The NCT (survivors) group

Without doubt, the best part of the NCT class we optimistically signed up for was meeting a group of similar about-to-be mums and dads.

No matter how many lovely family and friends you are lucky enough to be surrounded by, all offering advice and second-hand stuff (very gratefully received indeed), there is no substitute for going through an experience alongside someone else, or several other people.

All of your friends who have already had babies (and if, like me, you’re one of the last of your friends to actually embark on having a little person, there are lots of them) now tend to view the whole experience in a post-birth glow.

All tips and advice are hugely welcome, but sharing graphic 2am WhatsApp messages in the weeks following birth was a life-saver.

The actual NCT class, was (occasionally) helpful in taking us through our choices in labour for birthing options and the importance of breastfeeding etc. All very useful, if slightly horrifying for our partners at times. The team building exercises alone elicited, sometimes audible, sighs and brought back vivid (and rightfully suppressed) memories of work away day horrors.

You will learn more about pain relief options during labour than you will ever need (or remember), and you will – ha, ha, ha, hilariously – change a fake baby’s nappy containing pesto that’s meant to resemble an infant’s poo. Happily, we do still love pesto with our pasta. But I don’t think I’ll ever feel the same about a tub of Dairylea (other NCT survivors will know what I mean…).

“And it didn’t even include lunch!” was the oft-repeated refrain from the husbands in the group…

Of course it’s very reassuring and important to embark on your labour with as much information as possible. But, however much you know about the difference between gas and air and an epidural, once you’re actually ensconced at the hospital you are surrounded by people whose sole purpose is to look after you and your little one, once he arrives.

Yes, you can have a very carefully thought through and typed out (possibly even laminated) birth plan, but much, if not all, of that will probably go out the window for a variety of reasons.

And you will be fine.

Whether you do manage to have a water birth or end up with an emergency caesarean. You will be fine. Because of all those people whose sole purpose is to look after you and your baby.

Side note: if you forget the rosewater face spray that’s on your hospital bag list, you will also be fine. Believe me, you won’t even notice its not there!

But at the NCT classes (in my experience anyway) you will learn little else about the realities of looking after a baby. An actual baby that is living and breathing and lying there looking at you expectantly. And then starts to cry real tears….

And that’s the bit that’s missing. There are lots of books with theories and lists and routines and sleeping habits and weaning recipes to follow, but there’s no class to prepare you for the post labour experience.  And those many, many books tend to talk in a happy, clappy super optimistic way. Like it’s a given your little man will be napping regularly for a couple of hours several times a day. Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha!

EXPECT THE UNEXPECTED AFTER YOU’RE FINISHED EXPECTING.

That should be the finishing line of every antenatal class ever given, ever… 

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