Mrs M, Freya And NCTBy Rhona Maxwell 10th October 2015
Having never taken much notice of what goes on in the world of babies and parenting until I suddenly found myself a part of it 7 months ago, I was oblivious to what organisations like the NCT do.
Surprisingly then, I found out that The National Childbirth Trust (or NCT) is a charity which has been around for over 50 years. In short, they aim to ensure parents-to-be and new parents feel supported, informed and confident. Their motto of being there for ‘The First 1000 days’ is vitally important as it is now accepted by child health experts worldwide that care given during the first 1000 days has more influence on a child’s future than any other time in their life. The First 1,000 Days basically start with your pregnancy and run through to your child’s second birthday.
As any new parent knows, it is also within this time frame that they will be faced with some of their most challenging moments, dilemmas and decisions (AKA meltdowns and borderline madness that will affect even the most confident women and men when left in charge of a tiny baby).
It makes sense then that the NCT have local branches dedicated to supporting parents through this journey and there are currently 300 branches on hand to help with community support. These have evolved hugely through the years and the support NCT give is made possible thanks to the dedication of 15,000 volunteers who organise a wide range of social activities and events to enable local parents to meet and access support. Find your local branch. (Kristy link is https://www.nct.org.uk/branches
I went to check out my local Perthshire branch to find out what sort thing goes on across the country.
The Perthshire branch of the NCT has been going for some time but was recently given a new lease of life under the voluntary co-ordination of Vicki Leaver- a local girl with a heart of gold who in just a few short months in post has gone full steam ahead with developing and promoting the service. Vicki became a mum to daughter Lily 18 months ago and discovered that a lot had changed since having her eldest Dylan who is now 13.
She knew what kind of support she wanted but it just wasn’t available locally; most of what she found was targeted at toddlers or older. Cut to Vicki and one late night email to NCT headquarters and a lot has changed in the 8 months since!
Vicki and the other volunteers who run the local branch will often work in partnership with other organisations. So here in Perthshire we have buggy walks in conjunction with Live Active Leisure which are run from Bell’s Sports Centre (these will be swapped for free indoor workouts through the winter if the weather is rubbish). There will be something similar in your area; I know that Lou was always out exercising in the parks in and around Hackney after Skye was born. I've done a few Baby Walks with Freya now and it’s a great opportunity to meet new mums and get out and about for fresh air and a blether with other grown-ups. (And it tires them out as you can see!)
That's the great thing about these groups - you are supported while meeting people in exactly the same situation as you are. There are also Baby First Aid courses run by the British Red Cross (done that too – it was brilliant for a control freak like me!), and breastfeeding support groups or ‘boob group’ as it’s affectionately known run through NHS Tayside. Just last weekend Perthshire held one of the NCT’s famous ‘Nearly New Sales’ at Bells Sports Centre, with the next one anticipated in April.
Vicki is incredibly passionate about the work the NCT does and in particular their efforts to ‘normalise’ breastfeeding again. She pioneered the incredibly successful ‘Tea For Two” campaign earlier this year in conjunction with National Breastfeeding Week where local café’s offered nursing mums free hot drinks, with some even going the extra mile and offering scones, ice cream…you name it! And as someone who no longer breastfeeds I think it’s important to point out that that the NCT do not in any way shun or judge bottle feeding parents; I know this can be a worry of mine.
Throughout the country you will find coffee meetings, buggy walks, nearly new sales, breastfeeding clubs and fantastic ante-natal and post-natal clubs. Check out the website to find out what’s happening near you – it’s well worth a look.
Let us know what’s going on in your area – if you’d like to write a blog about your local group we’d love to share it here.
Mrs M & Freya X
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