Becoming a parent for the first time can be an unfamiliar and daunting experience for many. Even when we are surrounded by helpful and well-meaning friends and relatives offering a multitude of “great” advice, it can still be overwhelming. How does a new parent figure out what is reliable information and what is better forgotten? 

Blissful Parenting, a tranquil and luxurious post-natal retreat in Bangsar, aspires to bridge this gap by empowering new mothers with the knowledge to parent with confidence. At Blissful Parenting, both mother and baby are looked after by a team of certified medical professionals and qualified nurses for a speedy post-natal recovery. During her stay, a new mother will also learn about successful breastfeeding, baby sleep routines, how to recognise baby’s cues, the essentials of baby care, and basic first aid. 

Blissful Parenting was co-founded by Elizabeth Richard, a qualified lactation consultant with numerous years of experience as a midwife in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, Labour Room and Maternity ward of Pantai Hospital. Through her years of working with mothers and their babies, helping them to manage the insecurities of new motherhood, Elizabeth was inspired to start Blissful Parenting, a place to care for this vulnerable group of mothers. 

On Saturday 15th of July, Blissful Parenting hosted the Blissful Pregnancy Workshop at their new premises. The workshop was repeated over two sessions – one in the morning and another in the afternoon. Sponsored by Abbott Similac Mom® and CryoCord, it covered five important topics:
1. Prenatal Pilates
2. Prenatal Bonding
3. Pregnancy Dos and Don’ts
4. Nutrition 101
5. Cord Blood Banking

Participants also received goodie bags worth over RM200, sponsored by Bloom & Grow and Biolane. All goodie bags contained the GroBag (an infant sleeping bag) and an organic baby toiletries travel set by Biolane.

Highlights from the Workshop

Emma Jory, certified pre- and post-natal Pilates instructor, kicked off the workshop with the topic of prenatal Pilates. Over the course of her session, she emphasised the importance of fitness during pregnancy and dispelled the common myth that pregnant women should not exercise. At the conclusion for her talk, Emma invited pregnant mothers and their husbands to engage in a prenatal Pilates workout by the centre’s poolside. During the workout, partners supported the new mothers-to-be through a series of gentle Pilates movements suitable for expectant mothers. After the session, one mother shared her thoughts: “I love the Pilates sessions because I think we have this misconception that exercising is not good for you during pregnancy. Just now we learned the moves that are safe for pregnant mothers.”

The second topic on pre-natal bonding was covered by Daisy Ng and Sandeep Kaur Pannu from Trinity Kids. Daisy, who handled the afternoon workshop, and Sandeep, who spoke during the morning session, highlighted the importance of pre-natal bonding and how it affects the baby’s development. Even before a child is born, a mother can begin to foster the emotional connection with her baby through simple activities, such as talking, reading and singing to her baby bump. A strong parental bond provides the baby with a sense of security which has a positive effect on the baby’s cognitive and social development. 

Elizabeth Richard took on the next two topics on pregnancy dos and don’ts as well as the basics of pregnancy nutrition. Because there are so many beliefs and superstitions surrounding pregnancy, it is a challenge for new parents to sort out the facts from the myths. Elizabeth talked about the rationale behind many questions, such as:
• “Can we eat crabs during pregnancy?”
• “Can we set up the baby cot?”
• “Can we eat durians?”

Babies are entirely dependent on their mothers for sustenance during pregnancy. Whatever a mother eats is what her baby will get, therefore her diet during pregnancy matters more than ever. There is plenty of research to show that a baby’s risk of developing birth defects, susceptibility to infection, and even birth weight is linked to their mother’s diet.One of the easiest and most important ways to ensure that a baby gets the best start in life is for a pregnant mother to get proper nutrition for herself. A healthy diet is not just important for her unborn baby, but it also helps safeguard a smoother pregnancy for herself. In this session, Elizabeth answered popular questions on prenatal nutrition, for instance:

• “Should we be eating for 2?”
• “Why do we have cravings?”
• “How to choose the right maternal milk?” 

She also shared valuable tips on how to monitor nutrient intake and weight gain throughout the course of the pregnancy.

The final topic in the workshop was about cord blood banking and how it can be a future investment for families. CryoCord, one of Malaysia’s leading stem cell banking facilities, explained how the blood from a baby’s umbilical cord can be collected and stored for future use against some 80 diseases, including a wide range of cancers, genetic diseases, and blood disorders. Parents can choose to donate the cord blood or keep it for their baby’s future use, like a form of insurance. 

Feedback from the Workshop Participants

Many participants found the workshop to be very informative and insightful and were able to glean a lot from it. The following were some of the comments from the attendees:
• “Our parents have been telling us what to do, what to expect, but actually there are a lot more things we need to learn.”
• “For us Asians, we always take a lot of carbs. We don’t realise we are actually lacking in all the nutrition-rich foods so this is definitely very beneficial.”
• “This event is very educational so we get more knowledge about breastfeeding, how to take care of baby, the dos and don’ts during pregnancy. So far, this is my first experience and it’s perfect.”

It is said that “knowledge is power”, but the truth is “knowledge is confidence”. When new parents are armed with knowledge, it alleviates much of the anxiety surrounding first-time parenthood.