Word to the Wise – with Jane Wallington

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Jane with one of Birthing Programme Clients having just given birth to a beautiful baby

Jane is a great example of how a wonderful birth experience can not only heal a previous traumatic birth but set in motion a rewarding career path. Jane is a successful Wise Hippo instructor, and named her company Breeze Birthing , after her love of sailing- a sport in which she raced competitively. So, with the wind in her sails she set forth to carve out a career teaching pregnant couples how to breeze through this special time in their lives. When I asked Jane why she agreed to be interviewed this was her response.

Jane: It’s a great opportunity to spread the word so more pregnant couples can find out about what we do. It also felt right to be interviewed by you, Tamara!

How would you describe your work Jane?

 Jane: It’s funny isn’t it because I don’t describe this as my work at all. It’s very much a passion for me. I get so much from it.

I help families to have a positive pregnancy and birth experience by teaching The Wise Hippo. I just love to give them interesting and useful information and tools that build their confidence and trust in their bodies.

Once we’ve done a course together I’m often then asked to be their birth doula and this just tops the reward for me. I really, really enjoy it. I love to see the power in a woman and also the love and support that you see coming from her partner and to be part of that, to help them through their journey is very, very special to me. So, absolutely, I feel very privileged to support families during this very special time in their lives.

But, what a lot of people don’t know, is that it’s not my only ‘job’. I also work part time, for a local marketing and design agency in the centre of Royston and this doesn’t feel like work either. I am very lucky to have two lines of work that I love’.

 What lead you into choosing the Wise Hippo as a career path and what essential steps did you take took to get where you are today?

 Jane : So, first of all, I borrowed the course fee from my grandparents back in 2012 and that helped me to train in hypnobirthing. I taught the Mongan Method for almost two years, and after speaking to another Wise Hippo instructor, I then decided to join the Wise Hippo in its early days. Numerous things appealed to me, such as the quality of the content, the strong leadership from both you and Dany, the strong branding…and it’s been great to witness its journey, how it’s grown from strength to strength and be part of its natural progression.  

It is evident that both you and Dany work tirelessly to add additional services, so that we can offer these on to our clients and help them further, and marketing the brand, to keep The Wise Hippo front of mind.

I think my experience in the media and marketing has enabled me to communicate what I do, effectively. I’ve had a couple of really good press releases published  in the Cambridge News and across the Weekly News Titles, and the Biggleswade Comet. The response from these press releases have always been fantastic- with some people coming to me 2 years after seeing the articles!

What was the one most significant thing you did to get into your current position?

 Jane: Perfect timing here she is! ‘Do you know what is weird? This little person here I would say is the most significant thing that got me here and I think, like many women who teach the Wise Hippo, it was the birth of a child. So, here she is- this is my youngest daughter Jess. She was born in 2010 and her birth was my incredible healing birth after having such a difficult time previously. So, for me, the most significant thing, was to birth Jess that way that we did. We loved the experience, just everything about it- how we defied the consultants who said I wouldn’t be able to have a vaginal birth without intervention, how much easier it was, how I had high energy levels afterwards. I knew then, with my two very different experiences of birth, just how much birth matters and the bond we have is just indescribable.’

What challenges did you face along the way and how did you overcome them?

 Jane: A few years ago, I supported a couple who tragically lost their baby girl at 39 weeks in utero. I remember the day, as if it was yesterday. I received the phone call and went to see them after they had received the news. The only thing I could do was to be there for them. Despite the terribly sad news, the couple showed incredible strength and were determined to remain focused and went on to have a positive birth for themselves and for their daughter, Jessica. The most beautiful, most perfect angel.  During this time, I received support from Dany, yourself and the pod, so that I could support my couple. I’ll never forget them.  They have since got married and had a little boy.

Have you ever had a light bulb moment?

 I often have light bulb moments! And funnily enough, they’ve all happened since I’ve had children!

The first one that stands out happened when Jess was six weeks old. I wanted to take part in an easy-going, family friendly sport to help keep me fit. I was into sport when I was younger and I missed the competitiveness. There was nothing available locally, so I set about organizing rounders sessions for anyone wishing to play. Numbers quickly grew and within six months, we had Royston Rounders Club- recognized as an official Rounders England Club. We even received funding to train coaches and umpires and joined the nearest league.

Another lightbulb moment for me, was when I joined the Positive Birth Movement, founded by Milli Hill. I recognized that our area (Royston) was in need of an organised group to change the way that we view birth. Luckily, a local NCT teacher, Meriel had the same idea, so we co-run the Royston Positive Birth Movement together. We’re now in our third year!

A third moment for me, would be Royston Baby & Toddler Show- an event I co-organize with my friends, Clare Coningsby and Cecile Davidson.

What resources have been crucial to your success?

Jane: Other Hippos! The Hippo Pod is special to me, we share,support and help each other out. It’s an incredible key resource.

I also couldn’t have done this without friends, members of my family, especially my husband and completely understanding children. Then there’s my clients- who I’ve been able to build great friendships with’.

Why is being a leader in your field important to you?

Jane: As well as motivating and inspiring my couples, being someone who they can trust is important to me.

We are building a mass of opinion- that we can achieve the right birth on the day and being a leader, we can show them the way.

Would you agree that the right education really can make all the difference?  

Jane: When we educate families we’re helping them in so many different ways!

We’re helping the mothers- to trust in their bodies, the birthing process and their babies.

We’re helping birth partners, by sharing the toolkit with them, showing them that in fact they have a very important role to play, and giving them confidence in the birthing room.

We’re helping babies, so that they can have a positive experience, so they can go on to feed better, be healthier, sleep better and to bond better with their parents.

We’re helping children as they grow, to give them confidence in the world around them and grow into amazing human beings.  

What are your top three tips for other women who want to be leaders or teachers in their field?

Jane: 1. Ask for help, if needed, and don’t be afraid to do this. We will need a bit of help sometimes and life is just one massive learning curve. So, we should just accept this and enjoy it.

  1. Get out there and again, don’t be afraid to do so. I can actually be quite self-conscious at times, but people want to find you and hear what you’re saying.

My third tip is to practice what you preach! If you are relaxed then this will shine through and come across in your work and your personal life. It’s important to include regular time with your family and also time for you.

What has been your number one teaching highlight so far?

Jane: It’s something that’s happened recently and so it’s at the top of my mind.

All of the births that I have attended have been significant highlights for me.

I am very privileged to support a birth and there’s a recent one that happened after different circumstances.

On the 22nd of June this year my grandad passed away and just an hour later, I received a phone call from a client to say that they were in labour. I got myself together, I mentally put my feelings into a box and I went to meet my couple, Louise and Mark, at the hospital. I was rushing out of the car park with my doula bag on my shoulder when suddenly I heard “Jane!” in a jovial manner, just behind me- my couple were calmly walking from the car park. Wise Hippo mp3s in her ears, just really super casual and relaxed. Louise had had two previously very different and difficult births and so this time, planned to have a calm waterbirth. And so, they did it! They went on to have their ‘healing birth’ in the pool, at the Rosie Birth Centre. It was exactly what they wanted, exactly what they deserved and I am immensely proud of them all. You can just tell that they had embraced everything that I had taught them.

Like my Grandad, my couple were parents of three boys and after learning about his passing they decided to name him ‘Charlie Thomas Frederick’- named after my Grandad- Thomas Frederick.

Fellow Wise Hippo teacher, Anneka, told me about the Viking legend of the rainbow bridge. When you’re passing between two worlds you will pass on your knowledge whilst on the bridge to another human between the two worlds and these; the birth, the legend have given me so much comfort. So much so, that I was able to talk about grandad at the funeral and about the story and the legend.

The timing of Charlie’s birth was not an inconvenience, but a complete godsend and I thank his family for allowing me to play a part in their wonderful birth experience.

The Wise Hippo attracts passionate teachers and Jane is definitely a passionate Instructor with many strings to her bow. Not only is Jane looking forward to teaching her daughters how to sail the waters but also how to sail through labour when the time comes.

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