There are so many things Europe gets right – year long maternity leave, vacation during the entire month of August, French bread, naps mid-day in Spain…Good news! The Parent Collective (TPC) is a prenatal (and post-natal) class series in Fairfield County – stemming from amazing experiences in the UK – designed to provide information, foster open discussion and establish connections among couples living in close proximity and due at the same time. Meant as an alternative to sterile hospital seminars, these classes develop a social network for participants, offering playmates for children and a crucial support system for parents. Classes are small and so booking early is essential.
- Labor and delivery
- Pain management and relaxation
- Breast and bottle feeding
- New baby care
TPC also now offers some post-natal parenting crash courses. See below for a few coming up soon:
- Achieving Developmental Milestones through Play: How to Play with Your Baby: March 29th, 11am at Intensity taught by Barbara Greenspan, MS, OTR Pediatric Occupational Therapist Kidworks of Westport
- Weaning and Baby Nutrition: April 26th, 7pm (location TBD)
- Positive Sleep Habits: May 31st, 7pm (location TBD)
If you are interested, see below for a more extensive Q&A with TPC co-founder Jessica Hill who shares more details on how they got started, and the value their classes can offer!
The Parent Collective, serving expectant parents in Fairfield County, was established to help parents get off to a good start; inspired by National Childbirth Trust classes in the UK, The Parent Collective’s classes are designed to provide expectant parents with both essential education and essential links to other parents in their community. You’ll learn about birth and baby care, and make mom friends, too!
Jessica Hill, TPC co-founder, answers a few questions about how they got started and what they do.
Q: The Parent Collective website says: “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 The 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: How does The Parent Collective help 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.
Q: What topics are covered in the classes?
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
Q: TPC classes are designed for couples. How does this impact how participants form relationships? 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: The Parent Collective was inspired by the National Childbirth Trust (NCT) classes in the UK. Tell us 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: The 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: How did your parenting experience inspire 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, midwives and doulas and wellness providers 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 County, 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.