This last year, as well as becoming a mother, I have also become an NCT trustee, and I’m so proud of both roles. I actually decided to stand for election after the NCT practitioner who facilitated my courses suggested I might be good at it. Thank you Fran Bailey! I hadn’t even considered it before then, but I really respect her opinion and appreciate the support I’ve received from NCT personally, so decided to go for it. When I was told I’d been voted in, I wasn’t sure I believed it! I’m really grateful to have been given such a fantastic opportunity to make a difference to something I really am passionate about. I believe that all parents deserve to be supported through early parenthood and that advice and support should be readily available to all parents, whatever their circumstances. I have found that it is often those who need support the most who do not or cannot ask for it; it’s important to me that those people are able to experience what NCT has to offer.
I knew about NCT long before becoming a mother. My friends with children had taken NCT antenatal classes and they’d talk about how valuable the classes were and the great friends they’d made from them. So when I found out I was pregnant, I knew I wanted to book onto an NCT antenatal course. It was important to me because I wanted to make sure I was completely informed about birth and beyond and I knew NCT was the best choice to make sure that happened. I was also keen to have a circle of mum friends with babies the same age.
Booking the course was one of the first things I did after having my 12-week scan. I chose to do an essentials course because the evening sessions suited my husband and me. Little did I know that our choice of essentials over signature would set in motion a course of events that one day would make me an NCT trustee.
I can still remember our first antenatal session back in late November 2016. I recall a sense of anticipation and that awkwardness when a group of strangers come together and try hard to be nice to one another. Fortunately, we were in a lovely group and gelled pretty quickly, with the help of our excellent practitioner. She was very knowledgeable, empathetic, friendly and kind.
I found the course really useful and came away feeling much more confident about birth and parenting. It’s worth saying that I did other antenatal courses too and lots of reading, but NCT is definitely the thing that had the single biggest impact on making me feel prepared. And I am definitely not just saying that now because I am an NCT trustee! It was also really helpful for my husband; I was concerned about how he would deal with the birth in particular. But by the end of the course, I knew he’d be fantastic (and he was).
Our little girl, Charlotte was born in February 2017. The first weeks were the typical whirlwind, which I was significantly helped through by my NCT friends. I found that having someone in the group reply to your desperate 3am WhatsApp message because they were awake too, going through the same thing, was such a help.
For some their NCT journey ends after their antenatal course is completed. But our course practitioner encouraged us to continue postnatally, and I am so glad we did. There’s so much support still on offer, and the hard work really does start after the little one arrives, so it’s good to know NCT is still there for you then. I have taken full advantage of the local Baby Café where there’s always breastfeeding support, a good listener and a hot cup of tea on offer – this goes a long way when you’re a new mum. I’ve also completed an Early Days course which began when Charlotte was around 8 weeks old. At that stage, I was beginning to see some semblance of order through the chaos and Early Days helped me to think about what our life as a family would look like and think to future developments, such as introducing solids. More recently I took part in the NCT Parent pilot, which was a helpful ‘check in’ on how family life is going, what it will shape up to be like and how we can help our daughter to develop.
So you could definitely say I’ve made the most of NCT’s offer to parents. All of these NCT courses have helped me to remember that my purpose as a parent is to help my daughter develop into a decent, well-rounded adult – it is not just a merry-go-round of feeding, nappies and sleep (or lack of it)! The phrase our practitioner used will always stick with me: “We give them roots and we give them wings.”
My journey as a parent continues and I’m really excited now to be a part of the vision as a trustee to ensure all parents can benefit in the way I have.