonable size. I loved how they had the brand name on the waist bit so we could rock our period knickers as much as Calvin Kleins or the like. Why should that time of the month also mean we are in ugly knickers?

2. They are an alternative to disposable menstrual products. Did you know we use around 11,000 of those in our reproductive years? I am not the greatest environmentalist in the world but if we can do something to help, that has to be a good thing.

3. You could save money on tampons by using WUKA pants.

Guess what? I got totally the wrong end of the stick at first and thought you wore these knickers with your usual protection just as added back-up. It turns out these pants are really clever and absorb that blood stuff. You then wash and re-use them.

Knickers For When You Have Your Period

I was sent a pair of WUKA wear absorbent period pants – WUKA stands for Wake up, Kick Ass, Period. They were a generous size so comfortable and covered that mum tum.

I wore them during my period and felt fine – yes after 26 years of doing it differently, it was a bit of a leap but we should leap sometimes. To be honest, they are so comfy and the right size so I could happily wear them all year round as they just look like very good pants and don’t scream “I am on my period!”

I do need to test them properly without anything else now I have read more reviews and will do when the next period shows up which these days can be unpredictable as I hurtle towards the menopause. I feel better having read other reviews that say the pants are very absorbent. I might try them at night first just because I am that bit of a scaredy-cat but how wonderful to have a reassurance of no leaks at night too?

So if you care about the environment and want to save money and hassle, WUKA pants are well worth checking out.

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Tammymum

3 Little Buttons

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This winter, there has been a dominant story across the media: the National Health Service (NHS) is in trouble. Whatever your personal feelings regarding the reasons for the NHS’ struggle, it is undeniable that the health system that cares for the nation is facing very testing times.

GP Appointment

For those who have tried to obtain a doctor’s appointment, the above will come as little surprise. Obtaining a standard GP appointment is, sadly, incredibly difficult. Though the problems vary between regions, for the most part, people struggle to see a GP. This is due to lack of availability of GPs and restrictive appointment times that aren’t conducive to modern working patterns– a fairly potent mix that has no simple solution.

So, given the fact the NHS is going through such a rough time, what should you do when you want to see your GP but can’t obtain the appointment you require? Here are a few ideas…

Go to a pharmacy

For minor conditions, a pharmacist will be able to prescribe you treatment just like a doctor would. The list of conditions that pharmacists can treat for is limited, but for issues such as allergies or eye infections, they will likely be your best port of call. Not all pharmacies offer the consultation service, however; you’re best to look for big brands rather than small, independent pharmacies.

Contact an online doctor

Thanks to the wonders of the internet, you can now talk to a qualified, registered medical professional via an online Dr app. The app will allow for a full face-to-face (well, screen-to-screen) conversation, where you can detail any issues you are experiencing and even obtain a prescription. Just remember to update your doctor of using this consultation when you next see them, especially if you are prescribed medication.

Walk-in clinics

Many hospitals operate a walk-in service, which is sometimes called Urgent Care. This can be used if you can’t see a doctor and you don’t feel like the problem can wait. However, do be warned that you’re likely to experience delays– many other patients are attending Urgent Care clinics because of a lack of GP appointments, so you might be in for a long wait. If possible, attend during the day, as the attendance levels tend to pick up in the evening. An Urgent Care doctor can’t refer you for scans or tests like a normal GP, but they can issue prescriptions for immediate complaints that you need relief from in the moment.

A warning note

It is not advisable to go to Accident and Emergency for issues that are anything other than, well, accidents and emergencies. There is every chance you will be turned away, so try all the other alternatives if your issue is not urgent.

If you have an underlying health condition, are pregnant, or caring for a young baby, then you will always be best calling your GP and asking for an urgent appointment. For anyone else, if you have concerns about your health, you can always call the NHS’ 111 phone number for further assistance.

Good luck!

3 Little Buttons

Organic fruit and veg has outlived being merely yet another food trend and has, instead, engrained itself into the mainstream. This speaks volumes about the health benefits it can provide. Add to that the fact that it is also kinder to the environment and the only question left to answer is how do I go about growing my own?

Healthy Eating and Health Food Trends

We have become somewhat obsessed with the idea of healthy eating. Ever since the government introduced the 5-a-day campaign, back in 1994, we have seen health food trends come and sometimes go – veganism is the current hot gastro topic, for example.

Eating organic fruit and veg, however, seems to have transcended all other health food trends and whether you are vegetarian, vegan or an out and out carnivore, few would dispute the benefits.

The Benefits of Eating Organic Produce

The primary benefits from eating organic fruit and veg are that they contain far higher amounts of antioxidants than regular fruit and veg. A study conducted by Newcastle University in 2014 found that organic fruit and veg contained up to 69% more antioxidants and therefore is much more likely to help prevent diseases like heart disease and cancer.

Organic fruit and veg also tastes better and the reason for this is that they are not treated with pesticides and they don’t contain preservatives.

Better health is not the only reason to consider going organic. Organic farming methods use up less energy, less water and help to enrich soil.

How to Grow Your Own

Whether growing your own organic fruit and veg in pots, a patch in the garden or a polytunnel, the number one rule is to use organic soil and mulch. The second rule that will help you grow healthy and abundant crops is to weed regularly and to keep the soil clean, making sure things like fallen leaves aren’t lying on the surface – doing this will help prevent disease from spreading and leave your plants with all the nutrients they need to flourish.

The way in which you water your crops is also important and done properly will help prevent disease and maintain healthy plants. The best method is to use a water soaker that will deliver moisture straight to the roots of the plants.

Follow these simple guidelines and you be eating your own organic fruit and veg in no time at all.

Tammymum

Looking after your hair and making sure it is in the best possible condition is an all year-round process. The warm weather in summer throws up certain challenges as do the colder months of the year. Here is some handy advice on how to keep your hair in great shape through the winter months.

Eat Your Way to Healthy Hair

A healthy and well-balanced diet can make all the difference when it comes to the condition of your hair and scalp. Try to make sure that you are eating protein rich foods such as eggs, along plenty of fruit and vegetables that contain vitamins and minerals. Spinach and broccoli, for example, contain iron which helps maintain the flow of oxygen to all parts of the body – citrus fruits will help absorb the iron and give you a Vitamin C boost.

Other foods that will help include nuts and seeds for Omega-3 and wholegrains as a source of biotin. For great looking hair during the winter months, eat well.

Hair Care Products

The sheer range of hair care products can be overwhelming, but choosing the right products plays an important role in helping you look great in winter. To save time and confusion try looking to Capital Hair & Beauty, where you will find everything you need all in one place.

A gentle shampoo used alongside oil treatments, that contain macadamia, will act as a great foundation that will help give your hair body and vitality. Depending on the type of hair you have, you may also look to a detangling spray or conditioning mist to increase manageability and reduce frizz.

Using three or four good quality products is all that it takes and anymore could lead to your hair looking overworked – it’s about choosing the best products for you, your lifestyle and hair type.

Show me the Honey

To lock in extra moisture, a weekly treatment using raw honey will give your hair that extra boost it needs through the cold months and beyond. Start by brushing your hair to stimulate the scalp and eliminate and tangles, then apply honey, tips to roots. Then leave for around half an hour before rinsing with warm water.

Head Massage

The ultimate way to pamper yourself through the winter and to revitalise your hair and scalp is to book yourself in for a head massage. This helps with blood circulation and foods the hair with nutrients, leaving you feeling great and your hair looking fantastic.

Bring on Spring!

Cuddle Fairy