AIBU to think NCT classes are a waste of time & money?

(237 Posts)
LittlePeaPod Thu 17-Oct-13 08:18:32

Am I been unreasonable to think NCT classes are a waste of time and money after only attending the first session and the only reason I should go back is to get to know the other new mums to be because they all seem like a really nice bunch of ladies.

Attended our first NCT session last night and I have to say I was really disappointed in the class. The two and a half hour session was boring and verging on condescending. The activities can only be compared to those crappy training activities you get in crappy work based training sessions. The MW is clearly pro natural birth with no intervention what's so ever including any form of pain relief and her method of trying to scare the new mums into following her path was crap IMHO. For example she proclaimed swaddling new borns has been linked to cot deaths! When I asked her to give us some facts so we could understand what exactly the risk associated to swaddling is, she couldn't. [Hmm] The breast feeding guilt trip started last night please don't got me wrong i understand the benefits of breast feeding a new born She clearly hasn't considered that there may be mums in the group that will struggle with breast feeding and they way she went on anyone that does struggle will feel like a failure and like they are letting their baby down this goes for anything other than a VB with no pain relief too

I am a logical person and it frustrated me that the MW didn't seem able to back her statements up with actual facts. She just blubbed scary shit and there was no opportunity for real discussion. Either she is not used to people asking questions or she was just trying to frighten us into following the path that she did when she had her children. So much for giving new mums to be the relevant unbiased information so we can prepare for the birth / post birth including what could go wrong and god forbid anything does go wrong we can at least be informed so we can make decisions quickly. If last nights session is a sign of things to come I think the MW is going to get a shock because I won't be able to sit there and just nod!

I understand at 29 weeks pregnant I can be a bit unreasonable sometimes. So please ladies AIBU?

LittlePeaPod Tue 22-Oct-13 13:52:04

Agree Toandtwo. It is a lottery...

Twoandtwohalves Sun 20-Oct-13 11:38:17

I do think it's the luck of the draw: I had a great experience on our class 2.5 yrs ago, great teacher (didn't spot an agenda, realistic about the 25% CS rate in our area and helped prepare us), lovely bunch of people who we still meet and support (eg we rallied round when our children have been in hospital), dads too. Whilst it focused on the birth and didn't exactly tell me anything I couldn't have read, it did involve DH and we had lots of really good "what if" conversations in the car on the way there and back as a result of the session (eg about parenting styles and aspirations, if the birth/baby was not what we expected for whatever reason). Those conversations wouldn't have happened without the class. We had a fairly "average" spread of birth experiences with 2 CS, 2 assisted, a couple of neonatal infections leading to stays in transitional care and at least one "ideal" NCT birth where everything went to plan.

It's not the be all and end all for making friends. I made friends elsewhere with another woman who had been on the class before ours: same area, same teacher, and would completely agree with the OP. They never gelled as a group and she didn't like the style of the teacher.

LittlePeaPod Sun 20-Oct-13 11:37:56

It's great to hear the positive experiences too. It's such a shame that this experience is nt consistancy across the organisations classes.

Retroformica Sun 20-Oct-13 11:34:03

I found the nct classes very informative. Lots of clear info about feeding and birth etc.

Retroformica Sun 20-Oct-13 11:32:24

Our nct classes were quite good. However the best thing was meeting my 3 best friends through the sessions. Twelve years down the line our kids are very much like very close cousins having known each other all their lives.

Mia1415 Sun 20-Oct-13 11:27:36

I thought my NCT classes where brilliant. I made excellent friends & the facilitator was excellent.

I am a single mum & went on my own to classes. Many of the exercises were designed for couples but I was never made to feel left out & I'm thoroughly glad I went.

LittlePeaPod Sun 20-Oct-13 11:24:09

That should be "you would not have know anything was wrong"

LittlePeaPod Sun 20-Oct-13 11:23:32

Svrider shock and confused. I don't really know what to say.. What if you had issues with high blood pressure or GD? You would to have know.

Svrider Sun 20-Oct-13 11:19:12

Littlepea yes you have that rightshock
Dd1 i referred to consultant "care" due to age
They saw me once, for 5mins after12 week scan and discharged me. Didn't refer me back to midwife tho...
Dd2 I asked MW (who i saw x2) regarding classes and she said to look out for a leaflet thru the door (no leaflet)
Ds1 (dc3) I was determined to go, just so I could see what was said etc...
I was told they are only available for first time or vulnerable mums

LittlePeaPod Sun 20-Oct-13 11:11:46

Svrider have I got this right? So in all three pregnancies your community MW didn't discuss or mention any antenatal classes NHS etc. or even talk about a birth plan if you so wanted one? That's just a different level of slack in care/support, verging on incompetent from the MW, IMO.

Usuallyright Its something to get past so you can see your baby, imo. I couldn't agree more. And from my limited experience what you have heard about NCT classes focusing purely on the birth intervention free births is true. I am on my first pregnancy and I also agree with your thoughts that its seems that the birthing process is some form of competition for some. In fact I would go as far as to say some people see it as some sort of badge of honour if you go all intervention free, when in fact for me "it's a means to an end". Like you say, to meet your baby.

Worriedthistimearound Sun 20-Oct-13 10:43:20

I didn't mean birthing without pain relief, I meant without major intervention such as forceps or csection.

I'm not anti any of these and went in with an open and informed mind willing to go with whatever was required. I certainly didn't want to suffer pain or trauma simply because I felt I should. What I didn't want was abdominal surgery unless it was necessary mainly because of the recovery time. I certainly dont think that most women want to suffer pain in labour so perhaps we are talking at cross purposes. i do think that most women, given the choice would like to get through it will as little pain and as little intervention as possible.
I do however agree that an independent study would be interesting.

usuallyright Sun 20-Oct-13 10:17:36

I had three uncomplicated vaginal deliveries the nct would be proud of. But I avoided nct classes because I'd heard from numerous friends that they focused on the birth massively. And I've never been obsessed with have birth process. It's something to get past so you can see your baby, imo. The very nature of birth is often so unpredictable that massively over preparing for it, writing long rambling birth plans etc.. Is to miss the whole point of pregnancy=Parenthood. I had a hunch that some nct'ers treated the whole experience of birth and parenting as a competitive sport and that's not for me.

Svrider Sun 20-Oct-13 09:49:18

I have 3 DC, and was never told about ANY of these classes confused
The midwives were then angry when I looked vacant at them when they asked about birth plan etc
It also explains why I didn't know about the special out of hours door to the delivery room and used the "wrong" in work hours door instead
This was a big deal apparently.....

LittlePeaPod Sun 20-Oct-13 08:59:37

Worried. I think the most you can say is in your opinion, experience and discussing this with people you know, you believe that most women share your feelings and want as natural a birth as possible. When I look at my network of friends, family and colleagues, actually all of them want(ed) a CS, or epidural and non of them wanted an intervention free birth. They had no interest in the whole VB with as little intervention as possible. Based on that I would not assume that the majority of the rest of the female population want some form of intervention. I also believe there is some fear attached to women honestly saying what the want because culturally there is so much pressure/expectation that women should have/want a VB with as little intervention as possible. There is some form of stigma judgement attached to people that choose a different delivery method (CS for example). IMO this is all driven by our antenatal educators.

Pastel I agree that until we have a system that adequately educates women on all their options we will never truly know what women want. It would actually make an interesting study --if it was done by an impartial team e.g not NHS or NCT etc.)

We have slightly digressed from my op which is relating to NCT objectives and educators. The interesting thing is, when we consider that more than 50% of births end in some form of intervention and 1 in 4 women have a CS, IMO it's shortsighted for antenatal education to solely push for focus on VBs and women managing without some form of intervention (pain relief etc.). Personally I believe that all antenatal educators have a duty to help women understand that that intervention may be necessary and for a quarter of them a CS will be the way their baby is delivered and that these delivery methods do not take away from their whole birthing experience. Surely the healthiest approach is to have impartial education so women are fully informed on all options and can make informed decisions. I think the healthiest approach should be to focus on a psychologically and physically healthy mother and baby rather than the means by which the baby is delivered.

Again, it seems consistent that the one thing people agree on is that the NCT can be a place to possibly meet other new mums and this network can be very supportive in the early days.

Worriedthistimearound Sat 19-Oct-13 21:29:36

I disagree pastel, I think that most women do want as natural a birth as possible. Of course some women want a csection and as I said, those women should absolutely be allowed to discuss their reasons and ultimately opt for a CS if that's what they want.

I'm on my 4th pregnancy and have done a couple if refresher courses as well as the original course in order to meet other mums. I've met quite a few women who have had csections but none who actively wanted one first time around and a couple who were desperate for a vbac 2nd time around mainly due to recovery.

So I've no doubt that some women are always sure they want a CS and I agree it should be discussed more openly but I firmly disagree with the notion that a sizeable proportion of women actually want a CS first time around. Though I concede that women who want a CS for a second or subsequent birth due to a bad experienced first time around often need to fight for it which is unacceptable.

womma Sat 19-Oct-13 21:14:03

I had a very similar experience with my NCT classes to the OP. It was all very much about keeping it natural and any intervention was inferred that it was a failure on the mother's part. The woman who ran it is not a midwife but has written a couple of books on childbirth, and is obviously one of that breed of women who give birth to a baby as easily as you would a well buttered lemon pip. So she had a particular view of childbirth based on her own experience. Funnily enough, every single woman in our group had really difficult births, and we all needed intervention.

The facilitator certainly didn't like anyone asking too many questions or daring to push for her facts to be explained. She pointedly blanked one couple who questioned her for the rest of the sessions! I later found out from someone else that she is well known in our area for being 'fucking nuts'.

I really tried to make friends with my group, but they were very cliquey and after a while I just couldn't be bothered with them talking about house prices, how much their weddings cost and their husband's jobs.

So all in all, yes, for me it was a waste of time and money. I'm pregnant again and will do a refresher class at the hospital and save some money.

womma Sat 19-Oct-13 21:13:40

I had a very similar experience with my NCT classes to the OP. It was all very much about keeping it natural and any intervention was inferred that it was a failure on the mother's part. The woman who ran it is not a midwife but has written a couple of books on childbirth, and is obviously one of that breed of women who give birth to a baby as easily as you would a well buttered lemon pip. So she had a particular view of childbirth based on her own experience. Funnily enough, every single woman in our group had really difficult births, and we all needed intervention.

The facilitator certainly didn't like anyone asking too many questions or daring to push for her facts to be explained. She pointedly blanked one couple who questioned her for the rest of the sessions! I later found out from someone else that she is well known in our area for being 'fucking nuts'.

I really tried to make friends with my group, but they were very cliquey and after a while I just couldn't be bothered with them talking about house prices, how much their weddings cost and their husband's jobs.

So all in all, yes, for me it was a waste of time and money. I'm pregnant again and will do a refresher class at the hospital and save some m

AllBoxedUp Sat 19-Oct-13 21:10:58

I did view the main point of NCT classes as finding a support network for maternity leave. We don't have any family nearby and my NCT friends were really great in the first few weeks after the birth when I wasn't ready for baby and toddler groups.
The classes themselves were fine apart from the last breast feeding class. We hadn't covered feeding in any of the others and people asked some questions about FF and got a very frosty reception. It was a different teacher and she was pretty terrible - kept on moaning about how tired she was!
We did the C section thing where they showed us how many people would be in the theatre and that was the best bit for me as DS was breech and I had an elective CS.
In my area I was really encouraged by the midwives to do the NCT class if I could afford it. I think they didn't have many spaces on the NHS classes and the time had been cut down. A friend who did both said the NCT class talked about all the drawbacks of the different pain relief options and the NHS class just ran through when you could ask for them!

pastelmacaroons Sat 19-Oct-13 20:49:34

BTW our class leader was lovely, spoke loads about candles and bringing that loving feeling into the birth pool!

I will never forget her face as during the meet up, she had to listen to one horror story after another!

pastelmacaroons Sat 19-Oct-13 20:48:16

worried

There should be more unbiased info on csections but I don't think there's anything wrong with them focusing on vaginal birth with as little intervention as needed. I'm very surprised that anyone signing up for NCT doesn't expect that. After all the vast majority of women do want that type of birth. Not all, I know, but most. The idea of a csection terrified me but it certainly should be covered because as well as the small group of women who chose an elective for whatever reason (their choice IMO), there will also be those whose plans for a vb didn't work out and a csection was necessary.

Until more information about sections is given out nad talked about and more women are allowed to have them its impossible to say that ^ most^ women want x type of birth, as presently only really vaginal birth is on the choice menu!

Give women a fair choice, then say - they want x birth.

NewbieMcNewbie Sat 19-Oct-13 20:31:43

Very glad I did it. For the email addresses, phone numbers and general camaraderie. I really enjoyed our weekly get-togethers. We had nothing in common bar the babies but babies were all we wanted to talk about in the first few months anyway so it didn't matter. It was nice to know people with babies the exact same age as mine.

Actual content of classes was not so useful but then first time births very rarely go how people hope and not many get the NCT poster-birth, as it were. Ours covered everything, including pain relief, interventions and c-sections. It's not their fault I had a difficult labour that required more than a massage with a tennis ball for me to survive it.

Still in touch with majority of group 3 yrs on, although we are scattered around country (and world actually) now so don't meet face-to-face anymore. Still email and FB occasionally though. It's a nice connection.

daughterofafarmer Sat 19-Oct-13 20:03:21

Didn't find the class hugely useful, however this afternoon my NTC friend (one of them) and her family come to see us. 3 yrs on, we are still great friends and keep in touch, despite us moving away.

I have signed up for a refresher class--even through I'm having an ELCS-- for DC2 just to meet a few more new friends. For me NCT was always more about having local support system for once the baby arrive rather than the 'information'.

Worriedthistimearound Sat 19-Oct-13 19:52:03

There should be more unbiased info on csections but I don't think there's anything wrong with them focusing on vaginal birth with as little intervention as needed. I'm very surprised that anyone signing up for NCT doesn't expect that. After all the vast majority of women do want that type of birth. Not all, I know, but most. The idea of a csection terrified me but it certainly should be covered because as well as the small group of women who chose an elective for whatever reason (their choice IMO), there will also be those whose plans for a vb didn't work out and a csection was necessary.

The formula feeding is a tricky one as there are struck government guildlines prohibiting the promotion of formula feeding for infants. There would be no harm in explaining to the class that if they wanted to ff then they should discuss this with their midwife. Though I think it's fair to accept that they are an organisation with bf at their core.

Treague2 Sat 19-Oct-13 12:03:35

To some extent, what the NCT wants to deliver is impossible to deliver.
There is no formula for the sort of birth they would class as optimum:

- yes they have made inroads and done good work in raising awareness of the inherent patriarchal bias of birth as something which is done to a woman, but crucially that work has not won over even some midwives, and certainly not most obstetricians

- there is very little funding for providing environments for large numbers of women to go through a complex, unpredictable process with the very best of staffing

- if they cannot address the fact that some women will choose caesarians or epidurals yet still want good information, there is little hope that they will be able to communicate the complicated swings-and-roundabouts nature of giving birth in an NHS hospital

It's quite possible that the evening class model at £40 per session is just not the right way to do what it is they want to do. Unfortunately they don't agree, and seemingly neither do the punters.

LittlePeaPod Sat 19-Oct-13 11:53:06

thebody I totally agree. No one can predicate how any birth will go. I guess I just want accurate and impartial information. I want to be informed. I don't want to be told what I should do because that's what someone else believes. It's my body, my baby and my choice. I would love to have the confidence that a well respected and long standing organisation like the NCT would deliver accurate and unbiased information. Just like their website testifies to.

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