Friday, August 17, 2012

"You're a Baby What?!"

This is the comment or rather the look I have gotten when I tell people what my new business is.  Now don't get me wrong, for the most part the response and feedback has been positive and supportive, but I think there is a lot of confusion about what exactly a baby planner is. 

So, what is a baby planner and why did I decide to become one?  Isn't a baby planner like a wedding planning- helping you decorate the nursery, plan a shower, or find a photographer?  The answer is both yes and no.  Some baby planners do focus on these services but most do so much more!

Mary Oscategui, founder of the International Maternity Institute, says, "A baby planner is an objective and supportive educator, who determines the types of services and products that are essential throughout their client's journey toward parenthood (The Baby Planner Professional What You Need to Know, 2010)."  I think the key word in this definition is educator.  The focus of most, if not all, baby planner businesses is education.  Even Rosie Pope, maternity clothing designer and concierge, who has been popularized in the Bravo series Pregnant In Heels strives to educate her clients on a variety of subjects related to pregnancy and parenthood.  The show dramatizes her interactions with clients for entertainment purposes, but if you look at her business model it is all focused on education for expectant families.  As baby planners we assess what areas or subjects our clients need support and guidance with, and then we provide unbiased information so they know all their options and can make their own, educated decisions.  For example, if I have a client that wants help with their registry I am not going to do it for them or even tell them what to include.  I will assess their needs, budget, and lifestyle and then educate them on all the products that may best suit them.  It is ultimately up to the client to decide which items they want to include on the registry.  The goal is to empower parents to make informed decisions for their growing family.

"If you don't know your options, you don't have any."  ~Korte and Scaer

Okay, so that is what a baby planner does, but why did I become one?  Many people would look at my career up to this point and ask, "Why would you want to do this?  You practice medicine!  Aren't you over-qualified and over-educated for this?"  My response is, yes I practice pediatric medicine as a nurse practitioner, which has afforded me a unique perspective into the lives of new parents.  I see first-hand how overwhelmed and stressed they are in the first few months.  And in most cases a lot of it could have been avoided if they had had the right education during pregnancy to prepare them for life with an infant.  Parents can be freaked out by the nuances of newborn behavior and then they become convinced that there is something 'wrong' with their baby, when nine times out of ten whatever their baby is doing is completely normal.  As a baby planner I can prepare parents for life with a newborn so their transition into parenthood is more relaxing and enjoyable.

Throughout my career in pediatric medicine I have found my passion is teaching parents.  Let's be honest, as pediatric healthcare providers you are taking care of the parents just as much as you are the kids!  I spend most of my time in the exam room educating parents on the difference between a viral and bacterial infection, why babies are so prone to ear infections, what it means when their child is wheezing, and of course how to care for their seemingly fragile new little one.  Unfortunately, the time constraints of working in private practice do not allow me to really give parents all the information that they need so I end up just telling them the absolute necessities.  So, it seemed like a natural transition for me to create a business where I could focus on education before the baby comes.  But also a business that supports expectant parents on their entire journey so they can be well informed for every decision they have to make along the way. 

Some people are surprised that I am a Certified Baby Planner and wonder what that means.  Do you have to be certified to work as a baby planner?  No, but becoming certified means that you have completed a comprehensive training program that teaches you every aspect of being a maternity consultant.  I chose to become certified through the International Academy of Baby Planner Professionals via the International Maternity Institute which is the only accredited program in the industry.  The course was immensely informative so now I have a wealth of knowledge and resources for my clients as well as an incredible worldwide network of baby planner professionals to collaborate with.

So, that in a nutshell is why I have chosen to become a baby planner!  I hope that this clears up some misconceptions that people have about what a baby planner is.  We are so much more than someone that helps you pick pretty bedding or choose your birth announcements.  We are professional consultants that strive to prepare, educate, and support expectant families on their journey from pregnancy to parenthood and beyond.

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