In the last ten years we have learned about a lot of childbirth classes and new parent classes and mom groups but none of them as smart and useful for new families as The Parent Collective! Jessica Hill co-founded this resource for parents after her own positive experiences in the U.K. We were lucky enough to get a little time with Jessica to learn more about the classes and the community that The Parent Collective offers expecting families.
How long ago did you start The Parent Collective and what inspired you?
I decided to start TPC back in 2016 after hearing from countless friends that they spent their early months and years with their baby feeling lonely and isolated. Because I was lucky enough to have my boys in the UK and benefit from the NCT, my experience was wildly different, and I wanted to give a similar feeling of support through education to others. Quite 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, swap strategies for dealing with the latest feeding/sleeping/illness issues that crop up, and filled countless afternoons with conversation and companionship. Everyone needs that support and I hope that TPC will fill this need.
What types of classes do you offer?
We offer a prenatal class series for expectant parents and after babies arrive, we offer CPR & First Aid classes, postpartum support groups as well as a wide range of workshops and online content developed in response to participant questions.
Our prenatal class, which is our core offering, is a 4-week series and in it, participants will discuss:
Session 1: What to expect in labor and delivery
Session 2: Relaxation techniques to help you through the early stages of labor, options for pain management and C-sections
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
How are your classes unique to the classes at my local hospital?
The Parent Collective offers a new style of prenatal class which is designed to provide evidence-based information, foster open, judgment-free discussion and establish friendships among couples living in close proximity and due at the same time. We see ourselves as an alternative to other childbirth education classes and hope that couples taking the series will develop a social network through participation, gather playmates for the little ones on the way and of course, provide that crucial support system that parents so need.
The idea for these classes arose from my experience with having my boys in the UK where they have a prenatal class series called the NCT, or National Childbirth Trust. With these classes, couples register for a series of sessions with a group of couples who are all delivering around the same time and live local to one another. The idea being that along with learning what you need to about labor and caring for your newborn, you are also fostering a support network that will be invaluable to you during this next chapter in your lives.
I am always banging on about how important it is to have friends with babies the same age as yours. I absolutely realize that it is hard to make friends as adults but with pregnancy as the common thread, it can sometimes be easier. Mom and dad friends at every stage of the parenthood journey are super helpful, but friends who have kids the same age as yours are essential. No one can fully appreciate the daily trials of a newborn like your friend who is also navigating life with a newborn. From spilling preciously pumped milk to dealing with an explosive poo in-transit (which of course only manifests once you have run out of wipes). When you are in it, these feel like total disasters. However, these stories will not elicit a visceral “gasp!” from a new parent, but rather a breath of relief as you realize another real person has experienced something similar—like, yesterday.
Parents need this camaraderie so you can enjoy/survive the early days (and hopefully beyond) together. Our classes allow parents to solidify these relationships before babies arrive, so you don’t have to work so hard once they do. You can already be texting from the hospital about the terrible food and a love you never thought possible.
Where do your classes take place?
We currently host regular classes in Fairfield County, CT, Manhattan, Long Island, NY, Bergen County, NJ and we will very soon be launching in Westchester, NY.
Also, TPC will soon be launching our prenatal series as a webinar. Watch this space!!
What does your daily schedule look like? How do you divide your time and priorities between your kids, your husband, your home and your business?
My boys are 8 & 10 so I am out of the very busy phase of parenting. That said, when they get home from school, they still like me enough to want to play with me so I try to work while they are at school and then leave some afternoon time for a basketball game or the standard schlepping from activity to activity. The juggling act of managing work and home life requires so much mental headspace that I am like a robot in the evening. I have to power down and I sleep 8 or 9 hours most nights.
Is there one piece of baby gear that you tell a new mom she needs to have?
I would say any baby-wearing apparatus that allows you to move a bit more freely with the bubs in tow. My youngest was colicky and screamed when he wasn’t being held so I couldn’t do much of anything because I was carrying him everywhere. Once I figured out the baby wearing thing, it made my life so much easier!!