Archive for the ‘Antenatal education’ Category

Well, hello again. I do hope you are all keeping well.

I have to confess, last year was something of a washout for me. Mild depression and major fatigue were significant elements, but I worked through it, felt just fine on plenty of occasions throughout the year, got some proper sleep after Christmas and the world righted itself. Being an optimistic person, these things often do work out fine in the end. Once you have worked out how to crank the handle and put your life back into gear.

Anyhow, I’ve been itching to blog again for a few weeks now. I thought you might like to know where things are at chez Braindribbles.

Oldest one is 9. He’s just at the point where putting everything into mock inverted commas is a major part of his humour. Thinner than a beanpole and hungrier than a mammoth, I am starting to question the laws of physics. Or biology. Either way, it’s a mystery.

The photo below is from our trip to Snowdonia last spring, at a moment when he turned around to find the Easter Bunny right there and offering him a small Easter gift. He was rooted to the spot with embarrassment for a full minute. It was hilarious. For me, anyway…


Middle child is 7. She is loving finally being at the same school as her brother. It has solved so many issues for us. She’s also been industrious artistically – her recent paintings have merged her two favourite things: Hello Kitty and Star Wars. I hope you enjoy her work as much as I do.


Smallest one is 2. She’s completely out of nappies, thanks to the most sensible potty training book I have read so far. Her favourite song right now is ‘Three little monkeys’, often sung whilst jumping on my bed, while I’m still in it. Here she is, kidnapping my teaching dolls. Again. (Photo credit to middle child, by the way)


All of them are providing me with many many delightful cuddles through the day.

Loved one is being lovely as usual. He works so hard that he doesn’t feature much in the blog. Maybe that will change one day. He has something exciting in the pipeline and I may one day be allowed to tell you more about it…

As for me, well, I did qualify and I have a shiny diploma certificate to prove it. Somewhere. Buried in the piles of clutter I am still trying to work my way around. I’m loving my work, still getting used to the extra dynamic it brings but feeling more settled about it after 9 months of regular teaching.

I’m much more involved in my music too…more on that another day, but it’s all good.

As for the house move and settling in, well, we have the loveliest bunch of neighbours you ever met (they don’t read this blog so I’m not just saying that to humour them!), and have been so, so helpful in a challenging year and also become good friends. We intend to let the builders loose on our home in the next month or two, so we hope they will stay good friends in spite of the disruption!

And my general wellbeing has been restored by, would you believe, hypnotherapy…? Yup. I went on a Natal Hypnotherapy study day back in May as part of my ongoing training, and realised the possibilities for both my work and personal life. Of course, I didn’t take any steps to sort this out till Christmastime, but when I did, and did it properly, wow, what a difference. I’ve been using the CDs from Trance Solutions, an Aussie clinic that had the thought to make their work available on iTunes (a heap better than some of the other choices up there) and now I drift to sleep to a soothing antipodean voice and soft unintrusive music. And, after a couple of weeks, I started to feel like a completely new person.

Things are just as busy. I am just as forgetful. Things are just as messy. But they are slowly improving and, most importantly of all, I am feeling the way I ought to feel once more. Life is good.

Next post? Well, don’t hold your breath. But no doubt the itchy fingers will be back to give you a glimpse into my brain dribbles again soon ūüôā


A month or so ago, I made the mistake of criticising a fellow student by group email. ¬†Even though I had tried to be positive, constructive, funny and encouraging, it wasn’t received that way. ¬†The replies from the person concerned were really unpleasant and had the opposite effect from what I was trying to achieve.

Now, this post is not about the other person. It’s about what I could have done to avoid receiving a barrage of unpleasantness.¬†We did kiss and make up, by the way, but when I saw this article on Freshly Pressed today, it reminded me how easily misconstrued things can get. ¬†I don’t just have to watch my language, I have to check the tiniest of nuances.

Julia from¬†Measure of Doubt, who wrote the article, makes several relevant points. ¬†One of the things she mentions is to depersonalise. ¬†Don’t start a criticism with the word ‘you’re…’. Whoops.

Also, something she didn’t mention, I criticised on a minor issue -the straw that broke the camel’s back, or should I say the one-line email that snapped the student’s patience – rather than a significant one. ¬†So then it seemed like my argument was out of proportion. Why am I making a fuss about a throwaway comment? ¬†Whoops again.

Communicating via the internet seems to easily trigger our emotional side, Julia tells us. “The internet is full of emotional tripwires.” ¬†What a great expression! And how true in my case.

What have I learned from this experience?

Quite simply, never, NEVER to reply to an email that narks me without giving myself time to de-stress about it. ¬†Even if I am criticising positively, I must acknowledge that there will be tripwires I just can’t see.

Better still, save the criticism till I’m face to face. And if I don’t have that option because I don’t know the person well enough? Then it’s probably not worth it…

I write as I am already halfway through my third and last course prior to submitting my entire diploma.

I have 4 1/2 couples (the remaining half is an ex-pat in the Middle East, and I am sincerely hoping we will have the pleasure of his company next time).  All of them seem to be lovely, normal, and game to give everything a try.   This is great news for me and for teaching them. They are like sponges, soaking up everything we cover.  It has been very rewarding for me.

I wonder, though, is this luck or good teaching? ¬†I did do a better job at explaining what’s going on during introductions, as well as explaining how one of the NCT’s prime objectives is informed decision-making and a smooth journey into parenthood. ¬†Maybe they took that on board exactly how I hoped they would.

I also feel much happier with the activities I am doing. ¬†They are neat and tidy, I feel they work well, and I am better organised than I was last time round (something the assessor mentioned in my last course). ¬†Better still, I’m mixing up antenatal and postnatal activities, since it helps to keep a good balance of what’s important. After all, labour is one event, and parenting lasts a lifetime. ¬†Mixing up the activities shows that there is a good balance of content throughout the course. ¬†I’ve heard people complain about not doing enough postnatal stuff if you mix it in, but I’ve been careful to acknowledge what we’ve covered from the original agenda setting exercise at the beginning of the course, and show the items on the list being crossed off from session to session. ¬†It also stops stuff from getting too samey.

Another thing that went down brilliantly was having a decent shared lunch in the middle of the session.  I allocated an hour for lunch, and everybody helped out bringing stuff  and setting up. We had the branch volunteers come and talk to us at the same time, and everyone was getting on like a house on fire РI was even praised for it  on my mid-course evaluation.

It was also really great to see the men getting on so well.  After one coffee break, I had to drag them back inside, they were getting so involved in their conversation.  Wonderful.

image courtesy of

image courtesy of

I heard from other teachers that an intensive format (the bulk of this course is being taught over two 6-hour Saturdays) can be difficult for bonding, but it doesn’t seem to be a problem here. ¬†Whether it’s down to luck or judgement I’m not sure, but I’m certainly glad things are going so well.

We’ve ranged from easy topics (straightforward labour, practical babycare, safe sleeping) to more challenging ones, and whilst it was clear that subjects such as interventions and caesarean were quite a lot to take in, they still listened, asked questions and kept an open mind right the way through – though they were relieved to go onto some lighter stuff straight after!

I had one negative comment on my evaluation forms, which was that at one point I seemed a little disorganised (my epidural kit had gone missing – I found it shortly afterwards). And no doubt I can be better organised. ¬†But, for now, I know that I’m a lot¬†more organised than last time and the time before, and so I’m happy to keep trying to improve for now. ¬†Who knows? Maybe my next session will be perfectly organised!

All in all, though, I’m delighted with the way this course is going. ¬†I’m really enjoying it, and I also feel like I am making a difference to these people. ¬†It’s exhausting teaching for six hours straight, but I do like the format in spite of that.

I hope I am still this positive after next weeks class. The ex-pat is due to return to the UK this week, although it’s unclear whether he will be able to make time for the course… if he does come, it may upset the balance, I’m just not sure yet! ¬†But I’m not going to worry about that just yet. It will be what it is, and that will be fine.

I’m sorry to say it, but I am going to have to take down my Postaday 2011 banner.

I’ve been quiet this week.

Not on purpose. I still have lots to say.

But Life‚ĄĘ just stepped up a gear. ¬†And I really can’t blog every single day any more.

Why is this? I hear you ask.

Well, part of it is trying to do more exercise. Once you make a commitment to exercise three times a week, and you take into account travelling to and from a class, and possibly settling a baby into the creche, or queuing outside the studio because if you don’t there won’t be a space for you, it can be rather time consuming.

I’m not complaining. ¬†I feel one hundred times better. ¬†(And for the Fatchecker readers among you, it’s still going in the right direction, just about: 12 st 0.6 lb yesterday). ¬†I don’t feel an overwhelming urge to nap the moment the kids go to school. Well, not so often, anyway. ¬†I don’t get the wall of fatigue hitting me at 4pm. ¬†When I’m home, I’m actually getting stuff done instead of frittering away time because I’m too tired to do anything. (I can still fritter, mind you, but it’s through choice these days.)

There’s the other thing. I came off time out back at the beginning of May. And somehow, I kept the blog going in spite of returning to training and having many, many things I needed to do study-wise. ¬†I’m not sure the quality was quite up to scratch though…you’ve all been very polite and not said anything, but I know that at times I could have done a better job.

Now, I’ve got a course coming up in the next couple of weeks. ¬†In the long run, when I’m qualified, this shouldn’t take up too much time, but right now, while I’m trying out different ideas and activities, there’s an awful lot of planning needing doing. ¬†Even now, as I type away, my eyes keep flicking over to the bookshelf I should be bustling around, looking at what activity to put where. I love this blog. It helps me achieve peace of mind, and balances out my thinking, and it shouldn’t be making me feel guilty… But right now, I do. ¬†There is actually something more important I have to go and do.

So, the banner has come down.

image courtesy of

image courtesy of

I will still blog regularly – at the absolute minimum one post a week – and about the same stuff. ¬†And maybe at some point I’ll be able to blog daily again.

But right now, it is the fallout from just a few too many things going on. ¬†I looked up the definition of ‘fallout’, and it talked about fallout being the tiny particles of dust, ash, or indeed radioactive by-product from some kind of explosion or eruption.

Don’t worry, I haven’t exploded or erupted. ¬†But I do sometimes think of this blog in that way. ¬†I think about stuff a bit too much. ¬†My head tries to explode. ¬†Blogging vents off all the extraneous thoughts that I can’t deal with elsewhere.

Blogging is a kind of fallout.

In a good, non-toxic way, you understand.

It happens but once a year. Nevertheless, an NCT Forum is not an event to be taken lightly. Follow these tips and you should breeze through the day…

Image courtesy of Decembermum on Flickr

1. Wear good sturdy shoes. Flip flops, high heels and the like will take their toll on your feet as you mooch around the exhibition stands/chat to fellow specialist workers practitioners. By the time you leave, you will have been on your feet for around four hours or more, and, no matter how wonderful your pedicurist, your feet will be dirty, sore and swollen if you chose flip-flops as your footwear.

2. Remember to use the word ‘Practitioner’ so nobody realises you haven’t read any of the mountains of emails telling you useless stuff like this. Say ‘Specialist Worker’ and you will give the game away.

3. It may be unfashionable, but a backpack is a really good idea. You get monstrous amounts of paperwork, free samples, water, and that’s before you’ve bought anything off the stands. Those free samples add up. 14 sachets of SpaTone? Of course you’ll need them all. Without a backpack, your arms will¬†drop off by lunchtime.

4. Don’t worry about bringing your chequebook. The good stands will invoice you by PayPal before you get home. The better stands will take a credit card number. The bad stands won’t, and then you have an excuse not to buy anything off them.

5. Don’t try and talk to all the people on all the stands, unless you want to miss the really great talk by the latest author on a relevant topic. ¬†Which, incidentally, you’ll kick yourself for missing because it turns out she’s actually an excellent speaker with something extraordinarily worthwhile to say.

6. If ¬†you don’t like staple sandwiches, bring your own lunch. It’s almost always sandwiches. They’re OK as sandwiches go, but the Ritz hotel this is not.

7. If you have a gripe with head office, by all means use this opportunity to air it, but be careful how you say so in a plenary session. Whining will be sure to earn you dirty looks from people who feel you’re wasting your time. Best to have a valid complaint followed immediately with a viable solution. Saying, ‘this stinks and we hate it’, is unhelpful, and everyone would much rather be outside drinking coffee even if they do happen to agree with you.

8. Do not expect all the exhibition stands to have any relevance to NCT work. Those that have a tenuous link can be deathly boring and you can be suckered into a ten-minute conversation about something you really didn’t need to know. Such as amniotic leak detection. On the other hand, those stands with the least relevance may be the most interesting. My favourite stand was about green electricity. I know. Green electricity and NCT? Who’d have thought it.

9. Take the opportunity to talk to head office people – and be smiley and enthusiastic. ¬†That way, when you ring them to whine about something three months down the line, they’ll be more inclined to help you out, even though they are rushed off their feet trying to do the work of three people on one measly charity salary. ¬†Also, they’re really, really nice, which helps.

10. Finally, go out of the correct exit. If you leave by the door most convenient for the train station, you will not pass go or collect £200 be able to collect your attendance certificate Рwhich could be disastrous if you are a student needing to show off your study day brownie points in your final portfolio.

Well done! You made it through the day intact. Expect to sleep well, once you’ve travelled however many hours back home. And dream NCT for several nights running. Sorry about that.

It’s Monday and, having been on a study/work related trip to Manchester, I have so much to ponder about. ¬†I’ll see how far I get.

We had an amazing study day. This was a chance for me to get up-to-date with new procedures in maternity services or changes in NHS policy, as well as just getting my head back in the game; it’s been four years since I first did my compulsory study in this area and, my brain being rather sieve-like, I’ve forgotten a lot of it. ¬†We had a quiz to look over and, whilst I knew at least half of it, the fact that there were several questions I’d never even heard of was rather intimidating. ¬†Clearly I need to get more familiar with a midwifery textbook at some point…

Image courtesy of

What took up most of the day was a detailed look at a partogram. (What’s a partogram? It’s the document that the midwife fills in during labour to keep a record of what’s going on.) It was absolutely fascinating. I hadn’t considered it in so much detail before, but it very soon became clear that every single little mark a midwife makes on such a chart has so much significance. Our tutor for the day is well known within the NCT for her gentle, approachable expertise, and I soaked it up like a sponge.

We also looked at some problems people can have during pregnancy – pre-eclampsia, morbid obesity and gestational diabetes – and looked at how it can affect their hopes and plans for labour and birth. How realistic is it for a morbidly obese woman to have a home water birth? ¬†Well, easier than one with pre-eclampsia, if she’s prepared to challenge the hospital’s normal practice.

What I got out of the day most, though, was not the top-up and refreshment of knowledge, ¬†but a chance to talk to other antenatal teachers (though I didn’t meet a single other student). I chose this training because the subject is so fascinating, and to talk to others who are equally interested can lead to some amazing conversations.

The study day was six hours long, but for once I didn’t lose concentration – it was just too interesting. And in the breaks, we’d talk about it even more. Amazing stuff.

More on the second day next time – watch this space.

I write this on the eve of a work-based trip to Manchester. A colleague is doing the driving; all I have to do is take in the sights – mostly of traffic jams on the M6 – and I get around 40 hours away from small people and loved one.

It’s at times like this that I have to remember who I am without all that other baggage. ¬†If I don’t identify myself as a mum, or as a wife, what I have left is music (not what the trip is about) and my training (entirely what the trip is about). ¬†I am going to spend two whole days behaving like an adult, or at least, behaving as if I were the most important person that I have to deal with on a regular basis.

an NCT antenatal class

Image courtesy of the NCT

If I have music and antenatal teaching to outwardly define me when I’m out on my own, what does that mean? I am using the words as if they were labels. I feel strongly that they are not, but nevertheless they are the two most important things in my life after family.

Since this trip is all about antenatal teaching – a study day and a national forum – perhaps I should try to work out why that in particular is so important to me. Earning money as an antenatal teacher is a bit of a joke; unless you compromise on family life, it’s very difficult to work for more than sixteen hours a month or thereabouts, and it’s quite difficult to manage even that much with the current bookings system. ¬†So, it couldn’t possibly be about the money.

an NCT class

Image courtesy of the NCT

What teaching antenatal classes means to me is the opportunity to help people find their way through such a special time in their lives. They come to the first class anxious, scared, knowing very little, and by the time they leave to have their babies, they feel revved up and ready to face the challenges and wonders that make up childbirth and becoming a parent. ¬†It’s amazing to be able to give people the tools to help themselves through what can sometimes be a very difficult period, and to see them make friends for life through the classes.

Nevertheless, when I go to these big forums or conferences, I do feel very intimidated. I, a mere student in a sea of qualified teachers, unused to the hustle and bustle, and not entirely sure I belong at times. ¬†Particularly on this occasion, when events have caused me to question things in a way I wouldn’t have dreamed of a year ago.

So, I’ll go, and I’ll feel small and insignificant, but at the same time I will revel in doing something that means a lot to me, and that has nothing to do with family.

I say that, of course, but…I would never have been inspired to teach if it hadn’t been for my family. ¬†Funny how these things come full circle, isn’t it?