I have a confession to make – I am a member of NCT (aka National Childbirth Trust). I have been a member for nearly 24 years (since Firstborn Son was just a few months old) and, to add to my sins, I have been a qualified antenatal practitioner for NCT for nearly 16 years and a staff member for three years.

I am writing this post because I am fed up with reading newspaper articles and comments where the writers think it is acceptable to be absolutely bloody horrible about NCT members and practitioners. I’m sorry to hear that some people haven’t benefitted from their NCT encounters, but I did and I know I’m not the only one. I am eternally indebted to the members of my local branch who gave me friendship when I felt I had no friends, who held my hand when I broke down in tears about Firstborn’s sleep issues, who lent me books from the branch library (it was 1993 – pre-internet), and celebrated so many mothering milestones with me; to the practitioners who came to my house and helped me get to grips with breastfeeding (all for free, btw, and knowing an awful lot more about infant feeding than my GP did); to my NCT tutor who was endlessly supportive as I slogged through my practitioner training and worked out how to be the person and mother I wanted to be; and to my fellow practitioners for being inspirational women who demonstrated so many ways to combine fulfilling work and motherhood.

I’m sorry if, on my NCT journey, I’ve ever said or done anything to anyone that makes them feel bad about their birth or parenting experiences (some conversations I’ve had are burnt into my brain and come back to haunt me at low moments) but I know I’m not a bad person and I’ve learnt and developed as a result of those encounters. I’ve also been on the receiving end of uncalled-for, tactless  and, sometimes, just plain wrong remarks from healthcare professionals and other parents; age, experience and my NCT training have taught me when to roll with the punches and when to take an effective stand. Also to recognise that sometimes the offender is just having a particularly bad day/ week/ month/ year and could do with some emotional support themselves!

Get this: NCT is not an overbearing organisation intent on world domination. Its growth over the last 60 years has been primarily volunteer-led. That’s women, pregnant and/ or with young children, deciding there needs to be more support available to help them achieve their birth and parenting goals and GETTING OUT THERE AND DOING IT. Their goals may not be your goals, but that’s not the point.

I will never be able to repay NCT members for all that they have done for me and my sons.

What’s your NCT story?