Hi, I’m Cathy.
I help parents and parents-to-be find and follow their own path. Here's a little bit about me. I am a doula, antenatal teacher, pregnancy relaxation teacher, baby massage teacher, baby wearing adviser, parenting practitioner and ex-breastfeeding peer supporter.
I'm also a home birthing, co-sleeping, washable nappy using, baby wearing, gentle parenting mama. I have stepped off the standard path and found my own way ~ and I'd like to help you find yours.
I am a woman who likes to make her own mind up. I like facts and logic, which is why I like to go behind the guidelines and recommendations, to look at the research and get a better understanding. I will go off the beaten path if that is right for me and my family. I home educate my two youngest for that reason. I think everybody makes different choices with the same information because we all bring the perspective of our experience and upbringing.
I am a mum of five (now aged 26, 24, 20, 17 & 11). I come from a big family. The eldest of four and the fourth of twenty-five cousins, I grew up surrounded by babies, birth and breastfeeding. You can read about my motherline here. But all that experience of rocking babies and changing nappies didn't prepare me for the demands of being a first time mum.
If I'd known what I know now, I'd have told myself not to worry that she would only sleep on me; that cuddling her was growing her brain; that her waking frequently was not a sign that I was doing things wrong and that taking her into my bed, in a safe way, would help us all; that spending the day with my mummy friends was time well spent; that my mental health was important; that slings could be used indoors too! And I wish I'd done baby massage.
Of my children's births, one was born in hospital and four at home. I used water for pain relief with all of them. Only the fourth was born in the pool. The last one was meant to be, but I got out of the pool to go to the loo and didn't have time to get back in!
The more I learn and read about giving birth, about caring for babies and raising children, the more I understand how they flow into and effect one another. Being calm, confident and in control is how I will help you to start your parenting journey.
Running retreat days at Tofte Manor makes me so happy (getting my 'hippy' on!). Helping women and men have the space and tools to relax, unwind, and contemplate their journeys is so fulfilling, especially in such an peaceful and beautiful setting. I have to pinch myself every time.
My friend suggested the business name 'Chilled Mama' because she said that every time she'd see me she'd think how relaxed and chilled I was. We would all like to be a bit calmer. Teaching relaxation is at my core. But the flip side is that we need to feel confident and in control enough to relax. And so that's what I do: I give people tools to relax; I give them knowledge and skills to feel confident; and I teach them about their rights and how to assert them, politely of course, so they feel in control.
I have over 18 years’ experience supporting women and couples prepare for birth. Helping them find their own path and how to get it. I get such a kick from witnessing women grow in confidence, take control and go their own way - whether it's deciding to have a vbac or a repeat caesarean.
It is your body, your baby, your choice. You have options; you have rights. Your baby only gets this one birth, and it is worth a bit of determination. I have worked with over a hundred women who had a difficult birth and were looking for a better experience. Almost everyone of them said I'm going to be more bolshy this time around. In my experience the health professionals are very happy to accommodate individual plans ~ they just get caught up doing what they are used to.
Everything is your choice. Personally and through the woman I have supported, I have experience of changing midwife, changing consultant, declining consultant led care, declining treatment/monitoring/intervention/induction, and home birth with higher risk (vbac, twins). For the last four Decembers I have run a Birth Rights Advent Calendar, shining a light on women's rights in pregnancy, birth and early parenthood, in the run up to the most famous birth of all.
I worked for eight years managing a Sure Start children's centre in Central Beds, where I delivered the courses I now offer through Chilled Mama and more. I co-wrote a postnatal course 'Baby Days' which is still being delivered in all the children's centres in Central Bedfordshire, and I trained the staff to deliver the course. I work ad hoc for the charity Best Beginnings embedding the use of their app 'Baby Buddy' with midwives and health visitors.
Over the years I have helped hundreds of women through my courses and with 1-1 support. I am a qualified antenatal teacher and have attended other courses and conferences, including Sheila Kitzinger's birth crisis network training. I sat on the local Maternity Services Liaison Committee covering the Luton & Dunstable Hospital for four years, and now sit on its current Maternity Voices Partnership.
I have a psychology degree - which comes in very handy with sleep, relaxation, child development. During my first pregnancy I used techniques and knowledge from my psychology degree to mentally prepare for the birth. After the birth of my next two children my friends were asking me to share this with them. So I designed and delivered a pregnancy relaxation course.
I live in Toddington, Bedfordshire. I have lived here the longest I've lived anywhere. I was born in a village near Leamington Spa, spent the first two years of my life in Kenya, grew up in Surrey, and went to uni in Portsmouth. I am a widow. I like mushroom pizza and a strong cup of tea. I hate ironing. I love camping, the woods, the smell of woodsmoke, the beach and the sea, and having a sound bath.
Parents want to do their best for their children. My job is to support you in that - by giving the best up-to-date information and practical know how, to help you find and follow your path. Please ask if you have any questions.
Training and experience
Article for The Practising Midwife Magazine, on water birth after a previous 4th degree tear, co-written with Dianne Garland, and my doula client, Emma Fisher. (November 2021)
Water birth training with Dianne Garland (April 2021)
'Never safer: never more afraid: women's voices', chapter for 'Understanding anxiety, worry and fear in childbearing', edited by Kathryn Gutteridge (November 2019)
Birth Cave, article in The Green Parent Magazine (October 2018)
Shinrin Yoku practioner training with Nature & Therapy UK (June 2018)
Post term pregnancy training with Sara Wickham (March 2017)
Human rights in childbirth study day with Birthrights UK (February 2017)
Doula, Red Tent Doulas (completed October 2016)
Baby sign teacher, Touch Learn (April 2016)
Antenatal teacher, Mother & Baby International (March 2015)
Consultant facilitator (ad hoc), Best Beginnings, June 2016 - 2020
Wrote & delivered facilitator training for postnatal course, Baby Daze (a postnatal course for Sure Start Children's Centres in Central Bedfordshire (June-October 2015)
Baby wearing adviser, Touch Learn (September 2014)
Baby massage teacher, Touch Learn (Sept 2011).
Shinrin Yoku practitioner (forest bathing), Nature & Therapy UK (June 2018)
Management and support of breastfeeding, NHS (Nov 2009)
One Stop Parent Shop (March 2009)
Oral health & nutrition, NHS (Oct 2008)
Parent programme leader, The Nurturing Programme (aka Parent Puzzle), Family Links (2008)
Loving the Multiple Mama, Mars Lord (June 2016)
Baby wearing adviser, Touch Learn (March 2014)
Baby signing teacher, Touch Learn (March 2016)
NHS breastfeeding peer supporter (October 2015 - October 2016)
Volunteer for Dunstable NCT 2002-2007 (Chair, Bumps & babies group leader, MSLC rep)
I am insured by IPTI for working with parents and delivering training to professionals.