The prospect of baby blues and isolation led one Lytham mum to team up with her friend to create a new business to help other parents.
When Michelle Hilton’s daughter Monique, now 12 months old, was born seven weeks early and had to stay in hospital for close to three weeks, it was a tough time.
She said: “I have to say that leaving her there was very hard, and after suffering from baby blues with my son years before I was quite nervous that this could happen again.
“This is when I started discussing with my friend Sam about starting up some sort of play group.
“I did not have any friends with babies, I think due to me struggling to conceive and having miscarriages – I tended to stay away from mums with babies. It took four years to get my daughter.”
Michelle and her friend Sam Worthington, of South Shore – who had recently been made redundant at a school – started to plan their new business venture, Bright Bears.
Michelle said: “I can honestly say doing something you love and keeping busy is very helpful. With my background as a qualified school teacher, starting some sort of group where I could take my baby and meet new mums was ideal.”
The pair now run four interactive music groups a week – two for babies up to 12 months for two for toddlers up to four years old, at Funtastic in St Annes.
The sessions include dancing, singing, playing musical instruments, using lots of props such as disco lights, sensory sheets, bubbles and puppets.
Each class finishes with a special chill-out session – involving relaxing on blankets under the sensory sheet and disco lights.
Each week’s session has a different theme. Included in the session is an unlimited play at Funtastic and many of the mums and children stay all afternoon.
Michelle said: “It’s great and both the children and parents love it.”
The women also run an outdoor play session at Lytham Hall, as well as running courses in baby massage.
Michelle said: “The outdoor play gives parents chance to sit in the sunshine and sing, and dance. Again it gives parents the chance to meet others and not feel isolated.
“While my daughter was tiny, I looked into baby massage and the benefits – it helped her greatly with tummy problems and colic. In November, Sam and I both qualified as Baby Massage Instructors and now we teach parents how baby massage can help their little ones.
“We take babies from the age of six weeks up to 12 months. We teach the parents how to do the strokes with the idea they will practice at home and incorporate into their routine.
“The many benefits of baby massage include helping to relax the baby so they sleep longer, it is a great way for parents to bond with their babies and it relieves wind, colic and constipation, helps with teething, sinus problems, blocked noses and headaches.
“It gives parents a way to help their baby if they are uncomfortable. On completion of the four week course the babies get a certificate – stamped with their footprints – a lovely keepsake.
“We are loving our jobs and the quality time we get to spend with my baby and other mums and babies. We have made so many friends and really enjoy what we do.
“I can say hand-on-heart starting a new baby-led business after having my baby has helped me not have to deal with baby blues, feeling of isolation, boredom, and despair.”