October 2020 - Food special


Welcome to our final newsletter of 2020. What a year, especially for those new mums, pregnant mummies to be and their families, who’ve had to experience a pregnancy and/or birth so, so different from the norm. I was very lucky that when my daughter was born in August, visiting for an hour a day had just opened up (the day before her birth in fact!) so my husband was able to come and see us (and more importantly, bring doughnuts!). It’s far, far too early to have a newsletter focusing on the C-word (no, the other C-word - Christmas!) so to embrace the longer, darker nights, where we all crave stodge, this edition is going to focus on food - enjoy!


Lessons learned by a new Mum - feeding a newborn - Kim Humphrey


My little girl was born during that really hot week in August. Despite reading all the books (seriously, all of them), attending the NCT course and watching many a YouTube video, we really struggled with breastfeeding - I’d completely underestimated how hard I would find it.


I hadn’t managed to harvest any colostrum in the weeks before the birth. Cassie was born via elective C-section due to being breech and was very, very sleepy. This wasn’t helped by the ridiculously hot weather that we were experiencing throughout her first week. I will never forget the first, surreal night of her life, me in tears, unable to move due to the spinal block, with a merry-go-round of midwives and HCAs pummelling at my boobs whilst I syringed the tiniest glitters of colostrum from them. I was prouder of my first 0.5ml than of my degree! We had to top Cassie up with formula, which I didn’t particularly want, but needs must.


The first few weeks were a haze of appointments at various breastfeeding clinics, as well as Zoom chats with NCT counsellors, and fairly frequent phone calls to the NCT infant feeding helpline. I was determined to exclusively breastfeed her, but she didn’t seem to be getting enough from me, and I kept having to give her formula. She cried and cried, was so unsettled, and I was heartbroken that I couldn’t make my little girl happy. I remember telling my husband how useless I felt, that I couldn’t feed her - surely the most basic of roles a Mummy should have!


Then, about five weeks in, something clicked. I’d just had enough of the nipple pain, the near constant crying (me that is, not Cassie!) and the battle to get her to latch on. I finally accepted that the saying is true - happy mum, happy baby. I decided then and there to stop directly nursing - we’d given it a go, and it just wasn’t for us. I now express milk four times a day, with a little hands-free electric pump, and the rest of the time, give her formula. It wasn’t what I intended for us, but it is working - my baby has piled on the weight, is happy and healthy, and just as importantly, so am I. Rather than being scared that she is unhappy and that I’m letting her down, I can just love and enjoy my little agent of chaos.




NICU and premature birth - Charlotte Meyers


Like many expectant first-time mothers I was so excited for what the coming months would bring. The pregnancy glow, the growing baby bump, shopping for the nursery, NCT classes, maternity leave! All my midwife appointments went like a dream, everything was looking good and baby was doing well. Our 20 week scan revealed that we were having a baby boy and we straight away started calling our bump Theo. Six weeks later I started having lower back pain at work and brushed it off as Braxton Hicks. It continued on and off for two days but on the Saturday morning I soon realised that the pain was worse than before. My mum took me to hospital and within hours our son was born at 26+6 weeks.


Needless to say I was in shock. Theo was whisked away to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) very shortly after being born. I didn’t get to see him for hours after my labour. How could this have happened? Was it something I had done? Why did no one tell me about the possibility of prematurity?


When the NCT were looking for articles to write in their next newsletter I saw this as a great opportunity to share my story. Premature birth can happen to anyone, and I don’t just say that to scare you. No one is sure why I went in to labour so soon so don’t feel like it wouldn’t happen to you too.


Theo spent three months in the NICU at Stoke Mandeville Hospital before coming home in October 2019. The NICU and prematurity was so unexpected and not part of what I had planned for my pregnancy, but if you are also thrown into this situation like me here are some tips to help you get through it:


1. You are not alone! You might feel like it but there are hundreds of thousands of other NICU parents thrust into this new world too. Connect on social media and speak to the other NICU parents around you. I created an Instagram page for this very purpose, you can find us at @nicunatter

2. It’s not just premature babies that need the NICU, full term babies with health needs or medical complications may also need to spend some time there.

3. You are strong enough to do this. Surround yourself with friends and family who will be able to support you through this in different ways.

4. Don’t be afraid to advocate for your baby. You might not be medically trained but you are their parent and you know them best. If something doesn’t feel right, speak up.

5. Lastly, it may not feel like it at times but there is an end in sight and it won’t be long before your baby is at home with you where they should have been all along.



Aylesbury, Risborough and Thame NCT branch extend their thanks to Charlotte for sharing her experience.



Top baby names 2020


As the year draws to a close (and what a year) let’s reflect on the top baby names of 2020. Trends according to the ONS.

Oliver and Olivia remain the most popular names, with traditional names still remaining a popular choice. The success of Peaky Blinders can be seen from name choices - with Ava and Arthur making it into the top ten list!


Top 10 girl names for 2020



1. Olivia

2. Amelia

3. Isla

4. Ava

5. Mia

6. Isabella

7. Sophia

8. Grace

9. Lily

10. Freya

Top 10 boy names for 2020

1. Oliver

2. George

3. Noah

4. Arthur

5. Harry

6. Leo

7. Muhammad

8. Jack

9. Charlie

10. Oscar

Autumn recipes

Where did that summer go? With the weather having turned in the last few weeks, some of committee members share their favourite recipes to enjoy on blustery evenings!

An easy Autumn bean chilli - Kim Humphrey

This is perfect for a quick weeknight dinner - serves two hearty portions and can be made ahead and frozen - good for those with babies on the way!



1 onion

1 chilli

1 packet of fajita seasoning (BBQ ideally)

1 tin of chopped tomatoes

1 tin kidney beans

1 tin butter beans

1 tin sweetcorn

Dark chocolate to taste

Herbs to taste




1. Fry the onion until translucent and add the chilli

2. Add the seasoning packet and mix well

3. Add all of the beans, sweetcorn and tinned tomatoes - mix well

4. Add the chocolate until dissolved and simmer until the flavours have depth

5. Add in the herbs to taste


Serve with rice, pasta or bread. Perfect for dark and cold evenings!


Sausage and Bean Casserole - Liz Brooks


This recipe, adapted from a recipe in the Fast 800 cookbook by Dr Claire Bailey is a hearty, filling meal which even my fussy four year old will eat. Perfect for dark, cold autumn evenings.


Serves 4


1tsp Olive Oil

6 Sausages

1 large onion, peeled and thinly sliced

100g lardons

400g tin of haricot beans (or baked beans if preferred)

400g tin chopped tomatoes

1tsp dried herbs

Heat oil in a non-stick saucepan or medium casserole dish and brown sausages for 5 mins. Remove from pan and set aside for now.

Add onion and lardons to pan and cook for about 5 mins, stirring regularly until golden brown.

Cut sausages in half and return them to the dish. Add beans, tomatoes and herbs. Stir in 150ml water and bring to a gentle simmer. Cover and cook for 18-20 mins, stirring occasionally.

Serve with mashed potato (or cauliflower mash if watching carb intake) and plenty of greens.


Pumpkin Soup - Liz Brooks


A brilliant recipe for Halloween to use up any spare eating pumpkins. Your little monsters will love it!



Serves 4-6

1 x small to medium pumpkin

1 tbsp olive oil

1 red onion

2 carrots

25g butter

850ml veg stock

200ml milk


Preheat oven to 180c.

Cut pumpkin in half and deseed. Cut each half into 4 and brush with half the olive oil. Season with salt and pepper (can leave this out if feeding very little ones) and place flesh side down in roasting tin. Roast in oven for 25 mins.

Sauté carrot and onion in a saucepan over a low heat until soft

Once pumpkin is soft, remove from oven and allow to cool.

Add stock and milk to carrot and onion and gently bring to a simmer.

Remove pumpkin flesh from the skin and cut into chunks. Add to saucepan and cook for 15 mins.

Using a stick blender or food processor, puree until smooth. Spoon into bowls and serve with warm crusty bread


Apple Crumble - Liz Brooks


A classic family pudding, perfect after Sunday lunch. Delicious as it is, but you can add sultanas or blackberries to the fruit mixture if preferred.


Serves 6


300g plain flour

150g Demerara sugar

200g unsalted butter


3-4 bramley apples

50g demerara sugar (this can be left out if you prefer a less sweet filling)

Pinch of cinnamon


Preheat oven to 180c

Place flour and sugar in bowl and mix with cubes of butter. Rub with fingers until it is the consistency of fine breadcrumbs.

Peel and chop apples. Place in a saucepan and simmer for a few mins until softened. Add sugar and cinnamon.

Spoon fruit and into a dish and cover with crumble mixture.

Bake until crumble is browned and fruit bubbles (20-25 mins approx.)

Serve with custard or vanilla ice cream



NCT news


Unfortunately, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, all remaining 2020 Nearly New Sales have been cancelled. We know that this is disappointing for a lot of people but the safety of our volunteers and customers is paramount. Please keep an eye on our social media for updates in 2021 - hopefully we will be up and running again soon.


Forthcoming classes


NCT is well known for its antenatal courses, both for the information shared and the networks set up to support new parents. Traditionally run with face to face contact, our courses have, since the Covid-19 pandemic, been converted to online Zoom formats. The course content is exactly the same, although some things are amended for online facilitation.


Each online course covers a variety of group discussions, smaller group work in breakout rooms, and a social and fun element.

NCT Signature courses also have a dedicated breastfeeding session run by a breastfeeding counsellor.


Find out about our range of classes, including antenatal, baby massage and starting solids at https://www.nct.org.uk/local-activities-meet-ups/region-south-central-e…


Antenatal teachers are in close contact with local midwives to keep up to date with the current maternity guidelines for Covid-19, and can prepare families for their experience with confidence.


Each course now benefits from a private WhatsApp group, set up for support from the practitioners, as well as social opportunities, sharing of resources and general chat with fellow parents and carers to be!



NCT supporting the Hidden Half Campaign


NCT research showed that currently only half of new mothers with a mental health problem receive the treatment they need.

The six-week check is a key opportunity to identify these problems, but many women said their appointment was rushed and some ended up with less than 3 minutes to discuss their own health, often because their six-week check was squeezed in with the baby check.

We believe this can be fixed with some simple and low-cost changes to our health system.

We’re demanding better six week post-natal checkups so that all new mothers with a mental health problem can access the treatment available.

82% of new mothers we surveyed who had been treated for a mental health problem said that the treatment had helped.

Treatment can include counselling, medication, online therapy or peer support. Sometimes, family support under the watchful eye of a GP can be enough to get a woman through. If you are worried about your emotional wellbeing, you should talk to your GP, health visitor or midwife about how you are feeling.

The campaign was driven by NCT’s movement of volunteers, practitioners, staff and members and around 14,000 people supported the campaign online. NCT is grateful to the Royal College of General Practitioners, Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, Royal College of Midwives, Royal College of Psychologists, Maternal Mental Health Alliance and Netmums for their important contributions to the #HiddenHalf campaign.

For more details and to support, please visit https://www.nct.org.uk/get-involved/campaigns/hidden-half-campaign/abou…

Supporting NCT

Is your garage still full of the lockdown clear out? Having a pre-Christmas de-clutter? Did you know you can select to support the NCT when you sell on Ebay?

When you create your Ebay listing there will be an option to 'donate a portion to charity' with a little yellow and blue ribbon next to it. You can choose the percentage of the sale you would like to donate and find 'National Childbirth Trust' in the options – you’ll see our logo too. Then when your item sells, the NCT will receive that donation directly (excluding postage costs).

Alternatively, the branch is always grateful for any donations for our ‘baby bundles’ - collections of goods and clothes that are donated to families in need. If you have any toys, equipment or baby clothes that you would like to donate, please get in touch via our Facebook page.





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