On Friday 9th March David and I travelled with Esther and William to the Isle of Wight.
I was very unsure about what to expect and worried how David would manage the twins with me spending my time at classes, workshops and spa treatments! The course is really designed for couples to come away without their children, perhaps more so before they have any children, and relax together whilst also preparing for the biggest event of their lives so far, having a baby.
The course is well structured and combines antenatal sessions with time to relax over meals and in the spa.
The feeling of luxury begins before you even leave home. You call the reception at The West Bay Club and they take care of everything for you. Sarah at Guest Services was particularly helpful to us. She booked (and rebooked) our ferries. Answered our questions by email as I hate talking on the phone. She arranged for their to be two cots and two highchairs in our cottage and ensured we had a larger cottage so that Esther and William had space to roam. The customer service from the outset was excellent, faultless actually, and remained that way throughout our stay.
Before we departed for our stay I was also contacted by the Spa Manager to confirm timings for my Espa Prenatal Treatment that was included as part of the antenatal weekend. Each lady on the course has one of these treatments and another £50 to spend on products, have another treatment for themselves or for their partner. I tried to encourage David to have a massage but with The Squidgers there he really didn’t have the time. I intended to buy some products that would be suitable for use in pregnancy and after the birth but again there was just no time.
On arriving at The West Bay Club we drove through the automatic gates and were immediately impressed by the rows of white cottages arranged around perfect green grass. It looked very posh but also family friendly. The reception staff were incredibly happy and helpful as we checked in. The site is all pedestrianised so we left our car in the car park and used the luggage trolleys provided to take our bags to our three bedroomed cottage. Esther and William liked climbing and riding on the trolleys.
The cottage was single storey and very spacious. It comprised three bedrooms one of which was ensuite, an open plan living and dining area and a fabulously equipped kitchen. A wonderful treat after our not so well thought out Center Parcs lodge!
It also had a family bathroom. The cottage was warm and bathed in light as each room had floor to ceiling windows. It was so so nice that we felt very bad as we blacked out the babies room with bin bags!!
Once the babies were bathed and in bed. I went over to The Country Club to arrange getting some dinner for David and I. The antenatal weekend includes breakfast and evening meals. We were able to join the other couples for breakfast, with Esther and William, but dinner we had to have in our room as the babies were in bed. At The Country Club I met Hayley, another Mummy of 19 month old twins who works in The Brasserie. She was so friendly and chatty and so helpful. She helped me to arrange and order food and she then helped me to carry it from the club to our cottage. Nothing seemed to be too much trouble and before the course had even properly started I was feeling relaxed and a little spoiled. Lovely!
The food from The Brasserie was lovely. I have blogged about it here.
Breakfast was my favourite meal. I had Eggs Benedict both mornings we were there and it was just delicious. Esther liked to eat bits of the muffins and William shared Daddy’s toast. It was a second breakfast for our little hobbits who had eaten their first breakfast an hour before!
Breakfast was served at 8.45 each morning with a 9.30 start for classes. Had David and I been there alone I am not sure if we would have enjoyed a lazy lie in or gone for an early swim? As it was we played with Esther and William in the cottage and left in good time for them to walk the 100 yards from our cottage to the breakfast table. They loved the freedom they had at The West Bay Club. No cars, wide pathways and lots of grassy areas made it a perfect place for our little twoddlers to practise their walking. We did not even get the buggy out of the car all weekend. I think we do need to invest in some reins though!
So a wonderful welcome on Friday was continued through Saturday as we met the other couples on the course and our course leaders Nikki Khan and Jo Hellier. Both ladies are experts in their fields (midwifery and physiotherapy) and two of the kindest people I think I have ever met. Within minutes I felt at ease even though I was the only person there without my husband who was busy playing on the children’s play area with the twins.
The first session started at 9.30am and lasted until lunchtime which seemd like a very long time, particularly as it was called The 40 Week Journey and I was already 32 weeks. I needn’t have worried though. The session flew by in a whirl of discussion, detail, laughter and tears. It was just amazing. The whole weekend really affected me in a way that i cannot describe, mostly because Nikki Khan is so nice and so knowledgeable. She seemed to know everything about every one of us. She had obviously read the background notes we had each provided and was adapting her content and tailoring her advice for our mutual and individual needs. She made us all feel special and as though the most important thing in her world was making us feel confident about our pregnancy and impending births.
Nikki came laden with goodie bags for us containing newborn nappies from huggies, cotton wool, Sudocrem and other new baby / hospital bag essentials. There was also a cuddly toy each for Esther and William. Every little detail had been thought of and it meant so much. She had also made a guide for the weekend so we we knew what we were going to be doing when. She also gave us each a copy of a book she had worked on with other pregnancy professionals called My Pregnancy. I am going to post a full review of this book very soon as it is excellent and has very quickly become my pregnancy Bible.
The course flyer says that The 40 Week Journey
… is an introductory session taking the prospective parents through the 40 weeks of pregnancy in a step by step guide with visual images of how the baby is developing every step of the way and how mum will be feeling together with the ailments associated with each trimester and how to cope with them.
It was so much more than this! The session was very relaxed. There was tea, water, fresh fruit and biscuits. There were sofas to sit on or fabulous giant beanbags that were just lovely! We all sat round like old friends and talked about things as though we had known each other for ages rather than in my case just a few minutes.
We talked about pregnancy symptoms, health issues, we talked about our personal problems and concerns. We shared stories and tips and advice. We discussed diet and exercise and supplements. We discussed antenatal care and what we should expect throughout our 37 – 42 weeks. Also on the agenda for this part of the course were foetal development month by month, a brief introduction to hypnobirthing (we were given a CD to bring home) maternity rights and benefits, dos and don’ts of pregnancy, what to expect from antenatal care, blood tests explained, common complications of pregnancy and writing a birth plan.
Much of this was continued after lunch in the workshop called ‘Antenatal Preparation’. The whole weekend was geared toward the four couples present at the time and perfectly suited to our needs because Nikki and Jo let us lead the conversation and take it in different directions to ensure that it covered each and all of our concerns. The time passed so quickly. There was so much information to take in and so many stories to share. Everything was valuable and I felt like a complete novice even though I have already given birth to twins.
Esther and William came so early though that David and I had none of this before, no discussion, no preparation, no expert advising us on what could and should and might happen in the latter stages of pregnancy and as we head towards the actual birth. I wish that David had been able to take part in the discussions too and I know that Nikki felt he would have benfitted too. This is a retreat for couples to share and a place for couples to prepare for birth and parenthood together.
Nikki Khan was very aware that David was missing out and she gave me copies of booklets for David to keep about preparing men for the birth. She also offered us a one to one or two to one consultation with her, as she did with all the couples on the course but because of the children we could not take the offer up.
Antenatal Preparation included a more detailed look at writing a birth plan, what to pack in a hospital bag for Mummy, Daddy and Baby, how to be ready when Birth Day arrives, what to do if you go overdue and how you will know that you are in labour. Each of these things I am going to blog about separately as we were given so much great advice that I would like to share. But I don’t think any of it will be as good as actually listening to Nikki speak. She is very professional but also incredibly passionate about her work as a midwife. She made me emotional on more than one occasion as she described being a part of bringing so many new lives into the world. If you are considering a Babymoon or Antenatal Weekend of any kind then please do look into this one as I cannot praise it highly enough.
The last session finished at 4.30pm giving time for people to use the club and the spa. I had my ESPA Prenatal Treatment at 6.30pm which I will blog about separately but before that David and I took Esther and William to Family Fun Hour in the pool. This is when there are toys and floats in the pool for families to play with. Esther and William loved splashing in the pool and being pushed around on a floating frog. The pool was lovely and warm and had a family changing room which made life very easy. We loved our family time in the pool.
I loved my special Mummy to Be time in the spa – watch out for a separate review of this coming soon!
After an early night Saturday night we were up early with The Squidgers again on Sunday. The day started after breakfast with a ladies only physiotherapy session which you can read about here. This was a great relaxed session where we learned about pelvic floor exercises, posture and optimal foetal positioning among other things. We did lots of exercises with a birthing ball. I now have one at home to review from The Miracle Box and I will be posting about exercise to do on it very soon. I loved this session and learned a lot that made me realise I am actually quite unfit and have a lot of work to do to get fit for labour and birth.
After the physio session with Jo, Nikki joined us and led a workshop about labour and delivery. This covered things such as what to do if you go overdue, perineal massage, pain relief, what labour might be like, where to give birth, different possible interventions, premature birth, caesarean sections and so much more. It was great to get advice from Nikki but also to hear the stories and experiences of others, people who had been through some of what I might have to go through 6 weeks from now. 6 weeks! Eek!
I feel more confident and prepared for the delivery now and I know that if I have any questions along the way then I can ask Nikki. She gave each of use her email and phone number and genuinely wants us to stay in touch and ask her for help if we need it. Tonight David and I start our NCT classes so it will be interesting to see how the two compare.
On Sunday The West Bay Club Brasserie is closed for dinner so instead we all had a lovely Sunday lunch. David and I were due to go home after lunch but I was having such a wonderful time and was feeling so emotional that he agreed that we could stay. This meant that on Sunday afternoon we got to swim again with Esther and William before I attended a pregnancy yoga class (more about that in a separate post) and had a more personalised chat with Nikki and two other mummies to be. This was a time when we could ask questions about anything that had not been covered or anything of a more personal nature or something that we were really unsure of. It was also a chance for us to say thank you and goodbye.
Sunday evening was free time and I know most people went out to explore the island. David and I had tea with our children before packing for home. We missed the breakfast on Monday morning and headed back on an early ferry across the misty Solent.
It was a perfect weekend.
The Luxury Antenatal Weekend Retreat with Nikki Khan at The West Bay Club, IOW is an all inclusive break for parents to be whether this is your first child or third. It includes a series of workshops giving expert advice and knowledge about pregnancy, labour, birth and first days with a new baby. The weekend package also includes
• Luxury Self-Catering Cottage
• Return Ferry Crossing (car & passengers)
• Breakfast & Evening Meals
• Pre-natal Massage +£50 Voucher for Extra Treatment or Products
• Group Physiotherapy & Yoga Session
• Full Use of Extensive Sports & Leisure Facilities
Weekend breaks start from £270 per couple per night. Please call 01983 760355 for more information and available dates in 2012 or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
We are definitely hoping to return as a family of five and make use of the country club facilities as well as to see more of the Island itself. Would also be great to introduce the new baby to Nikki, Jo and the fabulous team at The West Bay Club.
We were invited by Nikki to attend and review the antenatal weekend and for the purposes of the review our stay was a complimentary one.