I just thought I’d pop on here and do a quick review of a course I found really useful in my prep for getting our beautiful baby born this October, however that ends up happening (!) be it vaginal delivery or out of the sun roof 🙂
This is not sponsored, nor was it gifted – I found this over the course of lockdown and The Maternity Collective were kindly offering everyone free access to their online antenatal course (usually at a price point of circa £80 I believe) because of the COVID situation.
COVID clearly did reduce access to ante- and post-natal support for so many women, so access to The Maternity Collective course was incredibly useful, but regardless, it’s still something I’d recommend to you if you’re pregnant even when we return to more normal times!
The course is delivered online in easy to access videos, and has subtitles for anyone with accessibility issues in all sections except the breastfeeding and newborn behaviour presentations (at the time of writing this) but these do have written accompanying slides you can download with the key information points on them.
What I loved about the course is that while all of the hypnobirthing content and books and the online course I’ve done have been super helpful and include some science,The Maternity Collective was created by a wonderful, highly qualified obstetrician and so it better covers the medical ins and outs in more detail, with more clarity, than hypnobirthing-geared content – but Dr Ellie Rayner (who you can find on instagram here @maternitymedic) also appreciates the value of hypnobirthing techniques and that approach to birth and so fuses the best of both worlds into a really helpful, informative, calming and reassuring course (she is a hypnobirthing instructor as well as an incredible, highly qualified medic!)
I’ve found ‘pure’ hypnobirthing books and techniques very helpful, don’t get me wrong, (I recommended many of their resources in some of my other recent posts!) but I do think some hypnobirthing content out there almost creates the impression that it’s hypnobirthers vs. hospitals/medical professionals/’bad’ over-medicalised birth, which really shouldn’t be the case, and The Maternity Collective will give you all of the medical facts, pros and cons, from an unbiased perspective, whilst the value of hypnobirthing is completely recognised and optimal practises are recognised and encouraged.
The course is thorough without being overwhelming, and covers:
Preparing for labour and birth (and understanding how it all works!)
Normal labour and birth (the various stages, what happens, and pain relief options)
Reasons you might meet an obstetrician (all the details on everything from inductions, delays, assisted delivery, tearing, episiotomies, caesareans and what happens if there is too much bleeding after birth)
The postnatal period (physical and emotional recovery, and caring for your brand new baby!)
A quick summary (on how to create your birth preferences, and make informed decisions throughout labour so that you are in control of everything that happens to you)
Breastfeeding and newborn behaviour (all the science of milk supply, techniques for feeding, baby’s body clock, sleeping, what to expect, what’s normal and trouble shooting, plus a guide to formula feeding)
There are also some course notes, birth preference templates and breastfeeding and newborn sleep slides for you to keep.
I loved the course’s simple and accessible format, and it will tell you everything you need to know to prepare for labour (you don’t even need to buy any other books if you don’t want to!) and it has some amazing content to get you thinking about what happens afterwards as well, particularly the detail on breastfeeding.
Breastfeeding is a topic you hear about so much and is shrouded in mystery because on the one hand it seems so natural and on the other you hear all these stories of problems, struggles, pain and experiences where it didn’t work out.
The Maternity Collective course goes in to a lot of detail on how milk supply works, common breastfeeding issues and the best action to take, seeking support, how and when to feed and what to expect from your baby, how you will know if they’re feeding enough or if there is cause for concern, why babies need to be fed so much at night, and much, much more! There is also the recognition though that you may want to formula or combination feed and so there is a handy pdf guide to formula feeding should this be the best option for you.
If you’re looking for a one-stop shop to prep for labour and afterwards, I would say this course is it!
It’s also a good one for husbands like mine who might find some of the slight ‘woo’ perceptions of hypnobirthing branded courses or content off-putting – with The Maternity Collective you get the same important information, but in a more factual, practical manner (and more of it, from someone who is very, very qualified!)
Hope this helps, let me know if you do try the course and what you think!
If you liked this post, you might also be interested in reading these:
Well hello again everyone! I’ve been fairly quiet on here which is odd given that you’d think in lockdown I’d have had much more time to blog… but being pregnant in a global pandemic, having started a new job (my first fully qualified lawyer job) remotely and various other things have meant that blogging just hasn’t crossed my mind for a while.
Today, though, inspiration struck and I wanted to share some resources that I’ve used to totally change my mindset about giving birth.
This post will cover the resources I’ve used which I’d credit (alongside a lot of time investment on my part!) with taking the fear out of the prospect of giving birth for me, and also helping me prepare for birth generally and the postpartum recovery period.
*(Reminder nothing in this post is sponsored/gifted/other, it’s all stuff I’ve paid for [except the Maternity Collective course which they were giving free to everyone during COVID] and loved and 100% recommend!)*
Where does fear of labour come from?
Because let’s face it, I’ve spent my entire life TERRIFIED of giving birth, like many, many women.
What you see on TV – Rachel on Friends, for example – people lying on their backs, screaming, faces contorted, sometimes legs in stirrups, yelling for epidurals… and that’s just movies and light entertainment (I’ve never even watched One Born Every Minute).
In my ED days I was even scared of pregnant people because of their size – how messed up is that?!
Then you get the STORIES. The whisperings and ‘oh you wouldn’t believe how bad her labour was’, the horror stories, the drama, the nightmare scenarios that people like to tell you…
So as a base line, generally, as a culture, birth has become a very medicalised thing, and something to be feared.
Growing up, I swore that if I had kids I’d get an elective c-section. Now, because I know all the benefits for my baby, I want to try to birth vaginally (if allowed – I may not be able to because at the time of writing [28 weeks pregnant] I still have a low placenta and if this hasn’t moved by the time they do the extra scan to check it at 36 weeks, I will have to have a c-section due to it basically blocking the exit and also high risks of haemorrhaging!)
If you want the short answer for how I overcame the fear, I guess there isn’t one – it’s a process that took time, effort and mental reprogramming! But a combination of education (and more education!), and taking elements of hypnobirthing which worked for me and my personality (not all – see below!) and basically using my previous study in mindfulness to create an approach to birth that worked for me. I didn’t go on any expensive course or find a magic bullet, I just put the work in.
Getting informed (but still scared!)
One of these books was The Positive Birth Book by Milli Hill. Did it make me feel positive? HELL NO! I found it scary on first read. But I read it 3 or 4 times, alongside some other books which I’ll list below, because it took away the mystery and the unknown, and made me understand all the options for birth (location, pain relief, what interventions might be needed and why, induction, caesareans, pros and cons of absolutely everything).
While initially scary for me, getting educated was a key part of the process to make sure I was in control. Because guess what? You have to consent to everything. You do not ‘have’ to have internal examinations to check dilation. You do not ‘have’ to have an induction. It may be there is a good reason to have them, but knowing you have the choice, and knowing you should ask for all of the benefits, risks and reasons was a game changer for me.
Both are hypnobirthing books, a concept I thought sounded a bit hippy but I’d heard people I admire and respect who didn’t seem completely ‘woo woo’ rave about it on podcasts, so I gave them a go.
I also used the Positive Birth Company Digital Pack(an online hypnobirthing course, which was discounted due to the lack of pregnancy support in hospitals etc during COVID 19).
Hypnobirthing is perhaps a woo name, but it’s not really all that woo and certainly isn’t to do with hypnotising yourself, or ‘out there’ practices (full disclosure: occasionally I found hypnobirthing does have a slight push towards home birth (which isn’t for me) which I found a bit annoying, and it could get a bit focussed on fairy lights and candles and prioritising natural birthing to the point it almost felt like it was saying non natural birth was negative [although they explicitly do state ALL births are valid] sometimes, but generally it is science based to help you ensure you stay calm to keep your body hormonally optimal for labour to progress smoothly, with less pain).
Some hypnobirthing fans recommend Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth, which is a book I HATED because it was waaaaaay to weird and spiritual and hippy for me. But we’re all different I guess!) But if that’s not your bag, more practical and let’s say ‘modern woman’ rather than ‘earth mother’ approaches do exist, and those are the ones I’m talking about here that helped me.
I don’t for one second buy all of it, particularly that birth is pain free (some hypnobirthing teachers claim it doesn’t have to be painful, others state that they disagree with this like me!), but I do believe that naturally our responses to what is happening in our bodies (e.g. panic, fear, relaxation, understanding, acceptance) can influence that and how bad it feels.
I found that hypnobirthing is really an approach that focusses on empowering women to:
understand your body during labour, how the muscles and hormones work to facilitate your birth and what you can do to keep these as optimal as possible;
understand your choices during labour (you ALWAYS have a choice, and it is important to be informed and that you know you have the right to give or refuse consent for anything)
learn relaxation techniques to keep adrenaline (which inhibits labour) at bay and maximise oxytocin (which makes labour happen) – these can also be used to keep you calm during interventions or caesareans, they’re not just for vaginal births!;
understand natural techniques for labour e.g. using upright, forward and open positions to allow gravity to help you, instead of mindlessly following TV over medicalised assumptions that you should lie down, which really just helps doctors/midwives see what’s happening!; and
essentially to feel empowered and have a positive birth experience, whatever path your birth takes (rather than feeling traumatised and like decisions were made for you, or that you were not in control).
Plus it helps guide your birth partner on how best to support you during labour.
Many of the relaxation techniques weren’t for me and my partner (if he even tried to read me a relaxation script we’d both die laughing!) but the breathing techniques, positive affirmations and emphasis on re-wiring my view of birth from something necessarily traumatic to something that can be a positive experience really helped me move past being scared.
Rewiring your brain
I was NOT up for watching videos where I’d have to see a baby emerging from a vagina. I’m way too squeamish, and not one of those women who thinks that sight is ‘beautiful’. Sure, babies are beautiful, I’m sure the experience of birth can be beautiful, but that’s too much gore for me personally.
Hypnobirthing advocates using positive birth stories, photography, videos, and affirmations to gradually re-condition how you perceive birth. Stop all negative input, and crowd it out with positive.
I didn’t really want to see pics or graphic videos, but I did use:
I started skipping ones which had trigger warnings that particularly worried me (episiotomies, tearing, forceps, ventouse, emergency c-sections) and just read ones that sounded smooth and simple.
As I did more hypnobirthing practice and read more of these, I became less afraid and started reading the more complicated birth stories too – this made me realise that even a complicated birth which has things go ‘wrong’ or not as planned can still be a positive experience. So many women wrote about births which on paper you might think could have been super traumatic, but because of their mindset, their hypnobirthing, the fact they were informed and in control and had prepared for all scenarios, they still felt empowered and that the overall experience was positive. This was a game changer for me.
I also listened to the birth experience of my nutritionist Rhiannon Lambert on her podcast (here) which sounds very traumatic and happened during the height of COVID-19. I found it so interesting to hear that a lot of the stress comes from feeling things are going ‘wrong’, not knowing what happens for certain procedures and feeling like birth isn’t going to plan. This really brought home to me that being prepared for birth to take any number of unexpected courses is key and has helped me lose the fear in the build up to it.
Limited (!) videos – I watched a few you tubers talk about their positive birth experiences and hypnobirthing, as an intro so I didn’t need to see it. Then I found a couple of you tubers who vlogged their labour (but don’t show you anything too much!!) helpful – especially Kerry Conway’s third labour (no epidural) (part 1 here and part 2 here), and Jess Hover’s two births without epidurals (vaguely remember some brief religious mentions which I just ignored as that’s not my thing).
This was great for some pregnancy-friendly yoga for relaxation, and also learning more upright, forward and open optimal birth positions. She also had helpful resources on the fact that it is sometimes possible to be mobile even with an epidural or continuous monitoring – how to ask and how this can be done, which was really useful.
Lots of the yoga flows are designed to help ease pregnancy specific problems (back pain etc) and to prepare your pelvis to really open up. It was amazing to learn the facts about how you can get 30% MORE SPACE in the pelvis by not lying down and preventing the sacrum from moving etc.
It was also nice because membership comes with free access to her Member’s Hub where you can chat about all things pregnancy, yoga, other, ask questions and generally support other mums!
As I’d done so much reading and research, and the fact that due to coronavirus antenatal classes in person being cancelled, when I looked at antenatal classes charging £250+ for stuff I already knew, I didn’t see the point, especially as most people say the value is in making mum friends, and I didn’t feel like paying that much money to do that over zoom.
Then I found the Maternity Collective who generously offered free access to their online antenatal course (normally circa £80), again because of the lack of pre and post natal support for women during the coronavirus situation.
It was SO helpful because it was more medically / scientifically detailed than the hypnobirthing content on the physical parts of labour, pain relief, interventions etc.
It also had extensive sections on feeding options and newborn sleep, to help prepare for the part which comes after the labour!
Postive Birth Company – Post Partum Pack
PBC’s postpartum pack (an online course covering everything you need post-birth!) was also reduced to £20 because of COVID for a limited time, and I found this really helpful to prepare and swot up on breastfeeding, baby sleeping (or lack thereof!), maternal mental health, physical and mental recovery from labour, post partum rehab, exercise and yoga, and much much more! Definitely recommend this, especially if coronavirus or other things have prevented you getting to classes or having the normal amount of support with this.
Thanks for reading my ramblings!
I hope if you did stumble across this post as you prepare for birth that you found it helpful – everyone is different, and what works for one may not work for another, but I was so so so scared and anti the idea of labour before and now I’m so excited for it, so it is possible to have a complete mindset shift!
Best of luck with your pregnancy and birth prep if you’re at that stage of your journey, or if not and you’re curious ahead of time like I was… fab, I genuinely don’t think you can get enough prep in because these are things we can never ever be fully prepared for!
Sorry not sorry that the baby spam starts now…! I’d look away if this isn’t your thing… 🙂 you’ve been warned!
In this post I’ll cover:
The technical stuff – tests, OPKs, sperm friendly lube etc!
But first, I just need a quick natter with you guys!
It’s crazyyyyyyy to be expecting our little cub after so much planning…! I am the kind of crazy person who before we even started trying (like, months before) had done ALL the research, read all the books, listened to all the podcasts, read all the blogs and articles and magazines and watched all the youtube videos. I was on special supplements well over 4 months before we started trying and went to see my nutritionist to discuss my ‘planning to conceive’ diet and check my supplements, and had loads of chats with Boy about his nutrition and supplements too and he was even taking the Wellman Pregnacare trying to conceive ones before we were trying – we were checking his zinc levels and all sorts haha! (You can buy the Pregnacare Him & Her pack for couples here which will have you both covered!)
I get that not everyone would want to be that prepped, and also that some people are more spontaneous – totally fair! We’d known for about a year that we were ready, and we just wanted to wait for the wedding in December to be sorted so I could enjoy my champagne (!), my training contract to end so I was a fully qualified lawyer, and Boy’s probation to be over as he changed jobs during the year. We then had a month to get healthy and back on track post Xmas, so the trying point was set to Jan 2020 and we expected it to take 6 months to a year to conceive (that’s totally normal for healthy couples our age). I know that doesn’t match what we told people our plans were, but we wanted to keep it private and pressure free.
Also, it seems it paid off, because we had expected to be trying for a year and then bam! First try, we had a little cub!
So, OTT though all that planning might be (I can’t help being over-prepared!), it means I’ve collated some useful resources that you may or may not fancy trying if you’re a mum, about to become one, or just super keen to know what you’re in for before you start your TTC journey (trying to conceive for anyone who hasn’t yet stalked all the mummy corners of the internet!). So much of this stuff is personal taste and unique to you, so you might haaaate the things I love, but here are just a few resources that helped me feel prepared!
These are my pregnancy & #TTC favourites, covering everything from nutrition, wellbeing, keeping baby healthy, fertility and maximising your chances of conceiving, baby psychological development, and keeping sane on the pregnancy new mum journey… plus the ever-terrifying and intriguing topic of labour/childbirth aka the stuff of most girls’ nightmares! Knowing more can take some of the fear out, so get reading gals.
I took these for 4+ months before we started trying which is potentially overkill, but 3-4 months in advance is good, and 3 months ahead of trying is apparently when you ideally need to begin building up your folic acid stores especially.
We also got these joint packs about 2 months before so Boy could be on the right stuff too:
As soon as I was pregnant I switched to these Pregnacare Plus ones which also include omega 3s for brain and eye development 🙂
Of course, being a book obsessive, before we were even trying I ordered a tonne of stuff to get reading up on everything I wanted to know on Amazon. These are the ones I’d recommend you give a go too! For me, I just felt like if you’re going to try for a baby, obviously you want TTC information, but also it’s important to know what you’re in for! The most useful were easily the Henrietta Norton Pregnancy Nutrition Guide, Your Baby Your Birth by Hollie De Cruz, Hypnobirthing: Practical Ways to Make your Birth Better by Siobhan Miller, and The Positive Birth Book by Milli Hill (it didn’t make me feel v positive haha but it’s super informative and helpful and worth a read anyway).
Clue – (free!) this was my go to for period/fertility tracking in the period before we were properly trying, just to familiarize myself with my cycle, so I’d know the dates of my periods and rough fertility windows etc. but then I changed to a different one which if you’re TTC is more accurate because in Clue, you can’t log ovulation tests. In the app below, you can log what your ovulation tests say and it feeds into the algorithm and re-calculates your dates!
Glow– (the basic version is free, and is super extensive but I did upgrade to premium as they did 40% off for the new year!) I downloaded this before we were TTC officially and I used the info I had from Clue about my cycle to input all my previous periods. This one is a lot more involved. Clue lets you track emotions and sex as well as periods, for example, but with Glow you can go the whole TTC 9 yards (TMI possibly, but you can include if you were on the bottom or top, or had sex multiple times, log your cervical mucus consistency (this is something I never thought I’d care about when I was younger haha, and you can also log, believe it or not, whether or not your orgasmed!) It also lets you record your basal body temperature so you can really hone in on the ovulation day predictions. You can also track your stress levels, join groups (and weirdly even talk to women on the same cycle as you, but I must admit I didn’t do that!) Anyway, this was so helpful, and I might do a proper review of the app on here if you guys might find more details useful?! It also has meditations if you subscribe to premium, both for general life and de-stressing, and also fertility-specific meditations. But key for me was that while it and Clue looked equally accurate (they initially predicted the same fertile window), Glow updates according to your ovulation tests (it turned out I was ovulating a day earlier than it thought!)
Glow nurture– once pregnant, I used the Glow sister app to track Cub’s development 🙂 ❤
RelaxMelodies – for keeping calm and helping me sleep, and de-stressing (you need to reduce stress as much as possible while TTC and pregnant!)
Freya – this is The Positive Birth Company App and helps with breathing exercises to try to reduce pain and stop you freaking out during labour. I’m all about trying to learn these kinds of techniques in advance! You can also use it to time contractions when the time comes…!
Peanut – I’ve heard the founder interviewed loads. She is an amazing entrepreneur and mum, and this is like tinder for mums, to help you meet friends who will also have little ones and be around at the same times as you (and help you find like-minded mums so you don’t end up bored out of your brain on nappy chat if that’s not your thing!) I joined a bit early and spoke to some TTC mamas too!
I’ve done the Hypnobirthing Digital Pack by The Positive Birth Company which was comforting, and I’m now doing their Post Natal course which teaches you what to expect in the period immediately after birth, and recovery from their, feeding, all that jazz!
These two episodes from Rhiannon Lambert’s Food for Thought:
These are just a few but there are loads out there, I guess it just depends what you like.
Made by Mammas (by Zoe and Georgia, who do the podcast of the same name!)
And then I was lucky enough to already know of two mummy bloggers as we were friends at school years ago for a bit – Sarah over at Whimsical Mumblings and Kerry Conway at Lived with Love .
I also discovered Kayla Buell on my TTC googlings and she has a blog over at Lost Gen Y Girl that I also found helpful.
Plus the gorgeous and glamorous Rose – of The Londonerfame, who was an old fave lifestyle, fashion and general recipe blogger of mine – now has a baby and so does some posts on mum and baby life which are helpful. (Ps an old non-mum fave: check out her recipe for Slutty Brownies!)
I didn’t discover her until I was pregnant, but Lucie and the Bump is great too, and I like following her because she’s just a couple of weeks ahead of me in her second pregnancy.
I am very particular about the youtubers I watch, and I struggle with mum youtubers sometimes. These are the ones I like, most others I struggle with. Always keen for recommendations though!
Fleur De Force & Fleur De Vlog (I love that Fleur didn’t start as a mum vlogger, she’s first and foremost herself doing mostly beauty, fashion and lifestyle but NATURALLY her life changed once she found out she was having a baby, and I love her pregnancy vlogs etc. I find her really relatable and maybe one of the youtube mums I feel like I’d be similar to, so I really like and relate to the style of her videos. Also her little girl River Wren is ADORABLE and I REALLY RESPECT Fleur’s decision not to feature River too much and put her all over the internet and keep it about River’s choice as she gets older!)
Kerry Conway (we went to school together so maybe I’m biased haha but I love following her adventures with her 3 girls and her husband back where I grew up. Loads of helpful info and tips, and she juggles motherhood with entrepreneurial work which is great!)
Kayla Buell(most US based mommy vlogs haven’t been my cup of tea but I love Kayla’s videos! At the time of writing she has a little girl called Riley and is about to pop with her baby boy! I love that she was smart, educated, with a career but fully owned her choice to say “screw the haters, I want to be a stay at home mum”)**
Lucieandthebump – I discovered Lucie when I was almost 10 weeks pregnant and she’s at 14 weeks so a little bit ahead so it’s fun to follow her journey as we’re so close with where we’re at! She does other content too that I don’t really follow so much.
Jessica Hover – she has a couple of baby 101 and newborn tips videos that seem like they’ll be super useful**
**with these American ones, if you’re an atheist like me, the religion can get a bit much, so usually I skip any of those parts!
The technical stuff – tests, OPKs etc.
So I was determined not to use ovulation kits and not to obsess and just enjoy our period of trying when we first talked about it. That went out of the window for various reasons, including Boy having to travel for work and us wanting to maximise our chances… obviously at this point we had no idea it would happen first cycle. So… we ordered the OPKs and then I ordered a BBT thermometer to be extra careful. Here are my technical bits & pieces that I’d recommend.
Clearblue ovulation test advanced digital – these are pricier than the super cheap ones on Amazon, but I wanted a clear, definitive answer on fertility, not to stress about whether there was a line or not! You have a super clear smiley face if you’re ovulating, and a flashing smiley if you’re high fertility. Simple. Stress-free!
Clearblue digital pregnancy tests, especially the Clearblue Pregnancy Early Detection Triple Check kit – these just feel more reliable to me to confirm what you’ve seen on a cheapie, but obviously they’re too expensive to keep shelling out for if you’re testing a lot, so also invest in the below!
Pre-seed lube– apparently regular lube can kill swimmers (fact of the day haha!), and even if you don’t normally need or want lube, if you’re having a lot more sex than normal to try, trust me – buy some of this! Makes everything super easy, and it’s sperm friendly. Woo!
I am obsessed, as you can tell, with learning what the hell I’m in for as I want to be as well prepared, happy and healthy as I can be so that in turn our little cub is super happy and healthy too… so any books, pods, apps, you name it, hit me up!
Also please, PLEASE share your fave pregnancy workouts and any youtubers you think I might like who are similar to the above.
How crazy is this?!! I can’t even explain how excited we both are ❤
Sorry it’s been a little while since the last Inspire Interview… today’s is completely different to the careers we’ve spoken about before, which is why I love doing this series so much… there are so many amazing people doing cool jobs in all kinds of different industries, and talking to everyone about it is great just for me to be nosey, let alone share with you!
I know law is something I get asked about a lot – how do I fit fitness around life as a trainee, for example, so I thought I’d go right to the source and give you a fully qualified lawyer on how she balances all things work, life, workouts and play!
Today’s interview is with the kick ass Rebecca King, who I actually met through our mutual obsession with KOBOX. She very kindly answered some questions on life as a lawyer in one of the biggest US firms in London, and busts some myths about lawyer life, not least that you have to do law at uni – she did THE COOLEST undergrad degree ever… so without further ado –
B: Can you tell us a little bit about the area of law you work in…
R: I work in Debt Capital Markets on bond issuances (for corporates, banks and sometimes sovereigns).
B: What made you become a lawyer? How did you get there – did you do undergrad law or convert later?
R: To be honest, I just thought I’d be quite good at it! I didn’t study it as an undergrad, as I wasn’t 100% decided and knew I had the option of converting later. I studied a subject I loved but doesn’t have much in the way of traditional job applications outside academia – Archaeology and Anthropology. I focused on Biological Anthropology, the study of how humans evolved – I even met Jane Goodall once when she gave us a primatology lecture. I also took papers in Ancient Egyptian Religion, which I’ve always been fascinated by, although I chose not to make Egyptology my main focus because I’ve never been great at languages. If you think French is hard – try hieroglyphics! (I did. I was crap.)
I combined that with some legal work experience and vacation schemes, and I was offered a training contract with my current firm just before I graduated from Cambridge – they then sponsored me through law school.
B: Can you describe a (working) day in the life of RK?
R: As you know, hours and work can be so varied! Officially our working hours are 9.30 till 6 and recently my department has been relatively quiet so that’s been about when I get in and out. I’m about to head to lunch, and today so far I’ve sorted out some postclosing matters for a deal that closed last week, had a kick-off call for a pro-bono matter, reviewed and updated our internal memo on listing procedures for the London Stock Exchange and attended our department quarterly meeting. A pretty average morning!
B: What advice would you give someone looking to become a lawyer? Any advice you were given en route that was helpful?
R: I’d say that the subject of your undergraduate degree doesn’t really matter but your grades and outside interests really do. If you’re a non-law undergrad like I was, you’ll need to prove you’re serious about law even though you actively chose not to study it for your degree, which can be tricky! Definitely get involved with your university law society early on and attend recruitment fairs and law firm presentations, and apply for vacation schemes or open days as soon as you’re eligible – once you’ve attended one, it’s easier to tick that “genuinely interested” box and be accepted for more.
Also – and I think this is true of any industry, not just law – it’s infinitely better to just submit five job applications that you’ve really thought about and tailored to that particular firm than fire off fifty identical cover letters and CVs. Believe me, these firms receive thousands and thousands of identikit applications and anything they think you’ve copied and pasted will be promptly set aside.
B: What are the biggest misconceptions about being a lawyer that you think are out there? Any myths you want to bust (or confirm!)
R: That all lawyers go to court! My sister is at a different firm that specialises in arbitration, and goes all the time. I’ve never set foot in a courtroom outside of a school trip aged 15. I work on deals, not cases!
B: Best and worst bits of the job? Biggest challenges?
R: I work with some great people! Almost all the lawyers I’ve ever worked with have been really clever, fun and interesting people. There’s definitely a certain drive and perfectionism we all have in common but my department is a great place to be and I met some of my absolute best friends through work.
I think the biggest challenge for me personally is the variability of hours. As I’m in a transactional area, I can have two weeks of past-midnight finishes followed by two weeks where I barely bill any time at all. When your bonuses and performance reviews put a lot of emphasis on whether you hit an hours target, slow weeks can be really demoralising and on the flip side busy weeks can mean cancelling really important plans. People tend to be very understanding but ultimately the client calls the shots, and if there’s work to be done and no one else can do it, you just have to put plans aside.
B: I’ve found that people really stress about training contracts (and I know the numbers are tough!) but personally I found being a trainee waaaaay tougher than the application process… any thoughts on coping with the journey to working in law, since it can be super long, super competitive, and of course isn’t always peachy when you’re on a very late deal…?
R: Personally, it’s easy for me to finish a tough week and just flop on the sofa for six hours straight on Saturday and binge watch a show because I’m tired. If you’re like me – my advice is to try not to do that too often, as I’ll then get to Sunday evening and feel like the weekend was wasted. I always try and spend some time with friends, do a workout class, book an event or, if I am sitting in front of the TV, I’ll work on one of my costume projects at the same time – it’s a creative outlet and making something gives me a sense of achievement, even if I did it while watching Netflix! It’s different for everyone but basically my advice is – if you don’t have much time off, really make sure that the time you get to yourself you’re putting towards something or someone you love, rather than just spinning wheels waiting for the next work email to come in or Monday to start.
B: How do you relax and wind down outside of work, and look after yourself generally? Anything that particularly helps you stay balanced?
R: I have a lot of hobbies and interests, and making time for those is really important to me. I love reading – history, true crime (I stayed up till two last night reading the Ted Bundy biography “The Stranger Beside Me” and barely slept a wink!), trashy regency romance novels, fantasy and sci-fi. I’m also listening to podcasts at the moment on my commute – my favourites include “You Must Remember This” (on the forgotten scandals of Hollywood), “My Favourite Murder” and “The Soundtrack Show” (which analyses film soundtracks). TV-wise I love Westworld, Game of Thrones and anything David Attenborough.
I’m also a huge Star Wars geek and in the last couple of years have got into cosplay, so I love researching and making props and costumes in my spare time and attending comic conventions, and I even take lessons in lightsaber fighting! It’s basically a fusion of kung fu and tai chi, except instead of wooden practice swords we use plastic ones that light up. Other sports and activities I love are Kobox (obviously!), skiing, diving, yoga, pilates, hiking and golf. Some weeks I’m busier than others, but for me balance is when I’m happily busy at work but with time for my interests and seeing friends and family.
B: Best and worst career advice you’ve ever been given?
R: Best: people don’t dwell nearly as much on the criticism they give you as you do. I think particularly in law, we’re such perfectionists that any negative feedback can really knock us. Take it, learn from it and try and move on – because the chances are that the person who said it hasn’t thought about it since they did!
Worst: “You can’t wear dangly earrings to work!!” My mum was an incredibly badass accountant-turned-banker in the 80’s when the City really WAS a man’s world, and any sign of femininity was seen as distracting or a weakness – this classic quote was from my first day at work when I was going to wear drop earrings. I don’t think she realised when I started my TC in 2015 how much the world, and corporate dress code in particular, has changed from “her day”. The fact our firm has casual Fridays continues to amaze her, as does the fact I never wear suits (stretchy jersey dresses for the win!)
B: Do you feel like workouts impact how productive you are at work?
R: 100%. I always try to work out in the mornings. It wakes you up, it gets your metabolism going, it clears your head, and ultimately I think it’s great to start the day with a bit of me-time – whether it’s yoga, running or, in my case, punching the hell out of something heavy to some really loud music.
B: If you weren’t a lawyer, what would you be and why?
I honestly don’t know! I always have loved writing and secretly wanted to be a novelist, but I realised early on I wasn’t suited temperament-wise to such a solitary and unpredictable job. I also occasionally daydream of being a guide at a safari camp! Spending all day in the bush and then the evening round the fire with a glass of Amarula listening to the sounds of the wild and chatting to guests from all over the world sounds pretty fun to me. Having said that, I’d probably make it about three weeks without internet access before hotfooting it back to London.
B: Any role models career-wise (whether in law or not)?
R: My mum! She was the first in her family to go to university and then trained as an accountant as one of five women in a class of over 100. She then went into banking and made way more money than my dad for the first 10-15 years of their marriage (which was very unusual then). She ended up giving up work completely to look after me and my sister about the time I started school, but my parents were married for 10 years before they had kids, so she fit in a pretty incredible career before deciding to make that change. People are always shocked to find out my parents’ house is in her name! She’s incredibly driven and hard-working and is an example I try (and fail, a lot of the time!) to live up to.
B: Fave restaurant in City – any great places to take clients you’d recommend people?
R: I go to the Ned a lot and really like their restaurants, but if I’m not eating there I’ll usually head back towards Chelsea to have dinner. Mossimann’s, which is a dining club set in a gorgeous converted church in Belgravia, is the ultimate favourite – unfortunately I can’t go without my dad, as he’s the member, but I always beg to go there on my birthday! I love Rabbit, on the King’s Road, which does incredible seasonal British food tapas-style, and nearly died of happiness when they opened a Sticks ‘n’ Sushi less than two minutes walk from me!
B: And finally, what does ‘success’ mean to you?
It’s kind of abstract but that little fist-pump moment you get when you’ve absolutely nailed something. Whether it’s at work or not, the aim for me is for life to have more fist-pump moments than “d’oh” or “loo cry” moments.
Fave KOBOX combo – I know you go a lot 😉
Uppercuts. When I hit the bag hard enough that it jumps up, it makes me feel like Captain Marvel.
Pancakes or full english?
Full English for sure, I’m a savoury girl!
Burpee or bear crawl?
Oh Christ. Is Miranda reading this? Bear crawl! Definitely bear crawl!
Nature or nurture?
You can’t ask a former anthropology student that question, she’ll spend three weeks agonizing and then give you a 12-page essay that doesn’t even answer it! Like any true-crime aficionado, I’d probably say mostly nurture. But as a cat owner, nature certainly can’t be discounted.
Martini or cosmopolitan?
Martini – I like a citrusy, dry one with a grapefruit twist. But I’d choose a good margarita over either!
Talent or hustle?
Fave latin phrase from law-school?
In vino veritas – definitely learned during law school, although not actually during lectures…
Chocolate or cheese?
Louboutin or Jimmy Choo?
Louboutin, as long as I’m not walking far.
Fave legal drama?
Does Judge Judy count?! Funnily enough for a lawyer I’ve never watched Suits or The Good Wife or anything like that. But my mum always has Judge Judy on somewhere in our house so I have a soft spot for her.
You have to hug, marry and water-balloon 3 kobox instructors – which ones do you choose?!
Marry Miranda, obviously. Hug Joe or Jesse. Water-balloon Jacob (This is 100% revenge and I reserve the right to revise this when he’s back on the timetable permanently!)
It’s your last EVER meal of your life. What do you go for?
Christmas lunch followed by my mum’s EXTREMELY boozy raspberry trifle! With wine. Lots of wine.
Hope that was a useful insight into lawyer life – Bekky is definitely the coolest lawyer I know. Catch her at KOBOX in City most weekdays 😉
Today’s Q&A is a pretty cool one because I think it manages to COMPLETELY bust some myths about social media influencers not being smart, and ‘smart’ or academic people not being able to be social media savvy or sporty… plus I found out we shared some work icons which is always fun… so over to the lovely Flora Beverley! (Links to all of her social media channels are down below).
Do what you love ALWAYS, but be sensible. Money is needed to survive, but if your way of money stops you doing what you love, try doing something else. No experience is a wasted experience – I worked in advertising, catering, in a museum, events and social media. All of them have helped me get to where I am today!
– Flora Beverley, Science PR & Media at Royal College of Obstetricians, Fitness Blogger & Social Media Influencer
B: So people may recognise you from your instagram and know you as a fitness blogger – but please can you tell us a bit about your ‘day job’, it sounds like an amazing career that a lot of people don’t even know is out there!
F: I work in Science media at the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, so I act as the go-between between scientists and the press. It’s our job to make sure journalists understand the science behind a health story and translate science stories into lay english. We also make sure important research makes its way to the press without being misinterpreted! I also co-run the college’s twitter account so we always have a good online presence.
B: How did you get into science media and discover this was what you wanted to do?
F: I always knew I wanted to do something sciencey that wasn’t just research, as I always loved the arts too. Research is a little dry for me, but science media means I’m always reading the latest research but get to use my creative writing skills to translate it into English. I also obviously love social media, so it’s nice to be able to use my hard-earned social media expertise to advise organisations where social media is not the primary focus but where it is still useful to have. I knew this was the sort of job I wanted from second year at uni, but I didn’t know it actually existed until I applied to and got my first job in science comms!
B: Is it ever a struggle to juggle a full time job with your blogging?
F: I absolutely did over the first 8 months or so. That’s why recently I’ve cut down to 25h a week rather than 35h. I found myself working 8am – 10pm 7 days a week without much rest, which burned me out pretty fast. You can love your jobs all you like, but everyone needs rest! At 25h a week I am able to do 1.5 days extra of blogging. I think I actually work harder on 25h per week and am more productive in both jobs, so it’s definitely a better balance of both. I now also schedule in social media-free days every other week or so, otherwise I’d go mad! It’s hard to take time off when you’re both self-employed and employed by an organisation. [You can also read Flora’s blog post here about staying healthy while working an office job].
B: Do you have any advice for people looking to work in a similar field?
F: I’ve actually written about it on my blog a little. It’s all about showing that you’re interested in science communications and know why it’s so important. A science degree and writing experience are both useful, as a lot of it is translating science jargon to plain English.
B: Can you describe a (working) day in the life of Flora Beverley?!
F: I actually have an entire YouTube video on this! It’s my latest vid 🙂 Tends to go: 7am workout, 8:30am work, 4:30pm work ends, 5:30pm event of some variety. 10pm bed time!
B: What has been the most challenging part of getting to where you are now?
F: Keeping on the track of what I think is best for me. There is a lot of ‘advice’ coming from all directions – parents, friends, my agency – but I’ve found that sticking true to what I enjoy, more than anything, has kept me pretty happy!
B: What are your career goals for the next five years?
Whilst I think that doing pretty much everything I’ve enjoyed over the last few years has been wonderful, as I grow in all the fields I’m in, I think there’ll come a point when I have to decide what I want to specialise in. I’ve always been the sort of person who has managed to fit in literally everything I want to do, but I think there’s a point people reach where it’s in their best interest to cut loose various things so instead of doing 10 things not very well, you choose your favourite 3 and do them 110%. That’ll be a really difficult decision for me, but also I don’t think anything is final, and if it doesn’t work out I can always change my mind. That’s the only thing stopping me panic!
B: Any big misconceptions about the work you do, either your blogging and influencer work or your day job?
F: It’s funny actually – when I speak to older people, they seem way more interested in my work in science media. I think they think that I can’t be that clever if I’m a blogger. When I speak to my generation, everyone’s super interested in the work I do as a blogger, and saying I also work in science media seems to turn them off, like working 2 jobsmeans that I’m not good enough to work full time in social media. Maybe not misconceptions, but definitely preconceptions!
B: You’re always super active and super healthy – do you feel like this positively impacts your work?
F: Yes absolutely – when I lapse a little on the health or exercise front I feel my concentration and mood slipping. Exercise keeps me energetic and good food keeps me alert and happy.
B: What advice would you give to someone trying to figure out what they want to do?
F: Do what you love ALWAYS, but be sensible. Money is needed to survive, but if your way of money stops you doing what you love, try doing something else. No experience is a wasted experience – I worked in advertising, catering, in a museum, events and social media. All of them have helped me get to where I am today!
B: Have you made any mistakes along the way to where you are today and what have you learned from them, if so?
For sure, but I look forward to making plenty of mistakes in the future too. I think I’ve learned to always stay true to myself – even if something ends up being a mistake, if you know you did it for the right reasons, that’s not a problem!
B: What does ‘success’ mean to you?
F: Happiness and family. But I think the meaning can change over time. I think I’m successful now, but if I was in the same position in 8 years time, I would think of myself as unsuccessful – it’s a moving target! B: Best and worst career advice you’ve ever been given?
F: Best: Don’t listen to what others want you to do. You do you. (I’m yet to fully live by this, but I’m moving in the right direction!)
Worst: Get a job that pays well. I’ve got a job that pays, but it hardly pays WELL comparatively. But I love it and I’m happy, and it’s enough for me to live. That’s all you need!
B: Do you have a role model or mentor you look to for career inspiration?
F: My friend had a job that she loved until a staffing change made her miserable. Instead of grinning and bearing it, she got up and left. I like to think that if I stopped enjoying what I did, I’d have the confidence to quit and move on. My boyfriend is a huge inspiration – he’s gone through 3 pretty drastic career changes (drummer to gardener to academic) and has never been happier. I think for me these two people are role models for me as I would never want to be someone stuck doing something I hate and hating on others for enjoying themselves.
B: Who are your fave work and fitness icons?
F: Emma Watson and some journalists, such as Stevie Martin, Dolly Alderton, Pandora Sykes etc – all role models in general! Fitness icons – anyone who really has a passion and chases it. I like people who do a lot of things! Oenone Forbat, Gemita Samarra and Sophie Hellyer spring to mind!
B: Can you describe your weekly fitness routine? I just have to ask, because your abs though…!!!!
F: Also wrote a blog post on this! I tend to box, run and do HIIT around 5h a week. I don’t overdo it! ***Quickfire Round***
Fave workout? Boxing! Or horse riding, if you count that 🙂
Nut butter or avocado? Avo Brian Cox or Richard Attenborough? Brian Cox – unless you mean David Attenborough, in which case he always wins. I did mean David Attenborough haha sorry, I think I had the Santa Claus actor on the brain as I only just learned they were related…?! Fail!
Massage or facial? Massage
Nature or nurture? Nurture
Talent or hustle? Hustle
Chocolate or cheese? Chocolate
You’re doing cardio: podcast or playlist? Podcast
Chick flick or thriller? Thriller
Best brunch spot in London? The lighterman It’s your last EVER meal of your life. What do you order/make? Pad Thai, G&T and cinnamon oatmeal cookies to finish
So last week in the first of our Inspire Interviews we heard from Kris Pace, the Branding Director of KOBOX. This week, we have a completely different inspiring story for you… and spoiler, she’s a total babe.
Even if I have a tiny positive impact on just one person, I’m happy. Starting each day looking forward to the possibilities that lie ahead is a pretty wonderful feeling, too. – Venetia Falconer, TV Presenter, blogger, podcaster and influencer.
Not only does she create my all time fave podcast – Talking Tastebuds – and have the kind of voice I just want to listen to on a permanent audiobook, she’s a multi-talented(and titled!) career queen absolutely bossing the online content space while making waves and gently pushing positive change without preaching in her treatment of ethical eating and sustainable fashion. And that’s not to mention her impressive TV career and presenting chops… this week’s Q&A is with the smart and super-beautiful Venetia Falconer!
B: One thing I really love about the work you do is this amazing energy you bring to everything you do – I first saw you talk on The Future of Wellness Panel where you presented for YellowKite Books – you’re obviously multi-passionate and multi-talented – can you talk a little bit about your background and how you became a presenter, blogger, vlogger, podcaster and influencer…?!
V: Thank you so much! I worked my way up behind the camera as a producer at MTV learning how to write scripts, film, edit, work with presenters and hone my interview skills. A friend then put me forward for a presenting job at 4Music and I thought I may as well go for it and I got the gig! I spent 18 months hosting their daily live show which was the best training ground. I was then picked up by Tastemade and fell in love with the digital sphere, so launched my YouTube channel and then my podcast, Talking Tastebuds.
B: You’re also vegan, and make it seem so easy! How did you make the transition to fully fledged veganism?
V: I took my sweet time – 5 months to be exact! And that’s always my number one top tip, go easy on yourself and take your time. It’s a big change to your body (I was eating eggs, dairy or meat with every meal), so it was necessary for me to ease my way into it.
B: Do you ever struggle to balance career and wellness? Any top tips for keeping that balance?
V: Of course. I meditate daily and try to take regular digital detoxes. Friends are my favourite remedy and a huge part of my life, so I’ll spend as much time as possible hanging out with those who lift my soul!
B: What are you most proud of in your career so far?
V: My podcast. It’s really exceeded all of my expectations.
B: What made you decide to launch ‘Talking Tastebuds’? (I’m literally addicted!) Any highlights and/or struggles?
V: I’m so pleased to hear that! I was taking some time out in Sri Lanka and the idea literally came to me (another reason why time-off is so important if you’re a creative).
Highlights have been hanging out with my heroes! Going to interview the Happy Pear in their hometown was particularly spectacular. Struggles are trying not to overthink about where to take it next…
B: Can you describe a (working) day in the life of Venetia Falconer?
This is hard as it varies so much day-to-day. I like to wake up at 6am so I have time to meditate and do yoga or a TRX class at Equilibrium, before launching into emails and editing. Then I’m often rushing around London to meetings, events, shoots and interviews.
It’s important to me to have a good work/life balance, so I aim to have my laptop closed by 7pm before enjoying dinner with a friend.
B: Have you made any mistakes along the way to where you are today and what have you learned from them, if so?
V: That you can never take a short-cut. You want to be able to do each and every part of your job as well as your boss can. And not to rush. The journey is the most enjoyable part!
B: You’ve been very open about anxiety and the importance of mental health which is so inspiring and has helped a lot of people. What would you say to someone who is suffering and needs help or advice?
V: You are not alone. Talk to someone. Don’t suffer in silence. And if you’re stuck in an Instagram vortex of self comparison, please switch off your phone.
B: What does ‘success’ mean to you?
V: Even if I have a tiny positive impact on just one person, I’m happy. Starting each day looking forward to the possibilities that lie ahead is a pretty wonderful feeling, too.
B: Best and worst career advice you’ve ever been given?
V: Best: “It’s ok to say no”. Worst: “Being vegan will make you less employable”. SEE YA.
B: What’s your life’s mission in a nutshell?
V: To spread a positive message around mental and physical well-being. And to encourage others not to mess with the animals and the planet… 🙂
It’s your last EVER day of your life. What do you do for the day?
Spend it on the coast surrounded by all of my favourite humans. There would be glorious sunshine and lots of incredible music. We’d dance a lot and have long rambling conversations about life. There would be exceptional coffee and food. I would be wearing an incredible boho-dress, but no shoes (minor but important detail).
And I have to ask your infamous podcast question – please can you share your ‘death row dinner’ (the last ever meal you’re going to have!):
This changes every single day. Currently it’s papaya drenched in fresh lime juice. Shared on a beach with David Attenborough, watching the sunrise.
I literally find Venetia’s podcast the most uplifting thing in the world and it’s so interesting and educational too – if you haven’t already gotten yourself hooked on Talking Tastebuds, get your fix here.
I am really excited to be launching an interview series with some incredible people. Whether your dream job involves burpees and barbells, boardrooms or business-meetings (or none of the above!), I’ve chatted to some reeeeally cool people who graciously agreed to share their stories about what they do and how they got there.
Coming your way in these Q&As will be:
Top tips from incredible entrepreneurs, industry shakers and influencers
Their stories, insights and career tips
How they balance wellness and work
Secrets to their success
While this blog is very ‘health’, ‘fitness’ and ‘nutrition’ focussed (I mean, “gymliving” features in the name!), I’ve also always been honest that fitness isn’t my whole life – career is important to me and mine is actually in law rather than the fitness industry (I’m “legallygymliving”, after all!). And another part of this picture is that ever-elusive ‘balance’ – maintaining mental and physical health, and enjoying interests, family, friends and loved ones rather than being chained to the grindstone.
A huuuuuge part of my view of the world and the content I try to share with you all is finding a way to make health and wellness and working out fit around YOUR lives. And also sharing non-fitness related content that can inspire and enhance your career and all the other things that are important to you, because there’s more to living well than matcha lattes and working on our abs!
I’ve been interviewing some incredible people who are just so inspiring for all kinds of different reasons – some work in careers related in some way to fitness or wellness, others don’t – from influencers & entrepreneurs to lawyers & financiers, I wanted to share with you all some of the people who have been generous enough to let me interview them, and share their amazing insights and stories with you!
Whatever you want to work in, I think you can learn a lot from exploring new areas (my marketing, events and account management ‘first’ career taught me a lot, for example, and while I may not use it while I’m drafting legal docs day to day, you can chalk everything up to life experience and you’d be surprised when things pop up!) so hopefully even if there’s not someone I’ve interviewed who you want to exactly-to-the-letter model your path on, you’ll find some inspo and top tips to getting to where you want to be!
First up we have a fab interview from the insaaaaaaaaane Kris Pace, Brand Director at Kobox (& formerly of Men’s Health)! Watch this space… it will go live on Friday 🙂