The final part of her pregnancy was not enjoyable for Inbaal Honigman. The then 36-year-old from West Yorkshire was days overdue, and struggling with both exhaustion and anxiety. But as each day passed, she had another — more unusual — preoccupation.
‘When I first discovered my due date, and knew I was having a Pisces baby, I was thrilled,’ she explains. ‘I’m a Pisces and so is my husband, so a Pisces baby made sense.’
The problem? ‘Every day I went overdue was a day closer to the baby being born Aries. Pisces are easy-going and intuitive. But Aries are active, sporty and loud — everything we’re not. So a Pisces baby would be the perfect fit; an Aries much less so.’
Finally, the doctor presented Inbaal with two induction dates. The first would deliver a longed-for Pisces baby; the second, four days later to give a chance at a natural birth, would not.
Inbaal Honigman, 46, from West Yorkshire, (pictured with her four children, aged three to 14) sees astrology as a way to understand her children’s personalities and be a good parent
The stars swung it. Her daughter Tove was induced on March 19, 2010, the first date, and born under the sign of Pisces.
Now the 46-year-old mum of four can laugh as she tells the improbable story.
She knows some people’s jaws will drop that she factored star signs into her birth plan. But to Inbaal, and a growing number of UK women, astrology is so much more than a bit of fun. It’s a powerful key to understanding what makes their children tick — and to being a good parent.
Welcome to the world of the zodiac mum.
The trend for studying the stars to decode your child’s personality and adapt how you raise them is definitely hot right now. The last year alone has seen the launch of two books on the subject of babystrology.
The Astrological Guide To Your Little Star and Your Gemini Child: He’s Not Crazy, He’s Just Always In His Head; and another book, Star Child: Joyful Parenting Through Astrology, is due out in July.
These guides refer to a birth chart — also called a natal chart. It’s what Alice Pingstone, who runs a ‘parenting by the stars’ business called Moonmama, sees as a ‘roadmap to your child’s needs’.
‘With just the time, date and location of their birth, an astrologer can determine a snapshot of the position of the planets when your child was born,’ the 34-year-old from Wiltshire explains.
‘They’ll use that to determine your child’s sun sign, moon sign and rising sign, and explain how these three things reveal their likes and dislikes, personality quirks and insecurities.’
For example, she explains that an Aries child may have more of a temper while Libras may be more naturally sweet and charming.
‘Or a Capricorn baby might be very serious and tenacious while a Cancer sibling would more likely stay close to mum.’
Jilly Rawle, 37, from Wiltshire, (pictured with Beatrice, six, Edith, three and Reuben, 18 months) found a website to create her children’s natal charts and understand their personalities
If that’s so, you can discover it all before the little one has even learned how to roll over.
And while that might sound far-fetched, devotees of ‘zodiac parenting’ believe it can have a hugely positive impact.
London-based Alex Trenoweth offers Astrology For Adolescents, £249 for a two-hour session with parents, including a written report. She’s seen client numbers treble in just the last 12 weeks.
Astrology is even being explored in educational settings. At Sloane Pre‑School in Chelsea, owner Sara Brennan is piloting Nurseryscopes. The programme she created uses astrology to help with everything from potty training to play times, for children aged between two and six.
What on earth — or, er, Jupiter — is going on?
One UK mum is only too happy to explain. Jilly Rawle, 37, from Wiltshire, is mother to Beatrice, six, Edie, three, and Reuben, 18 months. But she only considered seeing an astrologer last year.
With husband Ian, 41, often away with his work as a logistics manager, and home alone with three young children, the pandemic has been a big challenge. After paying £60 to have her own chart created, Jilly, a reflexologist, found astro-charts.com, a free website for creating her children’s charts.
SO WHAT IS AN ASTROLOGICAL BIRTH CHART?
What is a natal chart and how much does one cost?
A snapshot of how the sky was at the time and place where you were born, unique to you. You can find yours free online, but expert analysis can cost from £60 to £350.
What can an astrologer tell by looking at your natal chart?
In brief, they can tell you your sun sign —this is our calling, what we want to create and do; your moon sign — this is our emotional need; and our rising sign — how we appear to others.
But it’s more complicated than that?
Yes. Think of it like a cake. If you only know your three signs, then you would know you have a chocolate cake that is six inches tall.
But you won’t know how the ingredients blend as that cake was cooked, or what other ingredients there might be.
So an astrologer can fill you in on all those details?
Yes. They will look at hundreds of things. What were the other planets doing? How did they interact? What was the planetary weather like? By exploring and analysing your natal chart, an astrologer will give you so much more valuable information.
Francesca Oddie francescaoddie.com
In January, the insights she was given became invaluable, she says. ‘Beatrice has found homeschooling very difficult; we’ve had so many tears. Seeing her struggle, I could have felt lost. But I knew from her chart that she was incredibly creative, with an inventive mind. Sitting in front of Google classrooms wasn’t giving her anything.’
And the natal chart gave Jilly the confidence to ditch the school’s iPad-based lessons and do her own thing — art, creative games and more time outdoors. ‘Astrology has shown me Beatrice is a humanitarian who loves helping others, but she wasn’t around her friends and teachers to help them as usual. So, I’ve created jobs in the house, allowing her to make a contribution to the family.
‘Her astrology also highlighted her spiritual nature, so now we do yoga and meditation, and I give her reiki before she goes to bed. The difference in her happiness is amazing.’
A sceptic might say that adapting your parenting to meet your child’s needs is something most parents would have done anyway, even without checking to see if the moon is in Capricorn.
‘Information is power,’ Jilly replies. ‘And astrology has given me that information. Without it, you’re just left feeling your way down the road, rather than having the map.’
Yoga teacher Meghan Hutcheon, 29, from Aberdeenshire and mum to Mila, three, and Gigi, two, agrees.
‘Astrology is an amazing tool,’ she says. ‘Why wouldn’t you want to use it to find out more about your children?’
In 2016, Meghan — who at the time worked in marketing and business development — was thrilled to be pregnant. At her local yoga class someone mentioned a natal chart.
‘I’d never heard of it. But I decided to have my own chart done online and its accuracy blew me away. I then did one for my husband Greg, who is 31, and works in offshore oil rigs, which was just as spot-on. Our baby was next on the list.’
‘I wanted to know what she’d be good at or struggle with, to empower her to be the happiest she could be.’
It might sound odd to be thinking about future talents when most new mums are struggling with sleep and nappies. But author of Babystrology, Judi Vitale, says getting key information before your children can even speak gives parents a head start.
‘The colours associated with each sign can really come to the rescue in those often-baffling early months,’ she explains. ‘For instance, a bright red blanket will resonate with Aries’ energetic nature. It can have a surprisingly effective calming effect, and help send them off to sleep.’
Meghan admits that when she mentioned a chart for their unborn baby, there were eye-rolls from her husband.
‘Greg’s a Virgo so needs proof before he will believe things,’ she explains. But two weeks after Mila was born, the chart was done. For Meghan, it was fascinating.
‘I found out she is intelligent and likes learning but hates being bored. That she’s a dreamer, often in her own world.’
As Mila grew, these astro-insights proved a huge help. ‘Greg once said Mila was finding it hard to listen. But as her chart shows, that’s just her being a dreamer. It took the guessing game out of being a mum.’
Meghan Hutcheon, 29, (pictured with daughters Mila, three and Gigi, two) used natal charts to predict her baby’s future talents after being blown away by how accurate her own chart was
Meghan had her second daughter Gigi’s chart done, too — she’s a mixture of impatient Aries and vocal Scorpio — and claims that by adapting her parenting accordingly, their home is calm and peaceful as a result.
While Meghan has been a planetary parent for four years, there’s one big reason the trend is having its moment in the sun now. Since the pandemic upended all our lives, we’re spending a lot more time with our children.
Tearing our hair out about fronted adverbials and helping them manage big emotions is enough to send the most rational person looking for guidance.
‘Before the pandemic, astrology was already on the rise,’ explains Stevie Walshe, of Star Planners Astrology. ‘But now there’s extra pressure on parents, and astrology helps fill that gap.’
Devon-based Lynne Speight, who offers astrological consultation for children and teenagers says: ‘As a parent, your son’s or daughter’s birth chart is the nearest thing to an instruction manual you’ll ever get.’ She noticed a rise in requests for help as soon as the first lockdown began.
Alice Pingstone has found it invaluable, too. She has a degree in early childhood studies and has worked in a pre-school. But she credits her astrology training as the biggest help in parenting Xanthe, three, and Delphi, eight months.
‘Using astrology is different to just responding to a child’s personality traits. You are going into hidden bits of their psyche.
‘When Xanthe was struggling with anger, I could see that the underlying cause was a desire to be loved and cherished — not a surprise because she has a lot of Leo. With lockdowns, we need that insight more than ever.’
It’s a tool that Inbaal has turned to many times over the years. Now mum to Tove, ten, Vigo, eight, Zevi, six, and Ludo, three, astrology continues to help her navigate the challenges of parenting four children. Especially when one of them is a different sun sign.
‘Zevi is the only Capricorn, and anyone who doesn’t believe in astrology should come and see my children together. Wherever we are, the three Pisces kids play together and clearly share traits.
While yoga teacher Meghan (above with daughters) has been a planetary parent for four years, the ‘babystrology’ trend has seen a huge increase amid the coronavirus pandemic
‘Pisces are sociable and Capricorns kind of singular, so they enjoy a board game while Zevi does his Lego. They’ll bunch up together in the garden with their lollies and he’ll go and sit alone.’
Despite all the planetary positivity, experts warn that there are some risks.
‘Like anything, astrology can be misused and become unhelpful to parents, cautions author Briana Saussy. ‘If parents are using astrology to pigeon-hole their children or make excuses or rationalise certain unhealthy behaviours, then it becomes a problem.’
She also stresses how important it is to look beyond any one element of their child’s astrology. ‘No one is just one sign. We are each a unique symphony of all the planets and all the signs interacting.’
It’s a lesson that Inbaal has learned the hard way. After her induction secured a Pisces sun sign for Tove, she’s learned from their natal charts that her daughter — and her two other Pisces children — have Mercury in Aries.
Which, for the astrologically illiterate among us, means what?
‘That they’re loud and fast and talk non-stop!’ Inbaal laughs again. ‘Tove also has Venus in Aries, so she is the child who has six different sporting clubs every week. She has ended up with all the traits I was trying to avoid at birth, and, of course, I love them!’
A sign that astrology tells us less than believers claim? Perhaps. But for Inbaal, astrology is a vital part of parenting.
‘It helps me understand their lazy moments, accept their whinging and know what motivates them. What parent on earth wouldn’t want that?’