“Western societies are putting doubts in our heads. Now I pass on my knowledge and skills to other parents and cheer them along!” – Stephanie Beucher
We at BoxHuman are passionate about highlighting and celebrating inspiring humans; especially the ones who are inspiring, helping and bringing light to the world. We do this in order to rebalance some of the negative messages we often hear, see and receive on a daily basis. We met up with one of these amazing individuals…
Hi Stephanie, thank you for speaking with us today. Let’s dive straight in and get to know you…Can you please tell me a little bit about you and what you do?
Hi! My name is Stephanie, I am originally from France. I have been living in London for twenty years now. I am a mum of two wonderful kids, who are no longer babies, at sixteen and nine! After years in the NHS, I now work as a Newborn Care Specialist as well as Mindfulness teacher for children. I work with families, offering holistic support and guiding them through their journey into parenthood.
Brilliant intro and wow-what an interesting career, thank you! I was told by our researcher that you run your own business, can you please tell me what your business is about?
It is called Holistic Babies London. We are a team of six Newborn Care Specialists, all with a midwifery background and support and empower women (and their partners) in their parenting choice.
Women start off, very often, with a strong desire to breastfeed their baby but they often find a lack of support due to short resources. While there are wonderful “mums’ breastfeeding cafe” and support groups, when you are a mum who gave birth two days ago, it can be hard for you to even have to shower, let alone leave the house! Even more so if you gave birth by cesarean section!
Community midwives are, sadly, so stretched out with workload, they cannot spend two hours with each women guiding the breastfeeding (and trust me, most of my former colleagues wish they could!). As Newborn Care Specialists, we offer support at home, guiding with breastfeeding, referring to the right healthcare professional if required, listening to women, reassuring them and guiding them in the first few weeks or months of motherhood.
We also offer advice on sleep, educating parents on what is “normal” baby behavior, milestones, etc. We are just new parents’ safety net, cheering along to the little victories and comforting them in those days when we all feel we aren’t nailing this parenting business!
Thank you, Stephanie, that is such a wonderful business. Can you please tell me why you decided to start supporting women postnatally, with breastfeeding and sleep? What inspired you to do this and why?
While I loved caring for women on the ward, I felt frustrated by the lack of time and resources which stopped me from delivering the high standards of care I was aspiring to. Taking on board the knowledge and skills I had learned, I trained further in lactation then sleep.
It felt important to me to gain as much knowledge as possible to offer parents tailored-made support. My role is mainly to educate and manage expectations. On one hand, we are telling women to breastfeed (and they should as there is nothing better for human babies) but, if on the other hand, there is only very little support, what happens when things do not go to plan?
The low rates of breastfeeding in the UK are not because women do not want to breastfeed, it is because there is not enough support when it doesn’t work! Then we are left with women who feel they have “failed” at being mothers (notes to mums out there, if you are feeding your baby, loving your baby, meeting your baby’s need, you are extraordinary! You are doing a great job!) Same goes with infant sleep.
What new parent has not heard “does she sleep through the night yet” when the baby is eight weeks old! There is so much pressure on new parents and I am here to detangle truth from myths, using evidence-based information and empowering them in being their baby’s advocate.
What an inspiring reason to start your business. I’m sure mothers out there would relate to the angsts of this problem and would love to get extra support from someone like you!
I would assume that working with mothers and babies is a rewarding job; but what would you say has been your biggest achievement and proudest moment so far in your career/business and why?
The biggest compliment and achievement for me is women referring my services to one another. I have never advertised Holistic Babies London, I did not even have a website for a while! Yet, women shared their experience with me on social networks, mums groups etc. This is why I had to recruit five wonderful Newborn Care Specialists, I became too busy to handle it all myself.
I am ever so grateful to those mothers (and fathers) I work with. It is a big deal to trust a stranger with the most important person in your life: your baby. I would also add that, compare to the national average, over 90% of the women I care for continue breastfeeding beyond six months (and many breastfeed beyond a year!). This really tells me that early support is key to ensure success. And most of those women, like many out there, met challenges early on but, when tackled immediately, it made such a difference to their breastfeeding journey.
Congratulations Stephanie! Having people positively recognise and talk about you and what you do is definitely something to be proud of! Can you tell us what’s the best part of guiding families and being a breastfeeding and sleeping expert? And how does this empower a woman and her child?
First, I would never call myself an expert. I feel it is a word that really disempowers parents. Yes, I know “babies” but parents know their baby, they are the experts.
The best part of this job is to watch parents grow into their role, to watch them become more confident. It is amazing what can be achieved when you tell people “what does your instinct tell you?” and they realise they had the answer all along!
We all instinctively know how to raise babies, but Westernised societies are putting doubts in our heads. The lack of community around us means there are not many people to empower us. Therefore we have to re-create those communities. And this is what my team and I are doing: replacing that community, passing on knowledge and skills and cheering along!
You are a qualified Mindfulness teacher so we’d thought we’d fire some quick questions at you. I can see that you’re ready, so let’s begin…
1) Can you please tell us in your own words what ‘mindfulness’ is and how this helps parents and their children?
Mindfulness is the practice of “being in the moment”, of acknowledging the “now”. It trains our brain by paying attention to what we feel, both physically and emotionally. It is a very powerful technique that can benefit absolutely everyone. It is also recognised by the NHS as a form of practice to deal with stress and anxiety and by neurologists in the management of some neurological disorders (including pain).
In terms of sleep, teaching mindfulness to children is handing over the tool kit in managing emotions and stress. We are underestimating how stressed our children are. A stressed-out child can have sleep issues as a lot of sleep disorders in young (and older) children have an emotional cause.
2) Can you please tell me what is a normal amount of hours a child should sleep and why?
In terms of the amount of sleep, children should get, it really depends on their age. This has to be assessed on a one to one basis as some children (often those who screams “I’m not tired” when bedtime approaches) need much more sleep than adults. We must remember that babies and children are often in “sleep debt”, which means they physiologically cannot sleep late in the morning if they went to bed late in the evening, therefore an early bedtime is essential.
On average, from around nine months old to five years old, it should be around ten to thirteen hours of night sleep (but in young children, this will be completed with day time naps) while older children, from six to thirteen years old, should sleep around ten hours at night
Then, due to a major development in teenagers’ brain, their sleep pattern will change completely: physiologically they cannot fall asleep at 9pm, they will feel tired around 11 pm, midnight even later, therefore, will need to catch up in the morning which, sadly, is completely incompatible with school hours!
1) What are the top three tips you would say to a parent to get their child to sleep better?
My 3 top tips for parents to help their child sleep better are:
1) Remove screens (including baby projectors and TV!), at least two hours before bedtime. The blue light they emit inhibits the production of the sleep hormone melatonin. Therefore they won’t feel tired! Instead, pick up a book and read with/ to them
2) Let them run around naked after the bath (even the small babies!): to fall asleep, we all need to drop our body temperature by one-degree celcius, therefore, cooling off after a bath or shower promotes better sleep. With babies and children we get so worried they will get cold, we wrapped them up quickly, dress them, cuddle them, put them in a warm bed but this all leads to increasing their body temperature and they may fight sleep as they are too hot!
3) If you are a working/ busy parent (I know, who isn’t?) make sure you try and meet your child’s emotional needs. It doesn’t mean you have to spend every minute with your child once you are home, but make the time you spend meaningful. Turn off your phone, turn off the TV, ask him/her about their day or do colouring with him/her, even if it is 45 min to 1 hour of your time.
Often, children fight bedtime or wake up at night because their emotional ‘tank’ has not been filled in. I see it a lot when a mum (or dad), who has been at home for a while, goes back to work. The child was sleeping well but all of a sudden starts waking up and coming into the parents’ bed. That is completely normal, what she is not getting during the day, she seeks it at night. While it is perfectly okay to sleep with our children, it is not the wish of some parents but they often aren’t sure what has happened and how to go back to a night of interrupted sleep.
Wow Stephanie, what amazing advice. I’ve learned so much already and I’m sure people reading this will feel the same too! So moving onto my next questions, I now want to center them around you. To kick start these questions off I thought it would be good to fire some BoxHuman Inspire questions your way. So without further ado, let’s go…
1) What is your deep interest and why?
2) What do you do to empower or motivate yourself on a daily basis?
And… 3) What is your favourite quote that inspires you?
I am naturally very curious and inquisitive, like a toddler, always wanting to understand “why”! I am fascinated by human behaviour, in particular babies’ and children.
My passions include neuroscience, anthropology, and evolution psychology. I like to understand who we are and why we behave the way we do, we must look beyond the first days of life: who we will become starts in the womb and life experiences, from early on, and therefore are the building blocks to who we become!
Great thinkers inspire me, I love discovering new theories and applying them to both my professional and private life. My job can be very emotionally demanding but practicing mindfulness really helps to keep me grounded and balanced.
You would often find me at the Tate Britain, it is not far from where I live and I find that walking around art museums and galleries have a very soothing effect. No better way to practice mindfulness than standing before a masterpiece. Both of those things I love and the people I work with inspire me to be a better person, to be a good listener, to pay attention to others.
I believe we would resolve a lot of issues if we were paying more attention to those around us, in particular our kids, if we were listening to them better. My favourite quote from the Daila Lama has become my motto:
“When you talk, you are only repeating what you already know. But if you listen, you may learn something new.” – Daila Lama
As always we like to end our interviews on…A BoxHuman is an empowered individual. They will not be defined by society’s labels. They show the better qualities of humankind, such as strength, kindness, and inspiration. Can you please tell us what makes you a BoxHuman?
My desire to empower each everyone to just make time for themselves and for those around them, in particular children and teens. I often find myself as the baby, child, teens’ advocate and ask parents: try to see life through your child’s eyes. And we all know how to do this, we just have to recall the child or teen we used to be and ask her “how did it make me feel when this happened to me? How did my parents handle it? Did it work for me? Could they have handled it better?”.
I am far from being a perfect parent but like so many out there, I not only try but I try to be better. In a world of ‘notifications’ and ‘multitasking’, we easily lose that sight of what is truly important: making those around us feel worthy of our time.