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Editors Welcome

Welcome to your Spring 2020 Newsletter!

It doesn’t feel like it, but spring is here, or at least just around the corner. 

Understandably, this is an uncertain time for everyone. Please try to keep up to date with the latest information. Unfortunately we have had to close all groups with immediate effect and until further notice. Please read our Coronavirus article for more information and links for support. 
In this newsletter we also bring you the latest branch news along with an insight into our new group, Evening Bumps, for mums (and dads) due in 2020 and the next in our series of birth stories.

For our regular What I Wish I Knew feature we asked our Facebook community for tips and advice on potty training – a parenting milestone we all look forward to! 

After saying a few goodbyes last issue, this issue we are pleased to welcome Natalie to the  team.  

If you have any comments, ideas on future articles or would like to join our team please do get in touch – newsletter.reading@nct.org.uk. 
Cristabel and Natalie 
The Editors 

Jump to Articles

Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Branch News

Sling Library

All About Evening Bumps

What I Wish I Knew About Potty Training

Birth Story

Last Minute Ideas for Mother's Day

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Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Understandably, this is an uncertain time for everyone. Please try to keep up to date with the latest information. 

The Department of Health and Social Care website is being updated daily with guidance and what the government is doing about the virus.

The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, the Royal College of Midwives and the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health have produced  information on coronavirus for pregnant women and their families.  

The NHS website  has more information about how to reduce the possible spread of infection. 

Maternal Mental Health Alliance members have offered reassuring tips and practical advice to help us all manage our mental wellbeing during the outbreak. 


NCT Reading is following the latest Government advice and we have taken the decision to close all groups with immediate effect and until further notice

Keep an eye on Facebook group for any updates on events and daily threads to help with any feelings of loneliness through isolation.  

Sling Library 

The library will be closed until further notice, in accordance with latest government guidelines. Our volunteers will still be manning our Facebook group if you have any questions, and YouTube is a great resource for help with fitting. 

One of our volunteers, who also runs her own sling consultancy, will be offering free online mini consultations during this time. 

NCT Reading Sling Library

Breastfeeding Support 

Our NCT Breastfeeding Counsellors have set up an online support group for anyone to access support at home while our groups are not running. 

We also have our local peer supporter page that you can message to arrange an online chat with one of our peer supporters. 

NCT Reading & Wokingham Breastfeeding Peer Support 

Breastfeeding Counsellors 

You can also chat to NCT Breastfeeding Counsellors on 0300 330 0700. 

Nearly New Sale 

We have been considering the current situation with the Coronavirus and have taken the decision to reschedule our Nearly New Sale which was to run on Saturday 18 April. We felt it was important to make an advanced decision and give you notice.  

Our sales are very popular with sellers, volunteers and buyers alike. They are also a vital source of funds to support us locally and nationally as a charity so this isn't a decision we've taken lightly. However, we rely on volunteers, many of whom are pregnant, caring for young babies or who have brought to our attention health conditions that mean we have to prioritise their protection.  

We are also aware that many who attend our sale to shop will have similar circumstances and whilst we all love a bargain, their health is more important. We will continue to monitor the situation in the coming months and update you as to whether we will rearrange a later spring/summer sale or alternatively we will look to bring our autumn sale forward. 

Royal Berkshire Maternity 

Visiting is currently restricted to one birth partner only in the labour areas and for visiting on the antenatal and postnatal wards. 

This policy will be reviewed regularly, updates are posted on their Facebook page

NCT Courses 

The Prime Minster has now advised against all non-essential contact and travel. All NCT sessions, workshops and groups are henceforth cancelled. 

NCT understand how critical it is that you can access the knowledge and social support that you need at what is a very challenging time. In readiness for this situation, NCT have been working with course leaders to develop a virtual format for courses. Hopefully there will be more will be back in touch very soon with further information. 

If you have any questions about NCT services or courses for parents, please call the Enquiries Team on 0300 330 0700. 

Reading Council

Following the latest government advice - which includes social distancing measures - the council has taken the decision to close the following buildings to the public with effect from Tuesday 17 March 2020:

  • Libraries
  • Town Hall
  • Leisure centres
  • Museum
  • Arts and theatres
  • Community buildings
  • Civic offices

Reading Children's Centres

Following the closure of all of Reading Borough buildings all Reading Well Baby clinics will be closed until further notice.

If you have any Health Visiting related queries, please contact the Health Visiting Duty line (Monday – Friday, 09.00 – 4.30 pm ) on: 0118 9312111 (option 1).

Although children’s centres, which are in Reading Borough Council buildings are now closed to the public, the exception is pre-arranged (not drop-in) health appointments for expectant mothers.

All updates for the children’s centres will be posted on their Facebook page.

Explaining to Children 

Some of you may find this post useful for explaining to your children - little ears often hear and understand more than we give them credit for! 


Online Support

Parent to Parent Support

NCT Reading & Wokingham Breastfeeding Peer Support 

Breastfeeding Counsellors 

Slings and Carriers

Cloth Nappies

Expecting & Isolating

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NCT Reading News 


Although all groups have currently been cancelled, this is the status of the following groups when life returns to normal.

Unfortunately Tots to Toddlers (Monday), along with our North and South coffee mornings (Wednesday), are no longer running due to a lack of volunteers. If you are interested in hosting a group, please do get in touch: coordinator.reading@nct.org.uk

The Sling Library and Bumps and Babies (Tuesday) are temporarily moving to The Bel and Dragon for at least the next 4 months whilst the YMCA Parkside Sports Centre is refurbished.  

Breastfeeding Peer Supporters 

NCT breastfeeding peer supporters began volunteering at RBH in January. Our Branch Coordinator, Laura, tells us about her first few weeks volunteering: 

“After nearly a year of sorting out the administrative side of NCT breastfeeding peer supporters being able to support the Infant Feeding team at RBH, I finally did my first 2-hour shift on 29th January. It was brilliant! Emotional but brilliant. I only wish I could do longer or more frequently – happily more volunteers from the latest cohort will be joining me soon. I show people how to hand express, get a good latch and different feeding positions as well as providing information on milk production and supply. More importantly I have the time to sit and listen that the staff there simply don’t have. We’re completely hands off – I have a knitted boob and a doll. I did get to have a little cuddle with a twin last week though as the parents were learning how to swap babies without putting one down.” 

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Sling Library

Our branch sling library is busier than ever at our new venue The Bel and the Dragon. It’s great to be back there as it’s a lovely space for both the library and Bumps & Babies’ group – not to mention the yummy cake! 

Bumps & Babies    Sling Library

With the library being very much in demand we thought it appropriate to share a fact sheet that the Facebook group, Reading Babywearing UK, put together to explain the services offered locally: 

Sling Libraries, Workshops, Consultations ... what is the difference? 

Sling Libraries 

  • Usually run monthly or fortnightly 
  • Often demonstrated to manufacturers’ guidelines only, with opportunity to try one or two slings based on availability and time 
  • Provide basic sling and safety information 
  • Usually free to attend with hire fees applied 
  • Run by trained volunteers 


  • Usually 2-3 hour sessions 
  • Explore a specific topic, such as woven wraps, back carrying or twin carrying 
  • In depth learning in small groups 
  • Chargeable to attend 
  • Run by a consultancy-trained professional  


  • 1:1 meeting, usually at a location of your choice 
  • Typically lasts 30 to 90 minutes 
  • Full assessment of needs including circumstances such as low birth weight, twins, additional health concerns 
  • Opportunity to try a range of slings with advice and expertise given on fitting, sling safety and what to dress children in 
  • Tips on back carrying and other advanced carrying techniques 
  • Chargeable service 
  • Run by a consultancy trained professional  

NCT Reading Sling Library runs on the first and third Tuesdays of the month, alongside our Bumps & Babies group. We run a booking system for the sling library through our Facebook group – just turn up for Bumps and Babies! Details of all local sling consultants can be found on Reading Babywearing UK Facebook group.  
At the NCT Reading Sling Library we are always looking for new volunteers to come and help – no prior knowledge of slings required, we will give you all the training you need! We appreciate all the help we can get as we are all busy mums and some of our volunteers can only commit to a few months before returning to work. 

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Evening Bumps 

Evening Bumps

I'm Caroline, NCT volunteer, third time mum-to-be and keen socialiser!  
When I was expecting my first baby I loved my NCT classes. The birth preparation was very useful but one of the other key benefits was getting to know the other couples. On maternity leave I was fortunate to make more new friends, many through NCT groups and volunteering. Having this network was invaluable and helped make my year off work one of the best of my life.  
Second time round I was keen to recreate the amazing circle of support. NCT do offer refresher courses locally but unfortunately the timings of these didn't work for me and so in my search for friends I took over hosting the bumps evenings. We met every few weeks through pregnancy and I was so fortunate to meet a lovely group of ladies. Whilst on maternity leave we kept each other company at Bumps and Babies, had many coffee mornings, long lunches and baby playdates. Now our 'babies' are approaching their 3rd birthdays and we still meet regularly, mostly for prosecco-fuelled mum dinners out now! 
Having had such a wonderful experience last time, one of the first things on my third time pregnancy to do list was to relaunch the meet ups. So far we've had two lovely evenings, meeting at the Southcote Beefeater, a great venue with free parking. It has been lovely to see a mix of first timers and those on subsequent babies. We've shared birth stories, discussed pregnancy symptoms and already I feel more confident going into maternity leave knowing that I will have people to call upon for company and support! 
We usually get a great mix of mums and the odd brave dad will join us! It is lovely when hosting to see conversations flowing and friendships forming. These evenings don't replace antenatal classes as they are run by volunteers, usually a mum-to-be like myself, and are very informal and designed for the social side of parenting support. You don't need to be a NCT member to attend and please don't feel shy even if you've not attended NCT events before. 
Unfortunately, due to recent developments we are temporarily no longer running groups. A Facebook group has been created as a friendly place to share worries, information and experiences for mum-mum support following the government's advice that pregnant women should minimise social contact for the next 12 weeks. Join Now

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What I Wish I Knew about Potty Training

Potty training is one of the biggest challenges of parenthood. It isn’t something that anyone is particularly looking forward to, but it has to be done. We asked our Facebook community what they had wish they’d known before embarking on their potty-training journeys. 

potty training


Timing is everything. The one thing that everyone agreed on is that you should wait until your little one is ready. This may be earlier or later than other children you know, but they need to do it in their own time. You cannot force your child to use a potty. If they're not ready, you will not be able to make them use it. If you have a boy, don't be surprised if they potty train later and that it takes longer.  

Read: https://www.nct.org.uk/baby-toddler/potty-training/five-signs-your-child-ready-for-potty-training  

Ideally, you will need to have at least one clear week of no plans to begin and you don’t want it to clash with any other big changes – a new sibling, starting nursery etc. Big changes can prolong the process or even cause a regression.  


Before you start potty training, have the potty out so they can become familiar with it – some toddlers can be wary of them. Talk to them about what is going to happen, "you won't need nappies when you use a potty". When you are changing them say things like "oh a very wet nappy!" and "oh a poo poo! Smelly!" to help them learn.  

Equipment and Supplies 

A few recommended items: 

  • Toilet training pants are amazing for building confidence and long journeys 

  • Potties and/or toilet seats 

  • Pants with their favourite character on them 

  • Dettol! 

  • Gloves - especially useful for out and about 

  • Absorbent floor cloths for all those accidents 

  • Waterproof mattress protectors 

  • Waterproof car seat/pram protectors 

  • Waterproof mats to protect carpets (especially if you have a boy!) 

  • Hand sanitiser 

  • Step stool to reach the sink/toilet 

  • Dettol Laundry Cleanser 


For some toddlers, incentives can help them learn to use the potty, whether you use them to encourage using the potty, to help keep them sitting or as a reward for using the potty. Here are some suggestions:  

  • Sticker chart 

  • Lucky dip bag once the potty has been used 

  • Blowing bubbles to make them forget and relax to let it go without realising  

  • Chocolate buttons/biscuit treats 

potty training

Setbacks and Accidents 

Accidents will happen. You can’t avoid them. Just remember that this is all very new to your child, they’ve been able to run around playing and go whenever they feel like without it interrupting what they are doing to suddenly being asked to sit on a potty and go. It’s a new feeling and action. 

Also, be prepared for regressions after months of being dry especially if there is any change in environment, but they could happen for no discernible reason.  

Stay calm and remember that it's all part of the process. Try not to get frustrated or angry. Telling your child off for wetting themselves might mean more months of nappies, rather than fewer. Just calmly explain to them that they should use the potty next time.  

Unfortunately, potty training doesn’t happen overnight, but it does all eventually click. 


You will need to constantly remind your child; they won’t always remember to use the potty especially in the early days. You may feel like a broken record asking every 30/45/60 minutes, but eventually it will become second nature – for you and them. If you are anything like me, you may need to set an alarm on your phone to remind you! 

Remind them to tell you when they need to go, not if. Try and get them to use the potty before starting any activity, ‘let’s go to the potty and then go outside to play’.  

Night Training 

Phase Two of potty training. Be prepared to keep your child in pull ups for a while after daytime training. If your child seems to be taking ages to stay dry at night, try not to worry. Bed-wetting is considered normal up to the age of five years. Boys often achieve dryness at night later than girls.  


Talk to your childcare provider about potty training in advance. You want to be clear on what their procedure with potty training is and what you are going to do. Don’t worry too much about it though, although it is your first/second/third time, they’ve done it many times before.  

Some nurseries will also have potty training packs with information and books to help guide you and your child.  

potty training

Don’t be discouraged if it seems to be taking a while to click, it takes a little while for your child to unlearn using nappies and to learn to use a potty/toilet instead. However, if you are on the right track at least half of their bowel movements and wees should be going in the potty after a few days. If not, it may be that your child isn’t ready, so take a step back and try again later.  

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Birth Story

sanding changing table

About three weeks before my due date, on a Saturday morning, I was sitting on the kitchen floor, painting our changing table. Suddenly, I had the feeling that I had wet myself. Sadly, my pelvic floor was pretty rubbish, so this was not a huge surprise; I duly took myself upstairs to change my underwear and trousers. As I sat on the loo, more fluid was leaking out, and I considered that this could be my waters breaking and called down to my husband. We were due to celebrate my dad’s birthday with a meal in Reading later that day, so called my parents – they decided to head straight over – and we then called the hospital who suggested I go in to be checked.  

Whilst waiting in triage, I continued to leak little and often – nothing like the movies – and still had no contractions. After a wait of an hour, we were seen and the midwife confirmed that my hind-waters had broken. I was told that if nothing had started within 24 hours, I was to head back in for assessment and possible induction.  

Heading out to lunch in Reading with a giant maternity pad in my pants and leaking amniotic fluid was not my most glamorous moment! That evening, nothing further had started, so we went to bed as normal, padded-up to the nines. Waking up the following morning, I was disappointed there was still no action, so we drove over to the maternity unit.  

By around midday on the Sunday, I had been admitted and had an induction pessary fitted. My husband and I walked laps of the hospital, trying to get things moving, watched films, read books, and began to get really quite bored! He headed home for the night, and when he returned on the Monday morning, there was – no surprises here! – no progress. At around 11am, I went to the toilet for a wee, and my pessary fell out (I did say my pelvic floor was shocking!) – cue plenty of giggles! I was then advised to have the induction drip and that I would be taken down to Delivery Suite as soon as a room was free. 

skin to skin

6pm rolled around, and finally we were moved onto Delivery. Cannulas were inserted (one in each hand) and the drip switched on. Within an hour or so, I was in discomfort as contractions had finally started. I managed to get some sleep following a morphine injection – I tried gas & air, but it made me feel too nauseous – but the pain relief lasted just two hours – and I then endured two hours of pain (hand squeezing, counting to ten on repeat, breathing, squatting, etc) before I could have more morphine. At this point, I was only about 1.5 cm dilated and feeling rather disappointed and deflated. A second dose helped again for a couple more hours, but then the pain was too intense and I had to succumb to an epidural. I know at some point during this process, the midwife decided to break my fore-waters to try and help speed things along, and I then reached 2cm dilated. To say progress was slow is an underestimation!  

Doctors made their rounds at 9am and my husband and I discussed the possibility of a C-section: progress was not ideal, I was exhausted and in pain, and my baby boy was not super-happy anymore. Thankfully, when the doctor came in, she was also of the opinion I should opt for a C-section, and rather urgently. 

sleeping skin to skin

Things then happened fast. I was prepared for theatre and taken down, my husband was gowned up and joined me. My epidural was topped up, and they tested my sensitivity. Unfortunately, the epidural hadn’t taken, and my stomach area still had feeling, so my husband then had to be rushed out as I needed a General Anaesthetic. 

From then on, I have to rely on my husband to fill in the gaps. He tells me he had to wait for the midwife to come and tell him everything was ok. Our baby boy was then wheeled in to him, shortly followed by me, still fast asleep. The first thing I remember is starting to come round and having a baby lying right next to me, nose-to-nose. I was thoroughly confused and had no idea why there was this strange little human there! It took a few moments for it to dawn on me…this is my baby!  

We enjoyed plenty of skin-to-skin and got him latched on for his first feed (although not particularly well at this point but our breastfeeding journey is a story for another time!). After an hour or so in the recovery room, we were moved onto the maternity ward and spent a couple of days there before being sent home to embark on this new journey as parents with our precious bundle.  

baby seb

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Last Minute Ideas for Mother's Day

  • A lie in! 
  • Breakfast in bed 
  • Brunch 
  • Lunch out at London Street Brasserie, Thames Lido, Miller and Carter 
  • Afternoon tea  
  • Nirvana Spa Day 
  • A day out to Windsor, Highclere Castle, Kew Gardens 
  • A homemade Sunday roast 
  • Ceramics decorated at Mad Hatters Pottery Painting Café  
  • Family birthstone necklace/bracelet 
  • A walk by the river 
  • Family portrait 
  • A fancy candle 

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