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?

AnythingNotEverything Thu 17-Oct-13 08:26:06

I think it depends on your facilitator. Ours was brilliant - very open, no agenda to push.

Re: swaddling and cot death - overheating is a risk factor in cot death, so you can see how they could be linked. It depends how that message was delivered of course.

You'll get the opportunity to feed back after the course, but speak to your facilitator in the meantime.

hermioneweasley Thu 17-Oct-13 08:29:19

Swaddling is not recommended any more, so that is the right advice.

I know many people who made lifelong friends through NCT.

Our classes were brilliant,I dn't think we woukd have been able to have a water birth without them.

NotYoMomma Thu 17-Oct-13 08:30:53

I think in these clesses if the mw or who runs it is totally pro bf and pro natural all it does is contribute to mothers feeling guilty and terrible if things dont go to plan sad

the best classes are informative and unjudgemental imo

NotYoMomma Thu 17-Oct-13 08:31:38

but of course a lot of them are great iyswim, some are very much agenda pushing

Happypiglet Thu 17-Oct-13 08:32:21

Clearly it depends on the facilitator...yours sounds slightly 'agendarised'...she probably isn't a midwife by the way.
But can I say that after nearly 10 years I am still firm friends with 4 of those mums and their partners and children. That was the single biggest benefit to me... the support post natally from the NCT and those friends.

bigkidsdidit Thu 17-Oct-13 08:35:06

I didn't care about the classes but meeting five other mums in my area was invaluable . That's the benefit IMO

Yep, most people go for the friendships, I meet weekly usually with our nct group 2 yrs on.

Incidentally, our nct classes covered c sections and who would be likely to be in the room, surgeon, anaesthestist, paeds, midwife etc. My NHS class wouldn't touch c sections because, in her words, most of you won't experience a section. She did say she would answer questions afterward on sections but not in the class.

Rach8341 Thu 17-Oct-13 08:39:58

I have mixed feelings here..

Totally worth it for the friends we made.

Totally unprepared for scenarios that did not involve a natural birth - 5 out of 7 ladies had assisted deliveries or EMCS and being one of them I felt a total failure after the birth, even though at the time and of course now I know that in my case at least, the intervention was totally necessary to get my baby out safely. I understand the NCT encourage you to ask questions re interventions etc but for a long time after the birth I felt somehow I had failed in not challenging the situation enough when frankly there was nothing else for it (had to be induced as meconium in waters).

I also felt a horrific failure when breast feeding did not work out, they did rather give the impression giving formula was was like giving your baby a McDonalds breast is best and "SO easy and convenient!" Not the case for everyone.

pudseypie Thu 17-Oct-13 08:40:20

Err you don't have to do the NCT one to make friends. I did the free nhs one as it was being delivered by my actual community midwife and it was free! The course was brilliant, as my midwife was obviously still practising and as she regularly also delivered babies at the hospital as well as being in the community she could answer everything. I made great friends and now have a group of 7 of us who meet up regularly still and our dc's are now 2 years old. NCT isn't the only way.

ErrolTheDragon Thu 17-Oct-13 08:42:00

I found them useful - the relaxation techniques were helpful to me. I think so long as you know that this is just one source of information and that they may have a bias, its fine.

And definitely worth it if you hook up with some other nice mums.

Serialdrinker Thu 17-Oct-13 08:43:11

My biggest issue with NCT is why in the world of wank buggery does every single person who has ever been and made friends through it have to talk about their 'NCT Girls'?! Never just 'friends' always 'my NCT Girls'. Ahhh.

(Flops onto bed in despair)

Pobblewhohasnotoes Thu 17-Oct-13 08:48:29

I think yabu as it totally depends who teaches it (although it shouldn't).

Our teacher (she wasn't a mw) discussed all birth options plus pain relief, epidurals etc.

To be honest I found the bf one (run by a different person) the worst as it was all, put the baby on your tummy and they'll find their own way. No comfort to me when I failed at bf for having no milk but that's another story! It wasn't very realistic.

Apart from that I enjoyed Nct and made friends that I still see regularly. It was nice to be in a small group. My nhs classes had about 100 people in so there wasn't a chance in meeting anyone.

It was also really useful for DH.

Swaddling can be linked to cot death if the baby overheats.

TheHouseCleaner Thu 17-Oct-13 08:50:55

Some of us consider any classes, paid for with an agenda and a particular target market or NHS free to and for every woman, a waste of time.


If it's not for you cut your losses and either find an alternative or dispense with classes altogether, unless of course you fancy challenging the MW at every opportunity. That could be rather fun.

ErrolTheDragon Thu 17-Oct-13 08:55:08

serial - um, I've never heard the phrase 'NCT girls' let alone used it... you only notice the ones that do it.

Pobblewhohasnotoes Thu 17-Oct-13 08:57:05

You should challenge her.

Out of my group all but one had interventions during birth. Although they did go through ways to try and avoid it, sometimes it's just the way things go and to push natural birth with no information about interventions or pain relief is unrealistic. You need to be aware of the choices.

MarlenaGru Thu 17-Oct-13 08:57:36

I have never called any of my friends girls? hmm
My NCT friends are some of my closest friends and nearly 6 years on they are always there for me and we see each other regularly despite having busy lives and living in different areas.
The classes for me were no help but I had read every book going. They were invaluable for dh who hadn't listened to a word I had said about things along the way!

jammiedonut Thu 17-Oct-13 08:58:42

Yanbu, yours sounds awful. Where we live the free classes are few and far between so I've had to sign up to a few nct classes to get ds and I out and about. It's all been a bit hit and miss, I think it really depends on who the class leader is and the group you find yourself sharing the class with. I didnt bf, but didnt find myself judged at all, something i was really worried about. Completely understand your frustration though.

fluffyraggies Thu 17-Oct-13 08:59:00

I was really disappointed to miss my 2nd NCT last night due to an horrendous cold (didn't want to spread germs). There's only 7 classes and now i've missed one angry

I was quite surprised by the 1st class, last week. It was much more like a work training programe where they asses your character through willingness to write on A3 paper for the group, split up into teams and read things out. Bit odd. I was actually wary of the old hippy 'hushed breathing class' cliche, but now find myself wishing it was more like that in fact. The leader told us that the course would be mainly discussion led, without slide shows or 'breathing routines' and said cheerfully how she intended to make us 'work hard'. Ugh. 7.30 till 9.30pm is not when i want to be working hard.

I hope i make some friends form the group. The 7 other ladies seemed v. nice.

Polyethyl Thu 17-Oct-13 08:59:41

The friendship of other mothers with babies the same age as yours is invaluable.
Sounds as though you've got a poor instructor. Bad luck - mine was excellent so it sounds as though you've been unlucky there.
I suggest you keep going to build those friendships.

hackmum Thu 17-Oct-13 09:01:39

Well, obviously it depends. My NCT teacher (several years ago) was brilliant. The classes were very informative, non-judgemental and lots of fun. In an organisation the size of NCT, it's hard for the central office to make sure that everyone is teaching to the same high standard. However, if you have any issues with what the teacher told you, then it's worth getting in touch the head office and letting them know.

LittlePeaPod Thu 17-Oct-13 09:04:13

So clearly the best aspect of NCT is to meet some lovely ladies which they all seemed to be

Our facilitator who said she was a MW is definetly biased and frankly it pissed me off and I also have to add I wasn't the only one that was clearly pissed off.

I agree with the poster that said that these sessions should be informative and people should have the opportunity to discuss the points raised.

In my case so far NCT is directly a waste of £250.

Goldenbear Thu 17-Oct-13 09:07:42

It is the 'Natural Childbirth Trust' though, I therefore don't think its purpose is to provide much information on the reality for a lot of Mothers during childbirth. I attended NCT classes but from what I recall the instructor did not touch upon cesareans. I was induced after 11 days with my first, it was a disaster- the heart rate of DS kept dipping and it was nearly an emergency cesarean. NCT didn't prepare me for any of that. With DD I read up on hypno birthing and although I was induced again, I was a lot more in control-armed with my own knowledge on childbirth.

I did make friends at NCT which was great for the first few years when you really need that support. Although obviously it is possible to attend groups to make friends, I found that hard work in the early months. I was glad of the opportunities to chat with others whilst my baby was feeding in the comfort of homes, not church halls. Plus, the babies were all the same age.

Pobblewhohasnotoes Thu 17-Oct-13 09:08:41

Sometimes birth doesnt go to plan so you have to be aware of what might happen, regardless of what you've planned.

threepiecesuite Thu 17-Oct-13 09:08:43

oh god yes, I know 3 women who refer to 'my NCT girls'. angry

badguider Thu 17-Oct-13 09:10:59

Are you sure that interventions aren't going to be covered another week?
My nhs class did problem free natural vaginal birth in week one then interventions and medical procedures the following week.

And swaddling is no longer recommended (though everybody does it)

Retropear Thu 17-Oct-13 09:11:49


Re swaddling that is utter tosh if you don't overheat the house or do it in fleecy blankets.

Mine were all swaddled in cotton sheets or cotton mesh blankets.They'd have had waaaay more chance overheating if co- sleeping.I found swaddling far safer in their own cot too as less chance of getting chance of getting tanged up in sheets or blankets.

None of mine would have slept without swaddling.

gutzgutz Thu 17-Oct-13 09:12:17

Well for me the NHS classes were on weekdays and I would have had to have taken even more time off work than I already was due to complications. I know that legally I am entitled to the time off but the NCT classes were spread over 2 weekends so DH would come too. Our leader covered all pain relief and c-sections without any agenda. there was plenty of time for discussion.

The breastfeeding was encouraged but that is also government policy. Several of the mums FF after problems and I don't think any of them had 'extra guilt'. And yes, 3 years later most of us are on our second babies and still firm friends. We also have a joint birthday party for them every year which is fun.

I believe NCT will subsidise the classes if you are on low income.

NoComet Thu 17-Oct-13 09:13:15

I was told if you want to make friends with brains join the NCT.

I'm a confident, book reading person, I probably didn't learn much, but the friends I made kept me sane and that was worth every penny!

First time actually the friends were at the NCT coffee group, my class were very scattered and didn't gel.

Second time (we'd moved) our group became great friends for years and we had a great 10y meet up with people returning from the other end of the country. I was great to see all the siblings.

If you have a support network, local friends with DCs and family. I wouldn't worry unless you want the lessons.

If like so many people you've moved for work, commute, and know no one with small DCs in your area they can be great. Far better than play groups where you have established cliques of locals who all know each other.

girlywhirly Thu 17-Oct-13 09:13:59

YANBU. My experience of NCT classes wasn't that good. The couples were drawn from such a wide radius that distance would have made it difficult to socialise on a regular basis. There was a very heavy emphasis on natural birth (which I was prepared for) but didn't help me much during my labour or birth when it eventually happened.

I found the midwives free classes at the hospital much more honest about how to cope, they were clear about pain relief available; and also we had a class led by a physiotherapist who had a special interest in pregnancy and birth who did all the relaxation exercises and birth positions (also free.) She taught us exercises to do for getting ready for labour and getting out of bed without doing your back in, and ones to help prevent swollen ankles.

You can learn a lot of what you need to know from books and internet and classes, but nobody can tell you what your labour and birth are going to be like. You don't get any medals for putting up with the pain because it's what you think you should do or be a 'failure'. If you don't want to go back to the classes, don't; and look at getting a refund if you've paid for several sessions upfront.

Tryharder Thu 17-Oct-13 09:14:29

I have had 3 children and have never attended an NCT class.

Does it really cost £250????

Perhaps I am being unfair but to me, it seems like a rather expensive way to meet 'mummy friends' whom otherwise you might meet for free at NHS classes, sure start centres etc

I suspect that many middle class ladies join the NCT because they want to meet other like minded, equally middle class mummies and the £250 fee separates the goats from the sheep.

cogitosum Thu 17-Oct-13 09:14:32

I think it's the national childbirth trust rather than natural childbirth trust.

Ours was great. Agree with poster upthread who said in terms of content her dh got more out of it. I knew everything we were taught from here and books etc but the friends are great.

LittlePeaPod Thu 17-Oct-13 09:15:20

Do people really label their friends as the NCT Girls?confused

Pobble exactly... In My SILs NCT class with her first, of the 9 couples their, 6 of them ended up with a CS and all the others had some form f intervention.. It's utterly unfair to set unrealistic expectations! I don't think it's much to ask for unbiased informative discussions.

I fully intend on questioning and raising concerns but I get the sense our facilitator will not be happy. Hopefully I won't be the only one.

Loopylala7 Thu 17-Oct-13 09:15:40

I never really got the whole NCT business. It's a charity, but you pay quite a bit if money to join, as one friend put it, that money will allow me an extra week or so of maternity leave. What does the charity money go towards?

There are other ways of meeting new mums. Our local health visitors get together and invite new mums to a series of talks with their newborns, then get you to swap numbers. I've met some lovely mums that way. Also play groups and music groups.

As for the pushy ness, how irritating. I always say to my expectant friends, just don't plan, you can't. Nobody can foresee what kind of labour you're going to have, and when the time comes a professional team will advise you as best they can. I've heard soo many stories where the mums were disappointed at the birth not being as was written in their plan, so why have expectations at all. They won't force an epidural/ c section on you without good cause. And as for bf, just do what feels right for you and your baby. If a mum is struggling to bf, the last thing she wants to feel like is a failure. I bloody hate the pushy attitude of you must keep trying, I'm sure it leads to post natal depression and a stressed baby.

dozily Thu 17-Oct-13 09:16:53

Your classes don't sound great. Mine were really good. I was booked in for an induction and the advice my nct teacher gave me genuinely transformed my birth experience and made me feel in control and able to stand up for my rights.

EssexGurl Thu 17-Oct-13 09:17:43

There weren't any NHS run ante natal classes when I had my DS. So for us it was NCT or nothing. So we did the NCT classes but went with an open mind. Yes, meeting new mums and getting a network started is one of the main reasons people go. G with the right attitude and you will be fine.

AnythingNotEverything Thu 17-Oct-13 09:18:51

GoldenBear - NCT doesn't stand for the Natural Childbirth Trust, it's the National Childbirth Trust. Significant difference.

LittlePeaPod Thu 17-Oct-13 09:19:30

Also with regards co sleeping. She basically said that none of us will ever sleep again unless we co sleep. She said having the baby in a cot/Moses basket would mean that the baby will just cry and cry and cry. Seriously, surely not all babies hate cots/Moses baskets that much?

hackmum Thu 17-Oct-13 09:20:09

cogitosum: "I think it's the national childbirth trust rather than natural childbirth trust."

Yes, it is, or was - these days it's just plain old NCT, and they no longer refer to themselves as the National Childbirth Trust.

TheHouseCleaner Thu 17-Oct-13 09:20:25

"I suspect that many middle class ladies join the NCT because they want to meet other like minded, equally middle class mummies and the £250 fee separates the goats from the sheep."

Oh, you too? grin

vladthedisorganised Thu 17-Oct-13 09:21:35

It does really depend. Our instructor had a lot to push (excuse the expression) including her 'complementary' natural birth classes (£8 a pop), pre- and post-natal Pilates classes, homeopathic remedies and baby yoga classes she ran.

Looking back it was quite funny in a way. We were given a long lecture on the dangers of having any artificial pain relief at all during birth and how a C-section could cause all sorts of complications, lower your child's IQ and be as traumatic as the experience in Alien - while a natural birth would be a beautiful experience from which you would emerge with a warm glow. hmm It was all very one-sided.

OTOH, it does give you something to do, and our group were all highly amused at the fact we were dropped like lead balloons after we all had EMCSs. The friendship aspect was nice, but I made closer friends through nursery later.

Loopylala7 Thu 17-Oct-13 09:22:27

My baby slept fine in their Moses basket. Isn't considered dangerous to co sleep with a newborn? Very strange advice.

Gooseysgirl Thu 17-Oct-13 09:23:03

It's the National not Natural!!! My NCT classes would have been over £300 shock so I cancelled the booking... went and did ante natal yoga classes instead and made great friends through that. We also did NHS free ante natal classes which were great and covered all aspects of childbirth, including pain relief in a 'here's the info, make your own decision' kind of way!

hackmum Thu 17-Oct-13 09:23:06

LittlePeaPod - if she really said that, then you ought to contact the head office. The teachers are not supposed to tell you what to do, they are there to help you make informed decisions.

Gooseysgirl Thu 17-Oct-13 09:24:24

Whoops! Cross posted with others re natural/national

vladthedisorganised Thu 17-Oct-13 09:24:27

Oh, and it does depend a lot on whether there are any NHS-run classes in the area. There was a three-year waiting list for our NHS one unless you were referred by your GP or social worker - that's a lot of planning!

Makqueen2 Thu 17-Oct-13 09:27:03

I went to one class in my first pregnancy. I was having an elective section ( my choice, no Medical issues). The woman looked at me like shit on her shoe and talked about the risks of CS while giving me filthy looks. I never went back.

tiredandtiredandtired Thu 17-Oct-13 09:27:03

Swaddling isn't advised any more, that info is correct.

Go for the social aspect if nothing else, and please feedback to the NCT if you are still dissatisfied. They can't oversee every class so need to know if their classes aren't being run as they should

tiredandtiredandtired Thu 17-Oct-13 09:28:57

Co-sleeping is safe if done correctly too

Retropear Thu 17-Oct-13 09:30:13

Soooo she ignore the warnings re co- sleeping and demonises swaddling.hmm

fluffyraggies Thu 17-Oct-13 09:31:18

My NCT classes have only cost me £17. For the whole course. If you let them know if you are on a low income they will lower the cost for you.

LittlePeaPod Thu 17-Oct-13 09:31:29

"suspect that many middle class ladies join the NCT because they want to meet other like minded, equally middle class mummies and the £250 fee separates the goats from the sheep."

I think that's a bit unfair and judgemental. hmm People go for different reasons and there are no NHS classes running were we are at the moment.

Retropear Thu 17-Oct-13 09:32:13

Would love to see the stats that prove a baby sleeping under a duvet with two knackered adults is less likely to overheat than a baby swaddled in a cotton blanket in a Moses basket.hmm

Goldenbear Thu 17-Oct-13 09:34:05

Oops, apologies- it was 6 years ago, bit of distant memory now. I think it was probably the 'only' impression I got from the classes - that it was all a 'natural' process and everything else was unlikely to occur.

hatsybatsy Thu 17-Oct-13 09:34:28

OP - I could have written your post - you're not in SE London are you because your MW sounds very much like ours. ds was breech and I had a CS - but knew absolutely nothing about them as she had not covered it - apart from to tell us about the pain...

BUT - if you've already paid then I'd keep on going - the other women were invaluable to me in that crazy 0-6 month stage, and we've stayed friends - 9 years and counting!

LittlePeaPod Thu 17-Oct-13 09:36:18

Would love to see the stats that prove a baby sleeping under a duvet with two knackered adults is less likely to overheat than a baby swaddled in a cotton blanket in a Moses basket.

Me too.

Pachacuti Thu 17-Oct-13 09:36:28

It varies a lot according to the leader. From my course four out of six of us wound up with c-sections (only one of which had been planned) and one of the other two had a ventouse delivery and I think the helpful and non-judgemental way in which our leader had helped us talk through all the possibilities and options did a lot to prepare us for that (we'd probably gone in with fairly unrealistic expectations, but she made sure we knew about all the pain relief options available to us and when they might be a good idea). But go to another area with a different leader and people seem to have exactly the opposite experience.

Iggity Thu 17-Oct-13 09:37:33

I didn't go to NCT classes for various reasons but a colleague at work did utter the phrase "to meet like-minded people" and I do hear people talking about "my NCT friends" quite regularly.

LittlePeaPod Thu 17-Oct-13 09:37:55

hatsy no I am in West Yorkshire. I do have to say the other ladies seem really nice

Pachacuti Thu 17-Oct-13 09:38:09

If a baby is under a duvet it's not cosleeping safely or properly.

Retropear Thu 17-Oct-13 09:38:27

My sister went to NCT,I didn't.

They were dreadful re twins.Refused to discuss feeding and birthing possibilities more likely with twins.Considering how many more parents are having multiple births that's not very inclusive imvho.

I just went to the free state version(twins too),it was fab and I still made great friends.

pianodoodle Thu 17-Oct-13 09:42:08

I only went to two free NHS sessions at the birth centre.

They showed us how to bath a doll... The doll was very compliant as opposed to DD who was purple and screaming with rage at first bath time grin

It was free though and we got a nosy round the facilities!

Never paid for the NCT but hear mixed reports - I think the main aspect for many is meeting people.

Pinupgirl Thu 17-Oct-13 09:43:27

It an easy way to part boden wearing,yummy mummies with their cash.

NoComet Thu 17-Oct-13 09:43:55

DD always slept just under the edge of our quilt and didn't get too hot. Between us she would have fried.

You couldn't even get DD to wear a snow suit, attempting to swaddle her would have lead to WW3.

Returning to topic. NCT teachers should allow open evidence based discussion and they certainly should cover Csections.

I know my DF, who does NCT classes does. She has a game with playmobil people showing just how many people can be in theatre and just how unnerving it can feel.

MrsOakenshield Thu 17-Oct-13 09:44:34

the very first thing my NCT teacher said was 'NCT - the National Childbirth Trust, not the Natural Childbirth Trust', which reassured me immediately. We discussed everything, home and hospital, different kinds of pain relief, breastfeeding (she acertained that we all wanted to bf), and the first week or so at home. She was excellent and on my local forum I always recommend her. The women ('girls'?? None of us were under 30 and 3 of us were pushing 40!) were lovely and I'm still in touch with a couple. Ours were held over 8 weeks and we learnt a lot and made good friends.

I would actually complain to the NCT about your teacher - she sounds like she is really pushing a personal agenda.

LittlePeaPod Thu 17-Oct-13 09:46:56

I am glad to hear not all NCT facilitators are genda driven and crap. If last night is a sign of things to come our facilitator is giving good NCT facilitators a bad name...

TheHouseCleaner Thu 17-Oct-13 09:47:44

"they certainly should cover Csections.

I know my DF, who does NCT classes does. She has a game with playmobil people showing just how many people can be in theatre and just how unnerving it can feel."


That's not "covering" C-sections. That's having an agenda and causing unnecessary fear and distress!

ReallyTired Thu 17-Oct-13 09:47:55

Horses for courses. I think you have realise the aims of the NCT charity. They used to be called the Natural Childbirth Trust before they chanaged their name so their agenda is to promote all things natural ie. vaginal birth without pain relief and breastfeeding! I think that the instructor has made the assumption that you want all things natural otherwise you would not have opted for the NCT.

I didn't make any friends through my NCT classes. The women and there were horrid and judgmental because I was only 25 and wasn't married. The rest of them were high flying career women in their thirties and they looked down on me as being rather common. The rest of them had discussions about which prep school they were going to but their bump's name down for. One of the husbands made it clear their bump was grammar school material were as my bump was really better suited to the secondary modern.

There are now children's centres with ante natal groups which are either free or very low cost. You don't have to shell out £300 to make lifelong friends.

knickernicker Thu 17-Oct-13 09:48:27

I wish I had done the free NHS one for several reasons.
I had to to travel for it because NCT is not Salford. I therefore made no local friends. It was boring and not based in the hospital. There was nothing at all said about how painful breastfeeding might be. We were shown a lovely film in soft focus of a baby repeatedly making a beautiful latch whilst baby and mum relaxed on their beautiful union. I was totally unprepared for the hideous reality. First milk would not cone in, baby screaming with hunger while I tried to feed all night while the cow and gate mums sat thei munching on their Greggs and laughing with the midwives. Then 3 weeks of baby drinking orange milk, orange because it was always mixed up,with my blood and scabs. Even the latch woman who came from la leche league couldn't make it work.
If I'd gone to the NHS one I'd have probably got some proper preparation and felt ready to tackle what lay ahead.

Smartiepants79 Thu 17-Oct-13 09:48:35

I did NCT and NHS classes. Have to say the information given was fairly similar at both. The facilitator was a nice, fairly realistic woman. She was very pro breast feeding but she warned us about that before she began.
She told us she wasn't allowed to discuss other feeding options as it was against what the NCT stood for. I don't remember feeling pressure over the type of birth. All options were discussed and the pros and cons of pain relief/c-section laid out.
Any advice given by anyone should always be taken carefully. Everyone has their own beliefs and agenda that they will attempt to share with you. It doesn't matter who they work for.
I made one friend at NHS classes but the 7 other women from NCT have been amazing. Some of us still meet up every week. We go out together, we go away together. I don't know how I would have coped without the support. The money we paid was well spent in my opinion.

bigkidsdidit Thu 17-Oct-13 09:50:08

I believe official anti sids advice says not to cosleep OR swaddle?

NoComet Thu 17-Oct-13 09:50:52

I should add our NHS classes first time were useless, they were taught by the most useless midwife in the district.

She was famously useless, when ever to PG women met the conversation always turned to how great x was at the hospital clinic and how useless Y was. I ended up feeling slightly sorry for her. Although not sorry enough to finish her course.

Smartiepants79 Thu 17-Oct-13 09:51:01

And no the NHS class did not prepare me any better for how hard BF can be. I'm not sure anything can! Until you've lived it you just can't appreciate how much it hurts.

LittlePeaPod Thu 17-Oct-13 09:51:21

TheHouseCleaner is your DF helping women understand the process of what happens in a CS and who attends ECS etc. Or is she telling the women how unnerving it is and therefore implanting fear of the procedure into the women's heads beforehand?

Smartiepants79 Thu 17-Oct-13 09:52:37

Oh, and I think swaddling is amazing. Both mine loved it.

NoComet Thu 17-Oct-13 09:53:48

The official SIDS advice says please feel free to crash your car due to lack of sleep.

Having a long distance commuting DH I take it with a large dose of pragmatism.

TheHouseCleaner Thu 17-Oct-13 09:55:06

It isn't me whose friend is the NCT person, LittlePeaPod, it's another poster.

To be perfectly truthful, even if I did know that NCT person she wouldn't be a friend of mine with that sort of approach to non-natural childbirth!

bigkidsdidit Thu 17-Oct-13 09:55:19

Yes, I didn't follow the advice to the letter, I didn't buy a new mattress for dc2 for example. But I do think midwives / nct teachers should give the correct advice, that's all I mean.

cottoncandy Thu 17-Oct-13 09:58:35

It was never the Natural Childbirth Trust, it used to be the National Childbirth Trust!

Sounds like you have a nutty facilitator OP which is a real shame. I had fantastic ones for both my original classes and my refresher classes. They both covered CS really well, in my first classes we watched a video of a CS which was really calm and showed a good experience, and were very much about giving unbiased information about pain relief and telling you to make an informed decision.

And I made fantastic friends both times around.

ReallyTired Thu 17-Oct-13 10:01:49

If you want preparation for breastfeeding then I suggest you go to your local la leche league meeting. Unlike the NCT the La Leche League is free so you have nothing to lose if you don't like the leaders.

My NCT teacher was lovely and my issue was with the rest of the class being horrendous snobs. My classes were very through on different types of pain relief and various birth interventions including c-section.

I feel that the NCT is too focussed on one day of your life. The reality of looking after a new baby for the next 18 years is a huge shock. In many ways I think that less educated families who go with the flow do much better than women who want to be in complete control and think they know more than the midwife.

TarkaTheOtter Thu 17-Oct-13 10:03:32

Our NCT teacher also told us about how many people are present for a c section. In the same way that she told us about the lack of midwife presence for large parts of a vaginal birth (our local hospital being very understaffed). As a group we were not particularly interested in "natural" childbirth because we were mostly high risk and she really tailored it to our needs and spent a lot of time talking about pain relief options and the optimal times to use them.

ReallyTired Thu 17-Oct-13 10:05:32

The national childbirth did used to be called the "Natural Childbirth Trust". The charity was set up in 1955". It changed its name in 1961 to the "National Childbirth Trust".

"Briance's advertisement announced "A Natural Childbirth Association is to be formed for the promotion and better understanding of the Dick-Read system. Anyone interested write Box...". The inaugural meeting was held on January 29, 1957 at Caxton Hall with Grantly Dick-Read as one of the speakers. The NCA became the Natural Childbirth Trust in 1958.[3]"

The NCT has an agenda and I feel the OP should have been told this before signing up for the classes.

Ginnytonic82 Thu 17-Oct-13 10:10:59

We weren't happy with ours either, we only went to 2. The "facilitator", didn't seem very keen on providing actual advice, but more on scaremongering and pushing NCT propaganda. The crunch for us was when another attendee (a GP) questioned the facilitator's message on bf, suggesting that in certain circumstances ff or mf is a necessary for the well being of mum and baby, and she was promptly asked to leave.

Fortunately our area has excellent NHS antenatal classes which we have now been attending for 3 weeks. The group are very friendly, and the midwife is superb, offering both advice from her professional perspective, and the practical perspective of being a mum of 3. Wish we hadn't wasted our money on the NCT ones now.

itsaruddygame Thu 17-Oct-13 10:13:29

I only made it to the first session if my Nct classes as DS came early. Still money well spent though as the friends I have made have been a great support and we do a lot together. It depends why you go and what you want out if it - I was lucky in that most if my group wanted to make friends and like to get out and about with their babies.

TheHouseCleaner Thu 17-Oct-13 10:14:14

"my issue was with the rest of the class being horrendous snobs...

... In many ways I think that less educated families who go with the flow do much better than women who want to be in complete control"


MildredH Thu 17-Oct-13 10:14:46

Apologies for going slightly off the original topic- I'm very interested in this as our NCT classes start this week..

For those who have made great friends- how exactly did this work out? I realise this sounds a bit odd but I'm largely going for the "making local friends with babies" aspect and just feel a bit anxious about failing!

At my NHS class there were lots of lovely ladies who I'd have happily swapped numbers with but just didn't have the confidence to ask and noone else seemed to...

Do the NCT groups rely on someone instigating the number swapping/ meet up arranging?

I feel like its the first day of school and I should go with a "do you want to be my friend" sticker on my jumper..

I'm not usually this feeble- honest!

JRmumma Thu 17-Oct-13 10:14:49

I did NHS ones as i already have friends with small children and even a couple of them with babies born within a month of mine.

The NHS ones were great to be fair and id heard the NCT ones were generally as you describe.

My NHS breastfeeding class on the other hand, was an insult to my intelligence.

LittlePeaPod Thu 17-Oct-13 10:15:57

The crunch for us was when another attendee (a GP) questioned the facilitator's message on bf, suggesting that in certain circumstances ff or mf is a necessary for the well being of mum and baby, and she was promptly asked to leave.

shock that's disgusting! How did the rest if the group react to that?

HaPPy8 Thu 17-Oct-13 10:17:54

NCT classes aren't run by midwives. They are run by people who have taken a training course directly with the NCT (a year or two long i think).

The NCT has been great for me ....

I still go on holidays with friends I made moving to a new city with my partner and baby, and my DC are teenagers now smile

The friendship aspect is the most important side I think, though going into labour with some confidence and idea of your preferences in different situations is also invaluable.
I had two very natural births with my DC, dd being born in a water-pool and ds arriving very quickly on land LOL
I doubt if I'd have had such good experiences without the confidence I gained from the NCT classes.
My DC also took to breastfeeding like ducklings to water grin after some basic guidance from the NCT breastfeeding counsellor during the antenatal classes.
Also really important in helping DH and I together to prepare for both the birth and parenthood. I really valued going with him to the classes and feeling much more that we were going into things together (getting him on board with birth and parenthood if you like)
I also did the hospital classes in our area and found they gave more neutral information on different pain relief choices in labour - the NCT was originally called The Natural Childbirth Trust, but changed it's name to The National Childbirth Trust. It still very much retains it's emphasis on a natural approach wherever possible, so possibly doesn't suit everyone equally well.
Though rather expensive I think the classes have more value than you may appreciate at the time. In fact worth their weight in gold and cheaper than divorce Worth it for the friends you make - I had such a lovely summer lunching with friends with our new babies smile

fluffyraggies Thu 17-Oct-13 10:20:33

mildred - i'm thinking similar thoughts! On the confirmation email about our group it mentioned that the course included the organisation of a meet-up 2/3 weeks after the last birth, and also asked if you personally were happy with your contact details being available to the other members. I've said yes to that.


ReallyTired Thu 17-Oct-13 10:28:44

The NCT attract the type of women who want to be in control of their lives and used to being sucessful. I have never met anyone outside the NCT who views natural birth without pain relief as being a gold standard. Competive childbirth is completely pointless as there are no prizes for being a martyr.

Often mothers who are more relaxed and go with the flow have better outcomes. In many ways accepting whatever comes and not beating yourself up about needing an instrumental birth or pain relief makes for a happier mother. I believe that anxiety about childbirth does make labour worse and sometimes too much knowledge is a bad thing.

It would be interesting to compare rates of post traumatic stress between different groups of women. Anedotely women I know who have made a huge effort to learn about natural birth and had detailed birth plans have suffered more than those who have left everything to chance when they had to ditch the idea of natural birth.

I was fortunate to have 3 great groups of friends/ new mothers all arranging meet-ups in the summer after dd was born. They were all equally lovely and supportive groups (although only one group, the hospital ante-natal class, did lunch together) Anyway one group was the NCT antenatal class, one the hospital ante-natal class, and one the post-natal group organised at local health centre by the health visitors.
The NCT did more to facilitate the groups having one organised meet-up after the babies were born. With the other groups someone just said let's exchange phone numbers and addresses and everyone else (nearly) said YES !
As you can see having dd was kind of my focus that summer smile
But I was very lucky to have such good company and support
So much more fun that way
Good luck to you all
BTW I was living in the Wimbledon and Wandsworth area at the time, which the local NCT newsletter informed me was the baby capital of England at the time (highest birth rate in the country?)
So that might have helped!

hermioneweasley Thu 17-Oct-13 10:38:02

If you feel your trainer has an agenda then you should contact HO. You coukd ask for a refund or see if there are any other courses running in your area.

I don't believe the NCT has an organisational anti c-section or intervention policy. They are about education, and that's certainly what we got. Non judgemental and objective.

Our teacher also did thePlaymobil operating theatre to demo a c section thing. The purpose was the opposite of making us anxious - it was to illustrate just how many people are present at a normal, non emergency c-section, so that if you are in that situation you are less likely to worry.

Can't agree with you that "sometimes too much knowledge is a bad thing"
ReallyTired, especially regarding women and childbirth.
I think one of the founding and on-going principles of the NCT was to empower women by giving them information about their bodies and the birth process. I think this remains much needed and an on-going issue for women today.

BeCool Thu 17-Oct-13 10:45:24

Personally I didn't feel the need or the relevance of NCT classes to me, and I don't think I missed out on anything by not attending one (though i did look into it when PG with DD1).

But many parents I know enjoyed them.

They aren't compulsory.

The best parenting 'lesson' I've ever had was the free BF workshop run by an Ghanaian lady called Aunty Vicky, for Queen Charlottes hospital. She was amazing, entertaining, informative, supportive and her voice and wisdom stayed with me though the early days of BF both babies.

allbottledup Thu 17-Oct-13 10:45:28

Whether or not you consider it good value for money completely depends on what you want to get out of it. As a means of getting the information into your head it's appalling value for money - you could just as easily go to free NHS classes or read some books. But as a way of meeting other mums whose babies will be a similar age to yours, in your area, it's excellent - and you won't know until you have your baby whether or not this support network will be of value to you.

Are you sure that your teacher is a qualified, practising MW? Ours was a trainee MW and she was EXCELLENT. We received balanced information on interventions and without political agenda or hysteria but I don't think that this is typical - friends in other areas have had very partisan teachers. The NCT really needs to deal with this inconsistency of experience because it's really damaging to their reputation IMO.

There are a couple of other things which will make a big difference. I think it's important that there is a fairly narrow range of due dates, ideally no more than four weeks, otherwise your babies are just too different in the early period and you can end up either with a newborn weeks before everyone drops, or waddling around heavily pregnant while everyone else has had theirs. It's also important that you are all genuinely local to each other.

Finally, what does your partner think? Don't underestimate the value to him. With the best will in the world, my DH would never had read masses of baby books so the information we received was really important to him at the birth. It has also given him a network of dads, which I think we often forget about.

allbottledup Thu 17-Oct-13 10:46:28

Just to add - if you already feel like this after class 1 then you need to feed back either to the teacher or to the regional admin.

MaddAddam Thu 17-Oct-13 10:46:46

My NCT class wasn't really worth it. Firstly it was due to start about 6 weeks before my due date, but the teacher was ill so it was postponed by a month. Which wasn't very convenient as several of us gave birth halfway through the course. That did bring home to me that it's just a voluntary thing not a professional service.

And in content, I had very similar information and advice from the free NHS classes in our area - including sessions on active birth, breastfeeding, relaxation. The NHS classes were less ideologically driven so it felt we were able to debate more rather than just accept the NCT mantra on breastfeeding etc.

I did make a couple of close friends at the NCT class but I also made good friends at the NHS midwife led sessions (especially the aqua-natal classes they ran).

I wouldn't bother again with the NCT, I'm sure it means well but IME the NHS does it better and for free.

Goldenbear Thu 17-Oct-13 10:53:30

I knew there was some association with the word 'natural' somewhere!

Personally, I think knowledge of childbirth is a good thing. I learn and recall things much better from reading up on them, I think this is why I didn't take much in from the instructed classes. Second time around I read up on hypno birthing, no classes, no instructions and that knowledge made my second child's birth bearable. I'm glad I didn't just turn up to the induction without a clue because it would've been a lot more painful!

pastelmacaroons Thu 17-Oct-13 10:57:10

Unfortunately the teachers can spout what they like cant they, some are going to be naturally more balanced and helpful whislt others are more miltant and will push their agenda.

At the end of the course there is an opportunity for feedback, so you can complain then or email them now.
At least the whole thing is more known about now and transparent, rather than poor expectant mums thinking their way is the only way...

Blissx Thu 17-Oct-13 10:58:13

Is it only me that feels that if you pay £250 to go to NCT classes, then they should at least follow a uniform non-judgemental programme, rather than getting "pot luck" depending on who you get? £250 is an awful lot to spend on pot luck.

I actually think it would have been more honest of them to keep the word "Natural" in their name (in the 60s), or even revert to it now.
They could still aim to cover all aspects of pain relief and all pathways and outcomes of labour, also addressing different problems that can be encountered in breastfeeding and their solutions, including sometimes ff.
But it would be more honest IMHO to declare their agenda and allow women to make an informed choice about whether or not to go to their classes as well !

sashh Thu 17-Oct-13 11:15:10

Go watch Dara O'Briain's act about NCT, get all the emails and don't go back.

Rinoachicken Thu 17-Oct-13 11:15:35

I'm really interested to read this thread as I am having my second baby in December and am starting an NCT course in a few weeks.

With my first I didn't bother with NCT and DH and I went to the hospital led one which was fine except I had SPD so when the rest of the group went upstairs for 'the tour' I was advised to stay behind!

I joined NCT this time mainly because they offer a 'refresher course' which suits my needs better and because I really struggled making connections with local mums last time and want to try and make more effort this time, and the mums on this course will all be 2nd + time mums so will be in similar situation to myself re having other DC at home.

On a low income so didn't have to pay full whack for the course and it's only four sessions so if it's awful it's not too long to endure!

Oriunda Thu 17-Oct-13 11:20:26

Our NCT class leader prepared us for any c-sections by having one of the guys lie down and the rest of us took our positions as surgeon, anaesthetists etc so we understood how many people would be in the room. Just as well because of 9 women, 3 of us had emcs and 1 had a breech elcs. Course was great and we still meet up every week.

Yeh, I've seen Dara on subject of NCT sashh
Was amusing, but also think his POV is influenced by being married to a doctor (possibly a GP or is it obstetrician?)
NCT are good at being somewhat challenging of the medical profession (IMO)

"challenging of the medical profession" - or at least the medical approach to childbirth

Coupon Thu 17-Oct-13 11:36:07

YANBU. I'm not a fan of the NCT's dogmatic, inflexible approach.

BenNJerry Thu 17-Oct-13 11:38:27

Meh, I didn't bother going to any of those classes. Aside from the fact I don't have that kind of money to spare, I don't think you can really "prepare" for birth as you never know what to expect. I just went online and read about the different ways of birth. I wanted all natural, no pain relief and ended up having forceps anyway. smile

Stepmooster Thu 17-Oct-13 11:51:46

Before I gave birth to DC1 I was petrified of giving birth. Our hospital course had a preachy midwife telling us we'd be fools to try natural birth and we'd all be demanding epidurals and CS. I was praying for a CS.

I did the NCT course and found it beneficial to go through the mechanics of labour, complete with model pelvis and baby and listen to a mother talk about childbirth without making it a horror story.

I also felt empowered by my nct instructor to give birth kneeling on the bed and not lying down. I'd never have thought to try that position and it was a heck of a lot less painful than being on my back as midwife tried to get me to do. I felt in control of my birth, because the NCT had enmpowered me. They certainly didn't criticise pain relief and went through all options and pro ands cons.

The NCT did good lesson on bathing and nappy change. The dolls were covered in mustard and cottage cheese. I'd never changed a nappy before then. All the dads had to bathe the dolls and they were so hopeless (gave them insight). Plus great lecture on how to take care of any birth injuries, tears, stitches CS.

Our hospital pushes BF much more than NCT ever did. With DC1 she ended up in neonatal and I was in tears trying to BF and was made to feel I'd be letting baby down if I FF. Thing is I ended up BF both children and if they'd handed me a bottle on my first request I would have abandoned BF. I choose to believe Breast is best and I'm actually glad the old battle axe at the hospital forced me to continue BF.

propertyNIGHTmareBEFOREXMAS Thu 17-Oct-13 11:52:34

They are a good way of meeting other new mums to go out and hAve tea and cake with. I would recommend for that reason alone.

MrsMarigold Thu 17-Oct-13 11:53:12

I did two courses both NCT, first one I made some great friends and the second one was very useful on coping with more than one child.

I would recommend it although I found the first lot of classes focused too much on the birth and not enough on how life-changing having a baby is and the practical stuff. The birth whether good or bad is an inevitability coping afterwards is far tougher imho.

Bubbles1066 Thu 17-Oct-13 11:53:53

I've heard it called the nasty childbirth trust more than once. I did bog standard NHS. Free, fair (talked about all delivery types) and the feeding sessions were good too. There was one just on BF and one on both methods so you got FF and mixed feeding advice too which is important for baby's safety as many people who struggle with BF can be clueless about safely making up formula otherwise.

LittlePeaPod Thu 17-Oct-13 12:04:32

I must admit I was naive to think that the NCT even though I suspected they would favour VBs would be more professional as an organisation. My view thus far is its very armature and I am all for them challenging medical advice. But how do I take a non medically trained person serious if they are unable to provide evidence/facts to support what they are saying. It smacks of "parrot fashion training". Real off what you have been told to say or believe with no bases or facts to help the delegates understand/consider what you say properly. God or bid if they ask/challenge your views!

Allbottle with regards my DHs thoughts. He thought it was as crap as I did. We are both very similar and we both except an experienced facilitator to provide us with facts/logic/discussion. He thought the session sometimes verged on intellectually insulting eg facilitator pulled out a load of pregnant women autonomy posters and asked the DHs/DPs etc. to put little stickers on the posters to show they new were things like the woman's nipples, cervix and "yoni" yes yoni etc. were located on a woman's body..

Worriedthistimearound Thu 17-Oct-13 12:38:50

I loved the friendship bit; well worth the £300 IMO. But I found both the NCT and NHS classes very frustrating. I signed up for the NHS ones because they were called parentcraft, only to find out they were nothing to do with bring a parent and all about labour and birth.

I had already researched that bit extensively. Talked through every possible intervention with DH and how I felt about tearing Vs cutting etc. plus I'd prepared him that it would be very messy, that I'd likely poo and that it may not be as smooth as wed hoped. I was keen to bf but also well aware that latch on could be difficult and may hurt so I had put in place a plan to see a bf helper from the NCT experience register when baby was 1wk old.

I actually felt quite bitter that 'parentcraft' gave me no insight into being a parent. I had totally prepared myself for every eventuality regarding the birth but I had no clue whatsoever about how to parent. These classes would be far more useful in my opinion.

allbottledup Thu 17-Oct-13 12:39:50

OMG PeaPod yoni?!?!?!

Sounds like you've got a bad one. DEFINITELY complain to NCT now. Maybe you can get a refund...

propertyNIGHTmareBEFOREXMAS Thu 17-Oct-13 12:50:02

shock YONI!

Outrageous. I would have walked.

The NCT is the main reason the UK has a far more woman-led attitude to childbirth than comparable European countries and particularly the USA. The choices we now have (esp home births, water birth facilities in hospitals, MLUs, etc) and standard procedures such as skin-to-skin and rooming-in are down to their campaigning.

That said, they can be like a dog with a bone if you get the wrong person.

I think you should complain about your facilitator. She is supposed to find out the needs and wants of the group and give information about those things - so if someone in the group is having a planned section you'd have more time spent on sections; if someone can't bf for medication reasons you'd spend more time on safe preparation of formula, etc etc. She is simply not doing her job properly and needs to be told.

outragedofsuburbia Thu 17-Oct-13 12:53:32

Little peapod - Everything an NCT practitioner tells clients is supposed to be evidence based. The training for a qualified Antenatal Teacher takes about 2.5-5 years PT and is not learning anything parrot fashion at all. They do not tell practitioners what to say. Each practitioner comes from her own place and makes her own decisions what to say about things. There is no fixed agenda either. It is much much more flexible than that. That is why, if you are a good facilitator, it can be a really hard job. Personally I love being challenged. Much better than clients all just sitting there saying nowt.

I have to defend the placing the labels on the diagram of the woman thing. I do that. I do not use the word Yoni though FFS. Never heard of that and it is awful. Vagina all the way here! It is necessary because so many clients do not know where these things are on a woman's body. You would not believe where one group put the bladder! There is not point talking about the importance of emptying the bladder in labour if half the group have no clue where it is.

LittlePeaPod Thu 17-Oct-13 12:53:54

allbottle yes Yoni hmm. I think I will send an email to NCT asking what it is I should expect from these classes.

worriedthistime I couldn't agree more. It would be great if parenting sessions were included to help new parents like DH and I prepare a bit better/more. I can't say whether or not these NCT sessions will be included in this NCT class, I can only wait and hope!

Sanjifair Thu 17-Oct-13 12:56:52

My NCT course was informative, had no agenda (apart from bigging up the more local hospital over the bigger, well thought of one most of us were going to) and did change the course of my labour. One of the key things that the teacher drilled into us was to ask lots of questions and challenge decisions being made if you didn't like the way things were heading. I would have been given an 'EMCS' if I hadn't challenged the rationale and asked if there was another option. I would not have had the confidence to have done that if I hadn't done the course. I went on to have a natural delivery.

I also regularly see the ladies and children 3 years later. So for me it was worth it.

Yes, our hospital classes were called parentcraft too and I really only barely remember them mentioning we'd get a baby at the end of it all!
Maybe they thought we were too dim to understand the word "ante-natal" grin

LittlePeaPod Thu 17-Oct-13 13:02:19

Outrage like I said before, its great to hear some of the other good experiences from the ladies on the thread. Personally I really believe this facilitator is leaving the group with a very poor view of NCT classes and making the NCT look like an armature organisation. I can see where you are coming from with the anatomy point but seriously spending half an hour getting adult men and one woman sticking stickers on posters is not really that valuable. Surely that session if needed can take less that 5 at most 10 minutes. My DH said he felt like pulling his on teeth out at one point.

LittlePeaPod Thu 17-Oct-13 13:03:51

grin # Juggling

makemineabacardi Thu 17-Oct-13 13:07:01

There were no NHS classes available in my area so NCT it was (and we couldn't really afford it). The classes themselves were only ok - run by a midwife who was lovely but I'm not sure how much preparation classroom sessions can really give you for birth/those zombie early days.

I still see my NCT lot (I'm not classy enough to call them girls grin ) 3 years later on a regular basis and all 7 of them are lovely.

Dara O'Brien's sketch is funny but until he starts pushing babies out of his vagina I'll take his opinion with a pinch of salt.

difficultpickle Thu 17-Oct-13 13:09:49

I did the classes at the hospital and signed up for the NCT class. The classes at hospital were run by my midwife who was utterly useless and would go on about buying expensive cots and prams. Another mum to be asked a question of what she needed to do re childseat when beign collected from hospital by taxi after she had given birth. The midwife said she couldn't answer that question as she had never come across prospective parents who didn't have their own car. When ds was born prem and poorly she visited us in SCBU and said that she could strike us off her visiting list as "ds won't be going home anytime soon" shock

Contrast the NCT. I missed the classes as ds was 7 weeks prem and the class was due to start the week after he was born. I then got an invite to a coffee morning with the group that I should have been in. They were my life line and sometimes the only people I saw each week. Ds was poorly and I couldn't do lots of normal things with him. Seeing those mums each week kept me going through some really horrible months. Over 9 years on they are still some of my best friends.

outragedofsuburbia Thu 17-Oct-13 13:18:33

ah right well it should only take a few mins in my experience.

I really would urge you to complain if you are not happy. I hear some outrageous things on hear about practitioners (not me I hope!) and some I strongly suspect are not true or embellished (not yours!) but nothing will be done unless people complain.

LittlePeaPod Thu 17-Oct-13 13:39:59

Outrage I will. It was bad, really bad.

TheFabulousIdiot Thu 17-Oct-13 13:46:46

YABU to call it a breastfeeding guilt trip. Of course they should be talking to people about breastfeeding and how to get help if not going well.

My NCT class covered what happens in a C-section and all the different drugs you can have with clear explanations about the effects of those drugs.

What I found a bit dull was the being led by the nose as if I had never read anything about being pregnant and having a baby.

nice people though and invaluable once you have given birth and need support.

"Seriously, surely not all babies hate cots/Moses baskets that much?"

I think the hardest thing to teach couples when they have a baby is that there will be a lot of sleep deprivation. Having a baby isn't a walk in the park, it's long hours of un-broken sleep, lots of crying, lots of holding your baby... it surprises me that so many people seem to walk into parenthood without realising this.

On the other hand you may be lucky and get a bay that sleeps through the night from the start, just don't expect it to stay like that.

ksrwr Thu 17-Oct-13 13:48:53

yes and no, my class experience was very similar to yours, but the people i met through the course were invaluable.
we bonded through a shared scepticism of the course leaders views on natural/home birth. and we relied on each other so heavily in those first few months. so yes and no. sorry, not much help.

spritesoright Thu 17-Oct-13 13:50:07

"put the baby on your tummy and they'll find their own way" hardy har har. I remember being told something similar at our NCT breastfeeding class (along with some video where the baby has their nose tickled and eagerly takes the awaiting nipple).
In reality the first latch consisted of jarring baby out of a semi-coma (induced by lack of milk) to the point where she screamed and then jamming my boob into her mouth - coached by the lovely nursing midwife whose approach in fact worked!
The NCT activity I look back bitterly on is the 'why is baby crying?' one where you pass along a baby-like doll and try to guess why it's crying then propose a solution.
'baby is feeling lonely so I will pick it up' (and it will stop crying presumably).
The idea that I could come up with neat little 'solutions' to DD's crying was quickly shattered when I spent three months realising that she cried either because she was hungry or tired but mostly for no seeming reason at all and I would just have to ride it out and try to cope with the screaming baby in my ear through endless walk and jiggle sessions.
Ah, good times.
The support network you can get through NCT is very useful but a friend developed a similar one through mumsnet local. Similarly there were about 100 people at our hospital antenatal classes so very little chance of bonding.

LittlePeaPod Thu 17-Oct-13 13:59:12

The NCT activity I look back bitterly on is the 'why is baby crying?' one where you pass along a baby-like doll and try to guess why it's crying then propose a solution.

Oh god no, that sounds like my idea of hell. Seriously we are not children but grown adults.. FFS, I hope we don't get this. If all their activities are that crap and as crap as the ones we endured last night then I am going to really struggle.

I will however stick a it for the network support. Everyone seems to be agreed on that point.

TokenGirl1 Thu 17-Oct-13 14:10:11

I found my NCT class pretty informative and I felt armed with information so that I could make an informed decision.

Neither the NCT or the NHS classes provided any info on bottle feeding/sterilising which, as far as I was concerned wasn't a problem as I wanted bf. I hit a sticking point though when my prem baby couldn't bf and I had to express and top up with formula. Boy did I feel guilty thanks to the government policy of pushing bf.

My NCT instructor was very realistic but her boss who sat in the class was almost throttled by me when I was getting panicky about the birth and she said that she knew a fantastic form of pain relief. I was all excited thinking that this was the answer to all my prayers. Her form of pain relief was "tender, loving care". If looks could kill, she'd have been a goner. It turns out it was 2 days before I gave birth almost four weeks before due date so I think it was mother nature preparing me with the sudden feeling of panic. Dp turned up at the last NCT class by himself to tell everyone dd had already arrived!

GreenShadow Thu 17-Oct-13 14:36:36

I've felt for a long time that the NCT needs to sort out a more structured approach to it's teaching. There needs to be more consistency and guidelines about what is to be taught. There should also be an opportunity for feedback to their Head Office so they are aware what is being taught by their representatives.

I had excellent, factual clasees covering EVERYTHING about delivery, including all manner of assisted. It offered exactly what we wanted. All the dads continued attending and also got a lot out of it.

On my recommendation, my sister signed up for classes where she lived and experienced much what several other posters here have reported - very one-sided teaching but also not focusing so much on fact as 'feelings'. None of the class found it worth the money and the dads all stopped attending within a week or two.

I have been a long-time member and supporter of the NCT, but realise that changes have to be made to their teaching program.

bigkidsdidit Thu 17-Oct-13 14:43:43

Both of mine have liked their baskets, by the way!

LittlePeaPod Thu 17-Oct-13 14:49:19

GreenShadow I am surprised that an organisation of this size, heritage and experience doesn't have some sort of structured approach and all facilitators seem to be left to their own devices. I understand that autonomy in this sort of environment is important but surely the objectives and approach can be standardised and therefore measured in terms of success and appropriateness etc. They could then compare the facilitators / courses so those with additional training needs can be supported by the NCT to help them improve their courses.

LittlePeaPod Thu 17-Oct-13 14:49:57

Thanks for sharing that bigkids

TheFabulousIdiot Thu 17-Oct-13 14:57:16

Also... I think that you really do need to not show your feelings in the class. I remember being a bit like this, really quite annoyed and incredulous about the whole thing. It actually made me look like a bit of a twat and I soon deided to just join in with the fun of it all and concentrate on getting the bits I really needed from the course.

Luckily for me I decided on this course of action on the day that they handed the doll around and did the 'why is it crying' thing, followed by how to bath it and how to put on a nappy.

The reality is that when the real live baby came, it was a lot more slippy and covered in poo than the doll and I was actually pretty glad they had gone through those basics.

hattyyellow Thu 17-Oct-13 14:57:20

As others have said, it does seem to vary hugely in use as a course as to what your instructor is like and what the other couples are like.

I found it next to useless, except for making me feel I had failed when I had to have my twins by section, under a GA. It was so totally the opposite of what our instructor (mother of 3, all natural, pain relief births) had waxed on about. I found it really hard going back to the group afterwards as we had a "birth story sharing session" and mine was "Umm, they knocked me out and I woke up with two babies..".

I think if you live in a big town it's probably more use as well? Our group covered quite a large rural area and realistically it was quite a drive to see a lot of the mums, who I hadn't massively bonded with anyway. We just didn't have a lot in common as a group and having babies didn't change that. We were all professional women, but that didn't necessarily mean we would have anything else in common.

I think you can form the same social networks by getting out to big toddler groups and talking to the other bleary eyed mums holding new borns.

Friends do talk of their NCT friends with real warmth though, so I think it's totally luck whether you get a group you click with and stay in touch with. I

GreenShadow Thu 17-Oct-13 14:57:42

Completely agree LittlePeaPod.

My children are older now and I'm no longer involved, but find it sad that an organisation which can do so much good (past campaigning has resulted in fathers in the delivery suite etc as well as peer-to-peer support) seems to be gaining such a bad reputation (just look at Kirsty Allsopps comments).

TheFabulousIdiot Thu 17-Oct-13 14:57:56

Oh and then provide feedback later. They will give you the opportunity to do it on paper.

Snowsquonk Thu 17-Oct-13 15:00:01

Cost of NCT courses:

some people pay just 10% of the course price, there are other reductions of up to 80% of the cost for others.

Overheads - facilitator is paid only for the time she spends in front of the group, venue costs, overheard (booking infrastructure), refreshments, handouts, consumables (pens, paper etc) and a contribution to the costs of running the charity (paying for developing resources for parents, training for practitioners, wider work of NCT from campaigning to working with parents with particular needs - those in prison, asylum seekers etc)

The cost of a course is comparable to other local services - so in London the cost may be around £300 for a course of about 18 hours which works out at £8.30 per hour per person (based on a couple attending) Where I am the cost is £151 for a 16 hour course which is £4.71 per hour and you would pay more for most baby classes and you can't get a yoga class for that I can tell you!

If you don't like the approach of your practitioner, and don't feel able to speak to her about apparent bias or inaccurate information (she is correct that swaddling needs to be approached with some sensible caution - both because of overheating and because of potential aggravation of hip problems) - please call head office on 0300 330 0700 select option 4 and speak to the enquiries person who will be able to take all the details and pass it onto the complaints manager. Or you can email the CEO -

I will admit to a bias - I've been an NCT volunteer since getting involved in the branch saved my sanity when I was living in a new area with a new baby and a toddler - so I am proud to be an NCT volunteer, proud of our courses , proud of our branch of volunteers who run a weekly Bumps & Babies group supporting local parents, proud of our fabulous nearly new sales

Yes, I know lots of the course revenue goes towards the NCT charity as a whole, their wider campaigning work (and research ?) for example.
I think they should mention this slightly more during the course at some point, and the improvements in care which have been achieved - such as fathers at the birth if that's helpful, and lots of other improvements over the years.
Some of the NCT folk on here sound slightly defensive - which is fair enough to defend something you're proud of and involved in - but I think there's lots of good feedback here for improving things further which those with some involvement in the organisation (as I've had a little too post-natal supporter) should welcome

LittlePeaPod Thu 17-Oct-13 15:18:14

GreenShadow I haven't seen the Kirsty Allsopp comments. I will research and have a look. It is such a shame the organisation is developing a bad reputation. Prior to attending the session I had heard some awful things about NCT been biased and out of date etc. But I went with an open mind I tend to make my own decisions on things.

TheFabulous I certainly would never be rude or a twat just for the sake of it. However, what I cant and wont do is sit there and not ask question to understand the facilitators points. If I just accept the status quo then I may as well not attend. To be fair the group doesn't seem to be full of wall flowers. I don't think I will be the only one asking questions. Also, I am sceptical that the paper feedback forms will go any further than the facilitator. Even if they do, how seriously is the feedback taken and does the feedback really influence how the courses are run in the future! I am not convinced.

Hatty sorry to hear about your experience. That was just pants.

HardFacedCareeristBitchNigel Thu 17-Oct-13 15:18:28

We looked at NCT, then I read the price and thought "no thanks". We went to one NHS antenatal class (about postnatal care, --it was shit--) and that was it.

I still managed to give birth to a perfectly healthy baby and have sucessfully managed to keep her alive for the past 3.8 years so reckon not going has not been too much of a loss.

I don't have any "Mummy Friends". The thought makes me want to yack. I do have plenty of friends that are Mums but the thought of being shoved together with people that have nothing more in common with me than recent procreation ? No, ta. Can't think of anything worse than endless baby talk, which is probably why I never went to any vomitworthy Baby Groups.

LittlePeaPod Thu 17-Oct-13 15:25:12

Snow I have no issue with the cost. I am happy to pay but if last nights course is standard then I must say that I can't see what value I am getting out NCT other than meeting other new mums to be. I don't mind giving charity donations but the NCT also advertises/implies DH and I will gain benefits by parting with the cash and participating. I don't feel I got anything out of last nights session.

Kaekae Thu 17-Oct-13 15:32:19

I attended them over six years ago ( so I am sure much would have changed since) when pregnant with my first child. Nothing was covered about csections, formula feeding etc. I went onto have an emergency csection, failed ventouse and forceps. My milk didn't come in and when it did I discovered my son had a tongue tie so made the decision to start formula feeding after weeks of agony. I felt like the biggest failure ever and now know I must have been suffering from PND. I felt upset when I heard about other people's perfect births, although happy for them. I think the NCT classes had made me think it was all going to be perfect. Even now I find it hard to watch any birth related programmes. Another lady on my NCT class also attended the NHS ones as well and I wished I had too. Six years on I am not in touch with anyone from my NCT class. I see one or two in passing. Would I attend again? No!

hattyyellow Thu 17-Oct-13 15:34:45

I remember thinking it would be far more helpful to have kept some of the classes for after the births. I remembered practically nothing from the class about how to bath a baby once the baby was actually there needing to be bathed and it would have been far more helpful to have had a bunch of people trying to stop a real baby crying than a pretend one!

I think it's when the baby is actually there and you're tired and confused is when you need that support and coaching most. Plus the support of everyone at an honest and vulnerable stage rather than discussing something on a theoretical pre-birth basis..

I do think there needs to be a more standard approach to course delivery, as others have stated, if the NCT is to be more than just a way of potentially making friends with other mothers to be..

Wuxiapian Thu 17-Oct-13 15:41:13

DP and I did both the NCT and the NHS class.

I found the NHS class just as informative and way less condescending.

GreenShadow Thu 17-Oct-13 15:54:11

Something else to bear in mind is that you don't necessarily have to do NCT classes to benefit from NCT social groups. Many areas have local groups and the friends I made in this group are the ones I'm now closer to than the ones I made in my antenatal group. Our eldest DC are now university age yet we still meet up for lunch every month.

So have a look on their website and see if there is anything going on near you. I know when babies are young, you really want parents with children the same age, but this stage doesn't last long and a very local group where you can walk to meetings is great.

LittlePeaPod Thu 17-Oct-13 16:49:03

Hatty they NCT do now have post birth classes and I am also booked on those. But not setting my expectations to high.

GreenShadow thank you I didn't know about the other NCT social events.

LifeofPo Thu 17-Oct-13 16:53:11

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

LittlePeaPod Thu 17-Oct-13 17:00:02

I wouldn't be surprised if one or two of the couples from last night don't actually come back.

ananikifo Thu 17-Oct-13 17:08:24

DH and I are glad we did NCT classes but they were not perfect by any stretch of the imagination. People in my group asked about ff and we were told the NCT doesn't allow the teachers to cover ff. In our bf session the teacher refused to talk about bf problems because if you latched properly (like she showed us, in less than 5 minutes) you wouldn't have any problems. hmm The session on CS only really covered how many people were in theatre and how scary it is. Forceps and ventouse weren't covered at all, even though I do believe they are on the list of topics that should have been covered.

On the other hand, DH is now so much more confident about what will happen and how he can support me that I have to say it was worth it for that.

I wish the rest of our group lived closer to us but they are lovely and I hope we can keep in touch. I'm very happy for everyone here who doesn't need mummy friends but I have only one friend who is home during the day, and only one day a week. Mat leave would be very lonely if I didn't make an effort to go to mum groups and make friends through things like NCT.

Fabsmum Thu 17-Oct-13 17:11:55

OK - this may be a bit long, so bear with me. smile

Disclaimer: I am an NCT antenatal teacher.

Apologies for this EPIC post. I've been chewing on this thread all day. I'm going to offload but may try to come back briefly later and respond, if anyone has any specific questions or comments for me.

First off NCT training: NCT teachers come from a range of backgrounds, including teaching (me), nursing, midwifery, and other professions. There are a good number of midwives who are NCT trained, who teach for the NCT, and there are NCT teachers who are not midwives who are teaching NHS classes in hospitals around the UK. As far as the length of training goes - it took me 5 years part time, but other people manage it in 2. The training has recently changed and become shorter in response to the increase in University fees. Can't say I'm not worried about this.

Second disclaimer: I acknowledge there are no doubt some awful NCT teachers. I have met a couple. angry

Some observations:

People's actual memories of what they covered in NCT, and what opinions were expressed during their course are hugely, hugely coloured (I use that word advisedly - my first thought was to use the word 'distorted') by what happened to them around the time of the birth. And women come with their own agendas, which are often far more opaque, to them and to us, than any agenda of our own we might have. And these agendas shape their memories of the course and their feelings about it afterwards.

When I attend a reunion I ask the clients to identify one thing they really wish the course had covered/were glad the course had covered, so I can consider that when I teach my next lot of parents. I also ask this question on the electronic feedback forms I send them. Invariably clients will say something like - 'I really wish I'd known something about colic/realised how weird I'd feel in the first week/known I might feel like I've been hit by a bus'. And I stand there and think 'we did cover that. At length. In detail. You had hand outs. Follow up emails with links to mumsnet discussions. And sometimes I think - "I actually used the phrase 'you may feel like you've been hit by a bus' and we drew a diagram of a postnatal body, flagging up symptoms and talking about how to treat them, and I saw the fear in your eyes and went home feeling guilty".

Note: I say 'stand there listening' because I think it's disrespectful to try and cover my arse in a situation like this. I've come to the conclusion that something about childbirth and becoming a parent blows every part of your life and your psyche to pieces, and they reassemble in such a way as to make everything that's gone before a foreign country, and that this is just the way it is. Not much lingers. Including what they covered in NCT!

I accept that very little I personally do on the course will stick and will make a difference. Apart from the friendships, and hopefully the message: DO IT YOUR OWN WAY. I try to make people feel that they have it in them to make the right choices (which will not all be the same) for their baby because they will love their children and do their very best by them, and that they need to trust themselves. I don't think this actually suits some people - they want to be TOLD what to do, because it makes them feel safe at a time when they are actually a bit terrified about the whole prospect of parenting. It's like they feel the course isn't worth the money unless it's really prescriptive, but if we are prescriptive then you can guarantee that some people will find the content useless and sometimes downright offensive.

As far as the 'natural birth agenda' goes - we are doomed which ever way we play this one. I have had feedback from the same course from clients describing the content as 'negative and scaremongering' and 'reassuring and realistic'.

One client I've never forgotten came to a course in a state of complete evangelism about going to a free-standing birth centre 30 miles from where she lived. She spent her pregnancy reading natural birth books and was quite preachy to the rest of the class who had all booked into the local hospital. I never undermine people's choices, but when we were talking about birth settings I made the comment 'some women find the pain of labour absolutely unbearable and those women will need an epidural to have a happy birth experience'. We talked about transfer rates from homebirths and birth centres. In the event she ended up on the labour ward of our local hospital. Her baby was born with a previously undiagnosed health problem and the whole experience was very traumatic (although with a good ending - her little boy is completely well now). I saw her a few months down the line at a nearly new sale, and she cornered me and said plaintively, 'why didn't you tell me how painful it was?'. And I couldn't answer her. Because I did tell her, and she didn't want to hear it! And I have no doubt at all that she's told lots and lots of people that NCT classes are unrealistic about the need for pain relief in labour - because that's what she remembers. But it's not what happened!

Would also point out that it's completely not unrealistic for the NCT to communicate to mothers that the majority of healthy women can have a straightforward experience of labour - even with a first baby. BUT ONLY IF THOSE WOMEN ARE GIVING BIRTH IN SETTINGS WHICH ARE SUPPORTIVE OF NORMAL BIRTH, AND HAVE GOOD CARE. And this, for me, is the nub of the issue. We give clients the message: if you are low risk (most are) you should have a good chance at an intervention free birth (because the outcomes for healthy first time mums opting to labour in birth centres and at home bears this out), but the reality is they will hear this message, and then they flock on mass to labour in settings where intervention rates are sky high. Because that's where the beds are, that's where they feel safe, and that's where the epidurals are. And then, in large numbers, they'll generally have births which involve a colossal amount of intervention. I regularly have whole groups where all the women are low risk at the start of labour, slim, fit, healthy, and where you'll see one normal birth out of six, with the rest having forceps/ventouse/emergency cs. And yet they've all gone into the experience hoping for a normal birth and being encouraged to believe that they have a reasonable chance of one. No wonder the NCT cops so much flack. We are being scapegoated for being the ones giving the message that 'most women can have normal births' in a maternity system which somehow seems to be making this impossible for ridiculously large numbers. And you know midwives are incredibly kind on the whole, and really hard working, and are with women at the most intense point in their lives. Understandably women don't usually want to blame them for anything. And they don't want to believe that their labour could have been any different to how it was, or managed in a different way which might have given them a better birth experience. If women are treated with kindness, and come through birth with a well baby they tend to be very loyal to their birth experience, no matter what. So they look back on their NCT classes as being unrealistic and naïve, midwives (who as a group are often eaten up with angst about the part they play in relation to the rates of intervention in the labours of healthy women) sometimes encourage them to view the NCT in this way, and some actually feel furious with the NCT for what they see as setting them up for disappointment.

Anyway, apologies for the essay.

One last comment: NCT teachers can cover anything they or the clients bloody well want in classes, including bottle feeding. There is no ban on discussing it, if clients have indicated this is something they want to cover, it's simply not a 'routine' part of the course. The only thing they - and midwives in the NHS - are discouraged from doing is demonstrations on how to make up a bottle, because research shows that parents don't retain this information accurately enough to do it safely after the birth. Instead they can discuss the issues surrounding bottle preparation, how to choose formula, how to bottle feed, and give out printed information showing how to make up a bottle. If anyone has had the experience of being told: we can't talk about bottle feeding - phone up the NCT and complain.

AveryJessup Thu 17-Oct-13 17:12:43

The content in my NCT course years ago was similar to yours, OP, vague statements, heavily laden with an agenda, delivered in a patronizing manner. We never went back after the first session. I met a couple of nice people through it though and we stayed in touch.

LittlePeaPod Thu 17-Oct-13 17:15:18

Jst read a couple of articles on Kirsty Allsops comments. Sounds fair to me based on last night but I will see how next week goes. It's a breastfeeding session.

LittlePeaPod Thu 17-Oct-13 17:33:48

Fabsmum I can see your passion and I see where you are coming from. I am sure there are some fantastic nCT failitators and classes out there. But the session i attened was very very poor. There were just a number of things that were just crap. The facilitator was telling us the only way our babies would sleep was if we co slept (cant remeber her exact words). But she said it and got defensive when a few of us questioned it and wanted a further discussion on it. She clearly had no interest in discussing FF when one of the other mothers raised this. The course I attended last night is not good enough. It was poor, the activities were armature/condescending and the whole two and a half session was boring you could see people staring into space. When asked questions the facilitator either sounded defence or just brushed over it. It's just not good enough.

I am sure your courses are not like this but tust me last nights session was as bad as some of the other ladies have experienced in the past.

hackmum Thu 17-Oct-13 17:40:21

Just to go back to the point about swaddling. This is the guidance on swaddling from NCT's website, which is very even-handed:

LittlePeaPod Thu 17-Oct-13 17:45:15

With regards the swaddling issue. My point on that was its ok to tell us that swaddling is linked to cot deaths but when asked by the delegates why that is or what is the level of risk and why. we expect the facilitator to have a discussion about it rather than get defensive and basically say thats how it is. Its bonkers.

Pobblewhohasnotoes Thu 17-Oct-13 17:54:21

spritesoright did you go to my Nct and NHS classes? As they sound exactly the same!

I felt like we were very prepared for birth but they didn't really go through looking after a baby, apart from 'a day in the life of' where you passed the doll round. SIDS guidelines wasn't mentioned or anything, no info on sleeping.

TarkaTheOtter Thu 17-Oct-13 18:08:58

OP why not just call it quits and ask for a refund?

BikeRunSki Thu 17-Oct-13 18:18:43

I joined to meet people. Five years later, we still meet up with our second and third children.

As importantly, the classes helped me to know what was going on when I needed an emcs rather than a water birth.

The friendship group supported one of the families in a way no one else could have done when their baby died at 2 days old.

When ds lost 23% of his birth weight in a week and I decided to ff, it was my NCT leader who told me " there are many ways to nurture a baby, feeding is just one of them".

My experience of NCT has only been positive, to the extent that I was chair person of my local branch for a few years.

LittlePeaPod Thu 17-Oct-13 18:22:07

Tarka I was going to do that but then considered that 13 months on ML on your own could become depressing. So thought stick it out for maybe having a network of other mothers going through the same things. It just frustrates me that something that could be so good and informative is so disappointed bad.

thebody Thu 17-Oct-13 18:30:40

why are you paying for something that's offered free on the NHS?

no one can really prepare you for your birth to be honest as noone yet knows how your birth will pan out. still it's a nice way to meet up with other mums.

re the BF/FF and pain relief in birth.

do what you bloody want op. neither is right or wrong and neither is the least business of anyone else accept you.

thebody Thu 17-Oct-13 18:31:41

why are you paying for something that's offered free on the NHS?

no one can really prepare you for your birth to be honest as noone yet knows how your birth will pan out. still it's a nice way to meet up with other mums.

re the BF/FF and pain relief in birth.

do what you bloody want op. neither is right or wrong and neither is the least business of anyone else accept you.

Scholes34 Thu 17-Oct-13 18:36:10

When I made enquiries about NCT classes when I was 20 weeks pregnant I was told quite bluntly that I'd left it far too late and all classes were full. The free classes offered by the NHS were excellent and I made some good friends. However, you can also make "mummy friends" away from ante-natal classes.

ErrolTheDragon Thu 17-Oct-13 18:36:50

>why are you paying for something that's offered free on the NHS?

I did both, the NHS was good but (my) NCT group was better

Ginnytonic82 Thu 17-Oct-13 18:37:50

Peapod in answer to your earlier question there were a few shocked faces! Dh and I left almost as soon as the incident happened with the GP and her partner and another couple. We've subsequently all complained, but their response so far has been paltry to say the very least.

bigkidsdidit Thu 17-Oct-13 18:58:06

I couldn't go to NHS classes because they were all at 11am on a tuesday!

Topseyt Thu 17-Oct-13 19:29:19

I had three children. I didn't join the NCT. I just did the free NHS classes, and that was fine for me.

I have an aversion to paying a large sum of money for something when I can get it for free.

hackmum Thu 17-Oct-13 19:31:17

thebody: "why are you paying for something that's offered free on the NHS?"

I went to the NHS classes and the NCT ones. The NHS ones weren't a patch on the NCT ones - there were about 30 women in the group, there were only three sessions, and it they basically consisted of the midwife just telling us stuff. There were 8 NCT sessions, with eight couples, and the teaching was very interactive, with loads of group work and practical activities. Very different.

picniclady Thu 17-Oct-13 19:41:26

Yabu, I loved it. NCT breastfeeding support is invaluable imo, out of six couples on my course five managed to bf for a year due to the NCT breastfeeding counselor support in the early days.

LittlePeaPod Thu 17-Oct-13 19:43:33

TheBody with regards your query why are you paying for something that's offered free on the NHS?

There are no NHS sessions running were we are at the moment. So our only option is NCT.

My NHS class was delivered by an NCT teacher as that's who the hospital had a contract with...

But I was bloody lucky to get on said course. They said not to bother ringing up until 26w. I got twitchy and rang at 22w and only managed to get in a class on a cancellation.

JRmumma Thu 17-Oct-13 20:42:24

Horry, same thing happened to me. I got told you couldn't book till 28weeks and when i phoned at 28weeks i got told You should have booked earlier, we are already taking bookings from ladies due in November..'. I was due in August. I had to threaten an FOI request to get a place on a course!

Worriedthistimearound Fri 18-Oct-13 10:28:58

I'm shocked at how many people on this thread are saying, 'such and such happened and it wasn't covered and I wasn't prepared for it which made me feel a failure or cross!'
I really don't understand that at all. Why don't women read and prepare themselves for birth? I was prepared for days of latent labour, lots of unmanageable pain, ventouse maybe needed, maybe failing then csection. Because I knew all that 'could' happen. Of course I wanted it to be as quick and as natural as possible but I knew that many births didn't end up that way and my birth plan simply stated, 'get both of us through it alive.'

As it turned out, I actually had a very quick straightforward vaginal birth. But I couldn't have known that beforehand so I wanted to go in with my eyes open.
I didn't want to be like lots of my friends; educated women in charge of their careers who think they can approach childbirth the same way. I have lots of friends who ended up bitter and disappointed mainly at the lack if control they felt they had both over their own bodies and how the birth progressed. Taking a much more Machiavellian approach certainly helped me.

I kind of get where you're coming from Worried as I wanted to look at every possibilty too - so my birth plan started with natural preferences but also covered everything else up to CS. I was fortunate to be able to have a very natural water-birth with DC1 (dd) but I wanted my birth plan to be really comprehensive so i didn't have to "throw it out" at any point, nor feel i was putting myself entirely in someone else's hands to just "get both of us through it alive" - though I guess at the end of the day that is the bottom line. But to my thinking whatever happens to you during birth there's always a place for your own preferences - even if that's "in X situation I would like to follow consultants advice/ lean on my medical team to get me through"

Mouserama Fri 18-Oct-13 11:06:08

I booked the NCT classes for 2 reasons. First one was to make friends (seems to be one of the primary reasons that anyone books NCT classes) and second so my DH had an idea of what to expect during the birth. I didn't learn anything that I didn't already know in the classes, and was a bit hmm at some of the things the facilitator said (such as you should challenge what the midwives say because they aren't always right, and that you can refuse interventions such as forceps/c sections). Our facilitator was very pro natural birth and pro breastfeeding. She didn't go into detail about the interventions much at all. And out of the 7 mums, 6 of us (including me) had either c sections or forceps deliveries. Lets just say that I didn't challenge the midwives or refuse a c section when I saw my DDs heartrate jumping about all over the place. I just signed the consent forms for the emergency c section..

DontMentionThePrunes Fri 18-Oct-13 11:09:17

I think they are good networking events: if you are thinking of having an extension done and want to make friends with an architect or two, it's the quickest route to making contacts and maybe getting a wee discount... grin

LittlePeaPod Fri 18-Oct-13 11:14:45

Worried I agree women should ensure they prepare themselves and I think it would be unfair to say the women on the thread haven't or didn't read up on their options and therefore they based their birth expectations purely on NCT. I have done a lot of research and paid for professional medical advice. I understand more than 50% of Vb end in some form of intervention, 1 in 4 births are CS births and I would never agree to ventouse or forceps because of the risks of instrumental injury, nerve (facial, eyes, arms, shoulder etc.) damage and potential haemorrhage in the baby's skull, along with a load of other research I have done. This is all irrelevant to me because I am having a CS. I think everyone is fully aware that you can never predict how any birth will turn out it would be very unwise and naive to do so. However from what I saw our facilitator will be pushing VB regardless and any information on intervention and/or CS will not be impartial. The scare mongering started at our first session.

The point of my thread with regards NCT is they advertise that they provide parents with accurate, impartial information so that parents can make informed choices. Their facilitators are trained so you would expect a certain level of professionalism when courses are delivered. But from what I have seen this is not the case and it seems other parents on this thread have had the same experience. When someone you believe to be a professional in their field advises you, then you expect that advice to be accurate. When they say they are impartial, then you expect non biased information. What I believe some people are saying is they expected one thing from NCT because that's what NCT advertise but instead they got something completely different

Worriedthistimearound Fri 18-Oct-13 11:21:10

Oh I agree, juggling, I'm just amazed at how many women go into it thinking, 'this is what I want so this is what I'm expecting to happen.'
It's fine to have a preference but to go into it blindly then feel angry that nobody prepared you for the pain or the loss of control that many women feel seems madness to me. DH was prepped to expect screaming, swearing, blood, gore, poo etc followed by possible intervention including a crash csection. As was I! This meant that in the event, although it hurt like hell, I was prepared and not disappointed.

Worriedthistimearound Fri 18-Oct-13 11:32:37

Well I just took them as one extra piece of info rather than their word being gospel. We definitely discussed csections in ours as one woman was having an elective due to a previous pelvic fracture and another because she was having twins. Our teacher covered in in detail for them but I know that one woman asked if shd needed to attend that wk as she was having a vb. Our teacher just laughed and said it would be useful just in case a vb didn't work out for her. So definitely no agenda from her.

She did stress, and I agree, and this ties in with what fabsmum was saying, is that busy hospitals are not geared up towards minimal intervention unless absolutely needed. A big example being that they often ask/expect women to lie on their backs on the bed. This is probably the least natural and most difficult position to give birth in. It slows labour down and makes pushing harder because the coccyx is tilting inward when luring on your back.

If I were you, if stick with it just for the social aspect. Undoubtedly some antenatal teachers are rubbish if have an agenda and you seem unlucky with yours but hopefully the friendships you make will be worth it,

Perhaps, especially as I'm picking up that other couples on course feel similarly to you about last week's opener, you could ask if you can go over (again ?) the areas and issues people would like to cover in the course. You could then stress that you know you'll be having a CS (is that right ?) so would obviously like to spend some time covering and discussing issues around that. Also personally I felt more confident going into BFing knowing all about bottle feeding too, as I'd worked on a mother and baby unit previously - so I rather doubt if showing people how to make up a bottle would really do any harm (I don't see why people wouldn't understand/ would forget those instructions when we're expecting them to remember lots of other info confused)
Anyway, always a good start to a course to ask participants what they're hoping/expecting to cover. HTH smile

LittlePeaPod Fri 18-Oct-13 12:03:26

We did cover what we were hoping to get from the session and she is aware about my CS. As a professional facilitator the delegates should not have to hold your hand or point you in the right direction once you understand what direction they are hoping to take. And if you dont then its your responsibilty to go over it till you do. She sets the agenda and is the professional and its her responsibilty to ensure she delivers a professional session. In addition it's the fact she was getting defensive and clearly not wanting to allow the group to discuss or ask questions in relation to what she was delivering. She was just talking at us rather than allowing any form of debate or discussion to occurs. And what she was saying was clearly biased.

As others and myself have stated there clearly are some good facilitator (you were happy with yours Worried) out their mine not been one of them but the NCT as an organisation should really be able to deliver a much more professional service than this. They have the history, experience and influence within this particular field. I don't consider spending half an hour asking grown adults to stick little stickers on female anatomy yonis grin to be of any use. I would rather watch paint dry or as my DH said he would rather pull his own teeth out.

I have come to accept that the best I will get from these sessions and for my £250 is meeting a few new mums to be. I wonder how many coffees I can get at a baby and toddler group for that. grin

Iamnotminterested Fri 18-Oct-13 13:50:31

Avoid them like the plague.

LittlePeaPod Fri 18-Oct-13 14:14:01

Iamnotmint Who? The baby and toddler groups or NCT?

DontMentionThePrunes Fri 18-Oct-13 14:28:00

TBH LittlePeaPod there have been so many threads taking issue with the NCT, and any response you get from those within the organisation is always the same. You will be wrong in some way, and there will be bemusement and frustration that people don't see where their money (lots of it as well) is going.

There are individuals who are good, sensitive, unbiased teachers. But if you want to talk about the rest: they aren't interested. Apparently they will have told you all about the potential complications, pain, upheaval etc but you didn't listen. And if you haven't given feedback after the terrible classes - when you have paid for them remember - then more fool you, you obviously forgot being given the form.

Hundreds and hundreds of women I've seen saying similar things on threads on here, I think Belinda Phipps came on at least once: there is never an admission that things actually could do with a bit of polishing.

I sent detailed and constructive feedback when I resigned several committee positions, and all I got back was a blurb about what good they do, completely ignoring what I'd said about the misuse of donated funds, alienation and abandonment of volunteers and specialist workers, etc.

A bit like a comprehensive complaint to Tesco about their anti-competitiveness and dubious employment policies ... and being told "Thanks for your email. We sell bread and milk in the middle of the night, you know."

DontMentionThePrunes Fri 18-Oct-13 14:38:53

That about sums up my impression of them, Horry grin

Just as the facilitator straight out "you've covered the natural childbirth without pain relief bit - when are we going to talk about pain relief and intervention?" You still have 5 weeks of the course to go - you didn't expect to fit everything into the first evening did you? It is mostly a session for helping the group to come together and feel comfortable sharing. It's not really appropriate to try and force a room of strangers to discuss very emotive issues - they tend to be scheduled for later in the course when people feel more relaxed and comfortable with sharing.

At my NCT classes we got to have go with a TENS machine, we had an epidural catheter to look at, we talk about CS and formula and all sorts of things. IME NCT classes are not passive sessions where the adults sit around waiting for the facilitator to drop nuggets of information on them, they work because they are much more discussion based and can be flexible according to the needs of each individual group of parents. And if one of those parents is planning to have a CS or has specific medical issues, then that should get as much time as the parents who are planning a home-birth.

Just ask - sorry for the typo.

Fabsmum Fri 18-Oct-13 17:06:31

Littlepea - how would you like the classes to be run?

I do a mix of small and whole group discussions, the odd quiz, some demonstrations, mini lectures, pair work. Would you find this format alienating?

I generally find that a key factor for how good a course is (other than my input obviously!), is how interesting and willing to engage the clients are. Sometimes I have two courses running parallel, and I'll roughly do the same activities with both groups (allowing for individual focus as suggested in the clients' agenda). One class might feel like wading through treacle and I have to really work incredibly hard to cover the material and bring out the salient points. Another group will take the material and run with it - they'll offer up interesting perpectives, challenge me, challenge each other. Some people come with a wealth of knowledge which they are happy to share. On the best courses there's loads of information sharing between clients, which is fantastic. And you can see that they're really enjoying themselves and learning a lot. A course with too much teacher input does tend to be draggy - even with a great facilitator.

I'm always nervous on the first night of a course for this reason - will a get a fun group or people that sit there looking like they're sucking on a lemon all evening? I'd say my ratio of fun groups to lemon suckers is about 20:1 luckily. ;-)

bimbabirba Fri 18-Oct-13 17:18:51

I agree Horry. My experience of NCT has also been very negative. The lady running my course was the opposite of the one described by the OP but equally useless IYSWIM. She knew nothing about anything and wasn't able to provide any useful info or opinion other than hand us lots of print outs.
As a charity I really don't know what it is they do to support parents and deserve charitable status. I work in a charity and never have I been able to refer a client to them or find them useful in any way.
Having said all that, OP you need to work on your strikethrough grin

bimbabirba Fri 18-Oct-13 17:20:46

Forgot to say that the course I signed up for was also outrageously expensive

outragedofsuburbia Fri 18-Oct-13 17:52:58

I'm always nervous on the first night of a course for this reason - will a get a fun group or people that sit there looking like they're sucking on a lemon all evening? I'd say my ratio of fun groups to lemon suckers is about 20:1 luckily. ;-)

Completely agree with this. Have never been able to work out what makes these few groups go the lemon sucking route but I think it can be catching from couple to couple.

LittlePeaPod Fri 18-Oct-13 20:03:24

DontMention There are individuals who are good, sensitive, unbiased teachers. But if you want to talk about the rest: they aren't interested.. Yes I have picked up on this.. smile

grin # HorryIsUpduffed for the Tesco note!

Fabsmum. Is how interesting and willing to engage the clients are that's what we were trying to do through discussion and debate but the facilitator had no interest and got defensive. I would like to be able to discuss the subject and also I would like less of the childish activities with sticky posters etc.

will a get a fun group or people that sit there looking like they're sucking on a lemon all evening? I'd say my ratio of fun groups to lemon suckers is about 20:1 luckily..

Have you ever considered that maybe the reason they look like the are sucking lemons is because they are bored or find the activities tedious? I am sure as an experienced facilitator you will be fully aware of the Kolb learning, development and training cycle and you will be fully aware that using the same facilitation technique for everyone will fail for some people because they find that particular style either boring or not stimulating enough. It's the facilitators responsibility to ensure they get the group engaged. Blaming the group for a shit session is akin to a plumber blaming his tools when the problem isn't fixed, IMHO.

echt Fri 18-Oct-13 20:14:16

I met some very nice people there.

And the expression on the facilitator's face when every single woman ended up with ECS or Ventoux delivery maxed up with pain relief was priceless. grin

Sneepy Fri 18-Oct-13 20:35:27

Made some of the best friends of my life in NCT class. SO GLAD I didn't give it a miss.

Worriedthistimearound Fri 18-Oct-13 20:37:34

Littlepeapod, I think you are being a little unfair to fabsmum. She has come on and admitted that some facilitators aren't good. She has also said she covers whatever the group ask for. Clearly she's doing well if the vast majority of her groups go well. It may well be that the odd woman there is simply grumpy and wouldn't respond to any teaching style other than getting up and taking the class herself.

I think another problem may well be that the couples in the group are all coming from a different starting point. Some women may really want the sticky notes on the bits and everything explained as if they were 11. As I said, our teacher was very good but still didn't deliver what I wanted which was info on what to do after the birth. I didn't find any of the classes informative because I had already researched everything from tens to how each position tilts the pelvis. But that wasn't the teacher's fault.

Phineyj Fri 18-Oct-13 20:47:58

My DH found the classes very beneficial - he kept learning info I had tried to tell him outside the class and then he'd tell me about it proudly grin.

Our facilitator was quite good and she did cover C-section (just as well as 50% of the group had them) and was responsive to group questions & interests. I did feel a bit like you about the whole thing though. I mentioned PND at one point though (it was a worry as a friend's Dsis had post-partum psychosis and has never really covered) and they were all a bit hmm.

The other women were mostly pretty nice and we do meet up, although it would be stretching it to describe them as close friends. As it was in London a lot were foreign nationals and spent large chunks of their mat leave abroad, which wasn't much use to me.

I thought the cost was reasonable if you compare it to an evening class.

My Dsis was surprised when she looked at the materials I was given - she felt they were much more balanced than those she was given 10 years ago.

They do do a lot of cheaper activities if you don't want the classes - in our area there is an antenatal exercise class that I found was very good, and it was pay as you go.

LittlePeaPod Fri 18-Oct-13 20:58:39

Worried. I certainly didn't mean to sound like I was attacking Fabsmum personally. My point was relating to the comment that the reason some groups are poor is because the whole group are miserable and sit there looking like they are sucking lemons etc. I agree within every group you will have one maybe two people that could be seen as difficult but to tar a whole group is unfair. I think its important that the different learning styles (activity/reflection/theory/practical) are address so the person that likes the little stickers gets as much out of it as the person that likes the debate or simply to sit, listen and reflect. Organising the session and taking this into account will help everyone get the most out of it. I guess that's what I was expecting from our session. An experienced professional facilitator that knew their subject and could adapt their style so everyone got the most out of the session. Instead we had a session were everything was activity (not good ones IMO) focused and no opportunity to discuss or debrief. Just jumped from one activity to the next. But this leads me back to the fact the NCT should support their facilitators and have some standardisation that can be measured.

BangOn Fri 18-Oct-13 22:38:34

lots of disparaging remarks about the NCT's apparent dogmatic approach to natural childbirth. Have to say that wasn't my personal experience.

Ironically, this reminds me quite a bit of the way some people are so quick to diss the NHS; forgetting why either of these great british institution was set up in the first place!

The great advances in the safety & cleanliness of childbirth which the NHS achieved in its infancy (no pun intended) had the unintended consequence of over-medicalising & mechanising a normal physiological process needlessly in low-risk cases, reducing the amount of relaxed atmosphere homebirths, & certainly in Dick-Read's day resulting in huge numbers of healthy, low-risk women giving birth unconscious & unaware of the birth process itself (& not through choice, but out of a patriarchal desire to 'protect' patients from the 'horrors' of labour). Hence the NCT, which in many ways is inseperable fron the feminist movement itself - founded with the aim of reclaiming a woman's right to choose what happens to

BangOn Fri 18-Oct-13 22:47:30

sorry -

what happens to their own bodies (& minds) during labour.

just as people take for granted the huge medical leaps made by the NHS, I think people forget just how much the natural childbirth movement has achieved; MLUs, doulas, birth plans, skin to skin contact, attachment parenting, birth pools in hospitals, breastfeeding awareness... not that any of us are compelked to do any of these things, but just the mere fact that we're all aware of them as options owes a huge amount to the NCT.

cory Sat 19-Oct-13 00:48:39

What I found so great about the NHS course was that it was run by experienced midwives who had attended hundreds of births and seen all sorts of different circumstances.

The NCT facilitators I have known have only really had experience of their own labours. One was absolutely sold on a private birthing unit (which I couldn't afford, but apparently the biscuits are very nice) and was adamant that this kind of setup was essential to a happy birth experience. Because it had been essential to her wellbeing- and that was all the experience she had to build on.

She also insisted years after my second was born that I must feel really sad because I had a caesarian (I wasn't bothered). Because again, she had never seen a caesarian and just assumed it must be a horrible thing.

The midwives on the NHS course otoh were able to give all sorts of handy tips for a range of situations, they arranged a tour of the NICU.

Echocave Sat 19-Oct-13 05:10:01

Yes depends on facilitator but I think any antenatal class is worth it for the friends side.
I knew I had to have c-section before the first class where labour etc was covered extensively. I just tuned out a bit!
Honestly I had suspected, mild depression due to lots of other stuff going on at the time, had feeding difficulties etc and didnt exactly do anything the NCT way but I have a really nice group of local friends who got me out and about etc. Several years on we still compare notes on what our children are up to and laugh about toddlerdom and I feel very lucky to have them.
I know not everyone hits it off so well with their group but if you feel like spending the money and time, I think it's worth a go.

DontMentionThePrunes Sat 19-Oct-13 09:35:19

The trouble is with pointing out that some groups will be better than others, some will be harder to teach: this is just teaching. That's what it's like. A teacher is prepared and has tools to bring the more difficult groups around, and also to calm the more exuberant groups down if necessary. In part that's what teacher training is all about.

You don't just go in as the teacher and hold your hands up and say 'well, this is a difficult group, I wonder if I'm meeting their needs, and wouldn't it be easier if they all sparked off one another?!' You are prepared for a difficult group.

LittlePeaPod Sat 19-Oct-13 10:53:09

BangOn I don't believe the comments are disparaging about the entire NCT organisation. The NCTs legacy with regards giving women choice in terms of the birthing process, empowering women to make informed choices on all their delivery options and educating women on all the benefits and risks attached to the various choices should be applauded and respected. The organisation does champion itself as a charity that supports parents, gives accurate and impartial information so parents can make the best choices/decisions for their families.

All of this in theory is great but the question is how well are these organisational values actually delivered on the ground. A couple of points from my perspective. First point, its clear to me from some of the posts on here, speaking to people in RL and my brief experience this week clearly this may change through the course--that these peoples perception is that the NCT classes --not necessarily the organisation are not impartial. It seems there is much more focus on VBs and not the same level of focus on alternative options. (ELCS etc.). I also get the feeling i may be wrong that any form intervention is either not discussed in depth or indirectly discouraged and medical professionals opinions are belittle (e.g you don't have to do what the medical team advise etc.). If my assumptions on this point are even a little correct then the NCTs organisational values are not been delivered on the ground in the way the organisation champions itself (eg giving accurate and impartial information). The question for me then is why is this? Is it facilitators are pushing their own beliefs and agendas on parents? Or is the organisations public values actually different to what is encourage in practice?

I believe impartiality and accurate information is important so women are empowered to make the best choice they can, whilst accepting no one really ever knows how any birth with progress. The more informed parents are the more flexible they are likely to be when in labour and the greater the chance of a positive experience and recovery. Hopefully we can get away from some mothers feeling or been made to feel ashamed, cheated and/or disappointed when a VB doesn't go to plan and those that have CS aren't stigmatised as "too posh to push, not trusting their bodies, lazy etc.".

Second point, the actual delivery of the classes. I do think the organisation should have some form of standardisation whilst allowing facilitators the flexibility to adapt the course to the needs or request of the group. This way the facilitators can get support not sure how much support they get in terms of delivering courses that will ensure as many people are engaged as possible. Having lots and lots of activities within a session with tenuous links to a particular subject and no debate/discussion just isn't good enough. I accept that some people will find this form of training engaging however this will not be the case for those individuals with different learning / communication styles. I wonder how is the feedback post course evaluated? Is this done centrally and do the NCT have a good understanding of what delegates/participants are saying positive and negative? Or does the feedback not go any further than the facilitator? I wouldn't know because I don't work for them. All I know was I was very disappointed with the initial session I attended and I really hope things improve. My impression is also that our group will not be receiving impartial training and the all natural VB agenda will be pushed and focused on. I really hope I am proved wrong and I can start a thread in the future long the lines of "I was unreasonable to upload this thread". Which I would do if the sessions I am attending did challenge my initial impression.

With regards your thoughts on the NHS, well that's a whole other thread. smile

Great analysis of the NCT PeaPod - one thought from me is that perhaps it's a mistake of the NCT to say they offer "impartial" advice, accurate maybe (or they could at least aspire to that ?) - but with their beginnings in the natural birth movement can they or would they really want to be or claim to be "impartial"

LittlePeaPod Sat 19-Oct-13 11:27:28

Juggling I do agree with you. If the NCTs real focus is VBs with little or no intervention I am reluctant to use the phrase natural birth because I believe all births are natural regardless of the method of delivery eg VB or CS then they should be more transparent about this and remove the impartial phrase from their literature/value statements. There is nothing wrong with them fighting for the no intervention VB cause but personally I would not donate or pay a birthing organisation that was not impartial. If this is/was transparently the case, I would never have paid to attend one of their courses. But at least I would have made an informed decision.

thebody Sat 19-Oct-13 11:38:44

I think its terrible that some of you had to pay for classes. mine were all free on the NHS and were fine.

however I am a nurse so perhaps didn't need quite so much info and really just went for the social side if things.

I guess it depends in demand and where you live.

op afraid child birth so incalculable that you just can't really prepare yourself for it totally.

a good midwife that you trust to put yours and your babies needs first is the key.

essentially you have to trust the professionals and some are fantastic and some are less so

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.

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.

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.

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'.

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.

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


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.

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!

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!

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

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.

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.

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.

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.....

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.

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.

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.

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 11:23:32

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.

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

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

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.

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.

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

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

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.

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 Tue 22-Oct-13 13:52:04

Agree Toandtwo. It is a lottery...

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now