When I was pregnant, all the other members of Drama and Music were also pregnant. Four of us in total. There were a lot of comments about not sitting on chairs in Performing Arts and started a creche in the office! Two of them, the two music teachers, both had signed up to the NCT Antenatal classes and were very complimentary about them so I decided to look into it.
The NCT is a charity and its aim is to support parents through various means. The NCT courses are design to give you information about childbirth and looking after your baby. We did six sessions, mainly on a Wednesday night for three hours and one saturday session which was four hours. We also attended a breastfeeding session on a Thursday. My husband came with me and there were six other couple apart from us. The sessions were friendly and informal. A lot of discussion and not a lot of cheesy activities which I was glad of.
The main thing that I got out of the NCT Antenatal Classes was the support network. I met six couples and I am still in contact with them all. Five of the ladies I meet with weekly. We have a Whatsapp group which has been set up from the beginning and in those early months, when your awake throughout the night and your husband is snoring next to you, that group makes you feel less alone. I can’t begin to explain how amazing it is to have like minded people going through the same thing as you at the same time. Now, thanks to the classes and our NCT Bumps and Babies group, there are eight of us that meet regularly (not always all of us at the same time) and the Whatsapp group still runs and has conversations on it everyday. I have gained seven friends and my little boy has gained seven little friends! There is just over six weeks between the oldest and the youngest baby in our group and we have been able to advise each other, ask questions, support each other, have a rant when we need to and celebrate the good times. I honestly do not know what I would have done for the last ten months without these ladies. If it hadn’t been for them, maternity leave would have been a very lonely time for me. As much as it’s lovely to be off work and spending time with your baby, adult interaction is needed and a whole day in the house with your baby can seem like a lifetime. I remember I had only know one of the ladies a few weeks when I went round to her house after she had given birth to her lovely baby boy and she asked me to look at her nipple as it was sore from breastfeeding! Ha ha! It’s safe to say that no topic is off limits in our group! Weekly, there is only so much you can do with a young baby when they aren’t in any “routine” as such and they don’t really “play”. This sometimes still stands now and only a few weeks ago I had a day where I had no plans – a rarity as i’m usually at someones house or a group or I have people at my house – by the afternoon I was going stir crazy and my little boy was also agitated and grouchy. I ended up having a little trip to the shops to get us out despite me not needing anything and it got me thinking about how different my maternity leave would have been if I didn’t have these lovely ladies to spend my days with. How lonely, isolated and bored I would have been. Don’t get me wrong, I love my son and it would have been wonderful being with him everyday but we both would have gone mad unless I had found groups and things to go to.
I didn’t get it, when other mums said that motherhood and maternity leave made them feel isolated, but then I realised the reason I had never felt this was because I had my NCT buddies, as well as my colleagues (who were on mat leave for the first six months of my leave) meaning I had plenty of people to meet up with and do groups, walks etc with.
So if I had one piece of advice for a first time mum-to-be, it would definitely be “sign up to NCT antenatal classes”. They are quite expensive, but in my eyes, the support next work you receive is priceless.