Hello chums. I don’t know how I’m going to get round to writing more blogs in the week when time is elapsing so quickly! The idea was to start with one a week, and build up from there, but before I know it a whole week’s gone by and I haven’t written anything new. Gah! Does anyone have a time turner?
So as I mentioned in my last post, we had NCT classes at the weekend! I don’t quite know exactly what I was expecting, I was hoping it would be a positive experience for the both of us. It had also occurred to me that it might be a mixture of a yoga class inviting us to sit in a circle on the floor and REALLY SHARE our experiences, and a university lecture-style bombardment of information, notes and handouts that we would file away in a dark drawer at home. Spending two 6 hour days with the same group of people also comes with its own set of risks, if you have a wildcard or two in the mix. I was pretty intrigued to know what we were going to learn though, and excited to meet some other parents-to-be in the area too, so on Saturday morning off we trotted to our first class.
We were in a group with 7 other couples, with the NCT instructor (Helen) holding our hands for the weekend. The first order of the day was for her to find out from us what we wanted to learn – considering the course covers pregnancy to labour to post-natal care, there’s a broad range of topics to potentially discuss! There’s so much material out there for expectant parents that you can do a large amount of research yourself – so it was great that Helen asked us for our priorities and focused on those throughout the weekend.
We moved on to a little meet and greet and I was so relieved to find that the group was really nice, plus we all had things in common – similar ages, first time parents, living locally, shared hobbies or careers (one of the ladies even works in beer like me!). I think we all relaxed once we’d sussed each other out a little. And the famous NCT Whatsapp group was put together pretty quickly! I’ve heard from so many friends that having a group chat is a serious lifeline, particularly in the first few months of figuring out how to deal with a newborn. I can imagine it’s incredibly reassuring to send out a message when the baby’s screaming at you at 2am and find out you’re not the only one up.
The rest of our course was split between group activities, some education on the more technical aspects of birth, and group discussions. It was great to see everyone’s approaches to their pregnancy, and how their dynamics with their partners would potentially affect the choices they made. One of the more hilarious (and enlightening) tasks was for the girls and the guys to separately plot out how they saw an average day unfolding when the baby was 3 weeks old, and the men had returned to work after paternity leave (as all the guys in the group were planning to do). It turns out that the dads might be a lot more considerate of the mums than we are towards them…
Ladies’ schedule: Feed every 2 hours, sleep whenever possible, change the baby, try to leave the house for half an hour…and repeat. Maybe try to eat some food? Give the baby to its dad when he comes home so you can have a break. Have a glass of wine and a chat. Then bed.
Gents’ schedule: Feed the baby in the night (probably every 2 hours), change it etc, let the mum have breakfast before heading off to work, call to check in every 2 hours, come back from work with dinner and a bunch of flowers, let the mum put her feet up for a bit, eat dinner and have a chat and then head to bed.
Flowers? Phone calls? How nice! Seriously though, one of the big points that came out of the course was that the guys need as much care and support as the girls do – parenting comes with its challenges on both sides of the coin, and I can see that if you’re both sleep deprived and trying to figure out what the hell you’re doing, you need to have each other’s back and find a way to parent that works for both of you. I know Charles has found that people naturally ask him “How’s Nat doing?” – but it’s a pretty life changing deal for him as well.
Re: labour – the most important thing I learnt there was that you ALWAYS have a choice over what treatment you have, and that you have a right to ask your midwife/doctor/consultant/obstetrician to explain the benefits, risks and implications of any course of treatment they recommend before they proceed. There are so many options (birthing suite vs labourward, epidural vs gas and air, and everything in between), and it sounds like it’s pretty hard to think clearly about what you do and don’t want when you’re in the middle of labour, so it’s definitely a good idea to educate yourself about your options and what they entail beforehand! It’s also a good idea to practise breathing & birthing positions that open up your pelvis, FYI.
The overriding message of the course was that there isn’t one specific way to deal with pregnancy, labour or raising a baby, which was really comforting and refreshing to hear. It’s so easy to second guess yourself when your gut instinct is contradicted by a person, or an article, or a book, telling you with authority that you MUST behave in a particular way regarding your own body or your own child. But as we are heading towards a really challenging time in our lives, I want us to feel empowered and confident in our choices and actions – which is exactly what our instructor encouraged us to do. She told us that your own common sense and knowledge based on facts, rather than opinions, are invaluable tools in this whole baby process – and it really rang true for both Charles and I. We were so surprised at how much more confident we felt when we left the second session, compared to when we walked in. Bring on the birth!
Hope you are all feeling equally buoyant and empowered!