Magic Beans is only one of the great resources you’ll need on the road to new parenthood: we’re here to outfit you with all of the gizmos and gadgets to make life with babies easier, but you’re going to need loads of information and support, too.
The Parent Collective, serving expectant parents in southern Connecticut, was established to help you get off to a good start; inspired by National Childbirth Trust classes in the UK, The Parent Collective’s classes are designed to provide you with both essential education and essential links to other parents in your community. You’ll learn about birth and baby care, and make mom friends, too!
The Parent Collective will be holding their Fairfield classes at Magic Beans, at 1530 Post Road, and we’re so excited to offer this terrific resource to our customers! We asked Jessica Hill, TPC co-founder, a few questions about how they got started and what they do.
Q: On your webpage, you write: “Many people turn to hospital classes and training sessions, but we think that this misses a crucial emotional ingredient that can make having a baby less isolating and more inclusive.” How does Parent Collective fill that gap?
The Parent Collective offers expectant parents both education and community in an open, social and non-judgmental setting. By attending our class series, parents will have a social support network of families living in close proximity and delivering babies at around the same time to help them through those first few months with baby and beyond.
Q: Tell me a bit about how Parent Collective helps parents-to-be get to know other couples in the same situation.
Our classes are sorted by neighborhood and due date so expectant parents will be in a class with others who live close by and are all delivering within a month or two of each other. Each class is 2 hours with ample time for discussion, Q&A and a break for socializing. Our facilitators will encourage relationships to continue outside the format of our classes by suggesting dates for dinners with couples before babies arrive as well as a repeating coffee morning slated to start after all due dates are passed.
The Parent Collective has 2 class series; one for first time parents and one for 2nd/3rd timers. The topics covered are different for each series, to address the needs of the parents and the concerns they may have.
First timers will discuss:
Session 1: What to expect in labor and delivery
Session 2: Relaxation techniques to help you through the early stages of labor and options for pain management
Session 3: Breastfeeding and bottle feeding information and advice, including latching on, pumping, milk storage, getting on a feeding schedule, and how to manage problems that may arise
Session 4: Newborn care
2nd/3rd timers will discuss:
Session 1: Refresher class encompassing labor, delivery, breastfeeding/bottle feeding and new baby tips
Session 2: Strategies for managing multiple children, sleep training and scheduling advice
Session 3: This session will cover behaviors you might encounter from your first child once baby arrives, and how to manage in a positive way. Everything from potty training and regression to baby behavior and jealousy
Session 4: Bring the big brothers and sisters along to have a play and learn strategies for how to promote positive relationships with their younger siblings
Q: I see that your classes are designed for couples. Tell me a bit about how this plays out in terms of forming relationships – how do you keep couples from only socializing with each other, and get them to branch out and make new friends?
The format is quite relaxed and there will be group discussions and activities to help encourage interaction. Our hope is that participants, who will all be part of a shared experience of impending childbirth, will be excited to meet others in the same boat. From our experience, this was definitely the case and quite quickly walls begin to come down and discussion gets real.
Q: I know that Parent Collective was inspired by the National Childbirth Trust (NCT) classes in the UK. Tell me a bit about your experience with NCT, and how it inspired you to start the Parent Collective.
Melissa and I talked about our shared experience of NCT classes when we met in Westport and couldn’t believe that there wasn’t any prenatal class that offered expectant parents a similar experience. When I was first pregnant, friends told me it was a must to sign up for NCT classes because that was where I would meet all of my ‘mummy’ friends. We hope TPC gains a similar reputation.
Q: How does the Parent Collective experience differ from NCT?
My only complaint about the NCT classes was that they were very agenda-driven. All instruction was pro natural childbirth and pro breastfeeding and if you hoped for a different experience, you felt a bit left out or judged. We made a conscious choice to present TPC classes in a judgment-free format so that anyone, no matter what their birth plan or parenting style, feel like they have a place to learn, ask questions and meet friends.
Q: Your team is full of very impressive experts in the field! How did you meet and select people for the program?
We spent months and months interviewing facilitators to assemble our amazing team. It was very important to us that our facilitators not only have a wealth of experience helping expectant and new parents but that they be willing to present information in the judgment-free format that we feel so strongly about. All of our facilitators are also incredibly warm and approachable – a necessity for a class so discussion-based.
Q: I love the fact that you offer a separate class for “second & third timers,” which looks like it mostly helps people explore their changing family dynamic. Tell me a bit about how this class is different from the first-timer classes?
The 2nd/3rd timer class focuses on strategies for how to juggle – both the logistics of your growing family but also the emotional challenges that come with introducing a new family member. In addition to a refresher session on delivery & newborn baby care, topics include scheduling tips, sleep training, strategies for helping older children adjust and a play-based session with toddlers on how to be a good big brother/sister.
Q: Tell me a bit about your family and how your parenting experience inspired you to start the Parent Collective.
Very simply – I don’t know how I would have gotten through the early months of my first baby without my village of NCT moms who got me out of the house, listened to me vent when I was struggling, swapped strategies for dealing with the latest feeding/sleeping/illness issues that cropped up, and filled countless afternoons with conversation and companionship. Everyone needs that, and we hope that TPC will fill this need.
Q: How has the response for this new program been so far?
We have had a really positive response so far. From the beginning we wanted to work closely with doctors’ offices and we have presented our curriculum to many in the area. We are so appreciative of their support!
Q: Why do you think new moms tend to feel so isolated, especially in the US?
It’s a bit different in big cities, but in the suburbs, where you have to drive everywhere, it’s hard to find places where new moms congregate and socialize. And if you are a working mom, it can be even harder. There are certainly new mommy groups in the area, but we feel that there are barriers to joining a group after babies have arrived that don’t exist while you are still pregnant.
By meeting other parents prior to your babies arriving, you are sharing in an exciting, impending experience, not to mention you aren’t yet exhausted and emotional and feel more like yourself.
Q: What advice would you give for our readers who aren’t near Fairfield, but really want to connect with other moms?
The internet is an amazing tool for connecting to other expectant parents and for creating a community – whether it be local or global. Here in Fairfield County there are so many Facebook boards where moms can seek support and find answers to parenting questions that they are struggling with, as well as organizing gatherings.