Recently NCT teachers and volunteers have been tweeting using #mynctstory. The stories are inspiring, well worth a read. I decided to add to them and write my story…
Becoming an NCT teacher was not something I would ever have imagined myself doing back when my daily life involved commuting, management meetings and excel spreadsheets. But one of the most incredible things about becoming a parent is the way we change in ways we can never anticipate.
So my NCT journey started almost 9 years ago. I was pregnant, constantly on the verge of throwing up and inhaling packets of M&S wotsits. A friend said ‘you must do NCT’ and without any further thought I booked my course. Fast forward a few months and one birth later and I was in a whirlwind of coffee mornings and pizza (my NCT group had Papa John’s on speed dial). We talked about everything: feeding, weaning, sleeping and going back to work. A few of the mums moved away and we all started going back to work. Life seemed back to normal for a short while.
However after having my second baby and a birth that didn’t exactly go ‘to plan’ I started reading to help make sense of my experience. In amongst the nappies, agonising sleep deprivation and the awful irrepressible sense of guilt that being a mum to two small children evokes, I had a moment of realisation. I could not go back to daily commutes – something had changed. I needed to channel my learning about birth and motherhood into something, dare I say it, more profound. I realised I was drawn to discussions about birth, they were happening all around me and I wasn’t getting bored. Far from it, it was constantly fascinating. I was learning so much.
And this is the bit that might be surprising. The bit that you might not associate with the NCT. I didn’t have a sense that I wanted to evangelise about birth, to tell women how to give birth. In fact quite the opposite, I wanted to help them realise that the decisions we make are profound. That giving birth isn’t something we forget about the next day, that it isn’t just about having a healthy baby. That these experiences stay with us for decades: how strong we felt or how helpless, how those first few minutes felt when we could finally hold our baby, how nurtured and respected we were. So I wanted to help women choose, to help them make their own choices, to feel informed and empowered, and above all not scared. And I really wanted to help both parents feel supported through this enormous transition.
Training to teach NCT was the natural next step. It took just under three years of essay writing, of practising teaching and reflecting (NCT teachers spend a lot of time reflecting). Mainly I am proud of the feedback I get from couples, many of whom say they enjoyed the experience of coming to classes and feel that their experience of birth (however that unfolded) was changed as a result of coming. Some remark how much more confident they felt as a result, how they felt more prepared for the demands of being a parent. They mention how supported they feel, about how their NCT group talk at all hours of the day and night, and how they can’t imagine how it would be to not have each other.
There is never just one option, there are many. Every baby is different and every parent is different, we really must make the decisions that are right for us in order to feel empowered. This is so important, as are the networks of parents who form through NCT classes. Most of us don’t have our parents living next door, yet it is when we have a baby that we meet our neighbours and become a community.
So in my case I didn’t just gain some new knowledge and skills, I gained a whole new vocation, I met people living near me, one of whom has become an amazing friend and business partner. I have also met some of the most passionate, intelligent women who also just happen to be NCT teachers (you know who you are). You could say that nine years ago I started antenatal classes, but I’m still reaping the benefits!
Rebecca is a NCT teacher and certified infant massage instructor working in West London.