Can we talk money?

I have run the sling library for almost 10 years. We will celebrate our 10th birthday on 11th July. Over those 10 years, I have helped hundreds of families both in person and online, for free and in paid appointments. There are opportunities for both types of support, but fundamentally consultations appointments cost. I want to explain why.

Since we founded in July 2011, we have only raised on prices from £7-10 for 4 weeks hire, and my consultancy fees have never changed as I have wanted to keep the sling library accessible to as many families as possible. Sling hire (excluding postage costs) around 33p a day and I will keep it as low as possible for as long as possible. While we were building the sling library, it was entirely self-funded, we have never received any funding and this will be the case for majority of sling libraries. It is surprising, but we are not funded like breastfeeding support etc. Some libraries are lucky to have received charity funding but this is not the case for everyone. Yet, there are regularly people who ask why they have to pay to see a carrying consultant.

There is a limit on what support I can give in a library setting or free via online support groups, and this is where a consultation is more preferable option. A consultation is your chance for a personalised service. I would never imagine or expect my chiropractor, physiotherapist, hairdresser, podiatrist or beautician to provide a free service (if lockdowns have taught us anything it is the value of these services), yet it is a common experience amongst carrying consultants. There are many reasons for this. I feel these primarily come from the relative newness of our industry and that traditionally carrying was a skill passed from generation to generation.

Why does it cost?

  • Training with 3 different carrying schools since 2012
  • Annual liability insurance to keep you and me safe
  • Professional body memberships (BABI and now ACESL)
  • Travel costs associated with attending CPD
  • Buying slings to stay up to date with the market and to allow you the a wide selection
  • Marketing and advertising
  • Personalised service dedicated to your needs
  • 30-90 minute private appointment in a dedicated consultation space
  • Pre and post consultation support via email/Facebook etc
  • Making of support materials
  • The knowledge I have amassed, the ability to spot small tweaks that will improve comfort and fit
  • In current climate, risk assessments and enhanced Covid secure measures (extra cleaning, masks etc)
  • Charging for consultants allows me to also then offer free appointments to those in need, and the ability to offer free support online

NESL is here to help you make informed decisions based on our knowledge and skills, and current research and best practice, if you feel you need more support. We will continue to improve our skills through training, Continuous Professional Development and practise, but ultimately that means there will be a cost.

That’s why I and carrying consultants around the country charge.

Meet our new consultants

Two weeks ago, I wrote to say how I had revisited two days of the Slingababy consultancy training and how it had completely ‘blown my mind’. Of the 6 women completing the course for the first time, 2 were peer supporters with NESL. Madeleine and Suzie had both completed the Born to Carry Peer Support course with me but wanted to develop their skills, both for their own professional development and the benefit of NESL. Many users of the library will have met one or both of these two wonderful women. They are dedicated to the library and firm friends. So this post is about them and gives you the opportunity to learn a little more about them. They are both insured to offer consultations as well as supporting at the sling library.

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Mind blown – a weekend of revision and new learning.

Several of the team here at NESL HQ have today figuratively had our minds blown. Since Friday, Suzie and Madeleine (along with 4 other ladies) have been completing their Slingababy Consultancy training (more details of that to come direct from them in next few days). For them this meant a trip to Birtley and the Thought Foundation Building, rather than a road trip to Rugby. The 4 days of this course when I completed it in 2014 completely changed how I function and work as a consultant, I hope they are having similar revelations. From the expressions I have witnessed from both, I think it is safe they have!

One of the reasons I am such a strong advocate for training with Slingababy is that once you have completed the course you can reattend as many times as you wish. With a course arranged just 20 minutes from my home, it meant I had the opportunity to reattend for the first time. Due to work commitments, this means I have been only able to attend days 2 and 3 but those two days have been amazing. Despite already completing this course, I cannot believe how much I taken onboard over the past two days. My brain is in overdrive as it processes the information it’s received and makes connections between my past learning and experience, and what I have learned this weekend.

Here is just a sneak peak at what we have been up to. As of Tuesday, Madeleine and Suzie will both be available for 1:1 appointments and they have some plans up their sleeves too.

5 Reasons to have a private consultation

As a sling librarian and carrying consultant I see families in group situations, as well as privately in 1:1 appointments. The arrival of 2017 marks my fifth year as a practising and active carrying consultant. I am extremely lucky to have worked with many families since I first trained in 2012. In total, I have trained with 3 schools and continue to attend a variety of CPD events. This blog considers the reasons to consider booking a 1:1 appointment.

Here are my Top 5 reasons why I believe you should pay to have a private consultation with a trained babywearing consultant.

1) Time

25788202-faad-4bc9-9703-0354672dea99-1028-000001126b76296b_tmpSomething we all wish we had more of is time. During a sling library session, I can see anywhere upwards of 10 families in just over an hour, with typically 15-20 families, each with their own individual needs to meet. A private consultation appointment is a minimum 60 minutes long (with a standard consult lasting for 90 minutes), so we can take a more relaxed approach, tackling your family’s requirements personally, keeping you and your baby at the heart of the appointment. During this we can explore options together, you can have a drink, your baby can be fed or changed or we can even go for a walk together to check the carrier is right for you and your baby. Extra time is especially important if either you or baby have additional needs which need to be considered.

2) Choice

Typically, I can only spend 10 minutes per family in a library setting. This means I can usually only demo and fit one carrier and limits how many times you can try to put a carrier on. We cover the basics of what the carrier does and how to wear it safely but there is not time to discuss every individual element of the carrier or the different ways it can be worn. During a consultation, we can look at different styles and types before trying those which best fit your needs. As consultations are normally held in my office I have access to all carriers we have rather than just those I can fit in the boot of my car. For home visit appointments, the pre-consult questionnaire allows me to make professional judgements to bring what is suitable. I am often asked how I know which carrier to choose for a family but after fitting carriers for almost 6 years you start to instinctively know what will work.

3) Sling hire is includedimg_0004

Sling hire alone is £5 for 2 weeks. As part of a babywearing consultation you will always get a minimum of two weeks hire but due to the fact I link return of slings to library drop in sessions families often benefit for 1,2 even 3 weeks’ free sling hire. I want the sling to work for you and your baby, by able to take it home for an extended period of time you are able to see if it is right for you, without having the feel like you are being rushed to make a choice.

4) It is just you

Consultations are private appointments. It’s just you and me. You are always welcome to bring your partner or a relative along too (there are toys for baby and older children as well). If you have a sling and just want to learn how to use it or use if more effectively then bring it along. We will work together to make it work for you. If you have previously bought a carrier for an older child, but now need a newborn insert to use it with a small baby; if it is one we stock, you can take it home as part of your hire package. Each appointment is tailored to what you want and need: one size does not fit all. A babywearing consultation allows us to think outside the box to find solution for you.

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With thanks to Steph Oliver-Beech Photography and Sheffield Sling Surgery and Library for use of photo

 

5) Support doesn’t stop

At the end of the appointment, you receive my contact details in the event you need to ask any more questions. Ongoing support is available via phone, email, FaceTime or Skype for as long as you have your carrier on loan. Our booking system allows me to make a record of all the slings tried during the appointment, allowing me to quickly find you an alternative sling if you want to swap or try another for longer. You are also welcome to swap your carrier at any point during the hire period; simply just pop into one of our drop-in sessions. Follow up consultations can also be booked at reduced rates if you would continue to prefer 1:1 support.

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You can book a private appointment via our booking site. A standard consultation is £30 for 90 minutes and it’s just £20 for a sling clinic appointment to troubleshoot your own sling.

I know a carrying consultation will not be something everyone thinks they need or can afford. For families in receipt of means tested benefits or in the event of PND, disability, premature birth (or life limiting conditions for baby etc.) please talk to me. I will always do what I can to help, from reduced fees to free hire. But, if you don’t tell me, I don’t know and cannot help.

Reflections of a babywearing consultant and mother

Four years ago today I had just been discharged from Ward 8 of the University Hospital of North Durham, also known as ‘labour ward’ or the delivery suite.

Four years ago today I had just been discharged from Ward 8 of the University Hospital of North Durham, also known as ‘labour ward’ or the delivery suite. I had been there since 11am after being sent as an emergency by my community midwife following a routine 33 week appointment that morning. I had spent the previous evening and most of the night in agony. My bump tightening and feeling very sick. I had barely slept. I couldn’t eat. I felt, as the ‘On this Day’ feature of Facebook tells me, “like death warmed up”. 

Today it is Mother’s Day and I am blessed to be the mum of two beautiful boys and a loving husband. They have spoilt me rotten today.

  

Baby C thankfully did stayed put. The tightening’s continued and I spent most of the next 5 weeks on bed rest before ‘nesting’ kicked in at 39 and a bit weeks. Isaac was born at 40+5, a Born Before Arrival birth in just 18 minutes, he has been a whirlwind ever since. He is my carried baby. He is the one I carried from 8 hours old. Carried when he couldn’t feed, carried when breathing difficulties associated with Obstructive Sleep Apnoea meant he couldn’t breathe, carried as he recovered from countless chest infections and medical procedures, carried following surgery and carried to keep him close when he was scared. He is a definite ‘mummies boy’.

  

But Henry, carried for the practical reason of walking the dog is just as loving. This morning, he came downstairs, got a bowl, filled it with Special K and milk and carried it carefully upstairs to give me ‘breakfast in bed’. Nobody told him to do it, he came into the bedroom silently. I didn’t even know it was there. Unfortunately by the time I did it was inedible. But that isn’t the point. He did it for me, because I am his mum, because he loves me. He might be a true boy, rushing about at 100 miles an hour. Off without a second glance when we get to the school yard each morning but he knows I am there. From the little quick kiss that he plants on my forehead then walks away, or the hand he puts on my lap when he thinks no one is looking, they are his way of saying that I mean something to him. He made me a mother. He and Isaac have shaped my very being since the minute they were created.

 

Without them I would not be me. I am not just Henry’sMummy (my username on many a forum) or Henry and Isaac’s Mummy. I am Rachel but being Henry and Isaac’s mummy is a very big and special part of me.

Without them I would not be me. I am not just Henry’sMummy (my username on many a forum) or Henry and Isaac’s Mummy. I am Rachel but being Henry and Isaac’s mummy is a very big and special part of me.

The day before Isaac’s attempted arrival I had completed my first every babywearing consultation. I had finished my Trageschule Foundation course just 28 hours before. I had travelled nearly 600 miles in 4 days, completed a 2 day course and then a 90 minute consult (it was during that the pains started). And do you know what? I wouldn’t change it for the world. I completed my last consultation just 11 hours before he was born and restarted them just 3 weeks later.

I had finished my Trageschule Foundation course just 28 hours before. I had travelled nearly 600 miles in 4 days, completed a 2 day course and then a 90 minute consult (it was during that the pains started). And do you know what? I wouldn’t change it for the world.

I am honoured to be a carrying or babywearing consultant. I am honoured that so many Mother’s and Father’s let me into their homes, or come to mine, let me hold their precious bundles, their miracles of creation, carry them and show them how to do carry them too. Whether they are their biological children, the result of IVF, surrogacy or adoption, they are all special, they are all unique. Each family is unique. Each set of circumstances unique. I have completed hundreds of consultations since then. Thousands of hours are spent dedicated to helping each family, before, during and after their appointment. My own children are often the ones to suffer, while I answer the phone or an email. They want me but I know others want and need me too. It is a balancing act that I am still mastering.

  
 Four years since I qualified as a babywearing consultant I have gone on to complete 3 more consultancy training courses, I have grown my sling library, I have stopped teaching, I have become solely self employed with all the ups and downs it brings. I have shown strength I didn’t know I had. I have cried tears of joy and sadness. I have spent sleepless nights worrying about families and hoping that I have made their lives just a little bit easier. I am truly thankful for the life that my children have allowed me to lead. Without them and their need to be carried, I would not have found slings. I would not have found the mamas who shared their knowledge with me, I would not have found something I have a passion for and a belief in. Thank you to my boys, my husband and the hundreds of families who have asked me to help them. Thank you to my Mum, who is the reason I am here.

Happy Mother’s Day everyone. I hope you have enjoyed it. I hope you have been spoilt and I hope you have many, many more to come.