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Old Feb 16th, 2010, 08:50 AM   1
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The area where you live

I have seen various people mention their home areas in different threads - for example, some people have said that breastfeeding is not common in their area, others have said that there is not much support for new mums, others have mentioned local shops and facilities or classes, others have commented on the attitudes of local people towards, for example, young mothers.
I am interested to know how much you feel where you live has affected how you parent, the decisions you make, how you feel about being a parent etc
I hope this makes some sort of sense! We are talking about moving out of London if we have another baby and it has made me wonder if I might do some things differently as a result of living elsewhere.
I live in a pretty affluent part of London which is well-known for being mum-and-baby-central - about every third person you pass on the high street is a mum. It is also NCT heartland. It seems to be at the forefront of the push towards doing things more naturally - ie breastfeeding, natural births etc. The holy grail of childbirth in our area is a drug-free, intervention-free birth and breastfeeding is the norm. This is interesting since one of the two local hospitals has the highest elective c-section rate in the country.
We don't have a particularly high proportion of young mums - I would say that most of the mums you see out and about with young babies are probably in their thirties. There is a neighbouring area which has a very high proportion of young mums, and also low-income families. My area and this other area share a Surestart - this leads to a very odd situation where the facilities are heavily subsidised (ie free classes and cheap baby equipment) but utilised by a lot of high-income families.
People's attitudes towards mums are very polarised in my area. Because there are so many of us about, a think a lot of mums forget that not everyone around them is quite so entranced with their child as they are! You see quite a lot of mums being quite selfish - not letting old ladies sit down on buses, expecting people to get out of their way so they can walk 2 abreast on a narrow street etc. As a result of this, a lot of people, especially older people are quick to get irritated with buggies, small children etc. The other extreme is that a lot of younger people, particularly younger men, go out of their way to help you, probably because they themselves have children!
We are one of the few London boroughs not to have any sort of incentive to use cloth nappies.
We have a lot of baby shops - mainly the higher-end shops like JoJo Maman Bebe - no Mothercare! We also have quite a few Fara Kids charity shops in the surrounding areas.
We have a huge number of classes and groups available - they tend to reflect the latest "big thing" in childcare!
I think my area affected some of my decisions. I assumed I would breastfeed and was initially embarrassed to be on of the few people using a bottle at classes and groups. I wanted a natural birth and didn't like the idea of any of the pain relief options available - the trend in my area made no difference to me in this respect. I was able to get out and about early and often after my LO was born because there are a lot of baby-friendly places to go - this made us quite confident early on. I kind of fell into baby-wearing because of the inconvenience of using public transport with a pram and a little bit because of feeling like a nuisance with the pram! I met lots of other mums quite easily - this was something I had been worried about while I was pregnant. However, I sometimes felt like we were all clones of each other - all professionals who did NCT and aspired to the local "norm". I would have liked to meet more people from all sorts of backgrounds - from different countries, from different types of employment, different ages etc.
I sometimes felt judged for doing anything a bit differently - for some reason baby-wearing hasn't caught on in my area and people do tend to point and comment.
Generally I feel that my area has had a positive effect upon my decisions and upon they way I feel about being a parent. However, I sometimes think there is not much scope for individuality - a certain way of doing things is expected and people raise their eyebrows a bit if you do things differently.

I hope this all makes some sense - I would love to know how you all feel about your areas and how things are "done" in your areas.

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Old Feb 16th, 2010, 09:02 AM   2
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I live in Richmond upon Thames and it sounds just like you have described!! I am from SA, I baby wear, co - sleep etc all a bit contraversial in my area, we have sooo much on offer here too, we are however moving to North Shropshire in April to a small villiage and cant wait, more our type of people parenting like us!!!

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Old Feb 16th, 2010, 09:06 AM   3
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Wow, what a thing to think about! I had never thought about this before!
I live in the U.S. and in my area this is the norm: I would say quite a lot of women I know had epidurals. "Natural" childbirth isnt such a goal as what I've noticed it is in England. We don't generally use any public transportation and we don't walk places - we will go for a walk for enjoyment but you won't see anyone walking to the store, etc. Right now we have TONS of snow so you don't see anyone out and about walking - new moms go to the store (in their cars) to get out of the house a bit - but everyone seems to be cooped up all winter. Once spring comes you see all the moms outside and at the parks with their kids & babies.
Most women here go back to work at either 6 weeks or 12 weeks. Their babies will be going to a home daycare or a daycare center. I worked at home before having a baby and have decided to not start working for at least 6 months- which is very out of the norm. I feel that eyebrows are raised at me because I'm not working and choosing to be a stay at home mom.
Because most moms are going back to work so soon - I think we have less breastfeeding here. If women are breastfeeding then they are usually stopping by the time they go back to work. You do not see many women out and about that are breastfeeding - you see them bottle feeding. The hospital is encouraging breastfeeding - but its more difficult for those moms that are back to work so soon.

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Old Feb 16th, 2010, 09:21 AM   4
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Originally Posted by Per16 View Post
I live in Richmond upon Thames and it sounds just like you have described!! I am from SA, I baby wear, co - sleep etc all a bit contraversial in my area, we have sooo much on offer here too, we are however moving to North Shropshire in April to a small villiage and cant wait, more our type of people parenting like us!!!
I'm not a million miles away from you!

Daisybee - how interesting to hear about a completely different country rather than just a different area. 6 weeks or 12 weeks is the norm for returning to work? I went back at 6 months and lots of people have made it clear that they think it is too early.
I did know that most people in the US drive, presumably because of the greater distances involved - that must make a big difference to the activities you do on maternity leave.

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Old Feb 16th, 2010, 09:22 AM   5
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I live in Streatham, South London.

I received zero breastfeeding support which is why I expressed and then switched to FF. I tried to get support once i was at home (as i received none in hospital) and found it extremely difficult to find support especially as i saw a mw once and a HV once. I was told to "put her on the bottle" which i did not want to do so me and OH tried the best we could (expressing me for hours and hours) but i couldnt produce enough so i had to switch to Formula. It was not actively encouraged.

I also only saw my HV ONCE to this day and that wa after badgering her to come and see Maley who was 5 weeks old by then! Though i dont know if that is due to the area or not.

Its very common to see mixed families, single mothers and young mums. We have a lot of council estates which are not very nice places to be.

We have the usual high street shops like Adams, Primark, Mothercare etc and Clapham is only one bus ride away where its more upmarket and you get the shops like JoJoMamanBebe and the Fara Chairty shops.

I went to a few mum and baby groups but the mums going to them were more of the upmarket mums and they didnt like me or talk to me. They all had very expensive buggies, talked about breastfeeding like it was disgusting if you didnt do it and so i did not go back. We do however have a lot of 1 o clock clubs which i think are great, clean, well managed and have good facilities like sensory rooms and they are free so i use them alot!

I like the fact that my area is very multi-cultural, diffrent people from diffreerent backgrounds and is accessible always (there are many 24hr shops, even a 24 hr pharmacy and lots of night buses). It is a high crime area but i have never seen anything bad or been involved in anything bad. The road i live on is very quiet and never had no problems.

I do love living in London and South London is my home, its all i have known but i do want to move to just outside London before Maley attends Secondary School. The gang culture and crime is too much for me. I dont want her being a teenager in these schools. I would like to move somewhere with a lot of after-school activities where she can indulge in her hobbies as there is not much around here for teenagers to do and i cant very well lock her indoors 24/7/.

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Old Feb 16th, 2010, 09:23 AM   6
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I had Ruby when I lived in Stepney, which is in the most deprived London borough, Tower Hamlets, but I now live in a village in Kent.

Stepney is not a very family oriented area although luckily it is in the catchment area for the fantastic Barkantine Centre (a new standalone birthing centre staffed my MWs only) where I gave birth. I gave birth naturally, no pain relief, because that was what I wanted personally, I always disliked the idea of birth being a 'medical' event. But had I not lived so close to the Barkantine centre I may well have had to give birth in hospital, so my area did help me with that.

In east London you never see women BF in public, only FF, but I never even thought about FF until my LO would not latch! I guess I was not affected by what other people in area did because I did not feel I had anything in common with them anyway. I was not comfortable attending any baby groups there apart from meeting my NCT group (we went to classes in a nearby area). I just did not feel welcome.

Now I don't live in London i haven't changed my mind about anything. I don't think we will have another baby but if we do, I would not do anything differently as a result of living here. I always feel like I do things a bit differently anyway so I'm sure I'd feel like that wherever I lived!

Kit your area sounds like Chiswick, where I used to work!

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Old Feb 16th, 2010, 09:30 AM   7
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I think where I live had/has a large impact on my outlook too.

It's a rural area, with my village being populated quite heavily with families who have a happy income - or at least live comfortably to their means. Infact now I think about it, maybe the only single people are widowers.

It's a small village but has a mums and babies group for about 10 mums who live in and around the village. Some of them are professionals, doctors etc, some are farmers wives, but all SAHM with the current young families. I only knew that one of them had breastfed, it turns out they all did - but that decision was made by hubby and I... it just happens it's also common here.

There's no public transport to the village unless you're old or disabled and call the ring and ride - which I don't think operates very often anyway.

There's always things like 'soup lunches' being held in the village hall or chapel - and actually if you can get your head around it not being hip and happening - it's actually really lovely

The older children here are all very nice, I think the most bother with them is sneaking over to the next village for a pint a year or two underage, and there's a youth club too.

The town is 3 miles away - there's actually a really high number of 'mad' people here (sorry can't find the PC term) which means the daytime isn't full of people on their way to work etc, but a nice mix of people who dont work for various reasons and are focused on just having a happy life.

The lack of transport is one reason I dont babywear as much as I'd like.

There aren't a huge number of schools to choose from, but the ones we have are good. There is a highly thought of private school, infact there's a few - so that's made me think about what we'll do - although in reality we can't afford it.

I would never be isolated if I didn't go back to work.
When Hazel was born we have over 50 cards and presents from people we'd no more than waved to. Infact, lots of those gifts were books for Hazel - which I thought was interesting. When the snow came, several people came to check we were ok and had everything we needed.

I'm not sure how it's directed impacted on parenting choices yet, because I haven't had to make so many yet. I didn't know how most of the mums faired during childbirth before I had mine - only the older ladies who all told me about having their babies at home... which I was meant to. Lots of the older people were born in the homes they currently live in, or one not too far away

I guess the general 'ethos' here is not about convenience, but about planning and preparing and working towards a conscious and happy future. Nobody would really know if your pram/changebag cost 1000 or 10


Apparently we have one of the most helpful team of midwives and a very high number of homebirths - although there was only one other girl at parentcraft who was planning one (in a group of about 15) - I think at least 2/3 of that group were planning on BFing too.

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Old Feb 16th, 2010, 09:36 AM   8
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I live in Brussels. Due to the European institutions and immigration, it's a very cosmopolitan city so you see a lot of different parenting styles, from African mums wearing babies on their back to wealthy expat wives and their Stokke prams!

Although most mums wish for a long maternity leave, they usually stay at home for 3 months. There aren't many SAHM's in the "middle class", it's something you'll find only in wealthier circles (or in situations where the mother's income wouldn't make a difference because she doesn't have a diploma)!

Baby-wearing, cloth nappies and natural parenting in general is still seen as something unusual and a bit hippie-esque, although generally well accepted, especially with younger parents. I get a lot of curious looks when I go to the shops with Liam in his sling but they're more "Awww that's cute" rather than "Ewwww" looks.

Natural births are seen are unnecessary martyrdom. Most of my friends/coworkers didn't understand why I went through it! Breastfeeding, on the other hand, is pretty much the norm. We're encouraged to BF and FF wasn't even mentioned to me when I was in the hospital. Several of my friends have breastfed for several months. You don't see many women nursing in public and I haven't tried it yet so I don't know how it would be received!

I think my parenting style comes from a mix between cultural influence, loads of reading on nattural/attachment parenting and general common sense (including friends' experiences).

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Old Feb 16th, 2010, 10:20 AM   9
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Unfortunately, where I live isn't the best area ever. When I was pregnant with Jacob, we lived about the pub where my DH worked, and it was truly awful. The pub itself was cleaned up of all the dodgy customers, but it was in an awful area. We would be awake until the pub shut - sometimes 2am, with loud music on the jukebox, shouting etc, and even after closing time people would hang around outside shouting and fighting. We'd have to walk through the bar to get to our flat, then up a narrow, winding stair case. There was no central heating, and most of the time no hot water.

We spent ages on the council list, but because we had a roof over our heads, they were very reluctant to help. Even after our landlady wrote us a letter of eviction. When Jacob was born, our HV wrote a letter to the council and we had two lovely ladies come around to assess the safety of the place.

Literally 15 minutes after they left, we got a phone call saying that it is appalling having a tiny baby and mother who's just had a c section living there, and they offered us a new flat.

Now, the flat isn't ideal (it's on the second floor of a 15 floor block), but it is worlds away from where we were. We've decorated it how we want and it's looking lovely. The other tenants on our floor are polite, and everyone around us is quiet. Granted, there are probably some druggies somewhere in the block, but we've never had any trouble. Might seem like hell to some people, but compared to before, it's paradise.

There are a lot of teenage parents in our area. At our baby clinic, I was probably one of the only mums over 21, and certainly one of the only mums who intended on working. I have no problem with women who want to stay at home with their babies (and I envy them), but the majority of people around here live off benefits, and always will, with no intention of ever working (despite being on job seekers allowance).

Sometimes it can be tough, but most days it makes me realise that I am a good mum, and all I want it what's best for Jacob and my family.

Phew, that was a long one....

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Old Feb 16th, 2010, 10:28 AM   10
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seraphim- where u live sounds gorgeous!!!
I live in clacton on sea. I really hope i dont offend anyome by saying this isnt where i want to live at all, and when we can afford to get out we will!!! lol. I feel that my OH is ignored- and he has been all the way through- MW appointments, and now at the baby clinic, some professionals have been quite rude to him. This area is full of single mums, and i was asked many times did i know the dad even though he was in the room! Also the courses and help here is very geared towards the young mums, i have been to a baby clinic where the HV didnt even talk to me but spent ages with a much younger mum.

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