I’m Karen Hall. I work with new parents and parents-to-be, and I write and podcast a lot about issues around pregnancy, birth and early parenthood.
It surprises me to find that I am now over 45, living in Wokingham with my partner and son, who at the time of writing, is nine years old. It has been an eventful, exciting, and sometimes challenging few years, but absolutely the best of my life.
I’m a qualified Breastfeeding Counsellor with several years’ experience of working with parents antenatally and postnatally. I also run a local Bumps & Babies group and a breastfeeding support group at a nearby Children’s Centre. I am empathic, non-judgemental, and passionate about empowering parents to make decisions that work for them. I’ve recently taken up podcasting and I’m having great fun producing monthly episodes of Sprogcast.
As a Breastfeeding Counsellor and as a doula, my role is to provide support to new parents in a range of situations, including difficulties about sleep, which are often but not always related to feeding. I take a non-judgemental approach to supporting each parent in the situation they are in (and do not feel that I need to influence their decision-making). I am extremely knowledgeable about the common challenges of parenting a newborn and have supported many parents of older babies and toddlers. I’m aware that not all parents make the same decisions that I would, but also that decision-making is influenced by multiple factors and that very often there is no single right answer. In recent years, more of my work has involved providing support online via Facebook, email and twitter, and I am very aware of the unique challenges of counselling in an online environment.
I am the secretary of the Royal Berkshire Hospital’s Maternity Services Liaison Committee (MSLC), a forum for working with midwifery staff and parents.
On the rare occasion when I get some spare time, I like to knit, read, run, go geocaching, and eat chocolate with a high cocoa content. Not necessarily all at the same time, but believe me, it can be done.
Although training with and working for NCT are a big part of my life, and I’m proud to be an NCT Breastfeeding Counsellor, everything written on this website is my own or a guest’s content, and does not intend to represent NCT in any way.
NCT training emphasises development of empathy and a non-judgemental approach to supporting parents while using current evidence. CPD requirements include at least one study day per year on refreshing counselling skills and one other on more general topics; in addition to which I have ongoing supervision to further develop my reflective practice.
Adult Education and Group Facilitation
Both privately and in my role with NCT, I facilitate antenatal classes and postnatal workshops with groups of parents and parents-to-be. I run a busy Bumps & Babies group ensuring that new members feel welcome and the conversation always flows. I work in a Children’s Centre breastfeeding drop-in group alongside Health Visitors and Family Support Workers.
Range of Knowledge
I keep up to date with relevant areas of research and current thinking, including but not limited to infant feeding, newborn health and wellbeing, parental wellbeing, sleep, introducing solids, parenting styles, attachment and bonding, pregnancy, labour and birth.
Internet and Writing Skills
A blogger since 2001, I am deeply immersed in the internet and have a presence on Facebook, Twitter (@MotherworldlyUK), LinkedIn, Pinterest and my own website here, which I aim to keep up to date with evidence-based sources of information for a variety of situations. I enjoy writing about parenting and was editor of the NCT branch newsletter for two years, and still contribute to every issue. I’m now a Huffington Post Blogger too.
Education and Training
BA Educational Studies module – Reflecting on Assessment Practice (NCT/University of Worcester)
Martini Approach to Physical Skills (NCT)
Supporting your Developing Baby (NCT/Lynne Murray, University of Reading)
Planning Your Essentials Course (NCT)
Infant Sleep: Current Evidence – Excellent Practitioner study day (NCT with Prof Ian St James-Roberts)
Annual Forum (NCT)
Counselling Skills, Sense-Making, and Formation of Self – study day (NCT)
Breastfeeding Update open tutorial (NCT)
Paediatric First Aid (First Steps First Aid)
Annual Forum (NCT)
A Day with Sheila Kitzinger/The Sexual Experience of Birth (Nurturing Birth)
Supervision of Breastfeeding Counsellors – residential weekend (NCT) (plus bi-annual update days)
Attachment and Brain Development in Infants – study day (NCT)
Running Introducing Solids Workshops – study day (NCT)
Concept Based Antenatal Courses and The Red Tent – study weekend (NCT)
Preparing for Birth and Beyond – three study days (NCT)
Expectations and Reality of Motherhood – study day (NCT)
Doula Training – two study days (Nurturing Birth)
Tongue Tie – study day (NCT)
BA Educational Studies module Issues of Research and Practice (NCT/University of Bedfordshire)
Breastfeeding Peer Support Train the Trainer – residential weekend (NCT) (plus bi-annual update days)
Breastfeeding Counsellors’ Forum (NCT)
Mastitis and Tongue Tie – study day (Breastfeeding Network)
NCT HE Diploma in Breastfeeding Counselling (University of Bedfordshire)
BSc (hons) Special Psychology 2:i (University of Hull)