I once worked in an office full of women, where there was always someone pregnant or on maternity leave. “Doing nct” was considered a rite of passage, an essential part of preparation for parenthood. So when I finally did become pregnant ten years ago, I signed up for my course and waited quite impatiently for it to start. I’m a sceptical type, and went in with some reservations, but the warm, knowledgeable, down to earth teacher really won me over and opened my eyes to a possible experience of childbirth quite different from my expectations at that point.
Although I didn’t form long term friendships with my antenatal group, they were an amazing source of support and company during the first few months. I got involved with the local branch when I spotted an advert in the newsletter asking people to train as breastfeeding counsellors. “Sure,” I thought. “I know all about breastfeeding.” Three years of training later I had a solid network of friends I made through the training: fellow trainees, local antenatal teachers, and other branch volunteers. I had also learned how little I knew about breastfeeding.
When I started the training I thought that Breastfeeding Counsellors just had a voluntary role supporting mothers, and when I found out we were expected to facilitate antenatal sessions as well, I was horrified. I don’t really speak in public, and I’m not great with strangers. At the end of my training I went out to run my first session, copious notes in hand, and at the end of it the group gave me a round of applause! I had so much fun, came home on a high, and looked forward to the next one, and the next one, and the many hundreds after that.
NCT gave me more choices in birth and parenting, and then unexpectedly gave me a new career as a BFC. I love working with parents both antenatally and postnatally, and I now have other roles supporting my colleagues, as well as related work outside NCT that would never have been possible if I’d stayed in that office. Sometimes I get downhearted when NCT gets bad press, because I know how hard practitioners work to meet the hugely diverse needs of the parents who come to our courses. And then I carry on doing the work I love, supporting every parent in the situation they are in, as our mission statement says.