Singletons in search of love in a hurry can go speed dating, but what do you do once you’ve found your mate and time is ticking until your baby is due? At eight months pregnant, Lucy Richardson goes to a Speed Bumps class for a crash course on support on offer to new parents
LAST week I bought a pair of to-die-for heels in yellow suede which will be perfect this summer with vintage tea dresses or skinny jeans. It was only as I was walking out of the shop with my carrier bag and glanced down that I remembered that, with only five weeks left until I give birth, there’s more chance of me competing in the Olympics than wearing these vertiginous beauties this year.
With our first child, my husband and I had already been to a breastfeeding workshop and sat through a block of antenatal classes by this stage, but pulling a knitted boob resembling a cherry-topped Danish pastry out of a sack during an icebreaker session and listening to a detailed description of an episiotomy left Matthew traumatised, so we decided to give them a miss this time round.
However, with the due date looming, I felt I needed to manoeuvre my head back into newborn gear, so eagerly signed up for a one-off night of baby bombardment, otherwise known as Speed Bumps, along with about 25 other couples at The Parkmore Hotel in Eaglescliffe, Stockton.
The event held by The National Childbirth Trust (NCT), which is the UK’s largest charity for parents, featured five-minute presentations by local groups and businesses who were silenced with a bell if they went over their time limit.
After mingling with other expectant parents, NCT representatives kicked things off with details about its new Teesside Homebirth Support Group, a forthcoming nearly-new sale in Darlington and a Bumps and Babies Group held every Wednesday from 10am to noon at St Paul’s Church in Bishopton Road in Stockton.
This was quickly followed by a talk on baby slings (and how to make your own), real nappies and Photography for Little People, which specialises in taking children’s hand and foot impressions, before we were free to wander around the stalls and ask more questions.
After topping up our (decaff) coffee and tea cups and with jumbo cookies in hand, we settled back down for another round of bite-sized talks about Sure Start children’s centres, pregnancy pilates at Studio 21 in Yarm High Street, Music Bugs classes for tiny tots to four-year-olds at Bannatyne’s Health Club, in Ingleby Barwick, and The Pottery Loft, in Billingham, which combines clay painting with a cafe and soft play area.
The fast pace of Speed Bumps hopefully leaves people keen to find out more, says Karen Bates, NCT Teesside branch co-ordinator. “New parents often remark that they feel there is a secret world of baby groups and support which, at the start, it’s difficult to understand and access,” she explains. “We hope that Speed Bumps can help to demystify that world so new parents can get good support as early as possible.
“Anyone involved in the NCT knows that making friends with people who are having babies at the same time as you is just about the most helpful thing you can do. These are the people who, at times, save your life. Speed Bumps, Bumps and Babies group, home-based groups, and most of what we do, is about helping people find good supportive friendships for the exciting, but very challenging time of the arrival of a new baby.”
I really enjoyed immersing myself back into the world of birth, especially meeting other pregnant women teetering on the precipice of nature at its most wondrous. The night was enlightening without being preachy as all the speakers were passionate about their topics, so I’ll definitely be going to the Bumps and Babies group and visiting The Pottery Loft with Mini Richardson and six-year-old Maisy while, although tempted, real nappies are just a baby step too far for me.
I’m also keen to get out and about as much as possible with the little one for the sake of my own mental health and hopefully I’ll make a few new friends along the way. You never know, maybe my sunnycoloured skyscrapers will get an airing this summer after all.