Jane and John established Natal Care Naturally in 2006. During their own antenatal classes, they were told of the benefits of a labour TENS machine and were keen to hire one to help with labour pain. Having struggled to find a machine available for her due date until the last minute, and then finding herself mid-contraction with a faulty unit, Jane was left feeling frustrated and disappointed. Realising that other people must have been in the same situation as they were, they decided to purchase the best TENS units they could find and make them available to expectant parents throughout New Zealand. Understanding the importance of providing a reliable, top quality service, they wanted to make the hire process as easy as possible, offering a simple online booking system, free door-to-door service and free return postage. Here Jane talks to The Natural Parent Magazine about the inspiration behind Natal Care Naturally, the challenges they have overcome along the way, and their hopes and dreams for the future.
The passion: What inspired you to set up your business?
Like many first-time mums, my intention for my first labour was to have a natural, drug-free birth, so when our Antenatal Class Educator talked about TENS, I was keen to use one during my labour. However, on my search for a TENS to hire, I found it difficult to find one and when I did eventually get one, it was outdated and ‘very well-used’. And then, during labour, just as I was starting to get into a rhythm and gain relief from the TENS, mid-contraction, it stopped working! Not ideal when things were going so well. My labour ended up being a very scary, out of control experience with medical intervention, an episiotomy, forceps and a week in hospital. No one can predict how their labour will go, but I did wish the TENS had functioned so I could have given myself the best chance of a drug-free birth. That was when I decided women needed to have access to modern, reliable TENS machines. I knew I could offer a service far beyond my own hopeless and frustrating experience trying to source and use a TENS.
The launch: How did you start out in the beginning?
I started with researching where I could purchase the best, most-reliable TENS machines. I purchased 25 units to begin with and created my own website and Facebook page. I started the business with my newborn in one hand and my keyboard in the other. Like most mums starting in business, I juggled my time between my babies and my business. I started very slowly and as my babies grew, so did Natal Care.
The innovation: What was the biggest breakthrough for you with your business?
I can’t say I’ve established anything hugely innovative or revolutionary. All I’ve done is provide a top-notch service with a reliable, quality product. In this crazy world of technology, I like to think I do things the way we all wish a business would. When my customers ring me, I answer the phone; when they have a question, I answer it; and when they need their TENS machine on a certain day, I get it to them on or before that day, and I keep everything as quick and simple as possible for my customers. I’ve experienced ‘baby brain’, so I understand – there’s enough going on before and during birth, so hiring a TENS needs to be a quick, easy, hassle-free process.
Yin and Yang: How do you balance work and family?
Balancing work and family have always been a struggle! I’ve been lucky enough to work from home, and live in a small community, so Playcentre and school were just down the road. Working during nap times or in the evenings just became the norm. I started the business in a very small way when my firstborn was only a couple of months old and as my boys have grown, and I’ve had more time, I’ve grown my business. As children get older, they become more independent and need you less. My youngest is now 16, so we are now fitting in driving lessons around my business!