We’ve been working closely with Dr Anastasia Alcock who founded the Prenatal Classroom to provide comprehensive, evidence-based information and support for pregnant women. Here are her views on the challenges facing first-time mums, growing a business and why awareness of cord blood should be higher.
1. Anastasia, what sparked your idea to set up the Prenatal Classroom?
I’ve always passionately believed that expectant mums (and their partners) should know more about their options and be more informed about pregnancy and childbirth. The general narrative in the UK concentrates on a traditional birth (vaginal and breastfeeding) which is fine but not always possible.
Being an expectant parent can be an anxious time and “Dr Google” doesn’t necessarily help matters! I wanted to let people have the benefits of what I learned in Medical School, put them at ease and be fully prepared. Really just to say, “You don’t need to be afraid or frightened, you just need to understand all of your options.”
2. When did you start the business up?
I actually pursued the idea in 2010 when I was in Jordan with my husband. We were living there through his work commitments and I couldn’t practice as a doctor so I thought “let’s get this started.” I started working with a group of expat mums to be and it just took off from there. When I arrived back in the UK in 2012, I decided to launch the business.
3. How has the business developed?
Individual classes started very well but I was also keen to develop a group class environment so I linked up with My Healthcare Clinic, we shared the ethos so we decided to start a pilot class in London in November 2014. The pilot class has been a real success – everybody has benefited from sharing their questions and concerns and I’m sure a few long term friendships have been struck up!
Ever since I started the business it has been great fun and rewarding. Running it alongside being a doctor is a challenge but I’m really enjoying it. Helping expectant parents is a fantastic thing to do and I’ve been overwhelmed by the positive feedback I’ve had from them.
4. How did you find out about cord blood banking?
I first heard out about it when I was in the Middle East. From studying oncology and haematology, I’ve always been fascinated by the potential of using stem cells to cure serious diseases. When you look at some of the recent clinical trials for conditions such as cerebral palsy and diabetes, real progress is being made. Goodness knows what we’ll be able to do in the next 20 years – it really is a very exciting area!
At the Prenatal Classroom, I make it my business to know all of the options available to expectant parents. This is one that isn’t that well known but it should be. Awareness of the potential of cord blood banking should be higher.
5. What would you say to expectant parents who are thinking about cord blood banking?
If you can afford it, do it. Cord blood banks such as Biovault Family are making it easier to spread payments and offering 0% finance so you have a real chance to try and protect your family’s future. The sad thing is, you simply don’t know what might happen in the future. Why not bank cord blood as a safety net?
6. Why have you teamed up with Biovault Family?
Very simply: they share my ethos, know where they are going, are experts in their field and are a pleasure to deal with. I trust them as an organisation and look forward to continuing our work together.