Wonderful Women Interview with Claire Charlton & Lesley Gilchrist, Founders of My Expert Midwife
Claire Charlton (pre, post-natal and baby massage specialist) met Lesley Gilchrist (practising midwife, media midwifery expert and ‘One Born Every Minute’ TV personality) whilst looking for a more positive birth experience with her second child.
As well as becoming firm friends, they quickly realised that they shared a joint passion for educating women about the reality and side effects of becoming a mum.
After identifying a need, as well as a gap in the market – following extensive research with mums who had suffered birth trauma – My Expert Midwife was born.
As well as launching four new products – Spritz for Bits, No Harm Nipple Balm, Fantastic Skin Elastic and Peri Prep Your Bits – specially formulated to soothe and aid healing, Claire & Lesley have developed the #letsbehonest campaign to encourage women to speak out about the physical side effects of pregnancy, childbirth and motherhood.
Describe a typical day for you?
Lesley: I have my alarm set for 6am but I’m usually up around 5.30am. My day starts with a coffee and analysing the My Expert Midwife (MEM) website sales and traffic. I then make a start on my emails, for both MEM and my private midwifery practice.
By 7am the rest of the family are up, so its breakfast, packed lunches and the school run.
My ‘working’ day then starts at 9am where I head into the office and make a start on the MEM orders from the day before and overnight. I usually stay until just after lunch but occasionally longer if I have lots of admin to catch up on.
My afternoon’s consist of antenatal or postnatal visits to my private midwifery clients, or meetings with associates.
3.15 is school pickup and evenings will occasionally be spent doing antenatal and postnatal visits again.
If I’m on call for a birth however all of this can be thrown up in the air and I’ll spend the day with a couple waiting on a new addition to their family!
Claire: I would like to pretend we have a calm family breakfast but in all honesty it’s a scramble to make sure both children are fed and watered and not swinging from the ceiling and all swim/diving/gymnastic kits are packed before embarking on a day of updating social media, working with massage clients, running baby massage classes, MEM general duties and back to the school run!
After school is a mix of swim/diving classes at the local pool where I manage a very quick gym session, juggle a latte and keep one eye on a child and one eye on emails. The evenings certainly don’t signify the end of the day…. it’s either time for a quick swim before checking orders/emails or writing a new blog for MEM.
What do you feel are your biggest achievements?
Lesley: Apart from raising my children it would have to be starting my own businesses. It’s hard work but so rewarding.
Claire: I have done some crazy charity challenges over the years such as white water rafting the Zambezi, London marathons, husky racing across the arctic, parachute jumps and my next achievement will hopefully be in June when I complete my first open water swim in Windermere. Delivering My Expert Midwife into the world with Lesley is a huge achievement driven by determination and fuelled by passion. And, of course, my husband & my two children are without a doubt up there with pretty cool achievements.
What’s in my handbag?
Lesley: Pens, notebook, wallet, 2nd phone, midwifery practice diary, No Harm Nipple Balm (I use it for my lips in this weather). Tin of coffee and sunglasses.
Claire: Everything! I would love to say it’s a tidy organised bag full of luxuries but #letsbehonest most days I have my Mary Poppins bag which today has: iPad, diary, notepad, earphones, wallet, my daughter’s Peppa Pig handbag, a bottle of water, flip flopsand goggles (because the bagdoubles up as swim bag at times)dried mango and a pair of children’s slippers!?
What are your ambitions in life?
Lesley: To ensure that MEM becomes a success and that through that success women no longer feel embarrassed to discussed things like “perineal massage’, ‘cracked nipples’, ‘sore bums’ and ‘piles’.
Claire: I always wanted to run my own business and help make a difference which MEM is fulfilling. I also feel passionate about inspiring, driving and encouraging people to believe that they can do what they want.
My overall ambition is to not have any regrets about anything. If I ever struggle making a decision I ask myself ‘would I regret it if I didn’t do this’? If the answer is ‘yes’ then no questions or doubts ,it’s simply full steam ahead! The word ‘Triathlon’ seems to pop up in my mind every now and again….
What do you wish you’d known at the start of your career you now know?
Lesley: How difficult mixed shifts of weekends, nights and evenings was on family life and the disruption it makes to your social life and sleep patterns. Burn out is massive in the NHS and private practice allows me much more flexibility with my life and gives me the ability to provide true continuity of care to couples.
Claire: I wish I had known how much money we would need to launch MEM and how many hundreds of hours it would take. However, sometimes I think it’s better to just roll with it, go with the flow, sink or swim.
Where do you see yourselves in 5 years’ time?
Lesley: Still a practising midwife and for My Expert Midwife to be available in all baby-related retailers within the UK with moves into the US market.
Claire: I hope MEM is the go-to product range for every pregnant lady/new mum. Personally, I hope to have found some work/life balance which will enable me to spend more time with my family and friends.
Advice on starting a new brand
Lesley: Prepare for long hours and make sacrifices, and to never switch off. Give yourself ‘me’ time and don’t feel guilty about it. And take all the help that’s offered.
Claire: You have to have passion and always allow that passion to shine through. Believe and have confidence in your gut instinct, ask questions, ask a lot of questions and when you think you are working hard there is always more to give. You only live once, so go and grab every little opportunity that’s presented to you.
Lesley: A walk around Harlow Carr Gardens (Harrogate) with my family; picnic and sunshine.
Claire: A blooming good big professional blow dry, laughing, spending time with my caring & understanding friends but ultimately, just being at home, relaxing, having cuddles on the sofa with my beautiful family.
You can learn more about My Expert Midwife and their unique products at myexpertmidwife.com or follow them on social media @MyExpertMidwife.
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