pregnancy retreat founders Kamila and RyanFor Devon based Midwife and mother of twins Kamila Wszolek the NHS cuts and pressures of working for the healthcare sector are all too real. Working with expectant and new mothers every day, the time constraints of a busy ward combined with funding cuts, Kamila did not feel that enough time was being given to new parents to help them through what is a life changing experience. A UK Midwife appointment is on average 10-20 minutes in which time they have to deal with not only the clinical side but also informing the parents to be on their choices.

Kamila often meets exhausted and emotionally strained new parents who do not feel they have had enough advice during pregnancy to empower them, to not only make informed choices about their babies’ birth but also be prepared for caring for them once they are born. In response to this need to educate and empower expecting mothers and fathers Kamila and her partner Ryan Lakey have set up the first Pregnancy Sanctuary, a luxury retreat for pregnant couples. Kamila and Ryan feel pregnancy is a journey which is both physical and emotional for an expectant couple and which often changes the dynamics of their relationship. The Pregnancy Sanctuary’s approach is unique focusing not only on the mother but the couple as a unit and their needs both together as parents and individuals. They believe that the key to a happier, healthier, relaxed pregnancy is giving both parties the knowledge and techniques to help support each other to become parents.

Kamila commented
“The Pregnancy Sanctuary is built from a dream to offer truly holistic, evidence-based and supportive care to women and their partners. Being a midwife is a dream come true for me but it can also be challenging, seeing women unable to make informed choices because of lack of knowledge, being traumatized after their birth or struggling with breastfeeding and the transition to motherhood always makes me very sad.

I often wish that I could have been there for them – to offer them all the information and choices they need, to prepare them for the birth and looking after the baby, to help their partner feel more involved and teach him how to support her in pregnancy and beyond. More importantly to give them the support and time that they need – and time is what a lot of midwives often struggle to find.“

The Pregnancy Sanctuary will provide couples with a holiday or ‘baby moon’ alongside professional advice on their choices and what to expect during pregnancy and after. The one of a kind ‘Sanctuary’ will include a stay in the beautiful Mill Barn situated near Salcombe South Devon, with a selection of classes tailored to each couples personal requirements, including midwife-led antenatal and breastfeeding classes, yoga, hypnobirthing, aromatherapy, complementary therapies and nutrition.

The sanctuary does not only focus on the birth and the mother but also looks at the changes and feelings explored as a couple. Kamila and Ryan as parents themselves understand the pressures for new parents and try to focus on helping both parents through using their knowledge and experience.

Kamila commented
“When our daughters were born Ryan struggled to bond with them not knowing where to fit in among the constant breastfeeding and tears, tiredness and sometimes frustration. He was not prepared for this transition – he never admitted to struggling to bond with our girls until recently – and that was the final ‘kick’ I needed to create The Pregnancy Sanctuary – I felt guilty for not involving him and teaching him enough during pregnancy, assuming that ‘he knows enough’. And ever since his admission I have been watching partners more closely and it could not be more obvious how scared and unprepared they are”

Alongside the classes for mothers, for expectant fathers there is a men only area led by Ryan known as the ‘Dad Factory’ developed for expectant fathers to talk openly about having a baby with other Dads. The man only area is complete with a sound system, pool table and games area. The idea behind this man only zone is to help the fathers to find out the answers to some of the unknowns that many expectant fathers experience.

When Ryan was an expectant father he felt ill equipped for parenthood and unsure what to do or expect when his twins were born. The idea of creating a man only area he feels will allow men to talk openly about how they feel without embarrassment, it is also a time to challenge any myths and fears men experience and reassure them. This will then empower them to prepare for the birth and support the mother afterwards and most importantly bond with their new child and family dynamic.

Ryan commented;
“Throughout Kamila’s pregnancy with our daughters I went through the typical bloke emotions of denial, fear, panic, joy, panic and back to denial. Then the practical side of me took over and I could not think past creating a nursery, buying prams, car seats and the myriad of baby products that comes with expecting, when we started counting down the weeks to the due date I realised I was not in any way prepared to be a father.

The token antenatal classes we attended that showed me how to wrap a baby doll in a blanket, or the basics on pain relief when labour had actually started served me very little purpose on how to really support Kamila through her pregnancy. Having the knowledge to fully embrace what is to come and how you, as a father, can be part of this, provides a much easier and rewarding transition for fathers into parenthood. The Dad Factory will offer a Dad Only focussed session to discuss fears, the unknowns, the practical side and the emotions that us Dad’s don’t admit to feeling. Using Kamila’s professional experience as a midwife and my own personal experiences I have created a programme designed to support fathers to be and to help them feel better prepared throughout the pregnancy, birth and the first few weeks of being a father”.

As the only Pregnancy Sanctuary of its kind run by a Midwife ‘The Pregnancy Sanctuary’ should deliver the perfect balance of rejuvenating relaxation and knowledge to help parents through the unknown territory of having a baby. For second or even third time parents, the Sanctuary offers a chance to plan a different type of birth or just to relax in like minded company and beautiful surroundings. For second time mothers who had a bad birthing experience with their first child, Kamila’s classes and sessions will help them look at how they can approach their second birth with a different mindset.

Kamila commented
“This is my way of helping others to have positive experiences, feel empowered and take charge of their pregnancy. This is my way of taking them away from all the daily stresses and showing them the importance of looking after themselves and each other as a unit, this is my way of offering couples a truly holistic experience of pregnancy and help them to have a relaxed and happy transition to parenthood”.

As parents and professionals Ryan and Kamila are offering not only a unique product allowing their participants to feel ‘revived, rejuvenated and empowered’ on their adventure to parenthood, but also supported and ready for a new way of life. Opening in April 2016 the Pregnancy Sanctuary will start taking bookings in December.

Bookings will be for a 3 night stay tailored to each couples need.
Each stay will include;

  • Accommodation
  • Luxury Healthy Breakfast
  • Classes
  • Birth planning preparation
  • Welcome Lunch
  • Ladies luxury pamper evening
  • Dad Factory night
  • BBQ Supper for dads and Buffet style supper for mums