The youngest person yet to use a one-page profile!

The youngest person yet to use a one-page profile. Baby James was just three days old when his mum created his profile to help hospital staff understand how best to support them both.

James' one-page profile

James’ one-page profile

Written by mum Deb

James arrived a day after his due date, after around 16 hours of labour.  The cord was around his neck, he was in a difficult position, and so we were advised that we needed a vacuum delivery. He was born just before 8pm under a blue moon.  He was the most beautiful purplish slippery floppy thing that I had ever seen.  After a brief cuddle, he was whisked away to the special care nursery to await a visit from the pediatrician.  My friend and student midwife persisted with staff until they returned my baby to me, looking a healthier shade of pink and gazing endlessly at me with his deep dark blue eyes.

Aside from a bruised and swollen head, he was deemed healthy and okay to see the doctor in the morning.  The nurses decided that I was too fatigued to responsibly look after my baby that night, so he was taken back to the special nursery and I spent a sleepless night euphoric, yet pining for my baby boy. My first night as a mother held the strangest combination of immeasurable joy and a complete sense of powerlessness.  I knew my baby and I would both be better off together, but just couldn’t seem to organise my thoughts well enough to do anything about it.

James spent most of the next day sleeping and being woken for feeds.  We struggled to get James to feed which resulted in us both being pushed, poked, guided and prodded in spite of the hospital’s ‘hands off’ policy in relation to support with breast feeding.  By day three I was exhausted and emotional, and James had started to cry every time I tried to position him for a feed.

I had shared my own one-page profile with as many staff as I could, and virtually every new nurse that came on shift sat down with me and we talked through it together.  A couple of staff used it as an opportunity to basically tell me I knew nothing relative to their extensive experience, but the majority listened attentively and asked clarifying questions.  Heartened by this, I scrawled down James’ first one-page profile while he slept and I should have been resting.

In those early days of fatigue and confusion, writing out James’ profile helped me to make sense of my thoughts and to begin to understand this little person.  At a time when any sense of control was fleeting at best, James’ one-page profile provided a way to assert how we’d prefer to be supported.  I received mixed responses from staff, but I have one particularly positive memory that has stayed with me.

It was around two in the morning and a midwife who was close to my own age sat quietly beside me as I attempted to feed James.  As she read our profiles she related stories about feeding her own three children.  She talked about how each baby was different, each wonderful and puzzling, and each very much their own person from the moment they arrived.  She was encouraging and reassuring, and she provided guidance without any sense of pressure.  She told me that our profiles helped her to know exactly what we needed from her rather than guessing and having the usual feeling as though she’s just not quite getting it right.

An added bonus from writing James’ profile at such an early point has been looking back at it so many months later and remembering details that I am sure I would have forgotten otherwise.

Allaying a mum’s fears

How a one-page profile can help a baby settle into a new nursery environment and help parents to feel confident that they will be well looked after, nurtured and supported to develop.

Matilda's one-page profile

Matilda’s one-page profile

Written by mum; Amy

Matilda is a happy, healthy eight month old baby girl. She has a five year old big sister Molly, daddy Jay and me, her mum. Matilda was born on the 4 August 2012, just four days later than expected.

I recently found a nursery for Matilda to go to once I returned back to work three days a week. Finding a suitable place to leave Matilda was hard enough, but once I’d decided on the right nursery, I then had the anxiety of how she would cope being away from her mummy when I was all she was used to.  I know Matilda’s personality inside out but I have carried her for 9 months and cared for her every day since. What if she cried and the nursery staff didn’t know what to do? What if they didn’t remember her feed times? I needed to find a way of communicating with the nursery about Matilda’s likes and dislikes and how best to look after her.

I decided to create a one-page profile for Matilda and share it with the nursery. I put together photographs of her to illustrate the page and Jay and I went through all the important information that nursery would need to know. We shared the profile with her close family to capture their opinions and make sure nothing was missed. The aim was to help Matilda settle into her new and unusual surroundings and to make sure her Key Worker knew her well, to make it easier for them to bond.

Matilda’s profile went with her on her first visit to nursery. A copy was kept in her folder and one placed on the notice board where all staff could look at it. Leaving your baby at nursery for the first time can be very frightening but creating the one-page profile filled me with confidence that the team there knew how best to support her.

I had a great reaction from Matilda’s Key Worker who said it helped her to get to know Matilda quickly. She thought having all the information on one page was really useful and the bright colours and photographs made it attractive and encouraged people to look at it. The nursery Manager was pleased with the profile too and said she thought it would be useful for other parents to do something similar for their children.

Every three months Matilda will have a review. I plan to use the one-page profile to keep track of new developments.  As she grows and her needs change we will add to it so it evolves with her.

I strongly believe that Matilda’s one-page profile has helped her to settle quickly into her new environment. She is happy and smiley when I drop her off in the mornings, and when I collect her at the end of the day. Matilda’s Key Worker understands her routine and characteristics well. It is rewarding to know that the profile has been useful to staff at the nursery as well as helping me to allay some of my fears.

It is never going to be easy leaving your baby with someone else, but the one-page profile has enabled me to share all the important information about Matilda in a way that is easy to digest for the people looking after her. My little baby girl is as happy and healthy as ever and I feel confident that she is being well looked after.

If you are interested in reading more about person-centred tools in pregnancy and parenting you might be interest in the blog.

Finding the right nursery

An example of how this new mum used a one-page profile to find the right nursery for her daughter.

Scarlett's 8 month one-page profile

Scarlett’s 8 month one-page profile

Written by Rowan Hall, Mum to Scarlett

For the first two months of my daughter’s life I didn’t put her down. She looked too small and fragile to be out of my arms and I had an overpowering urge to keep her close to me so that she could hear my heartbeat, smell my skin next to hers, find her milk, know that she wasn’t alone in this strange new world. I was encouraged by friends to move from the living room into the bedroom to get some rest after a fortnight but I can’t even remember feeling tired. All I wanted to do was to look after her. It was early August and the Olympics were on the TV 24 hours a day. Together Scarlett and I watched as Jessica Ennis from our hometown of Sheffield won the gold medal in the heptathlon, Mo Farah became the first Briton to win Olympic 10000m gold and Gemma Gibbons looked to the sky and called her Mum’s name as she took home silver in the Judo. I’ll never forget those moments – I’m teary now as I write. There I was watching people fulfil their lifelong ambitions, realising their dreams, whilst I held my greatest achievement so far in my arms.

When Scarlett was eight months old it was time for me to go back to work. I’d been worrying about this and wasn’t feeling comfortable about the amount of time I would be away from her each day. There was also quite a lot of uncertainty about whether I could do the part-time hours I wanted in my old job and I decided that the best option for my family was to go freelance and be based at home. I started writing about person-centred practices, something I feel passionate about after experiencing the results myself in pregnancy and birth. As well as doing something I loved, my new role meant that I could manage my own time and not leave Scarlett for long periods.

I still had the task of finding the right nursery though; somewhere that I knew Scarlett would feel safe and happy without me. As is typical for me, I did a lot of research and made a lot of visits. But part way through the process I realised that I was struggling to compare the different options. They were all so similar in many ways and there were positives and negatives to each. Part of the problem was that I wasn’t comparing the nurseries against my own criteria but against theirs. I’d come away from each visit with a pile of information; Ofsted reports, health and safety certificates, routines. The Nursery Managers were sharing with me what they thought I needed to know in order to make a decision but the emphasis was all wrong. I needed to think about what was important to and for Scarlett and then make my decision based on her as an individual.

I wrote a list. I didn’t realise it at the time but this was actually the start of Scarlett’s one-page profile. I was thinking about what she needed to be supported well and wanted to use this list to work through our options. I came up with the following criteria: Kindness and attitude of staff, quality of the food, time spent outdoors, approach to play, safety and proximity to home (and me of course!).

Scarlett’s nursery is across the road. They have a cook serving fresh, unprocessed food daily. They have three separate outdoor areas and Scarlett’s key worker is loving and kind to her. I wrote up the rest of her one-page profile and took this across on her first day. I feel confident that they understand what she needs and can support her well, not just because they have a copy of her profile but because when looking at nurseries, I thought long and hard about what was important to and for her as an individual and then found the best match.

Scarlett is a happy, healthy little girl and changes every day. The difference now to when I first wrote her profile is remarkable – and keeping it up-to-date is going to be  wonderful way of capturing those precious moments in time and looking back on how she has developed.

You can read more about using person-centred thinking tools in pregnancy birth and parenthood here.