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What is the right thing to do?

Last Friday, 22nd March, I was thrilled to have the opportunity to be a guest on Lucy Ambache's Friday Social on BBC Radio Solent from 3:10pm to talk about all things bump & glide.


From what I do, to why I do it, I spoke about the journey of support I provide to women and businesses with bump & glide from early pregnancy, through maternity leave, all the way to the return to work. From my own lived experience, work with couples, individuals and businesses, conversations with hundreds of people who are parents, or who work with parents, as well as extensive ongoing research into this space, since becoming a parent myself, it was great to share more on these incredibly important topics on air last Friday.


We covered a vast number of elements, the key aspects of which I’m sharing below in case you didn’t have a chance to listen live, or on BBC Sounds afterwards.(https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/p0hf3tk1 available until 20th April)


BUMP & GLIDE MATERNITY MENTORING - WHAT IS IT?


LUCY: "So Serena and for you then with bump & glide, so it’s a maternity mentoring service that you’re offering?


ME: "Yes, so there’s a journey involved like anything. A journey to motherhood, a journey through maternity leave and going back to work. And the bump & glide is very much that gliding back, if you're thinking of gliding.. nobody glides to one specific pinpoint position, not everyone gets to that same position. Everybody needs to get to a certain destination when they become mothers but you need to accompany them along the way and I think, what I found was, very much through that experience of my own, there wasn’t that support. You know, you’re waved off when you go on maternity leave and you’re welcomed back, when you come back to work, but it’s in that interim when confidence dips, self-esteem is lost, you don’t really know what’s just happened to your life, and it’s just having that support. So it’s mentoring women but it’s also assisting businesses to better support their employees, because I very much believe that actually if that support is there, less women would leave their businesses.


bump & glide was very much born following my own experience of the lack of support I felt I would have hugely benefitted from myself, as well as after hearing from hundreds of women who had had very similar experiences. The 'perinatal support gap' needed to be filled!


DO BUSINESSES WANT TO SUPPORT WOMEN ON MATERNITY LEAVE?


LUCY: "Do businesses? Honestly, do businesses want to support women who have gone off to have kids? (…) Do businesses really come to you to say that they really value their women and their mothers?"


ME: "Well no, that’s what you’ve got to make sure they realise. I think, there’s a ‘tick-box’ exercise of what people should be doing but there’s an area where you have to say to yourselves actually, ‘What’s the right thing to do?’. The right thing to do is supporting women at that point and actually by supporting women, you’re also supporting the partners to better concentrate. You know, the levels of postnatal depression, of postnatal anxiety, you know it costs the UK over £8 bn / year in terms of the impact of perinatal mental health on society in terms of the cost on children and further development down the line. So I think if you’re supporting women at that crucial stage, which let’s face it, isn’t a long amount of time in somebody’s life, but it’s super impactful because their whole life changes but everything around them seems to remain the same and doesn’t appreciate the change that has just occurred. So, it’s having that wellbeing and the communication, communicate with people, ask them if they’re ok, ask them what they need (…).


I loved this question from Lucy because it’s something people ask me a lot. Do businesses REALLY want to support women?! The extended answer is that some don’t. However, so many do but just don’t know how to offer effective and targeted support. The time of pregnancy, maternity leave and the return to work are a unique time, where without the right knowledge and guidance, women and the businesses they work for trip up, lose confidence, motivation and everyone can feel a bit lost. I know the support I offer helps and I’m looking forward to the results of the research on this, coming later this year - read on! 


THE BUMP & GLIDE RESEARCH WITH THE UNIVERSITY OF SOUTHAMPTON AND KEELE UNIVERSITY


LUCY: “(…) So you’re doing research at the moment with the University of Southampton and Keele University as well, what are you working with them on?"


ME: "So I basically created a bump & glide tool kit for companies and individuals to get them through that phase of maternity leave and what I found was that there was a psychological element in it as well, so there’s a Professor of Psychology and a Professor of Philosophy who then have worked with me on the tool kit, enhanced what I’m doing and we’re running, I’m working with participants at the moment on that revised tool kit. We’re doing research into the impact that mentoring has on women, So in terms, from an employer perspective (…)

And mentoring isn’t like being a coach, it isn’t a career coaching thing, (...) what I do know is that when a woman has a baby, she changes and without the right support it’s kind of a downward spiral, in many cases, so giving her that support at the right time means that she can carry on thriving, whether it’s relationships, personal, professional, with her children as well, (…) So the research will show the impact that maternity mentoring has, so that employees will go back to work happier. If they’re happier in themselves, you know a happier employee is a more productive employee, and a more effective employee.


The research I’m doing with the Universities is extremely interesting and my hope is that the results will provide some data and information on how the maternity mentoring works, how it impacts women - and the businesses they work for - and why more businesses should look into using this additional benefit for their people, for their communities and for society as a whole! In terms of benefits, it will help in terms of recruitment, retention and a positive company image to name a few...


THE BUMP & GLIDE PILOT - CALL OUT TO BUSINESSES!


LUCY: "So you’re doing a pilot aren’t you and you’re putting a call out to local businesses. Tell us what you’re trying to do, what your aim is and who you, you know you might have someone listening now who might want to get involved in this!"


ME: "Absolutely. Whoever’s listening who is part of a small or medium sized business in Hampshire - or beyond, because I can work online - I am looking for companies who are proactive in that wellbeing approach, who are progressive, who are forward-thinking, who are already ticking the box of ‘wellbeing days’ or ‘lunch & learns’, so educating and giving that knowledge to their employees outside of whatever the remit of their business is and who are interested in supporting their female staff to come back to work and feel valued at such a big transition in their life. The pilot itself is to pilot the toolkit, so the toolkit can be anything from you know starting from hypnobirthing, which is you know preparing from anywhere from 20 weeks of pregnancy, through to the maternity mentoring sessions which happen every few months. I work with a women’s health physio, a personal stylist, a nutritionist, a dietician. It can be as small or as big as they like, to fit with whatever their existing policies are."


LUCY: "So you’re looking for a company who wants to support women who are going through the beginning, before having a baby, the pregnancy and the other side of it as well."


ME: "And crucially that maternity leave part, because that’s when people aren’t supported and that’s where this whole initiative, you know bump & glide is a communication and wellbeing initiative effectively (…) something monumental has just happened and it has to be respected, accepted and valued. We don’t value this time in our society, as much as we should.”


Call out to all businesses in Hampshire and beyond!!!


Please ask yourselves - ask your employees - if you're doing enough to support women over the perinatal time. If the answer is that you're doing some things but that you want to be doing more on the crucial communication and wellbeing fronts, get in touch with me, Serena, at serena@bumpandglide.com to arrange a time for a call and I can discuss the pilot in more detail and how it can work for your business and benefit your business AND your people.







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