The Conversation - The Bump Class
Sisters and co founders of The Bump Class, Marina Fogle and Dr Chiara Hunt, are experts in the world of pregnancy, birth and beyond. Alongside their renowned antenatal Bump classes, they also offer new mamas and mamas-to-be expert advice through their book ‘The Bump Class’ and podcast ‘The Parent Hood’. We caught up with them and asked all about the inspiration behind their business, their top advice to parents and what it’s like working with family members.
Where did the idea for The Bump Class come from?
Both of our babies were small and because I’d been one of the first of my friends to have a baby and Chiara was a GP, people often came to us for advice. Chiara was also seeing how bad birth preparation resulted in negative birth experience, the idea that it had been traumatic, when, if they’d been well prepared, it would have been easier. We decided to pull together a group of professionals who were not only passionate about pregnancy, birth and the early weeks, but great communicators to create a series of classes that would empower women and equip them with evidence based facts that would enable each of them to make the decisions that were right for them.
What’s it like working together? Are there ever any family disputes?
We grew up fighting like cats and dogs. Seriously, we actually sometimes hurt each other. But that cultivated an honesty that today means if I’m a little annoyed then we can just talk about it without any concerns that our feelings will be interpreted negatively. At the heart of every successful relationship is communication and I think we both communicate very well.
Did you think when you started The Bump Class that it would become such a success?
We hoped so, but I really didn’t anticipate that within a few months we’d have been featured in the national papers, be over subscribed and have publishers fighting for a book deal.
And you’ve published a book and have a podcast!
Did this all stem from The Bump Class?
Yes, the class can only reach a certain amount of people, so we were excited about a book that could reach further. It’s now been translated into seven different languages. With the podcast, people were always asking why The Bump Class ended and wanting classes after the baby was born, when the going really gets tough. Logistically though it’s harder to get around in those early days, so we thought if we got together the same level of professionalism combined with the laughter and lightness that characterise The Bump Class, and put it into a podcast that people can listen to wherever they are, whenever they want, it would be the perfect solution.
What has been the most memorable podcast episode of The Parent Hood and why?
I’ve done a few on baby loss and the one I did with Elle Wright and Emma Cannon was really moving. Both those women were searingly honest about their experiences, but also have reflected on its impact on them. We were all in tears while recording - but I listened back to it the other day and was so proud these bold, compassionate and honest women were on The Parent Hood.
What would be your top words of wisdom for mamas-to-be?
Not to overthink parenting and try to be perfect. I think there is often lots of stress and guilt, the result being that mothers are not happy and that is negative towards the baby. Experts agree that what children want from their parents is that they are happy and relaxed, so if, as a parent you focus on achieving that, then you’re smashing it.
And what would be your top advice for new mamas?
Make sure you do a good antenatal class, run by professionals that doesn’t judge or try to influence you. I found there was a lot of pressure for me to give birth a certain way from some people, cultivating the idea that unless I achieved this, I’d have failed in some way. And while giving birth naturally is definitely easier for you and baby, sometimes it’s safer for the doctors to get involved. I believe that women need to be prepared for birth however it happens, so that when it does, you enjoy the moment you first meet your baby.
How do you think your work with The Bump Class and The Parent Hood has affected your own mindsets within your families?
It’s like the best therapy ever! I’m constantly thinking about what really matters as a parent but also surrounded by wise people with different perspectives. What they all share though is a desire to help parents. Just last week I was talking to a Psychologist who suggested that instead of thinking about what kind of parent we want to be right now, we should try and think about what we’d want our children to remember about their childhood. Is it the fun and laughter, the stories at bedtimes or is it the drilling the tables, pressure to finish homework? Focus on what you want them to remember.
With such wonderfully busy careers, how do you both manage the work/family balance?
It’s definitely not easy and both of us are constantly feeling guilty that we get it wrong. Children, as they all are, are desperate for our time and attention but what we both do is try to focus fully on the children when we’re with them. We put away our phones and properly engage with them. We also explain going to work as a decision that we’ve made based on what we find rewarding and fun. When my daughter complains about me going to work, I point out that I don’t stop her from doing netball club, because, although I miss her, I know she loves it.
What’s your favourite thing about working with The Bump Class?
Meeting the amazing women who do it. I never expected friendships to emerge but they have. When my son Willem was stillborn five years ago, I was overwhelmed by the love and warmth from women I’d met on The Bump Class. I was sent emails, letters and cards, each of them so thoughtful and full of love. I have kept them all and feel so lucky that I work in a bubble of love, compassion and understanding.