I'm 7 weeks in to having a baby, and I realise that whilst all of the stuff they teach you in NCT or alternative classes has it's uses (obviously being able to breast feed and administer first aid to your baby is pretty key), what you really need is a bunch of less expected skills. Here's my list of the courses that NCT should really be running....
(1) How to pick things up with your toes 101
Once you're midst breast feeding, there's pretty much no moving (although I have occasionally mastered this art, usually to answer the door when the postman / delivery man decides that mid feed is the opportune time to knock. Baby on boob at the front door is a glamorous look indeed. My proudest moment was embarrassing the hell out of our favourite odd job man, Reg, despite him not really seeing anything as the door covered my modesty).
Despite the fact that you know this, and you know that you should set yourself up with a drink, the remote, and whatever else you may need within arms reach, inevitably you forget, and that elusive item that will keep you amused for what can be a 40 minute feed is out of reach but just within the reach of your toe. Hooking said item and flipping it back to yourself becomes an art in itself.
(2) One handed dressing and undressing during feeding
You can have all of the breastfeeding demo's that you like, but the tricky bit is actually getting set up so you don't expose yourself to the world, whilst not managing to let your baby crash to the ground.
You need to master flipping a nursing bra on and off, getting your top out of the way, retrieving a cover out of your bag, undoing your clothes, balancing the baby on your knees without them rolling off, getting the baby into a position where you somehow don't break it's neck / leg / other body part; and then, only then, finally getting that elusive latch.
This stuff is not easy - and when you're first doing it in public, you're all too aware of the people around you and how crap you are at all of the above. Oh, add in the fact that the baby is probably screaming blue murder, and you've got a perfect recipe for looking like the worst parent on earth.
(3) Not getting embarrassed when your baby is screaming the house down in public
This one is very much still in progress. When your baby first decides to have a full on crying fit in public, it can be one of the most distressing experiences of parenthood. Obviously helped by useful comments of things you can try, that clearly must never have occurred to you - 'maybe he's hungry'...'he's a bit upset isn't he - he needs his mummy' (whilst you're holding him, clearly useful)...'maybe it's his nappy'...the list goes on. It's pretty hard not to bark back that you've tried all of these things, and perhaps it's just that they're a baby, babies cry sometimes, and you're doing your best.
My worst experience of this was with a group of other mums and babies after a baby massage class. We were going for a walk, it tipped it down with rain, and so we bundled into a nearby (as it turns out, least child-friendly place in the world) cafe. Being in a group of mums in the first place doesn't exactly make you inconspicuous (especially as so many have prams like tanks), and when it's your little cherub who's decided this is their prime moment for a melt down, you really do make an arrival.
One elderly couple in the cafe decided to mention quite how many babies we had with us on his way out, after having given me evil eye for our whole time there while I settled little Otis (and yes, this time, he was hungry, pretty basic stuff!). No shit sherlock! We're a group of mums! We have babies! A lot of people do it! It takes a lot of restraint not to bark obscenities at helpful passers by, but you soon learn a fake smile and nod approach, before bitching about them after they've gone.
(4) Speed eating
We've somehow mastered the art of still cooking good meals each day and not resorting to convenience food (mostly because I prep our dinner during his morning or afternoon nap, cooking at dinner time was seriously not working). However, babies seem to have a honing signal for food that's about to enter your mouth. You've lulled yourself into a false sense of security, convinced that nap time has finally secured you an hour to eat and chat with your partner, and the second that fork approaches your lips, the wails on the monitor start. Bless them, they can't help it, but wolfing that food in two seconds that you so lovingly prepared is a little heart breaking, to say the least.
(5) Eating (and enjoying) food cold
See above course. The alternative solution to the baby food timing issue.
There's probably more, but these are my top 5 - you somehow learn them as you go, but NCT - I think you're missing a trick x