6:45pm. A wet, miserable Wednesday evening. Full of traffic. Roadworks. And my bad language. I offended the fella on the Sat Nav so comprehensively that even he left me high and dry. (Or low and wet as was the case.) So then I was lost too.
Absolutely ruddy marvellous.
Fast forward twenty minutes.
Cup of tea and biscuit in hand, I looked on at the hub-bub of soon-to-be brand new parents all proudly exuding that hallmark cocktail of baby fervour: two parts excitement, one part trepidation, a twist of delight and a final dash of out and out worry. A joyous, fizzing environment.
It had been worth the journey!
As this was session four of a five-week Signature antenatal course, the friendship and trust built with Sara, the tutor, was clearly evident in the way each couple chatted openly, honestly and fearlessly about their hopes, assumptions and expectations of the life changing new chapter just around the corner.
Interactive activities, which focused on identifying essential purchases for baby, creating a safe birthing space, testing and discussing nappy types and brands and examining the impact of a C-section on birthing expectation, were the scaffolds of knowledge and technique the session was hung around. Yet the key focus I felt Sara draw out from every element of the class was support. How each couple can support each other; how the health care professionals can best support them; how Mum can best support herself.
The keenness of Sara to ensure parents understand that they are not making this journey in isolation is what NCT is all about.
“We should set up a group WhatsApp“.
“Oh, sorry Jane, I don’t have your number, I’ll put it in my phone now.”
“We could all meet up at the Nearly New Sale and go for a coffee afterwards?”
It is that companionship, friendship and ongoing connection these parents will share, long after Signature has ended, that will sustain them in those exhausting early months, when you just need to feel that ‘it’s not just me!’
The Parents in Mind pilot project I’m currently working on in Halton is there to offer that support reactively, when a mother’s mental health has begun to suffer. It was so positive to see these new families taking steps to perhaps alleviate their potential vulnerability so early on – without even realising they are doing it.
Having witnessed an established NCT group running so seamlessly, and delivering exactly what NCT offers on the tin, I left the class with a renewed sense of wanting to further support my own tiny local branch – to further build the NCT reputation in my area of the north-west where it is so much smaller and more tentative. Maybe pull a small Nearly New Sale together? Or do a flyer drop to further boost Bumps to Babes? Perhaps a coffee morning?
The ideas flowed through my mind all the way home. Which, with roadworks, torrential rain and an utterly useless Sat Nav, meant that by the time I finally pulled up back on my driveway, I had masterminded my very own 20 year international NCT story… I’ll save sharing that for another day.
This guest blog has come from Catherine Briars who is Service Delivery Manager for Parents in Mind (Halton).