I am delighted to host Anna's NCT story................
The start of my NCT journey came after the birth of my second baby. I’d given up my old career to stay at home with my children, and that had not been an easy transition for me I had a huge need to stretch my brain again. On enquiring to the local tutor about enrolling, at some point when my son was old enough to be left, maybe in a year or so, she replied, “nonsense! Start at once, bring your baby with you, this is the NCT.” It has stuck with me, as the first time in over 2 years of parenting that I felt as though my children were not an inconvenience to be tucked away, but a part of me and my life. I felt accepted, and that I had found the place I belonged.
Being part of the NCT has given me a confidence to speak up for parents and families. It has served as a strong reminder that we need never apologise for putting our families first, that work can fit around our children, and that we are stronger when we support one another.
I am proud to teach antenatal classes for NCT. I know when I sit in a new group there will be some anxiety, about whether the urban myths that surround the NCT are true - and understandably given the negative media coverage that journalists seem to enjoy writing at regular intervals. All I can do is give the best of myself, using all the training NCT equips us with. I want every single person to finish the course feeling more confident about their choices, ready to adapt to the unexpected and knowing they will always have a friend from the course to reply to their WhatsApp at 4am when the nights are long and lonely. Despite what the newspaper columns like to portray, I have no vested interest in where you give birth; my role is to ensure the place you choose is right for you, based on all the information. Sometimes I will provide facts or research statistics that seem critical of certain options; that’s not my bias showing through, that is my commitment to provide full information from which you can make your own choice. And when it comes to reunions I will ask how the birth went, and I am interested in the details of your story, but I am more concerned with how it felt emotionally. I never assume that your birth was good or otherwise, for I know we all experience birth differently. I hope to hear that whatever the twists and turns, it was a day you will remember positively. And if not, I will let you know where you can get more help and support to work through what happened.
I don’t think NCT always gets everything right, but I also don’t think other charities and organisations are so gleefully criticised in their everyday work. We don’t reach a wide enough demographic in teaching our classes, but the changes we campaign for, and the input we have into national maternity policy, directly improve the experience of every single woman using those services. The impact we have may not always be branded with the NCT name, but we are there, doing the work that needs to be done. Above all else, as practitioners we do this work because we absolutely want to make a difference, however small, to new parents. We do it because we know for ourselves how tough it can be at times, and that often the information and support women need just isn’t available. Every article that lazily criticises the charity as a whole touches all of us, and diminishes the work that we put into each interaction we have with new families. So this time let our voices be heard, as a snapshot of the countless parents who have gained so much from NCT over the decades.