Page 1

Winter 2010

Inspiring and informing NCT supporters

Cry baby

Eminent experts discuss the reasons behind your baby’s tears

ge involvt in fest ed familyive events

Home sweet home We uncover the myths and misconceptions surrounding home births

Happy ever after? Our postnatal care survey results and why we want change

supported by

Life changing The transition from coupledom to parenthood


Contents

Inspiring and informing NCT supporters Winter 2010

p.28 welcome to newgen Never mind the office party, we’ve been finding out how NCT members organise Christmas events that are fun and family friendly – see page 28. We also bust some of the myths surrounding home birth on page 18 and talk to two mums about their experiences. Plus, we reveal the sometimes shocking results of our NCT postnatal care survey on page 26 and explain why we’re campaigning for more support for mums after birth. We also look at why your baby cries on page 22 and discuss ways to help you cope with changes in your relationship after you have a baby on page 14. Finally, a big thank you to those of you who responded to our survey on future content in newgen. I look forward to putting some of your suggestions into practice while I cover for Sanjima, currently on maternity leave following the birth of her baby, Maya!

4 News

Chloë Bryan-Brown Publications Editor

The results of an NCT postnatal care survey revealed – and why we’re campaigning for more support after birth

Keep up to date with the latest parenting news

10 Read all about us Fundraising, campaigning and media success

12 Volunteer’s viewpoint Claire Annals talks about the value of volunteering and why she loves supporting other parents

14 Three’s not a crowd Relationships inevitably change when a new baby arrives. We discuss conflicts and how to overcome them

18 Home truths A look at the misconceptions surrounding home births and we hear from two mums about their experiences

22 The crying game Tears can be tricky to deal with. We talk to experts about the reasons behind baby’s crying and how you can cope

26 Happy ever after?

email: newgeneditor@nct.org.uk or write to Chloë Bryan-Brown, newgen, NCT, Alexandra House, Oldham Terrace, London W3 6NH

28 Festive family fun

newgen is sponsored by Persil Non Bio and Comfort Pure. Their support will help us to reach even more parents. Comfort Pure and Persil Non Bio are both specially designed for babies and are dermatologically tested.

34 Dealing with diabetes

Pregnancy and Birth Line: 0300 330 0772 Breastfeeding Line: 0300 330 0771 Enquiries Line: 0300 330 0770 Postnatal Line: 0300 330 0773 Shared Experiences Line: 0300 330 0774

Calls to 0300 numbers will be charged at the same rate as calls to a local number, even from a mobile. They will be part of any inclusive minutes that apply to your provider and call package. Published by Axon Publishing, 11 Plough Yard, London EC2A 3LP www.axonpublish.com Advertising enquiries to Tel Alps Media, 1 New Oxford Street, High Holborn, London WC1A 1NU Tel: 020 7657 1820 Email: advertising@nct.org.uk This product is printed on paper containing a minimum of 75% recycled fibres, with the remainder coming from fully traceable paper from sustainable sources.

We talk to NCT members about Christmas events and find out how you can join in the celebrations NCT member Louise Smith explains how diabetes affected her during pregnancy, labour and birth NCT is a Registered Charity No. 801395 All advertisements submitted for inclusion in newgen are checked for compliance with our Sponsorship Commercial Relationships & Advertising policy. NCT reserves the right to accept or reject advertising material. No correspondence will be entered into. Advertisements are accepted in good faith but NCT cannot be held responsible for any claims made by advertisers. Please note that none of the food products advertised in this magazine is suitable for babies under six months and some will only be suitable for older children and adults. Views expressed by contributors to newgen are not necessarily those of NCT or of Axon Publishing.

Winter 2010 newgen magazine 3


email: newgeneditor@nct.org.uk telephone: 0844 243 6000

News

What’s going on in the world of NCT

s har e d experien3pcme, Tusesday,

9am to Helpline is open pport Thursday, to su Wednesday and ugh time who’ve had a to mums and dads od. rth and parentho in pregnancy, bi

0330 330 0774

Birth Companions

Photo: Rbanks

We are launching an NCT Birth Companions service giving one-to-one support to parents in late pregnancy, through labour, birth and the first hours with their baby

NCT-trained Birth Companions (doulas) will not only provide women and their partners with skilled physical and emotional assistance, but also up to date knowledge, information and encouragement to help them have their desired labour and birth experience. They are all qualified professionals who have successfully completed a nine-month 4 newgen magazine Winter 2010

course, developed by NCT in partnership with the University of Worcester. Rebecca Wierenga, who developed the course, said: ‘An NCT Birth Companion will be the constant presence during your labour, which so many women and their partners find invaluable. She is on hand to listen to you, support your decisions and ensure you understand what is happening and help you have the kind of birth you want.’

The service comes after research showed women who receive continuous support in labour are more likely to give birth spontaneously and less likely to ask for pain medications. They also tend to be more satisfied with their birth experience and have slightly shorter labours. Mary Nolan, Professor of Perinatal Education, University of Worcester, added: ‘Lots of studies show that supportive care from a woman during labour, in addition to that given by a midwife, helps the mother to feel more in control.’ The new service is available for a fee for mothers and couples. A percentage of the charge will be used to provide NCT Birth Companions for vulnerable women, who would otherwise be unable to pay. A new mum, who recently used a pilot of the service, said: ‘Having the NCT Birth Companion to support me when all the midwives had left the room was so comforting.’ A father said: ‘I wasn’t sure what to do and I was exhausted. If the NCT Birth Companion wasn’t here, it might have been a very different experience for me as well as my partner.’ NCT Birth Companions has limited availability. For more on using the service, email birthcompanions@nct.org.uk. NCT members can also take an orientation course to enable them to apply for NCT Birth Companion training. To enrol on the next course in January, please email s_gore@nct.org.uk or stallbrook@googlemail.com.


News

Report calls for GPs to play greater role in maternity care

A report has suggested that GPs should play a greater role in maternity care. The role of the doctor in maternity care has declined over the past 30 years, according to the King’s Fund. The report recognises the professionalisation of midwives and the development

of hospital maternity services – and doesn’t suggest a move away from midwives being the main health care providers for low risk pregnancies. Instead it suggests GPs work more with midwives and obstetric services. It found women often went to their GP to get a pregnancy confirmed, but after that involvement was ‘very limited’. The report suggests GPs should provide care and lifestyle advice on staying healthy pre-conception or on discovering pregnancy; provide antenatal care and ensure women get the right screening and testing in the early part of pregnancy; and offer postnatal care, including advice on issues like back pain, mental health and contraception.

Equality Act comes into force After years of campaigning by NCT and sister organisations, the Equality Act protecting breastfeeding women has come into force. Mums cannot be discriminated against, asked to stop breastfeeding, told to leave a venue, or be treated unfavourably because they are breastfeeding. It covers anyone supplying services, such as a bus driver, library, cafe, or shop. Rosie Dodds, Senior Public Policy Officer, NCT, said: ‘This is a huge win for the charity. Congratulations to those involved in developing evidence and campaigning on behalf of mothers.’ This part of the Equality Act does not apply in Northern Ireland, but the Sex Discrimination Act gives the same sort of protection.

Protecting yourself from ‘swine flu’ After last summer’s media focus on ‘swine flu,’ the World Health Organization (WHO) declared in August that the H1N1 influenza pandemic was officially over. But it’s important not to ignore it – the virus may be circulating this winter and is included in the 2010-11 seasonal flu vaccine. The Department of Health recommends those in high-risk groups – including all pregnant women – have the vaccination as they are at greater risk of complications if they catch H1N1 flu. Until now, only pregnant women in high-risk groups, such as those with long-term chronic conditions, were advised to take the vaccine. People with H1N1 flu typically have a high temperature over 38°C or 100.4°F and may have aching muscles, a sore throat or a dry cough. Symptoms are similar to other types of flu. Most people recover within a week, even without treatment. If you think you or your child has H1N1 flu, call, or see your GP. Good respiratory and hand hygiene can reduce the risk of catching or spreading the virus – sneeze into a tissue and dispose of it; wash your hands regularly; and clean frequentlytouched surfaces in your home as well.

The future direction of your magazine

?

Almost 1,000 of you responded to our survey about what you’d like to be reading in newgen. The consensus was that you want more day-to-day information on parenting: 43% of you wanted more coverage on the impact of a new baby on relationships (see page 14); while 57% asked for information on early days care; and 73% were looking for tips on parenting. There are as many experiences of being a parent as there are parents, so we’re aiming to give you more practical information to help. You also said support for new fathers is just as important for the well-being of the child as support for new mothers – and sometimes dads can feel left out of the discussion on parenting and sidelined. Over the next few issues of newgen, we’ll be putting your suggestions into practice. Inspiring and informing NCT supporters

Celebrate mums in 2011 Join our Jump for Mothers Day in 2011 to celebrate all the great things mums do. We’re hoping to raise even more money in this year’s adrenaline-filled challenge and we want all mums, dads, sisters, cousins, friends and children (if over 18) to jump with us. Last year four groups jumped around the country, raising more than £3,500 for NCT. See www.nct.org.uk/jump or email events@nct.org.uk for info.

Winter 2010 newgen magazine 5


RAISING FUNDS FOR NCT All you need for you and your baby Call 0845 810 0100 or visit www.nctshop.co.uk for all the latest offers

membership discount Quote reference MXD12 to save As a member you can save money with NCT Shop throughout the year using your exclusive membership discount. NCT Shop provides a whole range of practical solutions that will support you during every stage of pregnancy, birth and early parenthood. This discount won’t affect our Gift Aid claims due to new rules from HMRC. If you’d like to read more about how to use the membership discount at a branch level, visit Update Online: http://update.nct.org.uk

FREE Daddy Cool DVD with every order placed in December with NCT Shop*. No minimum order. *Excludes NCT Shop Catalogue requests. Orders from 1 December to 20 December inclusive.

30% off

Melba Pyjamas and Nightdresses

Melba Maternity Pyjamas: Code 1411 Was £39.99 Now £27.99 Ruched sides give the pyjama top extra flexibility throughout pregnancy and post birth. The mock wrap allows easy access for breastfeeding, while the ribbon on the bottoms can be adjusted for maximum comfort. Sizes: XSmall 8-10; Small 10-12; Medium 12-14; Large 14-16; XLarge 16-18 Colours: Lavender with buttermilk trim; or navy with buttermilk trim

Visit www.nctshop.co.uk for all the latest offers Melba Night Dress: Code 1409 Was £24.99 Now £17.00 The clever shirring detail on the top of the nightdress enables easy access for breastfeeding. No buttons or hooks – simply pull down to feed. Looks gorgeous when teamed with the matching Dressing Gown. Colours: Lavender with buttermilk trim; or navy with buttermilk trim

6 newgen magazine Winter 2010

Melba Dressing Gown: Code 1408 Was £29.99 Now £20.00 Designed to fit beautifully when you are pregnant and post birth too. The super soft cotton/jersey fabric is both comfortable and lightweight. Also perfect for your hospital bag. Colours: Lavender with buttermilk trim; or navy with buttermilk trim Don’t miss out! To claim your discount, see www.nctshop.co.uk or call 0845 810 0100 and quote MXD12 when ordering and start saving money today*.

*Offer valid until 28 February 2011. Cannot be used in conjunction with any other offer or product exempt from discount. Code can only be used for membership discount specific products. See website for T&Cs.


News

Eating for one

Championing the rights of vulnerable women NCT has welcomed National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) guidance recommending more flexible antenatal care for vulnerable women, including midwife appointments in schools for young mums-to-be. Chief Executive, Belinda Phipps, said: ‘We know that, at the moment, young mums often miss out on midwife care and this means they and their babies are at increased risk of medical problems. To make sure young mums get antenatal care we need to make it easier for them. Ideally, we would like them to have the support of one midwife they can get to know and trust, and who looks after them throughout their pregnancy. We also think that antenatal classes need to be held where young mums are going to be, and if schools are the place, then it’s a good idea to hold them there.’ To critics of the NICE guidelines, who say caring for young mothers in this way will encourage others to get pregnant,

she said: ‘We need to teach people what being a parent is before they are pregnant. It is very sad to see a young pregnant couple realise with shock, well into their pregnancy, just what a responsibility they are taking on. Many young people have no idea what a baby is going to mean for their lives. If we are fairer to them by letting them know what parenting is all about, they may wait until they are fully prepared before getting started.’ The NICE guidelines for specialised care for young mothers also extend to women from vulnerable groups, including those suffering domestic abuse, drug or alcohol misuse and women who struggle with written and spoken English. NCT currently works with local organisations to provide courses tailored to all parents’ needs, including young parents and minority ethnic groups. We reach several thousand young mothers each and every year.

Thumbs up for Daddy Cool DVD NCT has been highly commended at this year’s International Visual Communications Association Clarion Awards. The not-for-profit awards, held at the British Film Institute in September, saw NCT’s latest DVD commended in the face of strong competition from Starbucks and the National Trust. Daddy Cool follows three dads-to-be through the final stages of their partner’s pregnancy, the birth and the first six weeks with their newborn. It explores the dads’ roles, the way they feel about parenthood and how they get to grips with their new responsibilities. See www.nct.org.uk/dads.

The idea that pregnant mothers need to eat for two is a myth and women should be encouraged to achieve a healthy weight before they become pregnant, according to new guidance published by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE). The aim of the guidance is to ensure women are supported before, during, and after they have children so they and their babies have the healthiest outcome possible. Professor Mike Kelly, Director of the Centre for Public Health Excellence at NICE, said: ‘This guidance is not about preaching to women. About half of women of childbearing age are either overweight or obese. Although obese women can have healthy babies, the evidence suggests there are more risks for women who have a BMI of over 30 when they become pregnant. It’s also important women do not feel pressurised into rapid weight loss or crash diets after pregnancy.’

Talking it through The birth of a baby should be a joyful time, but many new parents find that, after the excitement of pregnancy and the lead-up to birth, they are not prepared for the weariness, lack of sleep and sheer grind of caring for a newborn. For new mums and dads who are finding those early weeks and months physically and emotionally demanding, NCT’s Postnatal helpline has extended its opening times to four hours a day. Parents needing emotional support can call 0300 330 0773 from 9am to 1pm, Monday to Friday, and are guaranteed a response from a trained NCT Postnatal Leader who is skilled in listening to callers’ concerns and directing them to appropriate sources of help. Winter 2010 Newgen Magazine 7


News

NCT to launch new baby changing iPhone app Our app, which acts as a pocket-sized personal directory of baby changing facilities, will be unveiled in early 2011

• Check egen for further details on how to download the app to your iPhone or to find out about the web-based version.

What do you do when you’re out, your baby needs changing and you don’t know where the nearest facilities are? Or, you find somewhere but the nappy bins are overflowing? That’s when you need NCT’s new baby changing app. The first charity application for parents allows you to locate the nearest baby changing facilities, and then rate them for other parents to use afterwards. NCT Baby Changing app uses locationbased features and Google Maps so you can pin-point the nearest changing facilities when you’re out in public. Currently, more than 7,000 baby changing sites are listed, including department stores, restaurants, museums, galleries, and train stations. New mum, Sarah Gilmore, tested the app when out for the day in Manchester. She said: ‘This app is a speedy tool for a quick fix solution. My youngest needed changing and I didn’t know where to go. I used the app and found a clean facility in a local department store. I’d saved time wandering around so I stayed for cake afterwards!’ For those of you without access to an iPhone, there will be a web-based version available to access from any computer.

Help us grow the app NCT Baby Changing app not only provides a service but allows you to interact and support other parents by sharing knowledge they wouldn’t necessarily have. Once you’ve used a changing facility, the app allows you to rate it according to cleanliness and condition. You can verify the location details are correct too. Using your local knowledge, you can also add and rate your nearest café, local shops or public lavatories and give other parents a heads-up. The ethos of NCT has always been about parents helping other parents – and our new app is no exception.

Summer Draw winners

Well done and thank you to all those who took part in this year’s successful Summer Draw. Whether you bought tickets, or sold them to friends, family and colleagues, your contribution has been tremendous and you have helped us to raise more than £15,000 to continue NCT’s valuable work. Congratulations to: • Our top prize winner Rachel Norrie from London, who won £5,000 kindly donated by Pampers®. She said: ‘Winning was amazing and will be a massive help with the ever growing costs of family life!’; • Sarah Oldridge from Caerphilly, who won £2,000 worth of Boori nursery furniture; • P Russell from Saltburn and Helen Walker from Birling, who both won family holidays to LEGOLAND; • Emily Harbottle from Hereford, who won a Graco travel system; • David Savagar from Hereford, A Dowsett from Gillingham, Pamela Smith from Verwood, K Butler from Bury St Edmunds and P Nonis from London, who all won fantastic wooden rockers from Kinderroom; • All the other winners who received great prizes.

al l u ut yyoo abo Email us u. m fro ar to he

We want d, r@nct.org.uk. An at newgenedito r.com. ck fli w. ww to s upload your pic ch ups’ tab and sear Just click the ‘Gro p.’ ou Gr T NC l cia for ‘Offi en appear Your pics may ev in newgen .

Watch this space for our next exciting raffle – where you will once again get the chance to win some fabulous prizes. Plus, there are plenty of other NCT events that you can get involved in throughout the year. Get in touch with the team now to ask about our fantastic Jump for Mothers Day skydiving event (see page 5 for more information). You can email them at events@nct.org.uk.

8 newgen magazine Winter 2010


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NCT activities

Read all about us Campaigns column

Press column

Taking action

Press gang

With Anne Fox, head of campaigns and public policy

With Nicola Ryan, press manager

We’re working hard to get parents’ issues on the political agenda, and making it easier for you to translate our campaigning messages into action network, NCT Active, which We’re as busy as ever working is growing in strength right across the every month. Recently our campaigners have taken action UK on a host on issues such as the inclusion of issues. Over of inaccurate information on the past few feeding your baby in school months we’ve been making exam papers; improving contact with the new UK government ministers and MPs. postnatal care and campaigning for choice of place of birth; as This has included the annual well as showing their displeasure trip to party conferences and at the family-unfriendly budget. making plans to use the Things have changed in opportunities arising from our staff but our volunteer the forthcoming elections in team is growing and we’re Northern Ireland, Scotland and working together to make a Wales to get parents’ issues difference. We’ve developed on the agenda, in addition to a set of resources to make it building relationships with easier to know how to translate key political leaders. If you live in Northern Ireland, our campaigning messages into action on your doorstep. Scotland or Wales and are Our local campaigns guides for interested in supporting NCT’s challenging cuts to services, pre-election campaigning, we’d love to hear from you. The best improving birth environments and ensuring choice of place way to keep up to date and find of birth are all available via out how you can get involved www.nct.org.uk/active. is to join our campaigners’

From our report on postnatal care to the launch of our exciting new baby changing app, we’re breaking as well as making the news – thank you to all those who The autumn carried out interviews. See political party page 26 for more. conferences In a bid to reach and support have been an important time more parents than ever before, we’ve been promoting NCT for press. antenatal classes in the regional At the Tory conference we media. We’ve seen positive launched an NCT report on the state of postnatal care in the UK. articles in local newspapers and have secured radio interviews Press coverage was generated on BBC Radio Devon, Heart in the national press, and on West Midlands and BBC Radio national radio. An exclusive Coventry & Warwickshire. article was generated in The Many branches have been Sunday Telegraph, with the Daily publicising their Nearly New Mail and The Guardian picking Sales in the local press. The up the story the following sales were also mentioned in day. BBC News bulletins ran Lucy Siegle’s environmental interviews with Mary Newburn, Head of Research & Information, column in the The Observer. throughout the day, and Belinda She explained that parents can Phipps, CEO, was interviewed on make savings and that sales stop BBC Breakfast. Plus Sky TV, ITV 300 tonnes of baby clothes and News, Radio 5 live, and various equipment going into landfill. regional radio stations covered Why not become a publicity the story. Many of our members officer for your local branch? See talked to the media about the http://babble.nct.org.uk/infopostnatal care they experienced resources/marketing-support.

As we approach the festive season, it’s important to remember that this can be a stressful as well as an exciting time. NCT raises funds so that With Allan Sutherland, fundraising operations manager we can support new parents who are finding it difficult to manage Together, we can the strains of a new family. continue to provide So I would like to say a big valuable support thank you to all NCT volunteer for all parents fundraisers who have made such a difference this year. Through your dedication you have raised:

• More than £3,500 by jumping out of aeroplanes; • £20,000 by holding Cheeky Monkeys Tea Parties; • Over £110,000 in grants for local projects and activities; • And an amazing £1 million plus through NCT Nearly New Sales.

Fundraising column

It all counts

• More than £13,000 by running marathons and other races for NCT; 10 newgen magazine Winter 2010

However, we still need your help. So, why not make a New Years’ resolution to raise funds for NCT in 2011? Whether you run 5km or a marathon, and whether you jump out of a plane or help at an NCT event, we can help you with your fundraising.

• Why not volunteer to help your branch Nearly New Sale? You’ll help stretched families stock up on supplies for a fraction of the price, as well as raising valuable funds for the charity; • Or you could run a Cheeky Monkeys Tea Party and raise funds while enjoying a fun and sociable childrens’ event. If you want to help NCT continue its valuable support for parents, we can work with you to make it happen. Contact us at fundraising@nct.org.uk if you would like to know more.


Your stories

Volunteer’s viewpoint In this issue, we hear from Claire Annals, member and volunteer with Bassetlaw branch and the East Midlands region, and discover how volunteering boosted her confidence… Why did you join NCT and how long have you been involved? I joined the Camberley branch just after my eldest son was born six years ago. Friends had told me how great it was and I still remember the warm welcome. I was planning to get more involved when we moved to Nottinghamshire a year later, but I found that my new local branch, Bassetlaw, had just been wound up. I moaned about it so much that someone suggested I restart it. To do this I had to step right outside my comfort zone. I contacted Head Office and the Regional Co-ordinator, held a revival meeting in my dining room with only 16 branch members, and took on the challenge of holding a Nearly New Sale just eight weeks later. What do you do as a volunteer? I think I’ve done pretty much every role, but I stepped back when my eldest son started school a couple of years ago. Little did I know then that there would be an addition to the family! Now I’m back helping out at toddler groups, hosting Bumps and Babies coffee mornings – and the all-important pudding clubs. I’m also editor of the newsletter and an area rep for East Midlands region. 12 newgen magazine Winter 2010

What have you enjoyed most about being a volunteer? Learning that I am more capable than I thought. I also enjoy that shattered-butwarm-glow after a fundraising event and making friends for life. Our newsleter was nominated for the Communication of the Year Award – another highlight. Also, hearing someone say ‘I don’t know what I’d have done without the support of NCT’ and knowing I’ve been a part of it. Why do you think NCT is important? Branches do local postnatal support really well. And the helplines are invaluable, especially now they cover pregnancy, postnatal and shared experiences, as well as breastfeeding. I’m proud NCT is a voice for parents. I want the charity still to be here when my boys have children – and, who knows, I may still be helping out at Nearly New Sales! What would you say to other members who are thinking of volunteering? Never think ‘I can’t do that’. You don’t have to live up to the person that did the role before you. You will be great whatever you do. Whether it’s making the tea at a toddler group, helping out at a Nearly New Sale or balancing the branch accounts, you are making a valuable contribution to your local community and a national charity, and many people will benefit as a result.

Over to you... This is your magazine and that’s why we want to hear from you. In each issue of newgen, we will be featuring an interview with a volunteer, just like Claire. If you would like to be featured on this page, please contact newgeneditor@nct.org.uk

Volunteering your time and skills Why? Make new friends, have

fun, learn new skills and help NCT continue to support parents to have the best experience possible.

What? Volunteering can mean anything and there is something for everyone. You could help at a Nearly New Sale; deliver, write or design a branch newsletter; plan and organise fundraising events (see page 28); be a contact on the Shared Experiences helpline; or get involved in running a Bumps and Babies group. How? You can do as much or

as little as you can, depending on the time (and energy!) you have. Anything you do will be appreciated. Contact your branch co-ordinator for more information. You should be able to find their details in your local branch newsletter or e-mail enquiries@nct.org.uk. Or you can call 0300 330 0770.


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The postnatal and breast-feeding period is one of the most demanding of your life. It’s a time when you are not only producing milk for your new baby, but you are also replacing the nutritional stores lost during pregnancy and labour. With a new member of the family, and less sleep, you need all the support you can get.

Pregnacare® Breast-feeding is the first ever supplement designed for this period with 10mcg vitamin D, 700mg calcium and 300mg DHA, which is the recommended level for lactation. The formula provides nutrients which may help support you when you are breastfeeding in a comprehensive great value dual pack. It can be used postnatally whether or not you are breast-feeding for the 6 months following childbirth, to provide special nutritional care for the postnatal period. From Pregnacare® – The UK’s most trusted nutritional supplement for mum and baby.

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Your relationships

Y

ou may not need a study to tell you being a parent can be overwhelming at times, but new research from the Medical Research Council and University College London (UCL) found that one in seven mothers and one in 28 fathers experienced depression in their child’s first year. This can be due to exhaustion, grappling with new skills, plus the adjustment of moving from coupledom to parenthood tests even the most solid of relationships. ‘Before kids, we were so laid back and easy going,’ says new mum Sarah Gladwell. ‘We rarely fought and we laughed a lot. These days we hardly say a kind word to each other. I’m exhausted, he’s stressed and we bicker constantly about housework, money and who’s not pulling their weight.’ Coping with couple conflicts Whether you’re an expectant couple, or like Sarah, you’re in the throes of new parenthood, it’s wise not to underestimate the inevitable changes that come with a new baby. ‘This is a time when the couple relationship comes under unprecedented strain,’ says Penny Mansfield, Director of One Plus One, the UK’s leading relationship research charity. ‘And, as a result, many couples feel less satisfied with their relationship, at least in the short term.’ This isn’t surprising, since you’re likely to be tired, anxious and emotional. Many parents are also worried about money, the baby’s health, or returning to work. ‘It’s vital not to simply assume that it’s your relationship that is the problem,’ says Penny. Nikki Taylor says since the birth of their daughter Eva three months ago, she and her husband are barely civil to each other. ‘We disagree over everything, especially how much he helps, or rather doesn’t help. It’s really stressed me out, but now I’m realising this is something all my mum friends seem to be going through too, which makes me feel less anxious about it.’ It’s not just mums who feel this way. New dad Sunil is the sole earner since his wife gave birth to their daughter six months ago and this has put a huge strain on their relationship. ‘We fight constantly about our spending and who’s in control of our finances. It wears me down and has taken the joy away from being a new parent.’ Alongside these worries, many couples also find the clash between who you used to be, and who you are now, plays a part in 14 newgen magazine Winter 2010

Having a baby is a joyous milestone in a couple’s life. Yet, no matter how happy you are, the exhaustion and responsibility of caring for a newborn can play havoc with your relationship. The good news is conflicts can usually be resolved. And, as your confidence in parenting grows, relationship stress typically fades

three’s not a crowd


Summer 2010 newgen magazine 15


Your relationships

their disputes. Jenny Barrett, an antenatal teacher for NCT, who runs couples classes and dads-only courses, says: ‘New mums in particular find that no matter how much they love being with their new baby, they miss their old life and the status that came with a career.’ Liz Hope, who took a career break to look after her son Josh, agrees. ‘I feel my life has come to a complete standstill since Josh’s birth, while my husband gets to happily carry on as normal. I feel lost and left behind, but my husband can’t see this.’ The daily grind of dealing with a young baby can exacerbate problems, especially when mums find they have little time left for anyone else. ‘My wife is obsessed with our son Tyler,’ says dad Ian Clark. ‘I know I sound pathetically childish but I barely get a nod when I come in from work.’ Preparing for the ups and downs If all of the above sounds familiar, rest assured there are ways to deal with these tensions. And it’s worth remembering that these stresses won’t last forever. As you acquire new skills and information, your confidence in parenting inevitably grows and the conflicts usually fade away. While some people say nothing can really prepare you for a newborn, Jenny Barrett suggests thinking about the possible stresses of being a new parent ahead of time. This can help you to anticipate problem areas and develop coping strategies. She suggests planning ahead if the financial anxieties of having a baby worry you. Coming up with a budget, bulk buying nappies from cheaper stores and going to NCT Nearly New Sales for baby equipment and clothes can help ease the financial stresses. Plus, discussing your expectations of parenthood can help you be more realistic and prepared for the ups and downs of life with a new baby. ‘If you explore where there may be differences,’ says Jenny, ‘then you can find compromises before problems occur.’ Ask yourself what your vision is of your partner as a dad or mum. Look at how both of you expect to approach crying, feeding and sleeping, as these are also essential discussion areas. Share new skills or information given by your midwife or health visitor, so both parents feel in-the-loop. If you are already knee deep in new parenthood tensions, Penny Mansfield from One Plus One suggests starting by explaining how you feel about whatever 16 newgen magazine Winter 2010

Top tips from parents ‘Swap babysitting services with other parents so you can have a night out together’ Hannah ‘Tell each other that you think you’re doing a great job at least once a day’ Max ‘Allocate roles that play to your strengths. I do the early feeds as I’m good in the mornings. My wife does the night feeds so I can sleep’ Tom ‘See your friends regularly – you’re more than a mother and wife, or a father and husband’ Emma ‘Schedule sex in. It may not feel sexy but it works wonders’ Sarah ‘Respect your partner’s way of doing things, even if it’s not the way you’d do it’ Tia ‘Make use of the time when your baby is napping to talk and be together. Housework can wait’ Lucy ‘Don’t play the I’m-more-tired-thanyou game. No one wins’ Liam

is bothering you. For instance, saying – ‘I am finding it hard to cope with everything’ encourages empathy from your partner while saying ‘You just don’t understand’ is likely to make them defensive. Trying to stay calm when you talk is another tip. Choose moments when you feel less stressed to start a conversation and try not to begin discussions with complaints or accusations. Above all don’t forget that simple gestures will keep you connected. If you’re too tired for sex

then keep the affection going – a cuddle, compliment or thanks can go a long way to keeping your relationship strong. Working it out together Jenny Barrett agrees. ‘It’s very easy when you are tired to let problems escalate but research has found that couples who remain strong after a baby do so because they keep the positives in their relationship going.’ It’s a case of Teflon-coating your relationship. If you always went to dinner and the cinema at the weekend, keep the pattern going but in a different way, with a DVD and takeaway. It may not be the same but you can look forward to it together. Seeking and accepting help – whether it’s an hour or two’s babysitting at the weekend from friends or family, or relationship counselling if there are serious problems – can also help you to make your way through this transition period. Whichever route you take, take heart from the fact that studies do show that after the first exhausting stretch with a baby the great majority of relationships grow stronger than ever. It’s something that dad Stephen Lewis has recently discovered for himself. ‘My wife and I went through a very bad time when our daughter Molly was born. We were so tired and fraught that we fought all the time. Things got so bad we even talked about separating.’ Ten months down the line, their conflicts have eased, partly says Stephen as their confidence in parenting rose. ‘Being a parent really does become less stressful as your baby gets older. You begin to feel more in control of what you’re doing and it stops you taking your stresses out on each other. I can see my wife is a fantastic mother and this makes me love her even more than before.’

You’re not alone

Looking for information, support and new friends? NCT Bumps and Babies groups offer a chance to chat with other parents while your children play. Open to expectant mums and mums with children up to 12 months. There are other sources of information available too: One Plus One has an information sheet called The Transition To Parenthood. It can be found at www.oneplusone.org.uk. One Plus One also provides guidance and information for new parents through a free 24-hour online relationship support service, www.thecoupleconnection.net. You can also read The Secret of Happy Parents: How to Stay in Love as a Couple and True to Yourself by Steve and Shaaron Biddulph, £12.99, available from NCT Shop. Add a Mums the Word DVD free to your order to help you explore some of the issues in your new life as a mum.


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Place of birth

There are lots of myths, misconceptions and misunderstandings about the safety and experience of having a home birth. Here we examine the evidence and speak to parents who have opted for home births, so you can make an informed choice on the place of birth that suits you and your family NCT believes that, for a healthy woman with a straightforward and low-risk pregnancy, home birth is a safe option they can feel confident about choosing. Here we bust the home birth myths.

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2

Myth – Home births are risky Many people think giving birth in hospital is the safest option. But, despite many studies comparing planned home birth with hospital birth, there is no evidence that hospital is safer for women at low-risk of complications. At home, you are more likely to have continuous care from one midwife than in hospital where a number may pop in and out. This ‘watchful waiting’ approach helps experienced midwives identify problems early on. Yours will be fully trained to attend home births and will monitor your baby’s heart and your condition regularly. She will advise you to transfer to hospital if she has concerns about the health of you or your baby – well before any situation becomes an emergency.

18 newgen magazine Winter 2010

Myth – Home births do not provide a healthy start for your baby One poorly designed piece of research has been used to suggest that home births are safer for mothers, not so safe for babies. But the risk for babies has been shown to be an inappropriate conclusion from the data. Planned home birth actually results in better outcomes for both mothers and babies. There’s less risk of infection for babies born at home. And, according to a large study of home births in the UK, babies whose births were planned at home were less likely to be born in poor condition, have injuries or need resuscitation. Their mothers were less likely to need interventions such as pain relief and even if they transferred to hospital they were less likely to need forceps, ventouse or a caesarean. And as we know, a healthy mother is in a better position to cope with those challenging early days of motherhood.

3

Myth – Home births are selfish Some people argue that home births are a drain on NHS resources. But labour tends to progress well in the relaxed atmosphere at home and most women only have a midwife with them once labour is well under way. In addition, ambulance transfers are the exception rather than the norm and the caesarean rate is lower for women planning home births than choosing hospital births – meaning less theatre time and staff attention. Plus, women who have intervention-free births don’t take up postnatal hospital beds, leaving limited hospital capacity free for the women who really need that extra help.


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Myth – Home births are messy Any mess is more easily contained than you might think. You can use waterproof sheeting, a large water-repellent tablecloth, or old sheets, to cover beds and floors. Large disposable pads are supplied by your midwives to protect the surfaces you actually give birth on. Afterwards, the midwives will clear up any mess. And once they have done this, you will be able to relax in your own bed getting to know your baby while they provide you with tea and toast!

5

Myth – Home births are for hippies Despite the stereotype of sandal-wearing earth mothers, women from all backgrounds choose to give birth at home for a variety of reasons. Nationally, around 2.7% of babies are born at home. But, in parts of the country where women are well supported, home birth is more common, in both rural and urban areas, with more than 10 % of women having safe and successful home births. The reasons they typically give include feeling safer and more relaxed at home, wanting to avoid interventions and not wanting to be separated from their partner or older children overnight. That’s the evidence but what is the reality like for women? On the right, two women tell us about their experiences...

our stories... Maria Robinson From Newcastle-upon-Tyne, mum to Emily, 7, Ben, 4 and Matilda, 9 months I have had three home births. My GP tried to put me off the first time but the midwives were very relaxed and my daughter Emily was born after a rapid four-hour labour. I was shocked at the intensity of the experience but happy to be at home. Then came Ben. His birth was nothing short of delightful, in a pool in my living-room with two midwives and a student overwhelmed with emotion. Matilda was trickier. I’d been advised that there was a shortage of midwives and if no one was available I would have to go to hospital. I wrote to the Director of Midwifery to explain I would be giving birth at home and expected a midwife to attend me. But, to no avail. The midwives were out on another birth and we were told that we should either come to hospital straight away or call an ambulance if any problems arose. The stress of realising I might have to leave Emily and Ben made the birth much harder but, in the end, after a lot of rushing around, the midwives made it and Matilda was born just after 7am with Emily and Ben meeting her before she was a minute old. I believe that if the way you become a mother is one you chose and can remember with joy, then the transition is easier. My family and friends just accept my babies arrive in my house!

Fiona Chapman From London, mum to Fraser, with number two due in January I always imagined that I would give birth in hospital with lots of drugs. But my view changed once I started reading about child birth. As a structural engineer, I like to know about the science and details of things and it soon became clear that, for me, going into hospital might affect the birth hormones that make labour quicker and easier. I also discovered that help from drugs and medical interventions came with side effects, but that continuity of care and water birth could make things easier. I was keen to try gentle options before any drugs, but it seemed that hospitals were not set up for this. Then, at an NCT home birth group meeting, I met two other first-time mums who seemed normal, sane and had no signs of being super tough. We decided to go for it. After that, the hardest thing was remaining confident in the face of questioning and negativity from friends and family. On the day, I used a pool, hypnobirthing and had two midwives throughout labour. We had an open fire, quiet and darkness and there were no strangers to break my concentration. Labour took a while to get going and was hard work, but I was fully dilated in four hours and the pain was manageable. Now I’m planning to do the same thing again with number two in January.

further information

Whether you decide to have a home birth or not, NCT is here to provide information and support for parents so you can make your own informed choice about where to give birth based on evidence rather than myth and opinion. Take a look at more topics in our Info Centre, www.nct.org.uk/info-centre, to find out more. You can also contact your local branch for information about NCT home birth support groups. For more information on home birth, you can take a look at the following websites and books: www.BirthChoiceUK.com www.homebirth.org.uk Home Birth: A Practical Guide by Nicky Wesson, £8.99, www.nctshop.org.uk.

Winter 2010 newgen magazine 19


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22 newgen magazine Winter 2010


Soothing your baby

The

crying game Coping with a crying baby can be one of the biggest challenges of parenting. Here baby experts discuss the reasons for the tears and suggest ways to keep calm and carry on

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ooking after a crying baby can be a distressing experience for any parent. There’s the anxiety about your baby’s health, the emotional pain of seeing your little one in distress and the frustration of not being able to console your child. Rest assured you are not alone, according to Professor Ian St JamesRoberts of the Thomas Coram Research Unit at the University of London. ‘Babies who cry a lot or are unsettled in the night are common sources of concern for parents. Because parents often seek professional help, they are expensive for health services too. One estimate says they cost the NHS £65m per year. In rare cases, crying babies can trigger infant abuse or lead to long-term psychological problems.’ In light of this, St James-Roberts and his team are conducting research into crying and sleep problems in order to provide parents with evidence-based information on how to care for a crying baby. Conflicting advice ‘Parents are often given conflicting advice about whether to adopt infantdemand or limit-setting forms of parental care,’ he says. ‘This is also a major source of disagreement between authors of popular baby-care books. ‘Infant-demand, attachment and natural parenting refer to approaches where parents set out to follow an infant’s cues, by feeding often on demand, holding or carrying a lot, and responding quickly to all frets and cries. Limit-setting or structured parenting refer to approaches where parents impose routines and limits on their babies. They do this by introducing regular

times for sleeps, feeds and other activities; putting babies down rather than holding them; and sometimes delaying responses to crying – called controlled crying – rather than always responding immediately to all frets and cries.’ St James-Roberts is keen to point out that his research isn’t set to judge parents, and doesn’t aim to support one method over another. ‘Our research does not tell parents what to do, but it does help them to plan and make choices based on evidence about the outcomes of the choices,’ he says. It is worth pointing out that, although controlled crying does have some well-known advocates, significant evidence-based concerns have been raised about the long-term effects this non-responsive approach may have on a baby’s development. In Helping Your Baby To Sleep, health social scientist Anni Gethin and psychologist Beth MacGregor cite research that shows when babies are distressed their brains are flooded with hormones that may be harmful to

‘Infants become emotionally attached to the individual who most reliably responds to the crying’

development. This view is supported by Penelope Leach in her book The Essential Year. She argues that increased levels of stress hormones can cause changes in the stress responses of the baby’s developing brain, possibly leading to anxiety and depressive disorders in the future. Tell me why So why do babies cry? Crying is a baby’s main means of communication during a stage of development when they are dependent on others to meet their needs. Ronald Barr, Professor of Pediatrics in the Faculty of Medicine at the University of British Columbia, explains further in his 2007 article Why do babies cry? ‘Crying plays a role in developing the attachment relationship, as the infant becomes emotionally attached to the individual who most reliably responds to that crying,’ says Barr. Age is also a factor. St James-Roberts says that bouts of hard-to-soothe crying in the first three months are often attributed to colic or gastro-intestinal pain. The evidence about that is still inconclusive, but what is clear is that most babies grow out of this by four months and do not seem to have long-term problems. ‘We think that these crying bouts are probably due to normal developmental processes, although at present it’s not precisely clear what those are,’ says St James-Roberts. Prolonged hard-to-soothe crying may be a natural part of a child’s development, but parents still worry. That’s why research now focuses on how parents cope and why some manage better than others. ‘Ultimately, how parents interpret and respond to their infant’s cries, rather than Winter 2010 newgen magazine 23


Soothing your baby

the crying itself, is what determines longterm social and emotional development outcomes,’ says Barr. Barr and St James-Roberts contribute to the American website www.purplecrying. info, which provides free, research-based guidance for parents from childcare and psychology experts on coping mechanisms for dealing with a crying baby. For example, it advises that parents try to take some time out from the situation by placing their child in a safe place, walking away briefly and employing some relaxation breathing techniques. Help is vital too – parents could try letting a friend or family member watch over baby while they clear their heads. Simply having a shower or getting out of the house can make a big difference. Finally, if it all gets too much, there is no shame in sharing your frustrations with others, such as a family member, friend or your GP. Sleep patterns Parental attitudes towards their child’s cries are particularly pertinent when it comes to night-waking. ‘The problem is not waking so much as crying out, or otherwise attracting parental attention upon waking, and requiring a parental intervention in order to resettle back to sleep,’ says St James-Roberts. He believes the underlying issue is our understanding of sleep-waking behaviour and we need to dispel the notion that babies sleep through the night. ‘Night-time video recordings have shown that almost all infants (like children and adults) wake up for short periods in the night. After three or four months, most infants in western cultures acquire the ability to resettle back to sleep when this happens, but about a third of infants don’t.’ One thing that makes babies wake in the night is the need to feed. Night feeds in the early weeks help to establish and maintain breastfeeding. Young babies have small stomachs too, meaning they need to spread their feeding out. The frequent feeds help growth and brain development. It’s also important to note babies aren’t aware of the difference between night and day. Research has shown that babies’ sleep can be affected by exposure to daylight and body temperature – time spent in daylight, especially in the afternoon, seems to help babies’ day-night orientation. So, when faced with a crying child in the night, how can you maintain a sense of perspective and calmly help them to resettle? Trials by St James-Roberts show 24 newgen magazine Winter 2010

Reasons to be tearful The basic reason for a baby to cry is that they’re trying to communicate with you. But what is your child trying to tell you? These are possible explanations... Hunger Your baby may simply need some food. Crying may not stop immediately once you are feeding. Let baby keep feeding if she wants to and she will gradually be soothed as she fills up.

Tiredness and over-stimulation Too much stimulation at once can be overwhelming for a baby and crying may be a way of saying ‘I’ve had enough’. Try taking the baby somewhere calm to settle them.

Discomfort Having a soiled nappy isn’t much fun, neither is having tight fitting clothes. Also, make sure your baby isn’t too hot or too cold.

Illness If you’ve done everything you can, you may wonder if your baby is ill or in pain. Listen to your child – a baby who is ill often cries in a different tone. It may be more urgent or high-pitched. If your baby has difficulty breathing through the crying, or if the crying is accompanied by vomiting, diarrhoea or constipation, call your GP.

Affection Sometimes your baby just needs you. Depending on their age they may want physical contact or to hear your voice. parenting methods are key. You could try the following steps to increase the likelihood that your baby will remain settled for a long period in the night: • Settle a baby thought to be sleepy in a cot or similar place. Avoid feeding or cuddling a baby to sleep at night-time; • Reduce the light and minimise social interaction at night; • Once the baby is at least three weeks old, healthy and putting on weight normally, begin to delay feeding for a few moments when the baby wakes at night. The short delay means that waking is not immediately rewarded by feeding. This is done gradually, using handling or nappy changing to add a short delay, but does not involve leaving the baby to cry for a long time. Evidence also suggests ‘wind-down’ routines involving bathing and quiet play or stories at a regular time each day can help. The next time you’re feeling physically or emotionally drained by your child’s crying, bear in mind it’s nothing personal. Your child isn’t rejecting or finding fault with you. Also remember, above all, your child is loved and, however difficult and stressful your child’s crying is, this period will pass.

Additional help Understanding Your Baby’s Sleep NCT has worked with St James-Roberts and his team to develop a set of guidelines to help parents deal with infant night-waking. All About Your Baby’s Sleep is available from NCT’s Info Centre, www.nct.org.uk/info-centre/ information/view-126. An info sheet is also available from www.nctshop.co.uk Babycalming This book, written by experienced NCT Breastfeeding Counsellor, Caroline Deacon, is an alternative to some of the more regimented baby management books currently available. For more information, see www.nctshop.co.uk Cry-sis You can contact the Cry-sis helpline seven days a week, from 9am to 10pm, on 08451 228 669. The website, www.cry-sis.org.uk, includes a guide to coping for parents, which runs through the possible causes for crying and provides information on different ways you can respond.


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Postnatal care

Being a new mum should be a happy experience, but a survey by NCT shows that postnatal care is a ‘Cinderella’ service, often falling short of meeting new mums’ needs and expectations at a time of tremendous change in their lives. We look at the findings and what they mean for you and your baby

O

ur new postnatal care survey comes 10 years after a previous NCT study found that half of all new mums wanted more emotional support from staff during the first 10 days after giving birth. It involved 1,260 first-time mums, who were mainly NCT members, and follows maternity policy developments in the UK and National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) recommendations on the subject. Your care Previous research has highlighted the importance of positive experiences in the early days after childbirth. But, sadly, as in our previous report, many women still feel they do not receive enough emotional support. Less than half of first-time mums said they felt they received all the emotional support they 26 newgen magazine Winter 2010

needed in the first 24 hours after birth, while a third said they felt they got little, or none, of the emotional support they needed in the first month. Adding to the misery, many mums said they didn’t get enough information about their own health. This was a particular problem for women who had operative births involving forceps, ventouse or a caesarean, and whose needs were therefore likely to be greatest. For example, 43% of mums who had a caesarean birth said that few, or none, of their emotional needs were met in the first 24 hours after birth and throughout the ensuing month. Staffing shortages in hospital appear to be a major problem, especially for women who were recovering from an operative birth. A huge 42% of women who had hospital births said there were not always enough midwives to provide them with the level of support they needed, compared

with 23% who had their baby in a birth centre and 8% who had their baby at home. Almost half of women who had a caesarean section reported there were not always enough midwives to support them. A little bit of kindness goes a long way and happily most first-time mums felt midwives were kind to them, although women with complex needs felt they had a less positive experience, especially when it came to communicating and involvement in decisions about their own care. Your baby’s care One interesting finding to emerge from the survey was that women felt more attention was paid to the welfare of their baby than their own health and well-being. That said, the report also found that feeding support was inadequate. Less than half the mums surveyed felt they got all the help and support they needed with feeding


‘In the postnatal ward, the midwives seemed very stretched and did not have enough time to really provide any ‘hand holding’ and reassurance. You were

pretty much left to your own devices unless you had a troublesome baby or were very vocal in your demands.’

‘Every single health worker or midwife I spoke to both in hospital and afterwards at home had different advice to give on quite major issues that I wanted advice on. For example, some said feed on demand; some said feed every few hours; some said wake a baby to feed it; and some said never wake a sleeping baby!’ Mum who had a spontaneous hospital birth

Mum who had an assisted hospital birth

‘I found the first month extremely difficult but didn’t want to be labelled as having problems or postnatal depression, so I found it very difficult to talk to health professionals.’ Mum who had a caesarean birth

‘I would have liked someone to go through what happened at the birth and why things happened the way they did. I ended up having an emergency caesarean section and my baby had some difficulties because the cord was around his limbs. I would have liked

to know exactly what happened.’

Mum who had an unplanned caesarean

‘The antenatal and labour care I received was excellent, but as soon

as the baby was born I felt I was on my own.’ Mum who had an assisted hospital birth

their baby in the first 24 hours after the birth with similar rates for a week and up to a month after the birth. On a more positive note, 79% of mums were encouraged to have skin-to-skin contact in the first hour after birth, which can help with feeding and bonding. Continuity of care After the birth, there was considerable variation in the number of communitybased postnatal care contacts women had. Some had no contact appointment with either a midwife or maternity support worker, while others said they had up to ten or even more. Most women wanted to see the same midwife throughout their postnatal care, but 51% ended up seeing three or more different midwives after being discharged from the maternity unit or following their home birth.

‘Most people gave us conflicting advice. The difference was especially apparent between the advice from the midwives and the health visitor.’ Mum who had an assisted hospital birth

What needs to change? Postnatal care is crucial for new mums as they adjust to their role and changed relationships. But it often falls short of the mark. Action is needed to address routine services, as well as more intensive and targeted interventions for vulnerable families. NCT is calling on every health service in the UK to work to improve the support provided to new mums in the hours, days and weeks following the birth of their baby and to ensure they all have: • An individual postnatal care plan; • A named care co-ordinator whom they can contact at any time; • Regular home visits according to need; • Opportunities to get to know their carers; • A high and consistent standard of emotional support, physical care and information to address their own health and well-being and their baby’s needs, particularly support with baby feeding.

To download the full results of the survey, see www.nct.org.uk/about-us/ what-we-do/campaigning/cinderella

NCT CAN HELP

Early Days Courses and Drop-ins NCT offers courses and drop-in sessions aimed at helping parents at a time of enormous change and enabling them to share their experiences in a safe environment. You can discuss changing relationships; expectations versus realities of parenthood; modern parenthood; sleeping; crying; and returning to work – or not. Groups are small to make discussion easier. See www.nct.org.uk/in-your-areacourse/finder. NCT Postnatal line 0300 330 0773 NCT Breastfeeding line 0300 330 0771 NCT Shared Experiences line 0300 330 0774

Winter 2010 newgen magazine 27


Seasonal events well targeted because they are run by parents. They are held in family-friendly venues and offer lots of activities. At our Christmas party there were refreshments for adults on sale, and every child went home with a party bag.

newgen: How are NCT events different from other local parenting/ fundraising events you’ve attended? Sarah: NCT events are always open, friendly, low stress, low maintenance, and easygoing affairs. People attend and volunteer for as much or as little as they fancy and it’s all genuinely appreciated. Also, NCT events – be they fairs, parties or sales – are what people really want or need. Sara: General fundraising events don’t necessarily have facilities for baby changing, breastfeeding or feeding a weaning baby. NCT events often cater for all of these, and are very good value for money.

newgen: How did you find being an an organiser?

Festive family fun Having a baby doesn’t mean an end to Christmas parties. NCT branches all across the UK organise seasonal events that are fun and family friendly As the nights draw in, it can be tempting to pull up the covers and head into hibernation mode, but you would be missing out on all the seasonal fun organised by many NCT branches across the UK. We ask Sarah Smalley, from Southwark & Lambeth branch, and Sara Cherry, social events organiser with Huntingdon & District Branch, why it’s worth braving the cold to get out to an NCT event, and also a bit about their roles in organising a Christmas fair and Christmas party. 28 newgen magazine Winter 2010

newgen: What’s your message for members who are thinking of attending an NCT event? Sarah: Why not? Grab a friend and make it an opportunity for a catch up. Having said that, I’d probably vote to ditch my little cherub with daddy and go for a quick mooch round the stalls on my own if I had the chance. Sara: Don’t just think about it, go! NCT events are well organised and

Sarah: I liked doing something useful and fun for local parents, like me, that was within my capabilities. Plus it’s a sociable job. I thought I had the capacity in my schedule to do a little organising so I pulled in another mum to help me. I’ll probably take a break after this. Easy does it; I don’t want to peak too soon! Sara: I enjoy meeting people, listening to their birth stories, letting them know about anything that’s going on locally that might be relevant to them, and providing support by listening to their concerns and sharing my own parenting knowledge. Our Christmas party was the first for a couple of years and we wanted to do something to bring local parents together and raise awareness locally of NCT, not just to raise money. Loads of branch events are running across the UK this winter – such as parties, toy sales, pamper evenings and gift fairs. Money raised helps NCT deliver services across the country, so check with your local branch or visit www.nct.org.uk/in-your-area/ event-finder to find out what’s being organised near you.


Tummy Time

Babies need to spend some time on their tummies in order to go through the fundamental movement patterns that stimulate both sides of the brain and lay the foundation for later reading and writing. Babies should be placed on their back to sleep.

Baby Sensory classes are running throughout the UK. To ďŹ nd your nearest class please visit

www.babysensory.com


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Winter 2010 newgen magazine 33


Experiences

Dealing with diabetes Louise Smith from Bexley branch explains how diabetes affected her pregnancy, labour and birth, and talks about staying positive during her festive delivery I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes when I was 22 and put on a regime of four insulin injections a day. Twelve years later, at the age of 34, I found out I was pregnant. I contacted my specialist diabetic nurse to share the good news, only to be told I should have got in touch sooner. Women with diabetes are supposed to work alongside their care team to ensure their long-term blood sugar level is as low as possible before they conceive. They are also supposed to take a prescribed higher dose of folic acid as their babies can be more susceptible to birth defects. But I didn’t find any of this out until my first meeting with my specialist midwife when I was around six weeks pregnant. I was very well looked after during my pregnancy. I had regular appointments with a diabetic consultant and consultant obstetrician, specialist diabetic midwife and specialist diabetic nurse. I found it reassuring to have lots of antenatal appointments, although it could be frustrating to be dealt with by medical professionals who did not have diabetes and therefore had no real-life experience of trying to control errant blood sugars. I had the usual 12 week and 20 week scans and was given growth scans at 28, 32 and 36 weeks to check that the baby didn’t have too much fluid around him and that he wasn’t getting too big, which can be an issue in diabetic pregnancies. The main problem was regulating my blood sugars in the morning. They always seemed very high, but if I increased my bedtime insulin I risked becoming hypoglycaemic during the night. I was told that, as a result of not eating during the night and the hormone rush you get

‘Worrying about my blood sugars made them worse – but not letting the stress get to you is much easier said than done’ when you wake up, high morning blood sugars are not uncommon in pregnancy. Worrying about my blood sugars made them worse – but not letting the stress get to you is much easier said than done. My due date was 7 January, so by the time Christmas arrived I wasn’t in the mood for present shopping or putting on the only dress I could find that fitted and joining in with my work party. Both our

Coming up in newgen

families were a long car journey away so we decided to have a quiet Christmas at home. The plan was for me to be induced at 38 weeks, but that was Christmas Eve, so we had to wait four more days. I was admitted and given a pessary and that started very mild contractions, which I managed using a TENS machine. When I was examined, the midwife found I was only 1cm dilated and suggested breaking my waters to try to speed things up and recommended an epidural to allow her to do this more easily. I agreed and 16 hours later I eventually got to 10cm dilated. Unfortunately, the epidural meant I couldn’t feel the contractions and didn’t know when to push. I had been awake for 24 hours and was tired so the staff felt I needed help to push the baby out and took me to theatre. I felt a caesarean was inevitable, but the doctor managed to get Nathan out with the help of forceps. He was a large baby at 9lb 7oz and had to spend a few hours in the special care baby unit to have his blood sugars monitored as they had dropped low. But we were out of hospital within a couple of days and had no further complications. I was glad not to have had a caesarean and it also made me very keen to avoid an epidural when my second son, Joe, was born so I would know when to push. There are lots of rumours about diabetic pregnancies, labours and births, such as labour having to be induced, a caesarean section being necessary or the babies being very large. Having now had two vaginal births, I like to think I’m proof that these things are not inevitable. For more information on diabetes in pregnancy, visit www.diabetes.org.uk

Don’t miss the next edition: We hear from a volunteer about what NCT means to them and we announce the winners of the Babymoon book competition. Plus, we look ahead to Mothers Day. Also, read about taking care of yourself after the birth of your little one – from exercise and body image to nutrition. You can also catch up on all the latest NCT news. 34 newgen magazine Winter 2010


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NCT Newgen Winter 2010  

NCT's membership magazine packed with features and articles!

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