If your efforts at binge watching One Born Every Minute, aren't doing much to dampen your nerves about your upcoming birth, then you need to get yourself to The Bump Class, London's best antenatal classes.
Founded by sisters Marina Fogle and Dr Chiara Hunt, The Bump offers classes, run by leading healthcare professionals, offering practical advice for pregnancy as well as medical know-how for labour and beyond. Whether you're looking to put together a natural birth plan or investigating what pain relief to use, the classes are informative and fun for you and the others in the small classes. There are never more than 12 ladies in a class meaning that not only will you walk away from the 8-week course with all the answers to your questions but also a great support network of new mummy friends.
The classes are currently available in South Kensington and Parsons Green and are hosted in private houses instead of a hospital, allowing all participants to feel comfortable and relaxed. The eight-week women-only course is also complemented by an evening session for fathers to be too, so they don't feel left out!
The classes have been such a success that these busy mamas have also published a book, The Bump Class: An Expert Guide to Pregnancy, Birth and Beyond.
We caught up with Marina to find out how she manages to juggle playing mum to Ludo (6) and Iona (4) with her growing business.
Marina, how did the idea for The Bump come about?
My sister and co-founder Dr Chiara Hunt was finding patients were woefully underprepared, scared and fed lots of misinformation during their pregnancies and she realised how much easier life with a baby would be if girls went to comprehensive classes run by professionals that gave evidence-based, non-judgemental advice in an engaging way. I was just emerging from the fog of two children under two and was ready for a challenge so we decided to leap in!
How long did it take you to turn The Bump from an idea into a reality?
Not a huge amount of time - I generally rise to a challenge. We decided to forge ahead on New Years Day 2013 and our first class started in March that year.
Do you work with anyone else? How do you split the roles?
Chiara and I are the founders but we both have very different roles. Bump is my full-time job - I run the company with my team on a day to day basis, host the classes in South Kensington, as well as run the marketing, accounting, legal side of things. Chiara is very much involved in the big decisions about which route we take and is great at making sure our content is up to date. Research, protocol and medical advice is constantly changing and because she’s a practising doctor, she makes sure that we are giving our girls the most up to date, evidence-based advice.
What was the big draw towards running your own business?
I’ve always run my own businesses - I sold my events company after I had Ludo and while being your own boss is certainly not the easy option, I enjoy the challenges and having been an entrepreneur since I was about 18, I guess I have the confidence that I can do it.
What's the best part of having your own brand?
Undoubtedly my pride in seeing it flourish. I overheard a conversation the other day about how our book, The Bump Class; An Expert Guide to Pregnancy was the best pregnancy book and that they were buying it for all their pregnant friends and you couldn’t wipe the smile off my face!
And the worst….
That the buck stops with me. I can never really ‘leave the office’. If there’s something that needs dealing with urgently out of office hours, it’s my responsibility. Worries keep me up at night but I guess being a mother has made me realise what’s really important in life. I’ve become quite good at not responding to emails when I’m with my children - most things can wait until Monday morning.
How do you fit your work around being a mother of 2 young children?
Now they’re at school it’s much easier and to be honest, I would go mad with boredom if I didn’t have something to do. I try to structure my day so that I can pick them up most days of the week but I teach up to three evenings a week so am often not there for bedtime. While there’s sometimes a bit of protest, I don’t think it’s a bad idea for Ludo and Iona to understand at this stage that work is an important part of Mummy’s life and we focus instead on what fun we have when we are together. I have to add I have a really brilliant team I work with - our professionals, Lucy Lewis who runs our Parson’s Green classes and Philippa who runs our office. We all get on like a house on fire. We try and have dinner altogether a couple of times a year and we end up chatting until the early hours.
Do you feel you've achieved a good work/life balance?
Some weeks yes and inevitably some weeks no. But you can’t win every time and I find that the weeks I’m craving more time with my children, make the weeks we go away more dreamy.
What would your tips be for other working mums trying to strike a good balance between work and home life when working from home?
To turn your phone off when you’re with the children. I feel that as a mother who is not always around, that when I am, I’m totally there and not distracted by emails, social media or calls. I noticed that the moment I reached for my phone the whingeing started and that might have been a subconscious way of my children letting me know that they wanted me there with them, not looking at my phone.
When you're having a bad day at work, who do you turn to for advice?
My husband, Ben (Fogle). He’s often travelling in remote places and uncontactable so not always easy to get hold of but when he can he gives measured thoughtful advice. We’ve been married for ten years and he knows me better than anyone, so he’s a good person to contextualise my worries and tell me if I’m overreacting….
Finally... What are your hopes and dreams for The Bump over the coming years?
I’d love to improve the antenatal education for all women in the UK. We have no intentions of rolling out the Bump Class nationwide for now, but if the NHS and other antenatal classes can take inspiration from our unique structure and prepare women really well, not just for the birth of their children, but for motherhood, that would be something I’d be very proud of.