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"Whole Person Care Online" With Dr. Frances Knight

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Megan Walker: Hello and welcome to the Healthcare Online Podcast. My name is Megan Walker and today our very special guest is Dr Frances Knight. Hello Frances how are you today?  

Dr Frances Knight: Hello. 

Megan Walker: So good to have you here. Frances is doing such amazing work in the digital space. She's a specialist GP and well, Frances, you are the best person to tell us more about you.

Do you want to talk about your work, bit of your background, and then the exciting part - the creations that you are working on that are going to help new families and particular new mums. So tell us about your background. 

Dr Frances Knight: Yes, absolutely. So I'm a Specialist GP and I have always wanted to work with women and children care.

And along the way I found myself more into pregnant women and that postnatal journey that we all go on after having a baby. And I think I found myself here after having my own children with my qualifications and more formal experience as well.

And so now a huge bulk of my work is actually working with new families who've just had a baby. It might be their first or their second, third, fourth, whatever. And, caring for those new families as part of their journey as they navigate through. So, so that's really, really wonderful. That's something I really enjoy doing.

And obviously my qualifications as a GP helps me to do that because I can see the whole family and look after the whole family. I can think about male partners and I know stuff about that. And then there's mum and then there's baby as well, so that helps. But then of course I've also got more extended qualifications, having trained in pediatrics and obstetrics and gynecology and also, I'm also NDC accredited, which is a sort of level up in something called Neuroprotective Developmental Care, which is very much about new families and that sort of postnatal bubble and how we can journey through these early months because it's such a beautiful time. 

Megan Walker: I love that point of difference.

Going through my own journey, it was very much the mum's care and the Obstetrics journey. And the Gynecological journey. But of course, being a Specialist GP, you can bring the whole family into the fold. So tell us, what would you say are some of the challenges that new families are facing that you are particularly keen on helping them with, without going into too much detail. 

Dr Frances Knight: There are some common challenges and some of which I've been through myself with my own baby. Knowing what to expect is one thing because I think in pregnancy, the care we receive is really all about focusing on the pregnancy and on birth.

And then we sort of stop. And I did that as well with my first baby. I was working in neonatal intensive care. I was working in pediatrics, yet my brain still was all about pregnancy and birth. And then I had my baby and I thought, oh I don't really know what to do now. So knowing what to expect is hard because there's just so many facets to babies and they require so much care.

So that's one challenge. We can get a bit, oh, is that normal? Oh. And, you know, we're bombarded with lots of information that's conflicting and not always helpful. So that, that would be the first challenge. And then the second challenge I think is milk feeding because that's a really, really important part of the whole picture.

Getting milk feeding going well is really going to help your baby's health, but help their settling and their sleep and it's going to help your health as well and how you recover. Again, that's hard. That's a learned skill whether you're breast or bottle feeding, and there's a lot to it. And so there's support available, but as women will find, you know, we've had this big journey of pregnancy and birth, and particularly in the last weeks of pregnancy, you feel so cocooned and so supported, and then you have your baby and you're still a bit supported, but that support really drops away.

And you can feel a little bit isolated, a bit alone. And that's when some of the feeding challenges sort of crop up and it's confusion.

And then the last more common challenge is just around support. Women, we are so amazing. I think we try to do everything ourselves and we want to be strong and independent and many of us have before. We've had babies, had great careers and being successful in whatever sort of goals we've chosen. And then we go to have our baby and we want to apply the same strategies for success. But sometimes it's not always that simple. And well then we wonder sort of why. We're struggling because we're trying to do everything ourselves.

We're trying to do everything alone, but in fact, that's not how it's supposed to be. We're not supposed to do it all by ourselves. And so being able to know what supports might be helpful know what's available and even things like how to get your partner to be more helpful and involved.

That's another challenge. And then of course, settling and sleep is always the most commonly asked questions. So I work a lot in that area as well. 

Megan Walker: And you've been so busy in your practice that you are now looking into the digital space, which is so great because I'm just even listening to you talk I'm thinking there must be so many old wives tales that you correct on a daily basis and myths, and I remember a girlfriend saying, well, if I put the bottles in the dishwasher, then they're sterilised. Can I wash the baby's clothes with our clothes? You know, there's a million things isn't there that you don't know.

And you can't use those same career strategies because this baby is so unpredictable. So tell us what you are doing in the digital space that's packaging up all that knowledge that you have. That's probably a lot on repeat and how you are helping people. 

Dr Frances Knight: I'm having similar conversations, at least the same themes because I'm seeing some of those common concerns crop up. And it's hard to hear sometimes, to be honest, because someone comes in with a concern and then after we've had a chat and maybe it's all normal, and they didn't need to be concerned in the first place and they're relieved of course, but they know how much time they've spent worrying about this, how much stress that's caused in this little family. And the phrase, oh, why didn't anyone tell us that before? Is so common. You know, if I had a dollar for every time I heard that and it makes me sad actually.

Because we do really well with pregnancy care and birth care overall. But we can improve postnatal care. And so my hope is to get information to families before that stress, before those late nights Googling and the worry and the difficulty that causes before waiting to come and see me and then having that, oh, why didn't anyone tell me moment?

So that was my first reason to be in the online world. The second reason, of course is, about me being one person and you know I'm busy and I'm booked out and so people can wait a little while to see me, but when you have a newborn, a week, three days even is a really long time to wait if you've got a concern about something.

And so this is sort of helping to bridge that gap so that I still want to work in this space. I still want to see people face to face and have a chat. But it's just providing some of the basics to help people understand things and alleviate some of the stress.

And then the other thing is that it's all very well to say, I would love you to have this information, and I wish all women had this information, but I've been that woman as well and only being able to focus on my pregnancy and birth journey. And also in pregnancy we're busy. And when a baby comes along, we're even busier. So many people don't get to all those classes. They can't spend three Saturdays and get their partner to come along. They can't do the however many weeks of night times. And also they can't commit a big amount of time to learning because our brains are busy with other things.

And so my goal was to provide information and make it as easy as possible. So just the most simple, straightforward, what you need to know, get from A to B information delivered right to your hands. You can sit on the couch and do it after work you can. Sit on the maternity ward after you've had your baby. If you're thinking, oh, wow, this is a lot, and just do it while you're on the ward even.

Megan Walker: You've got three beautiful little mini courses. Tell us what the topics are of each of those. 

Dr Frances Knight: Yes. So these address those common concerns. So number one, we have what to expect beyond birth. So this is super simple, super short and sweet. It's just four lessons and it's easy. You can listen to it in the background. You can just watch me talking, or you can look at some of the content that I've included in the videos and it will just cover the basics. What do you need to know about looking after a baby and looking after yourself beyond birth.

So that's number one. And I should just add that the lessons are really short too and easy so that when you're baby brained, you can just grab and go. Like, five minutes, 10 minutes. Done. Easy. Perfect. And then of course, I always give a workbook and that has the key points.

You can print that off, have that next to you but of course also come back and rewatch the lessons as many times as you like as well. Because sometimes a concept is just a bit like, what, what did you say? Yeah. So replay, rewind, whatever you need to do.

So the next one is breastfeeding basics. So that's really everything you're going to need to know to get started.

It's the steps we're aiming for and then some troubleshooting points that come up commonly, you know, managing your supply and how much milk do you give your baby? How often do you feed your baby? Those sorts of topics. So everything you need to get you started. And again, it's sort of designed for any path in your journey, whether you are pregnant and, and thinking, okay yes I want to breastfeed.

How can I really improve the chances of that being a good journey for me. O you've just had baby and you're on the ward and you're thinking, oh, this is a lot harder. Okay, pop the video on have a little look. What are the steps? Let's go through that. Or you know of course when you get home as well.

Megan Walker: Beautiful. And then ...

Dr Frances Knight: Yes, and then the last most common topic of all time is called Settle to Sleep. So we're looking at how to settle babies and tips about sleep in a really gentle, balanced way. It's all about information for newborns because sleep changes as we grow and as babies grow.

So there's different advice for different stages. So this is just all about settling and sleep for a newborn, which is, is really something that a lot of parents come to see me about because it's a challenge.  

Megan Walker: You are going to save people so much time and guesswork and second guessing.

Just in the sleep course alone, I think we bought 12 different sleep suits and swaddles and wraps and, and then someone said I think you're confusing your baby. I know just get one. You are such a calm voice of experience and wisdom following along with you would be. Just so much easier than winging it.

So thank you on behalf of all of the families for doing this work. Where can people go to find out more about your little beautiful mini courses? 

Dr Frances Knight: So my website's probably a good first point. Just I'm also on Instagram and Facebook, but more so Instagram and my handle is Dr Frances Knight to keep it simple. So yeah, start there. Have a bit of a look. There's free resources, there's interviews, there's lots of information around. And then of course there's access to my courses. And I do a monthly newsletter as well where I like to bring all the lovely resources together and keep people updated with what's new.

So that's a lovely way that people can follow along. And again, just make it easy. I'm just going deliver it to you on a silver platter the information that you need to know. So you can just check your inbox once a month and just get updated. 

Megan Walker: So good, Dr Frances in your pocket. I love it. I wish I had you in my pocket when I was a new mum.

It's been so lovely talking to you Frances and I can't wait to to help spread the word about the amazing, important work that you're doing. 

Dr Frances Knight: No, thank you. It's been a real lovely journey and I'm really grateful to have had your support along the way.

I think what you've provided me with is a framework for how to deliver online. I. What I'm trying to achieve in a way that's going to help families. And so that, that support has really been invaluable from working with you. So I am deeply, deeply grateful.  

Megan Walker: We'll talk to, talk to you soon. Bye now.  

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