Did you take an NCT antenatal class? This weekend we were having lunch at the pub and at the next table was an NCT group on their first post-baby reunion.
It was obviously an NCT group. There was a lot of handshaking, hugging and barely contained hysteria. All the babies were tiny, new and being clutched slightly too tightly by the glazed-eyed dads and happy / manic-looking mums. There was a line of sparkly, mud-free prams, no-one had a clue how to fold them. One of the mums freaked out about getting hers up two steps because ‘There’s no ramp, what do I do?’ There was a small ruckus every time a baby cried, and much respectful eye averting every time someone got a boob out. It was awkward, sweet and lovely, and I was both very glad it wasn’t us and also weirdly nostalgic for the time when it was.
Often billed as an expensive introduction service, we took an NCT pre-childbirth course because we wanted to make friends with other pregnant couples, obviously, but also because were pretty clueless about babies.
While we got lucky with our group and still see them all the time now, for parties and play dates and wine, we did also cover a reasonable amount of valuable baby info (breastfeeding a doll upside down, looking at photos of a placenta and simulating labour while bouncing on a ball aside).
But thinking back to that time, and watching the group in the pub, it struck me that while NCT does a good job of telling you some things, there’s a whole load that’s missed out, about birth to babies and far beyond, much further down the line.
So here’s 25 things they won’t tell you about in NCT classes, but probably should:
- No matter how many courses you take or books you read, nothing prepares you for that first moment when it’s just the two of you and the baby at home, and you look at each other to say ‘now what?’
- The hormonal horrors of Day Three
- How to fold your freakishly expensive pram
- The post-baby night sweats (no-one ever mentions those! Why?)
- That this is real
- And all these
- How to function on no sleep…
- …and that despite no sleep you will still function. Honestly
- That at some point you’ll probably cry about how much you love your baby, or because you’ve run out of biscuits, or both (see 3)
- How despite taking multiple exams, getting a degree and climbing the dizzy heights of the career ladder, cutting your tiny precious baby’s nails will be the most stressful thing you’ve ever done
- All that lovely thick pregnancy hair? It’ll fall out and you’ll be left with a halo of uncontrollable re-growth
- How the only topic in baby groups from months and months after is giving birth, which you’ll discuss time and time again
- How easily you’ll talk about the state of your post-baby vagina after a bottle* of wine (*glass)
- And just how bad the first post-pregnancy hangover is
- What it’s impossible to do one handed (butter toast) and what it is possible to do one handed (everything else, including using the Calpol syringe, because you’re a wonderwoman)
- That you don’t have to love it all, but there’s an awful lot you will love
- That it really does get easier
- And it can be tricky but also a ridiculous amount of fun
- That birth and the early days are only a tiny percentage of the story, and it’s what comes next that’s the ongoing challenge
- That pretty soon you’ll be applying for schools for your child and be completely floored, because didn’t you just give birth to them and how is this even possible?
- How nothing changes when you have a baby but everything does, from not being able to watch films to relationships and jobs, from never sleeping normally again to looking round every time a baby cries in public and having that jarring feeling when your children aren’t with you, and that having a child really really is like having a piece of your heart outside your body, which is at once both amazing but also frighteningly fragile at times
- At what point you should stop calling your NCT friends NCT friends and just call them friends, because you’ve spent the majority of the last couple of years with them and they know more about you – and your post-birth sex life – than most people
- That it’s OK that you still don’t really know what you’re doing, because everyone else is basically winging it too.