Mother, midwife and Instagram influencer Carmen Lett talks to UNO about her new venture, Hatched Online.

WORDS JENNY RUDD / PHOTOS RACHEL DOBBS

When you’re heavily pregnant with your first child, you want: 1) a baby handbook, and 2) to lie on the sofa. Knowing this, Carmen Lett, a midwife and the mother of four young children, has founded Hatched Online antenatal and parenting classes.

“As a midwife on the postnatal ward at Tauranga Hospital, I noticed a lot of parents coming through who didn’t know much about what happened straight after birth. I’d often find myself on the ward showing people how to change nappies or swaddle a baby to help them sleep, or teaching them what a newborn’s feeding pattern might be like or that babies are often wakeful on night two of their life. I realised that lots of these fundamentals weren’t being taught in antenatal classes.”

There’s nothing quite as shocking as realising you’re responsible for another person’s life. You’re sent on your merry way from the hospital with a tiny baby and not so much as a “Do you know what you’re doing with that?”; you’ve probably experienced more stringent checks when taking out a DVD at Blockbuster. After going through the most physically and emotionally intense time many of us will ever experience, you’re promoted with immediate effect to being in sole charge of someone who’s completely helpless, unable to feed themselves and can barely communicate their needs.

“Because first-time mums tend to do lots of research and antenatal classes cover it really well, people were really clued up about the birth process, but there was a real knowledge gap in terms of what to do after you’ve had the baby,” says Carmen. She knew that empowering mums and dads with this information would remove much of the fear.

“I’ve been running Hatched On Location antenatal classes in Tauranga for the past few years, and they’re always full,” says Carmen. “Expectant parents are keen to learn everything they can about birth and the early days of parenting, but there were lots of couples who missed out because their partner worked shifts, they lived rurally, or the pregnant mum was on bedrest.” Once she realised so many people weren’t getting this vital information, she set about launching Hatched Online, with her husband, Aidan, a tech start-up whizz, handily in the mix.

Hatched Online’s antenatal classes – which also include that invaluable postnatal education – are delivered in the form of 13 videos, each about half an hour long. They’re the same as Carmen’s Hatched On Location classes, with a few bonus extras. Whether you snuggle down and watch one every evening, or binge watch the whole lot over a couple of days, once you subscribe, you can view them as often as you like for six months (and given baby brain is a real thing, it’s safe to say most parents-to-be would be happy to take advantage of being able to watch certain modules more than once).

“The friends you make are an important part of antenatal classes, so for my online parents, I’ve set up a Facebook page that everyone gets access to, and I do live Q&A sessions so you can ask as many questions as you like,” says Carmen. “The great things about Facebook is that all those questions and answers stay right there, so you can go back and read them all.

“I often hear that parents feel pressured to do things in a particular way. So it was also important to me to offer information on all the options,” she continues. “For instance, if you want a home birth, or an elective cesarean, I provide all the information, then you can make your choice one way or the other. We focus on healthy babies – without guilt.”

Carmen’s Hatched On Location classes are nearly always full, and not just because she serves snacks and hot drinks, and gives out goodie bags filled with baby products. If you had to pick anyone to teach you about babies, you’d pick her. She’s been a midwife for 10 years (“I’ve known I wanted to be a midwife since I was 15 years old”), and as a mother of four – Rosie (5), twins Asher and Jude (4), and Taj (2) – has some pretty colourful birth stories of her own. “I’ve had a C-section, vaginal births after a C-section, ventouse, epidurals, the lot,” she says.

Carmen also runs popular mummy blog The Lett Tribe, and thousands follow her Instagram account @carmenlett, where she makes it clear she loves her job. “Gimme all the babies!” she says.

FIND more information about Carmen’s Hatched Online and Hatched On Location classes at: HATCHEDANTENATAL.CO.NZ