A midwife at King’s College Hospital, mother to four girls (including new-born twins) and author of the successful parenting blog Gas and Air, Clemmie Hooper has been dubbed the Insta-midwife for millennials. With an Instagram following of 212k and over a decade of experience behind her, she’s on a mission to educate women on the ins and outs of pregnancy, birth and everything in between.
SL caught up with her to find out how she maintains a sense of calm amidst the chaos of family life and the story behind her much-anticipated book, How To Grow A Baby And Push It Out…
How did you get into midwifery?
I always knew I wanted to be a midwife – I studied midwifery at university in Bristol and in my third year met Simon (now my husband) and, before I knew it, I fell pregnant. It was all a bit of a whirlwind as I had just qualified, but I took up a role at King’s College Hospital (one of the busiest labour units in the country) after moving to London.
And what about your blog?
When on maternity leave for the second time in 2011, I started my blog, Gas and Air. A neighbour who had started a food blog was going to lots of mum blogging events, and after talking about the industry she persuaded me – I really liked writing but had concerns about how to pitch as a midwife and what I could write about because of confidentiality. New mums are bombarded with information from the word go – we owe it to women to give them better information that isn’t just NHS based.
What advice would you give a first-time mum?
Firstly, try and make some time in your pregnancy for you and your partner – they can get jealous when the baby arrives so try to enjoy some quality time together. Secondly, research all your options when it comes to birth, because it you don’t know your options then you don’t have any.
Also, practice hypnobirthing (relaxation and breathing techniques to combat fear and tension during labour) as it really can change how you cope, mentally and physically, when it comes to giving birth. But don’t worry too much about the birth itself – it’s just the tip of the iceberg in the whole parenthood journey.
Your book How To Grow A Baby And Push It Out is out this week, what can we expect?
As the title suggests, the book covers everything you need to know about having a baby – from hospital appointments and blood tests to the things you may feel too embarrassed to ask your midwife such as sex during pregnancy. I also cover practical issues such as how to style your bump, how to write a birth plan and what to pack in your hospital bag.
How did becoming a mother change you as a midwife?
It gave me a sense of understanding certain emotions that come with motherhood – whether that’s dealing with the guilt of having a subsequent baby, knowing how to love two children or merely the physical moments in labour when women say "I’m scared", or "I can’t do this". I often just nod and say "I know, I felt like that, too" – I think women find that comforting.
What’s your favourite part of the job?
Being with women during the most amazing moment of their lives is an honour.
And the most challenging aspect?
Dealing with loss and grief and supporting women when things haven’t gone their way is always tough.
How do you share the load with your husband?
We have a very modern approach to it all – when you have a large family like we do, it’s essential to share the load. Drop-offs and pick-ups from school are shared equally, as well as homework and other activities. I do tend to cook a bit more than Simon but I genuinely enjoy it whereas he sees it as a bit of a bore.
What does your average weekend look like?
Weekends are for family and friends. On Sundays, the six of us go for a walk in our local park and I cook a big family meal – we all sit down around 5pm to eat together. As organised as I try to be with food, Deliveroo is a god-send for last-minute empty fridge moments.
Lastly – any top parenting tips?
Stay calm, find a like-minded bunch of women who will always answer your What’s App cries for help and never, ever feel guilty about how much TV you let your kids watch.