Published: Thursday 14 March 2019

Vanessa is a great example of someone whose career has changed and adapted into something that gives her better work-life balance. Here she explains why she chose to train to teach baby massage (and now baby yoga), and how that's given her the career that she's been looking for.

Name: Vanessa Whitaker

Lives: Birmingham

What do you teach? I'm a baby massage teacher and Instructor and am currently training to be a baby yoga teacher.

How long have you been an instructor? Since November 2015

What made you want to become an instructor? I was working as a midwife and antenatal teacher and was often looking for extensions to my role that would benefit families and infants.

Have you always been an instructor? I started my career as a secondary school art teacher! I moved into adult education including antenatal teaching. From there I retrained as a midwife. I left midwifery at the end of 2017 after 20 years and set up as self employed offering non-clinical antenatal and postnatal support and education. As part of that I work freelance for Baby and Beyond as an Instructor Trainer as well as running baby massage classes in my local community.

What’s your favourite part of your job? I love the flexibility of being self employed and I really missed working with families when I
left my community midwifery job. So now I am back working with parents and infants but with no 'on calls' or night duty!

How do you keep your skills up to date? Do you have any favourite websites that you use? I am part of a midwifery network and attend local meetings. I have links with the National Childbirth Trust NCT who review evidence based practice. To Baby & Beyond also provide a forum for discussion and evidence for instance the recent debate on oils suitable for massage.

What qualities do you think are important in an instructor? Flexibility! (I was going to say no pun intended but
actually, mental & physical flexibility is needed!) Warmth, empathy and a genuine enjoyment of the subject.

What benefits do you derive from teaching baby massage? I love what I do now and the benefits of being self employed mean my overall wellbeing is now better than when I was working in an overstretched NHS. I feel I can still use many of the skills I have developed over my career but have autonomy.

Have you learnt anything surprising about baby massage? Not sure if it really surprises me but I think it's the confirmation that massage/positive touch is so simple and fundamental and brings such benefits to baby and parents.

What’s your top tip for baby massage? Be open to learning. Take opportunities when they arise and keep learning.

Have you had an amusing experiences in your work as an instructor? Being a trainer often brings amusing situations, particularly in the session where we do role play whilst teaching massage session with dolls.

Who would you most like to teach on one of your courses? I'd like everyone to have the experience of coming to baby massage as since so may children centres have shut there is limited choice for some families. I volunteer for a refugee organisation and offer free baby massage at our monthly community lunch.

Thank you to Vanessa for her interesting interview responses. We hope she inspires you to learn to teach baby massage!

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