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Editors Welcome

It’s that time of year again! We are gearing up for the much anticipated NCT Nearly New Sale, full details on the NCT Facebook page. If you would like to volunteer at the event please get in touch. The NCT “Nearly New Sale”is very different from most baby markets. If you’ve ever wondered exactly how it works, this issue features an article detailing the accounts of the sale from the point of view of a buyer, a seller, and branch co-ordinator. Our regular feature, “What I Wish I Knew”, is all about postpartum bodies. Our Facebook group members didn’t hold back – this is one of the most open and honest “WIWIK” articles to date revealing the truth about your postpartum body, not just the challenges but the beauty as well.

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There have been a few changes on the Editing Team since last issue. We have said good bye to Vidya and we would like to take this opportunity to thank her for her contribution over the past year. We now welcome Cristabel to the team. Cristabel has written an excellent article on Easter activities for you to enjoy. If you would like to join our team please do email us, as we are looking to recruit. You may notice our “Diary of a Dad” article missing this issue, as we are also currently on the lookout for a new dad. If you or anyone you know is interested in writing for us please do get in touch – email newsletter.reading@nct.org.uk.

In other news the NCT have introduced a new “Early Days” Postnatal Course, details below: 

NCT Early Days Postnatal Courses

HELPING YOU ADJUST TO THE REALITY OF PARENTHOOD  

Lots of people have heard of NCT Antenatal Classes but what about after the baby is born? What then?

An NCT Early Days postnatal course is a great way to meet other local mums, gain confidence and develop friendships now that your baby has arrived. Discussion topics range from how you are handling the upheaval of becoming a parent; coping with conflicting advice; feelings about feeding your baby; your changed body; your relationships; strategies for dealing with sleep deprivation, baby development and milestones or calming and nurturing your baby and managing life after maternity leave.  

The 5 week long course gives you the opportunity to explore all these challenges and changes in a small group of a maximum of 8 mums, facilitated by a local experienced NCT Postnatal Practitioner.  

Mothers on the course have said:

“It exceeded my expectations. I felt more and more confident each week having discussed ideas and issues.”  

“It was great meeting with other mums, discussing challenges and thinking about things from the dads’ perspective.”  

Courses run throughout the year on Tuesdays from 12.30pm-3pm, held in The Weller Centre, in Caversham Marina. If you’d like to book on please contact the Parent Services Administrator on 0208 752 9131 or email: bookings5s@nct.org.uk 

If you would like to be involved in volunteering at such events, or would like to get more involved with the NCT, there are currently several exciting vacancies within our branch. Please get in touch if you are interested in joining the fun and helping out in any capacity: branch.reading@nct.org.uk

Claire, Louisa and Cristabel  
The Editors

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What I Wish I Knew...

We asked you to tell us all about your post birth bodies and what you wish you had known. The one stand out thing for me was bleeding after a C-section. I thought if you had a C-section you wouldn’t bleed afterwards. I think I assumed they’d take everything out while they were there!? Reading through your comments it was nice to see I wasn’t alone. In the first few weeks I would come out of the shower leaking from both boobs and down under not knowing where to pad up first!! Not to mention the added glamour of trying to hold up my tummy flap to try to dry and air out the scar! Yep. The first few weeks aren’t pretty! I had no idea what a mess I would be! But it does get better.  

Here are the key things that came up: 

  • Breasts 

Flashing, leaking, aching, swelling, feeding, pain, mastitis… 

Whether you breastfeed or not, in the first week after birth your breasts will become engorged, sore and will leak milk. A few days post-partum my boobs resembled bowling balls! They were rock solid, heavy and tender to touch. This usually only lasts a few days, but if you do choose to breastfeed, engorgement, soreness and leaking can, in some cases, continue for months (although for most mums it does calm down quite quickly). Also, for the first 6 months your boobs will be out more than they are in and you may find you inadvertently flash the postman/delivery man/waiter etc! 

Breastfeeding

I have been fortunate not to have suffered mastitis, but it is something that came up several times in the comments thread. [‘Mastitis is a condition which causes a woman's breast tissue to become painful and inflamed. It's most common in breastfeeding women, usually within the first three months after giving birth’ – NHS.UK] It can be very painful and make you feel unwell. If left untreated it can also lead to an abscess which may need to be drained surgically and can cause issues feeding. If you think you might have mastitis the NHS advises you should contact your GP straight away. 

In the first few weeks while you and your baby are working out breastfeeding, there can be a bit of discomfort while you both work out what you are doing. A few people mentioned pain on let down for a few seconds which is completely normal but you shouldn't have any sustained pain or damage to your nipples. Pain in your breasts or nipples could be a sign that something is wrong. It may be a problem with your latch, your baby could be tongue-tied – there are many reasons why you might struggle. The most important thing to remember is: don’t suffer in silence. There is a lot of help available, don’t be afraid to ask. Some simple tips and advice could make a huge difference to your breastfeeding journey. [***see below list of help available]. 

  • Contracting uterus

The next most mentioned thing after breasts was the uterus. Feeling your uterus contracting after birth was a shock to many. Some mums described ‘phantom kicks’, wondering if they’d left a second kid in there! With subsequent births several mums described them as painful, akin to labour contractions even. For some, with every birth the pain gets slightly worse; first time round you may not even notice them. I didn’t notice them after either my first or second birth.  

  • C-Section

There was a lot of feedback about C-sections. So much so that we have decided to dedicate an article to people’s experiences in our next issue. If you would like to write about your experience please email newsletter.reading@nct.org.uk 

The most mentioned with regards to C-sections was recovery. I have had two emergency C-sections and recovery both times was tough. It takes a while to get back on your feet, you will be very sore and there is a risk of infection in the scar. If you think your scar may be infected, ring your GP straight away.

The other thing mentioned a few times was the emotional trauma of a C-section. I remember feeling that I hadn’t actually given birth, someone else had done it for me. Reading through the comments I wasn’t alone in feeling guilt about my birth. Looking back I realise this is silly.

I was adamant I did not want a C-section with both pregnancies but I have two beautiful girls that I am immensely grateful for, they may not have arrived as planned but they arrived safely and ultimately that is all that matters. The procedure was far less daunting in reality both times and vaginal births can result in equally difficult recovery.

baby

  • Physical changes

Hips, tummy and feet were all mentioned.  

It can take a while for your body to return to what it was, that’s if it does. People described saggy, flabby tummies and stubborn belly fat. It will also take time for your hips to move back. After having my first child I got back to my pre-pregnancy weight within 6 months but my pre-pregnancy jeans still wouldn’t fit me. Others described the same issue, taking up to a year for your hips to move back to where they were. Also those swollen feet might not ever completely go back to what they were, a few people explained how they have struggled to get their feet back into their fancy shoes!!

  • Pelvic Floor 

Pelvic floor issues came up several times. I’m sure I’m not alone in nodding along when asked if I have been doing my pelvic floor exercises by the doctors or midwives. When you are pre-occupied with this lovely, squishy and very time-consuming newborn, pelvic floor exercises seem far, far down the list of priorities but they are so important. Some mentioned the lack of pelvic floor control resulting in peeing when trampolining, coughing, vomiting and sometimes sneezing.  

  • Other things mentioned 

Many people mentioned glossy locks in pregnancy followed by hair loss and tufty re-growth after birth! A couple of people mentioned getting a hernia from pregnancy, haemorrhoids, developing skin tags, an injured coccyx from childbirth and frequent hot flushes and night sweats. I’ve woke many a night drenched in milk and sweat. Oh what a beautiful time!  

Both physical and mental recovery is impaired by the lack of sleep. It’s also very easy to forget about your physical and mental wellbeing while you prioritise your baby. Obviously your focus does need to be on the baby but if you are not looking after yourself properly you will not be able to look after your baby to the best of your ability. If you have any concerns about your physical or mental wellbeing, please seek professional advice straight away. 

It is important to note that every woman is different, every pregnancy is different and every recovery is different. Our bodies have been through something huge and quite incredible. Be kind to yourself, don’t rush in to anything, and give yourself time. These quotes from responders were beautiful. They really resonated with me and are a very positive way to round off the article:  

“I've always had bits of how I look that I have been unkind to myself about. My son as a baby was the spitting image of me. Seeing my face reflected back to me in someone I love SO much and think is totally gorgeous has made me feel differently about the way I look.” 

“I was dreading my body being a wreck but I'm the most body confident I've ever been and really feel that my body is amazing and has purpose, and isn't just about aesthetics.”

I have never been ‘body confident’ but since giving birth to my two beautiful girls, I have a new-found love and respect for my body that I feel needs celebrating. I am so grateful I have been able to carry and safely deliver two children.  

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Nearly New Sale

With our next Nearly New Sale fast approaching, we thought it would be helpful for you to read about the experiences of a first-time seller, buyer and coordinator at the last sale. Our Nearly New Sales work quite differently to many of the other “mum and baby markets” out there, so we hope to give you a clearer understanding of what to expect. Having compiled this article, I know I will be at Highdown on the 28 April, not only as a seller, but also as a volunteer and certainly as a buyer too! We hope to see you there, supporting your local NCT branch and finding some excellent bargains to take home with you. 

Seller:

Having decided it was time for a clear-out, I looked around for the best place to sell the overwhelming amount of baby clothes, toys, equipment and sundries that we had acquired, many of which had been barely used. I decided an NCT sale was the way to go, because everything on the day would be done for me and because the commission would go to a charitable cause. Also, I am rubbish at bartering!  

I dutifully registered as a seller and started gathering together the best items I had for sale. After registering, and paying a small fee (£4), the organisers send you a “Seller’s Pack”, filled with helpful hints, rules on what you can/can’t sell and other useful information.  

As each seller is limited to selling 70 “items” of clothing, I had to be somewhat picky and group some clothes into packs (this way I could sell 5 vests or sleepsuits as one item!). I was also able to put a jumperoo, play mat and other large items up for sale, along with smaller toys, books and feeding equipment, helping to clear lots of space in our loft!  

Before the sale, I had to enter the details and prices of every item I was selling onto an online system and then print off labels which had to be securely attached. Although this took a little time, I figured I would have to do something similar for any other sale.  

When it came to the sale, it was ever so simple: I dropped my boxes (labelled with my seller number) off at the venue the evening before, and then collected any unsold things – already sorted back into my boxes - after the sale. I was really pleased to see that most of what I had put up for sale had been rehomed. 

Within a week of the sale, I had the proceeds of the sale in my account (in excess of £100) and my husband and I were able to put these funds towards buying items in the next size up for my two kids. I’ve already registered to sell again at the upcoming event in April! 

Buyer: 

‘I hope you’re ready for sharp-elbowed pregnant women shoving you out the way to get the best stuff!’ 

‘I’ve heard those NCT sales can be a bit of a bun fight...’ 

Just two pieces of advice given to me back in October before my first NCT Nearly New Sale, so it was with slight trepidation I headed towards the school where it was being held. I instantly saw a large queue and thought they were right. However, wait a moment – what’s that? A much shorter queue? How do I get in to that one? Oh, by being an NCT member – JACKPOT! I am one of those! I joined the shorter queue and was granted 15 minutes of browsing time with only a few other people in the hall. I wouldn’t quite describe it as ‘calm’ but there was certainly no pushing and shoving! 

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I managed to get some real bargains: maternity jeans for £8, a couple of tops, and a Dream Genie pillow for a fiver! I was early in my pregnancy so didn’t want to buy too much, but there was loads there for rock-bottom prices. All good quality – a couple of times I saw volunteers remove items that weren’t in good condition, which was reassuring. 

I headed over to pay and it was a remarkably smooth experience; I was able to pay by card, there were plenty of tills and no waiting. Then, on the way out, there was a fantastic selection of cakes and a goody bag! 

I’d definitely recommend Nearly New Sales but my top tip would either be to join the NCT or to turn up really early so you are one of the first in. It did look like it would be really busy later on. I’m looking forward to my next sale which will be after my daughter is born – I can’t wait to see what bargains I can get for her next time! 

Coordinator: 

We have a dedicated and talented organising committee consisting of volunteers who have been helping at the sale for years mixed with some new and enthusiastic folks! 

Step one of planning the sale is the debrief – over dinner! – of the previous sale, where we discuss what went well, lessons learnt and ideas for improvements. From our last sale, it was important for us to apply consistency in quality checking of items prior to sale, and to increase publicity, so we now have a Quality Control Lead and have brought our Advertising Coordinator on board for future sales. 

Step two is a meeting about 3 months before the sale to go through “The Big To Do List” and assign tasks (everything from confirming the venue to recruiting volunteers).  These jobs are ongoing right up until sale day! We chat daily on a WhatsApp group to keep us all up to date on what is happening and deal with the occasional crisis that comes with planning an event. 

The day before the sale we get into the venue and usually need to clear away the previous occupants’ set up before we can start ours! Sellers arrive, dropping off their items, the rails are built, tables laid out and – if we’ve time before the lovely Highdown team have to lock up – we start putting out the goods. 

Then, sale day is finally here and it’s an early start to be waiting at the gates by 8am.  Our amazing army of volunteers start to arrive ready for zone leader briefings at 8:30 and then, whoosh! – everything is laid out, checked and organised.  All volunteers take a short break for breakfast (pastries, yum!) at about 10 and then it’s time for the volunteers’ highlight – pre-sale shopping! This is a great way for the tills team to practise before the general public arrive too. 

nns volunteers

At 11am, the doors open and it’s “Go, go, go!” for everyone, including the sling library, who come along to offer slings as we can’t allow buggies in the hall.  The sale itself feels like it lasts only minutes before it’s 1pm and the doors are closed. Then it’s time for money to be counted and the military operation that is packing down begins.  
Anything that hasn’t sold is placed back into the sellers’ boxes for them to collect by 3pm.  We tidy up, share out any leftover cake, return our equipment to our Big Yellow Storage unit and head home for a well-deserved rest and a glass of wine! 

And the job doesn’t end there. 

During the following week, the seller totals are calculated and entered into the system, checked and authorised for payment. Once all these payments are sent, we know how much money we have raised for the NCT, and this is usually in the region of £1,500.  70% is transferred to NCT head office to help fund initiatives such as #hiddenhalf (the national mental health campaign) and the national helplines. The remaining 30% is ours to spend supporting parents locally; in recent years the sale has helped fund Breastfeeding Peer Supporter training, enabling us to provide Breastfeeding Peer Supporters at each of our NCT Reading-run groups. 

Finally a date is set for the debrief dinner and the cycle begins again. 

Look out for the launch of our April 28th sale soon – we’ll be looking for volunteers to help out on the day.  It’s a great, child-free, fun day – and we give you yummy breakfast pastries. ? 

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Easter Activities

Maypoles, chicks, bunnies, daffodils, lambs, eggs and chocolate. Easter used to fly by without much attention, but with a toddler it’s the perfect opportunity for some themed fun! With the weather hopefully changing for the better, a chance to get out and about shouldn’t be missed. Don’t worry if it hasn’t improved, there are always plenty of things to do indoors. 

At Home 

Watch 

  • Hop (2011). This film is about E.B., the Easter Bunny's teenage son, heading to Hollywood, determined to become a drummer in a rock 'n' roll band.  
  • Peter Rabbit (2018). Although not specifically about Easter,  Peter Rabbit  features plenty of springtime themes. 
  • Winnie the Pooh: Springtime with Roo (2004). An Easter adaption of A Christmas Carol. 

Get Crafty 

You can: 

  • Make an Easter bonnet. Originally based on the idea that you would buy a new outfit and hat for Easter, nowadays nurseries and primary school have children (mums) create a bonnet and then they have a parade to show them off. You can do this at home and meet up with friends to show off your creations! 
  • Decorate felt eggs. Get some felt eggs and decorate these with buttons, glitter, sequins, pompoms, ribbon, different felt shapes and more. If you make ornamental eggs you could then hang them from a tree. 
  • Egg decorating. Either hard boil eggs, carefully empty them or buy some foam ones, and get painting! Paint them all one colour or create a pattern. These can become decorations or you could use them for an egg hunt. 
  • Make Easter bunny masks. Use white paper plates, cotton wool, a marker pen, pipe cleaners, ear cut outs, glue and felt noses. Make sure you cut out the face shape and eye holes first.  
  • Make cotton wool sheep. You can glue some cotton wool balls to paper and draw on legs and faces, or if you are feeling extra crafty you could try gluing cotton wool balls to a ball of newspaper, add some matchsticks or lollipop sticks cut in half for legs, cut out ovals of black paper for faces and add some googly eyes.  
  • Make hand print chickens. You will need a bit of yellow paint and some small hands (and a lot of patience)! 
  • Make cards. If you send Easter cards, why not make them? You can incorporate some of the above craft ideas to your cards – decorate with wool sheep, hand print chicks, or felt eggs.  

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Games 

  • Easter Egg Hunt. Set up an egg hunt around the house and/or garden (depending on the weather!). You can get colourful plastic eggs to fill with edible treats, jigsaw pieces or toys, and hide them all over for your little one to find. Be sure to make a map of where you have hidden them just in case not all are found. 
  • Pin the Tail on the Easter Bunny – an Easter twist to the classic Pin the Tail on the Donkey.  
  • Egg and Spoon Race – you may not want to use real eggs! 
  • Guess the number of chocolate eggs in a jar 
  • Easter egg rolling is one of the oldest traditional games. You will need a hard-boiled egg, a start and finish line, and a wooden spoon. Get them to roll the egg from start to finish using wooden spoons. The winner is the one to reach the end without touching the egg with their hands.  

more eggs

Out and About 

Here is a sampling of events that are happening in Reading over Easter. 

In the Night Garden Live 

Where: The Hexagon 
When: 10-11 April, 1pm 
Cost: £16-£20 
The very first In the Night Garden Live UK theatre tour is in Reading for two days. The show is just under an hour long. 

Carters Steam Fair 

Where: Prospect Park 
When: 13-21 April 
Cost: 1 token = 50p, most toddler rides are 4 tokens (£2) 
Carters operate and maintain a unique collection of vintage rides and sidestalls, ranging in date from the 1870s to the 1960s.  

Egg-stravaganza: Edible Easter Treats  

Where: Reading Museum, Blagrave Street, Reading, RG1 1QH  
When: 16 April 
Cost: £4 
Make and decorate Easter treats, including no-cook chocolate crispy cakes and Easter egg sweets.  

Make & Take: Balloon Bunnies & Chicks 

Where: Reading Museum, Blagrave Street, Reading, RG1 1QH  
When: 17 April 
Cost: £1 
Turn a balloon into a friendly Easter creature by adding bendy legs, beak, ears and eyes. 

Caversham Court Easter Egg Trail 

Where: Caversham Court Gardens 
When: 20 April, 2-4pm 
Cost: Free, donations welcome 
A nature-themed quiz trail with a chocolatey prize!  

Cadbury Easter Egg Hunt 

Where: Basildon Park  
When: 6-23 April. 10am-5pm 
Cost: £3 + entrance fees 
Hunt for clues around Basildon Park to win a Cadbury chocolate prize. 

Prospect Park Railway 

Where: Prospect Park Railway, 82 Bath Road, Reading, RG30 2BE 
When: 7 April, 1-4pm 
Cost: 60p per ride or 10 for £5 
Take a ride or two on Prospect Park Railway miniature train run by the Reading Society of Model Engineers. 

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Local activities and meetups

NCT Membership
Support NCT Charity by becoming a member

Courses & workshops

NCT Antenatal course

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NCT Online Antenatal refresher course

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