Today's blog post is an extract taken from The Other Mother by Jen Brister. Written from the non-biological parent's point of view within a same-sex relationship, Jen's writing is eye-opening, wise and hilariously relatable. Here, she writes about her experiences with NCT classes which every parent will relate to, no matter the family set-up. The Other Mother is out now and available from Amazon and Waterstones.
Or, if you'd like to be in with a chance to win a copy of The Other Mother, we are giving away five copies to five lucky winners. All you need to do is comment with the right answer to the question at the bottom of this page. Good luck!
Our NCT group was run by a doula. If you don’t know what a doula is, don’t worry: no one does. That is, of course, unless you are a doula, you’ve met a doula, or you’re insanely middle class and your parents called you ‘Doula’. (I really hope that hasn’t happened to anyone.)
Anyway, for the record, and to save you from googling it, a doula is someone who is paid to assist pregnant women before, during and after birth. They’re not medically trained so they don’t actually deliver the baby, but they help ‘a mother’ to ‘relax’ and prepare for labour and can also be present during the delivery to offer support and comfort. Doulas are usually women; I’ve never heard of a male doula, but they must exist, although, personally, I can’t imagine anything more annoying than a bloke telling you what to do with your body during labour:
‘You’re doing really well, babe, just breathe . . . don’t fight your contractions, try and connect with them . . .’
‘F*ck off, mate, or you’ll be connecting with my fist!’
That might just be me.
Our NCT doula was lovely, very non-judgemental, and gave us what I thought was a balanced viewpoint on natural births as well as what painkillers and/or interventions you could choose if the HORRIFIC pain from squeezing a human being out of a hole the size of a ten-pence piece got a bit too much.
Nothing really prepares you, however, for the experience of watching a woman ‘simulate’ contractions, as you sit in a circle of, at this point, acquaintances, in a community centre in the middle of the afternoon on a Sunday. As a half-Spaniard I have never felt more British in my life than I did that day, sitting in silence as I watched our doula panting and moaning for what felt like DAYS. No one dared make eye contact; we all sat mesmerised as she rolled her head back, her hands resting in her lap as she recreated each fresh wave of contractions with what can only be described as (and I don’t say this lightly) wild abandon.
It wasn’t that I felt embarrassed for her, quite the opposite. It was because she seemed to lack any self-consciousness that I became even more self-conscious about being part of this. There I was, a woman, in a room full of pregnant women who are about to go through one of the most seismic, life-changing experiences that any woman can go through, thinking to myself, ‘What is the actual point of me being here?’
To be in with a chance to win a copy of The Other Mother, simply comment below with the answer to the following question:
What day of the week was Jen's NCT class?
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