I am having my first baby in a few months. Do you recommend having a doula?

Let’s explain first what doulas do in case you are not familiar with them. A doula provides physical and emotional support before, during and shortly after childbirth. It is important to know that although most doulas have completed some training, there are no specific qualifications needed to work as a doula. It is an unregulated profession. 

Doulas are (usually) experienced mothers who have some training and experience with birth. The doula is not there to advise the family medically but to help the mother prepare for labour, during labour, and shortly after the birth. They are there to ‘mother’ the mother, to take care of the mother. 

There is a strong body of research showing that having a doula is good for the wellbeing of the mother and the baby. A recent review including 16 studies found that mothers who had a doula were less likely to have a C-section, less likely to have premature babies and more likely to have shorter deliveries. Mothers who have the support of a doula have also been found to have less anxiety and stress.  

If you decide to have a doula, it is a good idea to ask friends for recommendations. You can also ask your midwife or doctor in case they know a good doula. You will find more information about doulas and other professionals that can help you during birth in our masterclass delivered by midwife, Dee Bell.

My son will be two in September and I am considering sending him to nursery. A friend told me that sending him that young may be negative for him, and it may damage our attachment. What is the data on this?

The only consistent finding is that what matter when deciding whether and which nursery or daycare to choose is its quality. A good quality setting is one that is safe with responsive and highly engaged staff. 

In terms of attachment, do not worry.  Children can get attached to more than one person. They are usually attached to those adults with whom they usually interact. The fact that your son goes to nursery will not influence his attachment with you or other caregivers. 

We have a fantastic masterclass on how to choose the right  nursery in case you want to find our more on this topic, You can watch it here but only if you are a REC Parenting member! If you want to become part of our community, you can do it here.

I have intense feelings of guilt whenever I am not with my child. How do I deal with it?

I think that we need to change the narrative about mom guilt. Guilt implies that we have done something wrong but when we feel bad because we are at work and not with the kids, or with the kids and not at work, or at the gym and not with the kids, and on and on it goes, we haven’t done anything wrong! I think we need to talk about tension but not guilt. Tension because we have many different things that we need to tend to and sometimes we feel that we are failing at all of them. It is important to remember that there is not a right amount of time or a right number of things that you should do with the kids. You can only do what you can with the resources you have and do what feels good for your family, 

Here are three tips to deal with mom guilt: 

  • Let’s change the narrative: stop thinking about guilt and think about tension. You haven’t done anything wrong, you are simply juggling all the balls, the best you can.
  • Do not look at social media: those perfectly curated feeds of the perfect families are a lie and looking at them leads us to compare ourselves with others. Unfollow all those accounts.
  • Surround yourself with supportive people: We all have the judgy colleague, the sister-in-law that thinks you are a bad mother, and the friend who makes you feel inadequate because they seem to be super woman. Ditch them and favour spending time with people that is supportive, that understand what you are going through, who share your values. Find your tribe and spend time with them. 
  • Let go of the Super Mum Myth: This is the idea that all mothers should be constantly loving, ever-attentive and never angry. That we should be fun, patient, always interested and always available to our children. Motherhood is a very ambivalent experience. Not enjoying every single moment of parenting doesn’t make you a bad parent. 

“My three year-old daughter won’t sleep unless I leave a light on but I am worried that she won’t rest as well. Do you have any tips?”

Light can affect children’ sleep. In the evening when it’s dark we produce melatonin, a hormone that helps us feel sleepy. If children have bright light in the evening (including screens), the release of melatonin will be inhibited, so they won’t feel sleepy when it’s time to go to bed. Having a bright light on during the night also inhibits melatonin, but if they are scared of the dark it is ok to have a dim light. If possible, get the ones that are red or amber. It is not that red light improves sleep, but it doesn’t inhibit sleep and it doesn’t interfere with melatonin production. 

“My 12-year-old grinds his teeth in his sleep. Do I need to take him to the dentist?”

Teeth grinding is very common. Your child won’t be aware that he is doing it and there isn’t anything you can do to stop the habit. Remember to mention it at his next dental check. Sometimes they may grind their teeth so much that they can damage the enamel, when this happens try to reduce the amount of fizzy drinks they have, as a combination of the tooth ware and the acid can speed up the damage to the teeth. Your dentist will advise you on whether a night guard will be a good idea to protect the teeth. 

I caught my 16-year-old smoking cannabis. I am freaking out. What do I do?”

I understand why you are freaking out and I am sorry you are going through this. I know that it is easier said than done, but it is important to remain calm and come out with a plan of action. 
What does a good plan look like? You need to open up a conversation with him. First, think about practicalities, choose a time that works for you both, that you won’t be distracted and you are prepared to listen. It may be a good idea to have this conversation in a public space so there is no risk of the conversation ending up in a screaming fight. It may also be a good idea to have the conversation while you are not making direct eye contact (e.g., driving, cooking, walking) because he may feel less intimidated and it may be easier for him to open up. 
Second, you need to understand why your child is smoking pot. What is driving his behaviour? What does smoking do for him? Do they have issues going on at school or in their lives that you are not aware of? Let your child talk so you can figure out what is going on. 
Third, what do you want to achieve? Do you want your child to stop smoking pot or do you assume that he is going to do it no matter what and you want for him to do it safely? This is a very personal decision that only you can make but in any case, it is a good idea to discuss with him the risks that smoking pot entails in terms of mental health, wellbeing, and legally as well.  

It is definitely a good idea to talk to someone before you have this conversation. Our REC Parenting therapists can help you with this. Not only will they help you to decide how to approach the conversation but also they will you support to deal with your own emotions and wellbeing. 

If you are worried that the smoking goes on after the initial conversation, seek treatment for your child. Once a professional evaluates your child, they may recommend to set some boundaries and a ‘watch and wait’ approach or they may recommend treatment. We recommend that you look for a professional that specialises in teenagers because working with teenagers and adults is very different. 

You may be thinking that this all sounds great but there is no way your teenager will open up to you. Would he talk to someone else? Maybe he has a grandfather, family friend, aunt or trusted teacher that he would open up to?

However you decide to tackle this issue, as parents it is important to remember that sadly our children live in a world where they will encounter drugs and our role is to give them the tools to navigate them wisely and safely. If you want to know more about this topic, watch the masterclass by Dr Paula Corcoran. 

Much love,


Dr Ana Aznar

The first day at nursery is a big day, not only for your child but for the whole family. In this article we give you seven tips to help you prepare your child for their first day. 

1. Talk positively about nursery: Walk past the nursery, attend an open day or an induction session. Establish that this is their nursery and talk about when they will join. Take some photos or look at the photos on the website together. Doing this helps your child to achieve a sense of familiarity with it. If your child is excited about it, keep on talking about it regularly, for example, you can count the number of sleeps. If in contrast, your child is anxious it is better not to discuss it too much to avoid building the anxiety. 

2. Talk about others’ experience at nursery: As a general rule, sharing your own or other family members’ experience helps your child understand that they are not alone in whatever they are going through. Ask them how they are feeling and validate those feelings. Try to avoid saying things like: “You will be fine”. Instead say things like: “I understand this is tough. I remember it was tough for me as well. Let’s see how we can help you to make things easier”. 

3. Organise playdates with future classmates: This is a great way for you and your child to build some relationships. 

4. Practice relevant skills: Sharing, turn-taking, putting their coat on (watch this video to learn the best method), taking shoes on and off, drinking independently from a cup…

A common question is whether children need to be potty trained before starting at nursery. This varies from nursery to nursery. Some will ask for your child to be trained before starting whereas others will support you in this transition. In general, it is best to wait for the child to be ready. If possible, do not rush to do it in the last few weeks before nursery starts. Consider that when they start nursery, children may feel uncomfortable asking a new adult to help them in the loo and may not ask, leading to accidents that will most likely upset them. Also, at the beginning they are more likely to miss the signs because they are in a new and stimulating environment. If your child is not potty trained at the start, allow them to settle at nursery, and once they are happy you can agree with their teacher on the best time to do it. 

Photo by BBC Creative on Unsplash

5. Engage in role-play: If the nursery has a uniform or a bag, practice wearing it and role play going to school. This can be a great activity if another child you know is also starting at the same nursery. 

6. Remove their dummy or comfort object for periods of time: Try to remove them for the part of the day that they will be at nursery. Working on language and communication will be a priority at nursery, and this will be difficult using a dummy. Similarly, your child will be working on their fine (e.g., cutting, sticking) and gross (e.g., throwing a ball) motor skills and this will be difficult if they are holding a comfort object. Explain to your child that they will be kept safe at home or at nursery until they are finished. 

7. Work on separation: Arrange to leave them even for a short period of time with a friend or a family member. Be confident when you leave and reassure them that you are coming back. Depending on how they feel, start with a few minutes and build up to an hour or two. If they are sad, tell them it is OK to feel that way and remind them that you came back as promised. Stay positive, discuss the great things they did while you were away.

What happens if your child cries a lot when you leave them at nursery? By the time your child starts nursery, they will have established a strong attachment with you and other caregivers. So, leaving you will most likely upset them. Parents usually ask if it is better to stay with their child while they settle or to leave straight away. Consider that your child needs to establish a bond with their new teacher. Why should they even try if you are there, covering all their emotional needs? The best thing when you get to nursery is to explain to your child that you must leave to go to work or run errands and explain that you will return soon. Usually, there will be tears, but your child will eventually settle. The teacher will be able to support your child better once you are gone through fun and engaging activities. Do not however sneak off, it is much better to be honest and say you are leaving. Your child will develop confidence in you that way. 

If your child cries a lot, it may be a good idea to start with short sessions and gradually build up the time, keeping the separation routine consistent each time. For some children, it may take a long time but if they see that you are becoming anxious, it may be harder from them. Remember each child is different!

We hope your child has the best time at nursery! The information on this article is based on our masterclass: Choosing the right nursery for your child. Watch it here to learn more tips and useful information. If you have any questions, remember to contact your REC Parenting therapist or email us at: hello@recparenting.com We are here to support you and your family!

Much love,


Dr Ana Aznar

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