My path to the NCT is not really conventional. In fact, I had two children, aged 5 and 2, before I even contemplated entering the NCT world and trained to become an NCT antenatal teacher, which fitted in beautifully with my family’s needs. My daughter started school and my son went to a childminder one day a week. I relished being a student again, researching articles and writing essays or attending tutorials on my one precious day to myself. By the time he started school, three years later, I had graduated, for the third time in my life, with a Higher Education Diploma in Antenatal Education. I remember saying to a friend that out of all my qualifications, this diploma was my greatest achievement.
During this time, I was able to experience the volunteer side of the NCT. Our branch is run by an amazing group of unsung heroes, providing everything from bumps and babies groups, to Nearly New Sales, Next Baby teas and Dads and Little Ones groups. This branch also supports our two wonderful local Baby Cafes, run by trained NCT breastfeeding counsellors. These support systems are free, open to NCT and non-NCT members alike and form the backbone of what the organisation is about: providing support to every new parent on a daily basis
I am indebted to the charity. My training has taught me how to reflect, to listen actively and to hold the space for others to think and reflect too, to make the choices that are right for them in their situation. The NCT has given me a solid foundation to build on my passion for women-centred, individualised maternity care. I currently chair an extremely successful Maternity Services Liaison Committee, Bromley Maternity Voices (MSLC), which collaborates with the local Trust and CCG, feeding back parents’ maternity experiences and making recommendations for improvements where needed. I was honoured to win the “Voice of Parents” Practitioner Award at Babble Live in September 2015 for our work and I hope I am helping to make a difference for many women in our area.
Through my user rep role on the MSLC I have tapped into the sheer drive and determination that exists among health care professionals and parents alike to make maternity services the best they can possibly be. Our committee has been involved in many different projects to improve care in local area, including the design of an information sheet for the birthing rooms at the local hospital, helping design two “home from home” rooms on the delivery suite and being instrumental in setting up a Perinatal Mental Health pathway.
Being a user rep can feel like a daunting prospect. However, the beauty of MSLCs is that there is no hierarchy and everyone’s voice and experience is valid. It is so important that service users are involved in the way maternity services are run. User reps, with their own experience of maternity care, are really well placed to bring a fresh pair of eyes to policies and recommend changes and often ask the questions that professionals have not thought about. I would recommend anyone with a passion for maternity get involved. You can really make a difference.
For more information on MSLCs visit https://www.nct.org.uk/professional/mslcs