On September 20, ten young mums and whānau celebrated at Te Ora Hou as they completed a seven week Noho Rangimarie/Living in Harmony course teaching them everything they need to know about pregnancy, birth and how to give their babies a successful first 100 days.
The families were gifted BabyStart boxes thanks to the Pearls and Lace high tea fundraiser which Zonta Whangarei put on in May.
The BabyStart boxes – the brainchild of Philip and Clare Horrobin – each contain around $900 of products to help ensure each baby has a safe and warm 100 days, and the boxes are also a safe, portable sleeping option for baby. The boxes were especially gifted to this cohort of course graduates as a pilot/trial.
The second cohort of women undergoing the Harmony course are likely to receive BabyStart boxes, too, although future gifts of the boxes depends on funding and sponsorship. In order to receive a BabyStart box, those on the course will need to complete their workbook and attend all of seven sessions over seven weeks.
The gathering on September 20 recognised the women officially finishing the workbooks they had been filling in at weekly sessions as they learned about pregnancy, labour, birth, breathing, pain relief, the maternity unit, newborn safety, breastfeeding and more. The first participant was due to give birth a week after the graduation ceremony, although others in the class will deliver their babies by December.
Libby, who is 26 weeks along, was connected with the Harmony course by Briarley Birch of He Matariki Teen Parent School. Before she began, Libby says “I didn’t know anything,” and had mixed emotions about her pregnancy journey, but with the support of her friend Saphire, Libby said she is feeling confident today.
Her BabyStart box has been particularly rewarding for Libby, she said. “Phil [Horrobin] showed us the boxes in the first week; I’m looking forward to all the stuff in the boxes. You might not think about the quality of things you need.” The best items in the box, Libby said, were probably the sleeping outfits made of breathable, hygienic merino wool.
Libby laughed as she said the course taught her “Pregnancy is not as beautiful as people say!” and described the course as “Really real – it’s not sugar-coated.”
Couple Jacob and Chloe agreed they were particularly grateful for a lovely merino blanket which came in their BabyStart box. Chloe, who is due to give birth at the end of October, said the physical demonstrations of everything from breastfeeding to giving birth were the most useful aspects, and they were impressed to be given a tour of Whangarei Hospital’s maternity unit, too.
“Every lesson I was blown away with stuff I thought I knew, but didn’t,” Jacob said. While “It felt like a girl’s place,” Jacob and other partners of the expectant mothers were made to feel fully welcome – and Jacob even had a turn putting on a bra to understand Chloe’s perspective! Jacob and Chloe agreed that having to complete the Harmony course workbook helped to ingrain all the information they needed to know to give their child the best start in life.
Te Puawai Ora team leader Sam Harris said feedback from class tutors Natasha Sidford and Monique Williams was that the girls were keen, enthusiastic, and worked hard to attend every class, coming from as far as Kaikohe.
“They have made a concentrated effort to come. Maybe it was because of the BabyStart boxes – but I think they have caught on with how awesome the classes are and the benefits, the networking, the information. For me it means that opportunity can now be used to provide a range of information about pregnancy, labour, birth and the first 1000 days of their pepe’s life, but also offer healthy choices that will put them in good stead for their journey into motherhood.”
“We are extremely grateful to Zonta and BabyStart who have donated boxes in Northland, 44 of which have been given out through Te Puawai Ora so far. We're also excited about some additional boxes which will soon be given away thanks to SKYCITY Auckland Community Trust.”
Since 1938 Finland has been giving expectant parents a cardboard box full of useful items to make their early months easier and more comfortable. In addition to holding clothes, baby care products, toys and books, the box also includes a mattress, sheets and blanket which allow it to be used as a safe sleeping space both at home and when out and about. BabyStart became a New Zealand registered charity in 2015.