17 years ago I found out much to my delight that I was pregnant.
As I began to read ALL the pregnancy magazines I could find, I started to hear about NCT; all the articles said you should go to their classes. I called the local number and we were duly booked onto a set of classes at a local teacher’s house.
A few weeks later, we sat outside said house; too nervous to get out of the car until we saw a pregnant woman and her partner get out of their car and knock on the door.
Our teacher was warm and welcoming and I was in awe to meet other women who were about to embark on the same journey as we were. As the weeks went on, we learned lots and enjoyed getting to know the other couples.
Even back then – at no point did anyone from NCT tell us what we should do or how we should do it; then as now it was about helping us to find our own way.
My course had low numbers so we only connected with two couples BUT we also connected to the local branch that warmly welcomed me when our beautiful daughter was born and that’s when it began!
We went to coffee mornings, meet-ups in local cafes and walks in parks. Soon I realised that I wanted to be a part of NCT so I began to attend committee meetings (including my first one when Caitlin was 6 weeks old in a very posh house where she managed to poo through everything she was wearing!), began to host coffee mornings and then began to edit the branch newsletter.
Finally I began my journey to train with NCT in September 2000 and I have never looked back. Over fifteen years later, I have NCT friends who I went to classes with, who I met at coffee mornings, who I trained with, who I went on to assess and now who I work with as a tutor – colleagues and students.
I have met so many amazing people on my journey; I have taught thousands of parents through NCT including reaching diverse parents teaching within the NHS. I have observed approximately 50 teachers and students and worked with dozens of practitioners, with student midwives and even with birth workers from around the world.
Of course we aren’t always perfect but what I can say with complete confidence is that every single one of us wants nothing more than to support parents to be as they move into parenthood. We don’t want people to do what we say; we want them to feel empowered and confident to do it their way, to make choices and to seek support.
All of us love the friendships that form in our classes, the light bulb moments that parents have and feeling that we can in some way help them as they begin parenthood. If you could see how hard students work and strive to be the best they can, how much time practitioners give up to talk to parents outside of class time, to studying to improve their skills and their work; I promise it would inspire you.
So when we are the easy target for the media or for those who misunderstand what we do (more often than not people who have not been on any of our courses), I no longer hurt on my own behalf – been there done that! I do however hurt on behalf of all the wonderful women (and even a fair few men!) who work so hard to be there for parents. We are amazing and we need to shout it from the rooftops!