This #myNCTstory comes from Laura Jarman, who I got to know a few years ago when we both joined the course to become assessors of NCT practitioners. Take it away, Laura!

Well, actually this is probably two stories although both start in the same place.  As with many others, NCT classes were recommended to me, in my case by my Mum. I had to travel to the next Branch but being in a city this was only about a 15 minute drive.  We set off in trepidation and excitement on the first evening (me excited, my husband unsure!), were welcomed into the teacher’s home and sat down with 5 other couples. 17 years on I don’t remember specifics from the course, except perhaps to keep walking in labour (which my husband enthusiastically encouraged until the midwife suggested that I was allowed to sit occasionally!), but it left me with 3 things:

  • amazing friends
  • the knowledge that it was my labour, my body, my baby
  • a passion that has developed into a career.

So this is the point where the two stories diverge. In my head it is very separate, incredibly distinct. First my NCT friends, still termed that after all this time.  My children love days during the holidays where my diary just says ‘NCT’. Four families have stayed in touch; we now have 13 children between us (with our seconds closer in age than our firsts!) ranging from 7 to nearly 17. Family days out are less but the other ladies are still my stability.  We try to meet every week for coffee and chat – it is the balm my soul needs, dealing with a job yet still being a ‘stay-at-home’ Mum for my 3 children (aged 16, 14 and nearly 11). We are still sharing the same experiences; still provide a listening ear to each other (and usually a hug) and ideas to help any situation.  My husband says they are ‘my sanity’.

My other story is about me.  It is my story, supported by an amazing organisation that provided an extra dimension to time at home with children and resulted in, hopefully, a practitioner who can help others with their transition to parenthood, with its joys and challenges. My eldest was only 6 months old when I started training as a breastfeeding counsellor.  Those Saturday mornings provided me with an intellectual outlet and helped develop my husband into an amazing hands-on father. As I progressed, the course provided motivation to study, organise my time to write essays and have real ‘me’ time.

After three years I qualified and started supporting parents on their breastfeeding journey, and then after 1 month off, I moved onto my antenatal teacher training (Strop says: this is not the norm for NCT practitioners! It’s a bit more common now to have a dual qualification, but Laura’s dedication was definitely above and beyond the normal at the time). This maintained my academic outlet, provided the continued support of a tutorial group and gave me contact with a second, amazing tutor.

This inspired me – I wanted to be an Antenatal Teacher as well as a Breastfeeding Counsellor, but this was so much more.  I wanted to work towards being an NCT College tutor – a satisfying job, relatively flexible around family needs and providing support, encouragement and guided reflection not only to parents but also to students.  And so it is proving, six months into my first tutor role I am loving the contact with the new, enthusiastic  students who will be supporting parents in the future; it is an honour to support probationers and qualified teachers through our regular assessment process, helping them to continually improve their practise and develop their careers.

It will always remain, though, about meeting and supporting the parents-to-be – my focus and why I am still here. I hope that my groups gain the knowledge that they can make their own decisions on birth, feeding and parenting and meet a supportive group that will be their sanity as ‘my’ NCT group is still my balm in a busy world.