Welcome to the Summer 2020 edition of the Aylesbury, Risborough, Thame and District NCT newsletter. What a year it’s been so far! We were lucky in March (pre-lockdown) to be able to hold our Nearly New Sale at The Grange School in Aylesbury, where local parents and parents-to-be could pick up some fantastic quality bargains.
The lockdown saw our Antenatal Courses go online to be delivered via Zoom video calls, ensuring that expectant parents learned about aspects of labour, birth and the practicalities of life as new parents. As a ‘new normal’ emerges, we hope to return to more in-person courses and events soon – keep an eye out for announcements.
We’ve had a number of committee changes in recent months – read on to find out about their roles and how they are working to support the branch. As ever, we welcome new volunteers, both for committee positions and for those who can support with the set up and running of the Nearly New Sales.
As we hope to grow the newsletter, we would also welcome any submissions from our members – all topics considered! If you would like to get involved, please email our branch coordinator, Sarah (firstname.lastname@example.org). We hope that all our members and families are safe and well - please do get in touch or have a look at our website or social media channels for help and support over the first 1000 days.
Meet the Team
Name: Sarah – Acting Branch Coordinator and Treasurer
I love volunteering with the NCT as I get to meet and work alongside wonderful people from all walks of life, some of whom have become good friends. Volunteering with the NCT boosted my confidence after having children and allowed me to do something for me. I love that volunteering is flexible around work and family life and I can bring my family to the NCT events. There is also the added bonus of being able to shop the Nearly New Sales first before the volunteers and NCT Members.
Kim – Newsletter Coordinator
I joined the NCT in May 2020 prior to the start of the June online Antenatal Course. My little girl (First time Mum) is due in August at Stoke Mandeville Hospital – having benefitted greatly from the Nearly New Sale in March, I wanted to get involved to support the branch and ensure that my friends (and I!) could benefit from the meet-ups, courses and local events on offer. I teach at a local secondary school. Having written throughout university and dabbled in journalism, I was keen to take the opportunity of Newsletter Coordinator. I’d encourage any member to get involved with the committee – it isn’t too demanding in terms of workload, and is really rewarding.
Melissa – Committee member
Hi, My name is Melissa Small. I'm a mum to Amelia (5) and James (2). I am a full time teacher at a special needs secondary school and I love my job very much. I joined the NCT because I really believe in the sales being of benefit to so many people. When you are a new mum you dont realise how many things are on the market, what you need or how expensive to buy. I've always enjoyed getting a bargain and selling on what I don’t need anymore so someone else can benefit.
Elodie – First Aid Coordinator, Website Editor, Parent Support Coordinator
My name is Elodie and I have been a registered Nurse for over 10 years, I currently work full time as a Senior Clinical Advisor at NHS 111. I have two children, 2 year old son and 4 year old daughter. I started volunteering in the NCT Aylesbury branch almost 2 years ago. My role is First Aid Coordinator, website Editor, Parent Support Coordinator. I decided to volunteer as I was new to the area and always found the NCT helpful when I had my daughter.
Emma – Antenatal Teacher
I’m a little unusual because I have stayed involved with the local branch for much longer than most would have because I lead the antenatal classes for the local area.
I joined the committee after the birth of my first baby back in 1992. I had done NCT classes and with another mum from those classes, we joined the committee together. I have had many roles over the years including Branch Coordinator, Newsletter Editor and Bookings and Information Secretary and been part of the social events team. I have helped at nearly every Nearly New Sale the branch has organised since 1993! I love the sales and actually try not to book anything else on the same day if I can so I can still help out, even now. My 4 (now grown up) children come to help at the sales too nowadays.
I have made amazing friends over the years and loved my volunteering role. Meeting once a month to chat ideas over and help organise events was always fun and even though I do not make it to as many meetings as I would like anymore, I still believe in the local branch and I am happy to help as much as I can.
Nicki – Publicity coordinator
I have been a member of the NCT for over six years and earlier this year I decided to join the Aylesbury committee. I wanted to do more to support a brilliant charity and share my publicity skills. I am a freelance PR working with theatres and local businesses based near Buckingham. My role on the committee will be to promote the Nearly New Sales in local press, social media etc, plus help organise and run the sale days. Volunteering is great fun, plus it can fit easily around your home and work life. Why not join the team?!
Dawn – committee member
My name is Dawn and I am a mum of two little girls aged 2 and 3. I am currently working full time as well as studying for a diploma in health and social care as part of my career change into healthcare. I have attended the nearly new sales since I was pregnant with my first child and immediately saw how popular they were and how valuable they are for families. I started volunteering a year ago after hearing that increased volunteers were required to keep the sale going and I enjoyed myself so much I decided to join the committee. I have no specific NCT role currently due to my other commitments but will be helping organise nearly new sales.
Reflection on remote antenatal classes - Kim Humphrey
I fell pregnant with my first child in November 2019. Being a thirty-something, many my friends have recently joined the ‘new parent’ club. Two pieces of advice that they passed on – buy a Tommee Tippee prep machine, and do NCT classes! We were lucky enough to get to the Baby Show in February (I distinctly remember rolling my eyes at the amount of hand-sanitiser available, and the one or two people wearing face masks – oh how times have changed!) and bought the hallowed prep machine and signed up for the Signature Antenatal Course as soon as the 12 week scan confirmed everything was well. Having completely overwhelmed myself by reading multiple parenting and baby books, I was looking forward to some plain, down to earth advice about how to ‘baby’ as well as meeting a local support network of new mums – hopefully some friends for me and my little one.
As the Covid crisis began to dominate the headlines, and the country locked down in March, it became evident that ‘normality’ as we knew it was no longer and face-to-face courses and events would have to change or be cancelled. Sure enough, a few weeks later, we received an email that our NCT course would be moving online. I was so disappointed – I’d been counting down the weeks to it starting. However, my disappointment was short-lived. Our course leader, Emma, set up a WhatsApp group so we could message and break the ice and we had a quick meet-and-greet via Zoom before the first session. Within ten days, we were regularly messaging each other and had set up a Mums Zoom chat. It felt a bit awkward at the start – a bit like online dating and of course, over video, there’s the usual lagging and talking-over-each-other, but I couldn’t fault the organisation and structure of the course. Emma put us into breakout rooms each session so we had the opportunity to talk to other couples in a more natural way. Course information was shared in a clear and concise way over PowerPoint (the images of different placentas will forever be burned into my mind) and we had plenty of time to ask questions.
I honestly don’t feel that I’ve missed out by having remote antenatal classes – thanks to the wonders of modern technology and Emma’s organisation and well-resourced sessions, I’ve made some new friends and have the support network that I’d hoped for, as well as feeling prepared for labour and the early days of parenthood (well, as prepared as I am going to be, prior to the real life shock of having a newborn to keep alive!) As a bonus, remote classes meant my husband and I could attend in our comfy clothes (not that I wore anything other than comfy clothes from about 12 weeks in!) and didn’t have to worry about rushing out after a hurried dinner! Yes, online chats are never going to replace real-life interaction, but I feel grateful to have had the opportunity to learn from the NCT and meet other new parents.
What do I need in my hospital/birth bag? Emma Phillips Harrington
As you get nearer to your due date, you start to think about packing your bag for birth ready to take to the hospital. It may be useful to pack a bag even if you are planning a home birth just in case you need to be transferred in. By having your bag ready may save panicking later.
It is up to you when you pack the bag as some like to be very organised and will have it packed very early but I find most wait until nearer their due date, maybe around week 35 onwards. Or some even wait until they have gone onto maternity leave. There is nothing wrong in buying bits and gathering them together but not packing till nearer the birth. Completely up to you.
Below are some ideas for your bag for the birth and hospital stay. This is only a guide; you can take in more or less. But understand that you are not packing for a two-week holiday! You can always ask for someone to bring in more things and take away dirty stuff for washing if you do end up staying in longer after the birth than you thought.
If you have a straightforward birth, especially on birth centre, you could be out very quickly, within a few hours of the birth. Or you may go up onto the ward about 2 hours after the birth and spend some time there before going home. You will only need to stay one or more nights if there is a reason to stay for either mum or baby, maybe a health concern that needs monitoring post birth or possibly baby being in NICU. Sometimes you will know you have to stay as it will have been discussed beforehand with your doctor/midwife.
If you have a caesarean you will definitely be in for one night and maybe two, it will depend on how you are after the birth. Again, you will only need to stay longer if there is a reason to stay for either mum or baby.
If you are planning a home birth, your midwife will let you know what extra items you may need to have ready at home, otherwise you will find it is pretty much the same as the list below. The only extra items you may need to think about is a tarpaulin or plastic sheet, which can save your carpets, sofa or bed, depending on where you plan to give birth in your house. Plus, a pile of towels (not your best ones) for the birth. The midwife will bring other items with them when they attend the birth.
Ideas for your birth bag
THINGS FOR THE BIRTH –
Massage oil (if you wish to massage)
Lip salve – lips can get very dry especially if using gas & air
Glasses (you may want to remove contact lenses if you wear them)
Couple of pillows from home
Food & drink – for both mum and birth partner
Hair band/clips (if hair is long)
Maternity and breast pads
Socks – feet can get cold during birth
Water spray (although a face cloth works well too)
Clean nightie, bra, pants for after birth
Loose T-shirt or nightie to wear for the birth
Bikini top for birth pool – not everyone wants to be naked
TENS machine – you will put on early while at home but have ready
Small battery or USB speakers to play music in the room
and lastly, your maternity notes – if you forget these someone will be sent home to get them!
Most units have birth balls so you probably won’t need to take yours in with you if you have been using one at home.
After the birth, baby will need -
Sleepsuit (baby grow)
Birth Partner may like to pack some things too -
Food & drink for them
T-shirt in case it’s hot or even a change of clothes
Phone & charger
FOR A HOSPITAL STAY -
Nightie or PJs
Flip flops for the shower
Light dressing gown
A few breast pads
Plenty of large knickers (cheap cotton)
Pack of Maternity sanitary towels
Maybe some snacks
Clothes for when you go home
While in hospital, baby will need -
One pack newborn size nappies
Cotton wool/cloth wipes (recommended over any baby wipes)
Couple of muslin squares
Going home outfit
A car seat for going home which partner will bring in when ready to go home
Most units across the UK no longer provide formula milk, including Stoke Mandeville hospital. If you are choosing not to breastfeed you will need to take formula milk with you if you are planning on bottle-feeding from the beginning. You can get starter kit boxes in supermarkets, which have ready made formula in little bottles with disposable teats included and are completely ready to use, no mixing needed. Hospitals do not have the facilities on postnatal wards to make up formula from powdered milk with sterlising equipment etc, so you really will need the ready-made little bottles to start off with.
All units will have breastfeeding support on hand so if you are planning/hoping to breastfeed, then you do not need the starter kit. Some people will chose to take some in though just in case.
7 Reasons to Volunteer with the NCT – Sarah Smith
As the Coronavirus lockdown restrictions continues to be lifted, the kids are slowly returning to school and so you might have a bit more time on your hands. Volunteering with your local NCT branch could be just the thing you need to keep you busy, make new friends, give back to the community and brush up your CV. There is a volunteer role for everyone, varying from Event Coordinator, committee member to general Nearly New Sales volunteer. The best bit - volunteering fits around your lifestyle and is family friendly.
Here are seven reasons why you should consider volunteering with the Aylesbury, Risborough and Thame NCT:
1. Do something for you
As a parent, you spend most of your time looking after others, so now’s your chance to do something for you!
2. Boost your confidence
Getting out of the house and doing something productive is one of the best ways to build your self-esteem and confidence. We all know that parenthood can be lonely at times, but volunteering can help you get out, meet new people, and build friendships.
So many volunteers and parents have said they formed amazing, strong bonds with the people they met through NCT.
3. Learn something new and share your own experience
One of the best things about being part of NCT is the knowledge sharing and culture of support. By chatting to other parents and volunteers, you might just learn a great tip on combatting a fussy eater, how to establish easier bedtime routines or even the name of an excellent stain remover that works wonders on baby sick! Maybe you’ll be sharing your own knowledge and expertise with nervous new parents.
4. Give back to your local community
Maybe you’ve attended NCT courses or local meet ups in the past, and now you want to give something back to your local parent community? The time you are able to give, no matter how small, will have a huge impact on local parents, and enables the Aylesbury, Risborough and Thame NCT branch to keep going. By volunteering, you will be directly supporting our charitable aim of making sure that all parents are supported.
5. Bridge CV gaps
Continuing to be proactive in the community, working in a team and on projects or events can help you keep one foot in the world of work. This also means that if you decide to return to a job, it’s less of a shock to the system.
6. Be part of a fantastic team
The Aylesbury, Risborough and Thame NCT Branch is full of incredible people with a broad range of experience and backgrounds. It’s a fantastic way to meet and work with like-minded parents, who share your passion and enthusiasm.
7. Opportunity for family bonding time
Volunteering doesn’t have to be just you – why not help with a Big Push event and bring your whole crew along? Get the kids involved in helping out at a Nearly New Sale, or have fun baking together to create yummy treats that can be sold at the Nearly New Sale. Doing things together can provide you with valuable bonding time, as well as helping kids to understand the important of helping others and team work.
If you would like to join us as a volunteer, please get in touch, either on our social media channels, or via email , email@example.com We look forward to hearing from you!
Looking after our mental health – Nicki Probets
Since lockdown began, for many of us our situations have changed, and our roles and responsibilities have multiplied. We’ve been spending much more time at home - many of us on our own - teaching and entertaining our children whilst attempting to work. Kids can be demanding and challenging on normal days, but now being with them 24/7 it’s extremely overwhelming!
As parents, it’s only natural for us to put our children’s needs first, making it easy for our own priorities to fall to the bottom of the list. It’s more important than ever to find the time to focus on our own wellbeing and needs. As the saying goes ‘You can’t pour from an empty cup. Take care of yourself first’.
As the lockdown gradually eases but with the possibility that local lockdowns may still be put in place, here are our top five tips to help us all be kind to ourselves during these challenging times:
1.) Take it one day at a time - Every day is going to be different, each with its own challenges. Take each day as it comes and think about how you’re going to spend it. Set realistic goals that are achievable for both you and your children. Not only will you have something to keep you busy each day, but you’ll also have something to celebrate when you’ve accomplished it.
2.) Set a routine - Create a routine that feels safe and comfortable to you and your family. For example: keep your normal mealtimes, stick with your weekly exercise class by joining an online session, and instead of a half hour commute to the office change it to a 30-minute walk before you start your day. This is one area you have control over, so do what works for you.
3.) Make time for yourself - Take time out for yourself each day and do whatever it is YOU want to do. Perhaps do some exercise, have a lie down or have a hot cup of coffee. Whatever it is, do it and enjoy every moment.
4.) Keep a to do list - Write down all the things you’d like to achieve, perhaps personally or around the house, then when you feel yourself getting bored, check out your list and pick a task. It’s good to keep busy and great to get those little jobs ticked off! Don’t put pressure on yourself to complete all of your to do list. Now is not the time to be unkind to yourself.
5.) Stay connected - Keeping in touch with our loved ones is so important for our mental health. With the number of channels available to us, we can have more than just a phone call. Video group chats, Zoom quizzes and Facebook Watch Parties are really popular, fun platforms. Why not give them a go?
It’s also really important to know when to switch off too. If you don’t feel like hopping on a group call, then don’t. Do what makes you happy.
Let us know your top tips and how you’ve been taking care of yourself through lockdown.
Children and coping with change – Nicki Probets
Life for our children has changed. Schools are closed for many, their routine is out the window, learning is different, and visiting friends/families has been subject to social distancing measures. This major shift in their social interaction is going to have an impact on them. It is a challenging time for us all.
As parents, we’ve put together five of our own suggestions that might help your children cope with change:
1.) Talk - Share age appropriate information about what is happening. Try not to have the news on all the time or speak about the situation in front of them. You’ll be surprised how much they can absorb without you realising.
2.) Listen - If your child wants to talk about the situation or how they are feeling, listen. Go through their concerns and questions with them honestly and reassure them that it is ok to feel however they feel.
3.) Don’t put pressure on them - This situation is overwhelming enough (even for us adults) so try not to put pressure on your children when it comes to schoolwork, as an example. When things get too much, just take a break or have the afternoon off. School work can wait, but your child’s mental health is so much more important.
4.) Try new things - Take their mind (and yours) off things by trying new games and activities or going on exciting new adventures. Do it as a family so you can learn and experience new things together - that’s the fun part.
5.) Be their safe space - Make them feel safe, secure and loved. Reassure them that everything is ok and that they know you are there for them no matter what.
Let us know your thoughts on how you’ve supported your little ones through this difficult period.
Pregnancy during lockdown – Kim Humphrey
Falling pregnant sometime in November 2019, I had no idea what the following nine months would bring in terms of changes to my body. I had even less of an idea what 2020 would bring to the world – changing our way of life for the forseeable future.
Whispers of a new virus, affecting countries thousands of miles away started growing in early February. Talk of ‘lockdown’, ‘quarantines’ and ‘isolations’, words that are now in every day parlance started creeping in. I confess, at the time, I was more fussed at the thought of events that I’d booked in – including the NCT Nearly New Sale and the Baby Show at the Excel – being cancelled. I look back and feel ashamed at my selfishness. I feel very lucky that both events took place, mere weeks before the country went into lockdown, and the three part mantra of ‘Stay at Home, Protect the NHS, Save Lives’ became ingrained in the public consciousness.
I was very lucky to be supported to work at home from shortly before the lockdown formalised and will continue to do so until my maternity leave starts. This has been a blessing in disguise – as much as I feel fed up on occasion (particularly before the new routine started to establish) it’s been reassuring to feel safe over the last few months. Equally, we’ve saved a lot of money throughout the time!
I confess to feeling a little sad that the NCT classes had to be remote, over Zoom. However, they ran perfectly and both myself and my husband feel as prepared as could be for the imminent birth. I had been looking forward to meeting a support network of local mums-to-be and was concerned that this wouldn’t be the case with sessions being online. However, with the lockdown easing towards mid-June, us NCT Mums arranged to go to a BBQ in Aston Clinton (socially distanced, of course). I needn’t have worried about not having a support network – we bonded quickly, perhaps even more so than we would have done in ‘normal’ times, as we had the shared concerns of visitor restrictions in hospital, quandries over introducing new arrivals to grandparents in times of social distancing and making large purchases online with little capacity to test (Online4baby, Babycentre, PatPat…which to go with!)
I try not to allow myself to feel too bereft as a result of lockdown. I’d been looking forward to pregnancy yoga, a maternity photoshoot and having a baby shower, as well as sharing my pregnancy ‘journey’ with family and friends – it took me a long time to accept that these weren’t going to happen in any traditional way. My lounge has become a yoga studio for 30 minutes most mornings (much to the confusion of the cat) and baby events had to move online. It’s been a difficult third trimester, with scares over my little one’s growth, resulting in extra scans and appointments which I had to attend on my own, in a mask, in addition to regular midwife appointments moving to over the phone. Checking the hospital’s antenatal page and the Bucks MVP Facebook has become part of the routine – looking to see if any restrictions would be lifted. A few weeks ago, at a growth scan, it was revealed that my baby was in breech and the possibility of a c-section was mooted. This terrified me – not just the thought of the procedure, but the thought that my husband would be sent home and I’d be left in a strange environment, sore and battered, with a helpless, tiny human depending on me.
Yet, it could have been so much worse. I feel very grateful that my baby is going to arrive when most of the restrictions have been lifted – we can take her to Whipsnade for her first day out, both sets of grandparents can visit and, most importantly, my husband, baby and I can eventually meet friends in the pub! A friend of mine gave birth the week after lockdown came into force – grandparents couldn’t hold her for several weeks, baby and Mum groups were moved online, and lovely maternity activities, such as swimming classes were cancelled. Everyone faced challenges during this time – job losses, wedding postponement, bereavement, home schooling toddlers and young children (and teenagers) to name but a few so I try not to ‘wallow’ in thoughts of what might have been. I even had a virtual baby shower over Zoom, which was the most wonderful surprise.
The pandemic is going to feature heavily in history books in years to come – it is a possibility that babies of 2020 will be studying it when they get to secondary school, just as how this generation of first-time Mums would have likely studied the Cold War. My little one is certainly going to have an interesting piece of history to look back on in a few years when she reads the journal I’ve been writing for her!
Family activities – summer 2020
Many lockdown restrictions have lifted, but life as we know it still hasn’t returned, and many of us are coming to terms with the ‘new normal’. Baby and toddler groups show no sign of restarting at the time of writing – parents are facing the prospect of six long summer weeks. So how to fill the time? Luckily, our very own NHS has some fabulous ideas for keeping little ones (and slightly older ones) active. Have a look at https://www.nhs.uk/change4life/activities for inspiration. Have fun!
Stoke Mandeville hospital visiting policy
At the time of writing (15/7/2020) visiting inpatient wards at Stoke Mandeville hospital is still suspended. No visitors are allowed to outpatient antenatal, scan or postnatal appointments. One named birthing partner is allowed in with a woman in labour for the duration of labour and birth, or planned c-section. No visitors are allowed to maternity triage, antenatal or postnatal wards. There are exceptions if you are under 16, have a learning disability or autism, or are experiencing a pregnancy loss – please check with your midwife for exceptional circumstances. For up to date information, check on the Bucks Healthcare NHS website, the Bucks MVP website, or Bucks MVP Facebook page.