Tag Archives: parenting

Beating new mothers with sticks, really?

“The terry nappy brigade (or washable nappy brigade) like the breast feeding brigade is  just another stick to beat new mums with,” said actress and mum of triplets, Jackie Clune on Jeremy Vine’s lunchtime BBC2 radio show, last Thursday (20 Oct 2016.)  I’m really sorry that Jackie* (who is currently playing Julius Caesar in an all female cast at the King’s Cross Theatre) feels like this.

For the last 20 years I have been watching parents spend far too much money on disposables and struggle with getting their 3 and 4 year olds out of them.  In 2003 I set up a business, Nappy Ever After to help people use washable nappies and find out if they worked for them.

It hasn’t been easy to get the message out there:  there has been a virtual media blackout on talking about washable nappies and potty training in an informed way because the disposable nappy companies spend big money on advertising space.  Even the BBC doesn’t like to say anything that does not reflect public opinion, even if that ‘public opinion’ has been bought by huge multi-national corporations.

But this nappy news item, despite what Jackie Clune said above, turned out to be different.  What was supposed to be a story celebrating the life of Valerie Hunter Gordon, the ‘inventor’ of the “disposable” nappy, became an item about the benefits of the modern washable nappy and the problem of nappy waste in landfill.  Hunter Gordon’s daughter even called the programme to correct the view that her mother was the inventor of the modern “disposable” and thus responsible for the nappy waste nightmare.  Hunter Gordon’s invention, the Paddi was a bio-degradable pad that sat inside a washable nappy cover – a very different product to the single-use nappy that contains super-absorbent material from polymers known as sodium polyacrylate.

You can hear the Jeremy Vine show nappy item here, fast-forward to 1 hour 9 mins.

For the record, the real nappy industry is  a small percentage of parents who have enjoyed reusable nappies and who want to share their knowledge.  We give information  and sell washable nappies because we have found them better for us, our wallets and most importantly for our children.

*Jackie, you asked on the show, what’s the point of giving up the convenience of disposables when wars are being waged around the world.  That thought has occured to me, but sadly, there is nothing I can do to stop the wars.  However I can help reduce nappy waste.    I can understand that real nappies may not work for you, but please don’t disrespect us with ill-informed cliches:  the other London nappy laundry company, Number One for Nappies was started and is still run by a father of twins (black and not middle-class.)

As people who are privileged to live in a land of peace it’s our responsibility to act in ways that work for us.  We can also try to increase the demand for single-use nappies that do not contain SAPs and could be composted locally.  I talk about this here.  That could be the best solution we know about for now, along with better knowledge about potty training as publicised by Kandi Burruss.  Humanity is at stake as shown by another theatre company, Complicite in its ground-breaking show, Encounter.

And Jackie Clune, if your triplets are still in nappies I’d be happy to give you a set of gNappies to try out on one of them.  Even if you only use washables some of the time you’d be reducing waste and you may even discover that you love them.  Actually they can be used with disposable inserts and are not unlike the product invented, so long ago, by Valerie Hunter Gordon.

A Conversation between Future Parents – Guest Blog

Guest Blog by Neerja Vasishta

One thing I’ve learnt since having a baby is this: there is a mountain of expert advice on every pregnancy and baby-related topic I could imagine.

That can be very useful. But I’ve also been seriously impressed by myself. By the sheer amount of learning I undertook from conception to birth and beyond. And this on a subject that started out abstract and alien and became one of the most fascinating and precious – my child. Just as my baby grows, my learning and experience evolves.

Of course this isn’t unique to me – this is the case with each and every mother around me. Which means that in a relatively small area, there is a huge wealth of baby knowledge. In other words, everyday we are in the midst of an army of true baby experts.

Since this is the case, why aren’t there more opportunities for us to learn from each other? And for pregnant women to talk to women who have just had babies? Wouldn’t that be a really great antenatal class?

That’s why Joy Vick and I are running a three-part series of conversations between mums and expectant mothers. These conversations offer a space:

  • for women to learn from one another by sharing knowledge and experience
  • to share fears, expectations, and hopes
  • to build confidence in birthing and caring for babies
  • to affirm the value of our own intuition, and
  • to make friends with other mothers-to-be

In each session, a theme is discussed through: 1) personal experiences and reflections of a handful of new mums and 2) the expectations and thoughts of mums-to-be.

Session 1: The connected baby We know it’s hard to get beyond the thinking about the birth, but this session is about how you and your baby can connect in the very early days and how you can continue to read and interact with your baby.

Session 2: Feeding Feeding and growing your baby is top priority. But so many women simply wish they had been more prepared for how much of the early months of a baby’s life revolves around breastfeeding.

Session 3: Expectations & birth Each birth is a major life experience for a woman. At antenatal classes, you get the technical side of things, how to cope with breathing, what to expect with a hospital birth, etc. Here we look at preparing mentally for birth, fears and listening to you.

Many people find the most valuable part of antenatal classes is not the information presented, but the new friends with whom to share experiences. This series of conversations is intended to recreate the way we learn from one another about birth and babies and can serve as a complement to traditional antenatal classes.

Connect with your babyWho are we and why are we doing this?

Joy Vick,  founder of social enterprise Nappy Ever After and currently manager of the Real Nappies for London Network. Joy has extensive experience supporting and connecting mums and their families to one another.

Neerja Vasishta has a seven-month-old baby who has provided great surprises to her from before birth. She wants new mums to trust themselves and feel confident in their ability to birth and raise their child.

“As a trainee teacher I was taught that you learn more from the students and they learn more from each other than they learn from you.  During my 10 years of teaching in FE I found this to be true.  So that will be the philosophy of the workshops. The main thing is to exchange ideas, get the brain cells ticking over and make friends.”

Details and how to register:

The sessions will take place on August 15, 22, and 29 from 6:30pm–8:00pm at Nappy Ever After, 96 Chalton Street, London, NW1 1HJ. To register a place, call Nappy Ever After on 020-7383-5115 or email mail2007@nappyeverafter.co.uk. Cost is £20 per person for the three sessions.

Neerja Vasishta & Joy Vick                                                                                                   Parents

Film stills with thanks from The Connected Baby website; their DVD will be used as reference in some of the sessions.