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Following Kirstie Allsopp's post, a guest blog by Belinda Phipps, CEO of the NCT

(246 Posts)
KateMumsnet (MNHQ) Mon 04-Feb-13 10:54:30

A couple of weeks ago, Mumsnet Blogger Kirstie Allsopp wrote a blog post in which she argued that the National Childbirth Trust is over-focused on natural birth, and that women who don't have one can feel underprepared, and even stigmatized. Her post sparked a lot of debate - have a look at the Talk thread for more background.

This week, NCT Chair Belinda Phipps has written us a guest blog in which she tackles some of Kirstie's points, and sets out how the organisation is changing to respond to the needs of all mothers. 

What do you think? Let us know if you post on this subject - or let us have your thoughts here on the thread.

BalloonSlayer Tue 05-Feb-13 12:11:24

Do you mind me asking - why is this on discussions of the day when no one has even replied?

BridgetBidet Tue 05-Feb-13 12:15:17

"It's a common view that to be involved in the NCT you have to be a middle class parent"

Yes, well you may find that if you charge £300 a pop for an antenatal course your appeal to working class parents is limited.

itonlyhappenedonce Tue 05-Feb-13 12:24:04

For alot of people there will be many issues on their mind with their first pregnancy, financial, work concerns, housing problems, relationship issues maybe, NCT struck me a little bit like the kind of thing you worry about when you haven't got anything else to worry about.

Afterall if you don't go the baby will still be born.

BartletForTeamGB Tue 05-Feb-13 12:24:21

They offer discounts of up to 90% depending on income.

Tee2072 Tue 05-Feb-13 12:28:01

I didn't go to NCT because of a) the price and b) the snotty attitude of the woman who ran the classes in my area.

And it's b) that needs to change.

ubik Tue 05-Feb-13 12:29:48

I found it very intimidating. Coffee mornings in these enormous houses, no way these women were coming back to my flat. Couldn't afford the antenatal classes.

It's funny though, my mum and her friends were all in the NCT and were not middle class, but it perhaps didn't seem to have the same 'child as lifestyle statement,' culture in the '70s.

Tee2072 Tue 05-Feb-13 12:30:36

"They offer discounts of up to 90% depending on income."

Just because you can afford it doesn't mean you want to pay it. And, yes, I realize your post was to Bridget's comment about the price = middle class.

We could have afforded it, but it wasn't how I wanted to spend my money, especially after speaking to the 'practitioner' in my area.

NHS does it for free.

WingDefence Tue 05-Feb-13 12:33:16

I think it's a case, as in many large organisations, that the people at the top think one thing is happeneing but the reality 'in the field' can be different.

I'm not saying the NCT is a completely awful organisation - DH and I did the ante natal classes for DS was born 4 years ago (but that was because the NHS provision was pretty non-existant) - but some of those common views stated by the NCT Chair are such for good reasons.

My NCT leader told us ladies that we had to have sex with our DH/DPs six weeks after giving birth as it was our duty to and men needed their sexual needs to be satisfied in that way. The inference was that they would stray if we didn't provide it for them hmm

BridgetBidet Tue 05-Feb-13 12:38:03

The discount is really for people on extremely low or no income. For people who work but don't earn fantastic salaries it's really not an option.

But then it has always struck me that this is partly deliberate as NCT classes seem to be places where middle class mummies go where they can be confident they will be meeting other middle class parents. And they won't have to mix with such hoi polloi as secretaries or shop assistants.

I inquired about courses and the practitioner in my area gave me the distinct impression that was the case.

Sunflowergirl2011 Tue 05-Feb-13 12:41:45

I volunteer with our local NCT branch as I think at a local level they do some good things - mainly wrt giving mums/parents a social network. However, I think at a national level agree with what Kirsty Aesop said. I had an EMCS for my eldest and as a result of the way it was explained in my antenatal class (as A Very Bad Thing), wad far more terrified than. Should have been.
( also IMHO the way they treat their volunteers, who keep the organisation going, is shocking). I very much volunteer to support the local organisation, not the national one.

LineRunner Tue 05-Feb-13 12:49:12

I think that any organisation that cares what Kirstie Allsop thinks has got problems.

sayanything Tue 05-Feb-13 12:50:18

After this , I want nothing to do with the NCT ever again and would advise people not to bother with them. I was aghast at their patronising attitude and their belief that they know better than a woman giving birth.

There was a thread about the guidance here.

SucksToBeMe Tue 05-Feb-13 12:53:48

WingDefence shock that's terrible!

MustafaCake Tue 05-Feb-13 12:55:30

sayanything I can't get your links to work, is it just me?!

thefatladyscreams Tue 05-Feb-13 12:56:08

Can only go on my own experience but that was very positive. Very useful section about C sections and no "natural birth is best" bias at all. Suspect a lot might depend on the individual tutor - ours was great.

PrincessOfChina Tue 05-Feb-13 12:57:34

We did NCT classes ahead of DD's birth for dual reasons - meeting people and finding out more about birth.

We met some lovely people, and also found out a lot about natural birth and breast feeding. All very nice.

Given 4/8 of us ended up having EMCS's and 6/8 of us ended up bottle feeding it might have been useful to hear some more, non judgmental advice on those topics. I don't think the NCT local leades necessarily live in the real world.

Oh, and no NHS classes around us unless you want to attend a 2 hour session on a Thursday afternoon, ladies only.

ubik Tue 05-Feb-13 12:58:58

I think you are right, Linerunner

DoItToJulia Tue 05-Feb-13 12:59:57

Mustafa, the guidance link worked for me, but not the thread link.

Tee2072 Tue 05-Feb-13 13:00:09

No, Mustafa, her links don't work.

Maebe Tue 05-Feb-13 13:01:06

There's definitely a problem with some individual tutors being more pro-natural birth, hypnobirthing etc than others, though even our quite realistic tutor still spent about 3 hours explaining to us that we needed to make our house seem like we were just about to make love in order to make labour progress well hmm

The only think that I really struggled with with NCT classes is that they can't talk about bottle feeding at all. Not a peep about it. It seemed a bit over the top. It's one thing to promote breast-feeding, but its another thing to completely ignore what some mothers might end up doing. They only need to say 'if you do have to use formula, get a HV to talk to you about the correct way to make up feeds etc' - but my tutor said she wasn't even allowed to say that...

icravecheese Tue 05-Feb-13 13:02:09

Generally, I have nothing bad to say about NCT - we did the classes nearly 6 years ago for our first born, our teacher was great and we are still firm friends with the 4 other couples we met on the course (we only really did it to meet other people having babies at same time as us!).

However, the comment from Belinda NCT on her blog that it is a total myth that NCT wants all parents to have a natural birth and to breastfeed is not quite my experience - the different types of birth were very clearly explained at our classes, but we had a whole extra class on breastfeeding, and absolutely NOTHING on how to bottle feed - ok, so I now realise its pretty easy to work out bottle feeding, but at the time (3am, screaming baby, bleeding nipples) I didn't know about formula / teat flow / sterilisation, I ended up telephoning my mum at 6am. We had no classes or info on this at all from NCT classes....why not?

icravecheese Tue 05-Feb-13 13:03:41

ah, cross posts with Maebe above - didnt realise they couldnt talk about bottle feeding....why on earth not? How ridiculous!

BartletForTeamGB Tue 05-Feb-13 13:05:56

"The discount is really for people on extremely low or no income. For people who work but don't earn fantastic salaries it's really not an option."

Not entirely correct.

Average median salary is 26,500.

Reduced course options start from a (combined) salary of 26,190

Snowgirl1 Tue 05-Feb-13 13:06:49

I didn't find our NCT teacher overly focused on a natural birth, she gave very balanced information on all the pain relief options and when asked by others what she would recommend she talked them through an evaluation approach that they could use to help them make the decision.

We had a separate NCT teacher for the class on breastfeeding and she was very, very focused on breastfeeding.

sayanything Tue 05-Feb-13 13:08:03

Sorry, I'll try again.

Link to thread:

The OP in the thread includes a link to the guidance which should work (but maybe doesn't work if I copy and paste it).

And there I was thinking I was so clever I could do links...

Herrena Tue 05-Feb-13 13:08:44

Whether you have a caesarean or not, breast feed or bottle feed, we are here to support you.

Well there's 'support' from a person who actually seems to give a shit that you're upset and there's 'support' from a smug person who has pretty much said that you mush be pretty crap if you can't breastfeed.

There seem to be a disproportionate number of the latter in the NCT volunteers brigade and this is why I don't attend any of their (reportedly very naice) free get-togethers.

I did do an antenatal course with them which I found to be heavily biased, but I am still friends with the people I met on it 19 months on. Mind you I could have met them anywhere!

BartletForTeamGB Tue 05-Feb-13 13:09:03

"They only need to say 'if you do have to use formula, get a HV to talk to you about the correct way to make up feeds etc' - but my tutor said she wasn't even allowed to say that..."

Our leader talked us through how to bottle feed, but said she counted unless we asked her, so I did.

BartletForTeamGB Tue 05-Feb-13 13:09:16


Mog37 Tue 05-Feb-13 13:11:02

I did the NCT antenatal course and it was much better than the NHS course which I went to a couple of weeks after. I do think I ended up with a much better birth as a direct result of the course.

But I didn't make lifelong friends with the women I met. They were nice enough but I did find myself referring to them as "the Competitive Mummies". I stopped going to the meetups altogether after realising that I just couldn't take another evening of playing who had the most expensive house!

ChampyandtheWonderHorse Tue 05-Feb-13 13:16:26

I have only my own experience to add, but I found the NCT people I encountered rather intimidating as well.

I tried about 8 years ago to get involved in a nearly new sale - I went to help set up and was egarded with, well, I felt it was a mix of disgust and indifference by some of the organisers - I remember being spoken to like I was a littl girl, like I was inadequate and no use if I didn't have a husband around, I just felt very very unwelcome. I was 30 and had a 1yo baby.

The feeling I got from the other mothers was that it was proper 'work' for them - maybe it was unpaid but by heck they were going to organise it like it was executive management, it felt like they were 'professional' mothers and very very concerned with upholding the rules. Anything a bit improper was deplored.

I remember walking home feeling really upset though I can't remember the details. Just that I didn't belong there. I wasn't good enough. Even though I breastfed and had a 'natural' birth...

DialMforMummy Tue 05-Feb-13 13:17:11

I just read KA blog and I think she was bang on.
In the class I went to, there was a lot of scaremongering about pain relief and the cascade of intervention and how it may affect the mother's bonding with the child. The scary scenarios we were given, made me seriously doubt the knowledge of the course provider.
When I asked about ffing, I was told "what do you want to know?".
Well, I did not know what I wanted to know, I did not know where to start! confused
If indeed the NCT uses "trained practitioners" then they should look at be more consistent as a lot of people seem to have very different experiences.
I would not, in a million years, have in a million years asked for advice about ffing to the course provider as I cant help but think that I would have had a lecture about the benefits of bf. I felt they were that pushy.
I think KA is spot on when she says that parents must be given a realistic view of what they birth experience will be like. The reality is that one does not always have the choice abut what birth one will have and giving unrealistic expectations can only contribute some mothers to feel like failures.
FWIW, I went to a NCT class in 2010, had 2 emcs and ffed (out of choice). I agree that it not an awful organisation, but it was not for me and I feel I wasted my money.

chicaguapa Tue 05-Feb-13 13:30:00

I have mixed experiences with the NCT. I didn't attend any birth classes but became involved after DD was born by taking over the NCT newsletter. I attended some committee meetings, but not many. I also regularly went to the NCT coffee morning right up until after DS was born 3 years later.

I bf DD exclusively for 6 months and bf DS too. I got thrush with DS and had no support from the GP who helpfully told me that bf'ing does hurt hmm. The NCT bf counsellor was fantastic and found me lots of information to take to the GP to finally get a prescription of diflucan.

In the meantime, I physically couldn't feed DS and had to switch to formula, whilst manually expressing so I didn't dry up. I was nearly in tears buying the formula in the supermarket and it was very upsetting for me.

I went to the NCT coffee morning and was sitting next to the Chairman, who hadn't recognised me even though I produced the newsletter and I was bottle feeding DS, feeling very upset and embarrassed. She turned to me and said how funny it was to see someone bottle feeding their baby during Breastfeeding Awareness week. shock

The thrush went and I was able to work back up to exclusively bf again and stopped when DS was 6 months. But tbh I would have liked to have taken her judgey pants and wrapped them around her neck. I stopped being editor of the newsletter after that as I thought her attitude was shit and too judgy.

So good and bad really. confused

LadyInDisguise Tue 05-Feb-13 13:31:46

I have done the NCT stuff.
At no point did I feel empowered to make my own choices re birth or did I feel I had been given the choices in a positive way.

If I had my way now, I would be looking for some AN classes run by a doula instead.

ClimbingPenguin Tue 05-Feb-13 13:39:12

we got information on FF in our class and spent a while going over intervention giving cs info as well

I don't remember it costing anywhere near 300

Taffeta Tue 05-Feb-13 13:40:26

When I was expecting DS 9 years ago, I'd never heard of NCT thank God.
I attended ante natal classes with DH free at our local surgery. They were informative and unbiased and I met a wide variety of people, a few of whom I am still in touch with.

The NCT has been great for me at two major times in my life ...

Firstly, after my sister recommended them, I signed up for the antenatal classes. These were a great preparation for the birth (had a good water birth which I wouldn't have had without the NCT), a good way to meet other Mums to be - lovely meeting up in the weeks and months after the babies arrived, & helped DH as well as me prepare for the life change ahead.

Then when we moved to a new city when DD was one I went along to NCT coffee mornings and toddler groups - my first friends in a new city where I knew no-one. Those first friends here are still my friends now too - we still go away for weekends together with all the children - who are mostly teenagers now !

I do however think that maybe the National Childbirth Trust should have stuck to it's original name of "The Natural Childbirth Trust" - that would possibly have been more honest as I've found it very much that way inclined. I don't mind that though - it suits me !

fromparistoberlin Tue 05-Feb-13 13:49:24

I found it very intimidating. Coffee mornings in these enormous houses, no way these women were coming back to my flat.


Taffeta Tue 05-Feb-13 13:50:07

chicaguapa - that is awful. sad

Treats Tue 05-Feb-13 13:50:20

Given the costs, I don't understand why there isn't more central control of what the NCT teaches on their courses. It seems to be left pretty much to the whim of instructors, and the experiences of MNers seems hugely variable in terms of what advice they received.

If I'd known this before I shelled out my £300+ for a course four years ago, I think I'd have been more sceptical about parting with my money - for that amount I want a bit more of a guarantee of standards.

Also - what do they spend the money on??? It's considerably more than the cost of premises and equipment for the course, and even if the instructor got paid (and my understanding is that they volunteer), the cost is still a lot more than the expense. Which does reinforce the view that it actively discriminates against lower income families.

I agree with the people who say that the view they give of birth should be more realistic. It's all very well advocating for natural birth practices and encouraging women to be more confident in their abilities, but negligent - imo - not to advise that there are going to be situations where it is better - safer for mother and baby - to be induced or have a C-section. I hate the idea that women blame themselves for not having a natural birth, when they didn't have a realistic choice.

anotherNCTlackey Tue 05-Feb-13 14:00:25

champy - I'm sorry that you had that experience. For what it's worth, I'm a volunteer at my local NCT, in fact I'm even on the committee, and I have also had bad experiences volunteering at nearly new sales! I think that it's easy for the sales team to become a bit of a clique and get so stressed about the sale that they forget that the people who are volunteering are giving up precious weekend time to be there. Even though volunteers get first look at the bargains, the sales team is not doing them a favour by allowing them to work extremely hard on what is normally a relaxing family day!

So you might find that the "regular" committee is a bit different if you fancy going along to a social event.

Regarding the competitivity, I have to say that even though I could have easily won "smallest house on the committee" when I first joined up, I have become friends with a lot of the other volunteers, and as a group they are a fantastic group of women. Perhaps I have been lucky...

Avago Tue 05-Feb-13 14:01:55

My Grandfather who raised me died after a long illness when I was 6 months pregnant and it was shortly after that that I allowed myself to get ready for my DS's arrival. I was actually laughed at for leaving it so late - she never took details of where I was so never actually looked into any available classes. NHS classes were fine but over 20 miles away at the maternity hospital I gave birth in and group all lived miles away from each other so no lasting friendships formed.

anotherNCTlackey Tue 05-Feb-13 14:05:40

Ah, just read the blog by Belinda Phipps. It would be great to know what the NCT has done recently - having the father in the delivery room was a big step forward, but didn't that happen in the 1980s?

bealos Tue 05-Feb-13 14:06:49

From what I'm hearing in this thread, is that there doesn't seem to be a standard NCT class taught and it's totally hit and miss as to who you might get.

I tried to join my local NCT antenatal class when I had ds1 7 years ago... I rang up the local teacher and was admonished for thinking I could book so late in the day. Was told it was full and you needed to book as soon as you knew you were pregnant. Silly me, I thought it might be for people who actually needed help. I went to the local NHS classes and they were quite rubbish. I distinctly remember a midwife ramming a baby doll through a plastic pelvis. I'm not sure how that was going to help anyone.

I did go to NCT coffee mornings after and although I'm not in touch with the women anymore (think most of them have moved away actually) it was nice to have some mum friends for a couple of years, as basically none of my friends were having kids then they were still living it up in the 20s.

YippeeTeenager Tue 05-Feb-13 14:15:12

It's against the law for any organisation to promote bottle feeding - the NCT aren't allowed to do it, just like supermarkets aren't allowed to offer any discounts at all on formula.

I did NCT classes and met some really good friends, who got me through the tough early times so they get a thumbs up from me.

Same experience with Mog37 on They were nice enough but I did find myself referring to them as "the Competitive Mummies". I always come back on our night outs feeling crap about how slow my DD is.

bealos Tue 05-Feb-13 14:24:40

The Dara O'Briain skit on NCT classes, that Kirstie posted on her blog, is bloody hilarious!

dilys4trevor Tue 05-Feb-13 14:30:59

I agree on alot of this stuff. Worst is when the nct leader's medical knowledge around 'un-natural' birth is wrong, because she doesn't approve of and therefore doesn't bother to become knowledgeable about it.

I did the classes with DS1 and my biggest gripe was completely wrong information around c-section. DH and I were told as part of the (very short) session on intervention that a 'crash section' was a life or death emergency for both mother and child, always done under a general, and involved a vertical cut from the bottom of one's chest to one's front bottom (not in those words but she mimed the length and position of the cut). It is of course clear to me now that she knew very little about sections BUT I trusted her at the time (why wouldn't I?). I didn't like the mood among all the other parents though, which was that natural birth is of course best for anyone with any class and that I was very woosy for asking about epidurals and sections and saying I wanted as little pain as possible. One of them told me later I was known as 'epi girl.'

One month later and DH and I were hearing 'crash section' shouted down the corridor at the hospital and I was shakily signing the form. Husband burst into tears as he thought it was, as the NCT leader told us, life or death and I was maybe going to die and almost certainly our baby. Of course, it was all horseshit and all 'crash section' really means is 'now, not in half an hour.' It was done under the epidural I had already had and although it was termed an emergency section, this is of course not always the same as 'life or death.' Needless to say, it was the usual bikini line incision!

The next day the head midwife passed by my bed and we had a chat and she was shaking with rage about what we had been told.
At the 'nct reunion' I very nicely pointed out to the leader that the info had been wrong. She said vaguely 'Oh yes, every section is different.'

To echo what another poster said, I met some good friends there and we are still friends 4 years on. But I don't rate the classes and found them a little sneery about my choices. However, most worrying was the fact that a lack of approval or understanding about sections can translate into incorrect and frightening information.

CelineMcBean Tue 05-Feb-13 14:41:33

<<whispers>> my local NCT when I had first dc were a bit, erm, hardline. I remember reading an article in the branch newsletter about how TV would burn the retinas off and fry the brains of any child under 2 who so much as looked at one. I paraphrase but you get the drift.

I started doing a bit of volunteering and there was a new branch chair and suddenly all the hard liners started to drop out and we were left with a bunch of people who were (are??) very much Mumsnetter demographic eg mainly middle class yes, but also very funny and a real mix of backgrounds. I know some had c-sections, some bottle fed, some breastfed, some mixed and some vbac and some homebirthed and some elcs... but most people on the committee I actually don't know. We were too busy swigging gin and trying to make sure new parents had some decent support in the face of dwindling NHS provision and wondering how the heck we were going to pay for it all.

If NCT is not representing you then it needs you to represent it. I think I've stolen that from somewhere but it's true Or, you know just ignore it. It's not mandatory!

I didn't go because I couldn't see what NCT offered that NHS classes didn't, except an expensive opportunity to meet friends.

I did book onto a private hypnobirthing course though (which cost the same amount as NCT), made friends and learnt about what happens to your body when you give birth and how you can assist your body in that process. Our hypnobirthing teacher covered how hypnobirthing techniques can help with planned or emergency CS, Interventions, Induction etc.... and how to question the DR's if intervention is suggested so that we felt empowered and able to make informed choices. We also went through pain relief options - and what the positive and negatives were. I thought it was going to be a bit of a "woo" course but it was actually very practical and medical and I feel it was money VERY well spent.

Another not very good experience here, I'm afraid - I joined a meet up group out of desperation as the local Sure Start groups weren't working for me. The NCT group were all older than me (I was 25) and wealthier, and the group soon started meeting in places you could only get to in a car - farm parks and the like, and having expensive food there. 4x4less, Joules wellie-less and disheartened, I dropped out and just felt like me and my poor ds were stuck in the middle of two extremes.
Mind you the NHS antenatal group we went to wasn't great. One week the midwife looked around the room and said "well there are ten of you here - that means there'll probably be six sections." There must be some happy in the market anyone?

bacon Tue 05-Feb-13 14:55:30

NO NCT classes around here and I went NHS to birthing centre on DS1. Never was intervention discussed or failure to breast feed. All they banged on about was how 'nature' was and intended to do.

Sadly, never discussed, I had to endure sweeps and inductions, once in the throws of labour in an NHS hospital you can forget decision making because its done for you and after not sleeping for days, being on gas n air you have not control at all - the class tutorial goes out the window. Nor was once CS what a nightmare getting a VBAC. DS2 induction again ending up in crash section (proper crash section this time - head slammed to the table!!!).

My point is - its worthless, once you cross the NHS threshold (unless lucky to have these posh birthing rooms or not be continually monitored) the process of these classes has been a waste of time. Leaving us mums who 'failed' nature to be overcome with grief over what we were meant to have.

Perhaps more emotional and PND would be beneficial as no-one was there for me at all I suffered terrible after failure to give birth twice and having to endure a proper crash section with DS2. No one ever talked about how low you can feel.

BadMissM Tue 05-Feb-13 14:57:19

About to do NCT classes, and due to other issues am planning an ELCS... so we'll see how they handle it.

We did get the 90% reduction... I just emailed the course co-ordinator, and she sorted it out. Otherwise, I wouldn't be able to afford to go. All our Antenatal classes at hospital in the middle of the day, and DH wouldn't have been able to go with me.

WillSantaComeAgain Tue 05-Feb-13 15:09:58

I did the NCT classes and thought they were fantastic, but perhaps I was on the fortunate side, judging by some other comments. Our teacher(?) spent an entire session on C-sections, on the basis of the 1 in 4 statistic. She was very much pro giving people all the information and letting them make their own decision, including about breastfeeding. She didn't promote ff (obviously can't) but was clear that bf can be hard, can be painful and doesn't always work.

For what its worth, I was quite relaxed about whether I bf or ff, but ended up going through six weeks of hell to get it to work. This was more to do with the amazing support of the community midwives than anything else though :-)

GandalfsHat Tue 05-Feb-13 15:15:19

Classes was too expensive, NHS offered ante-natal classes in the evening at local surgery for free, partners included, presented by community midwife. I don't think I would have paid for classes even if I had the money too, tbh.

The NCT usually comes over as strongly pushing an agenda, they should rather be women's advocates in all things childbirth rather than prescriptive, issue around CS, FF and PAIN RELIEF INCLUDED. I was very lucky to have had 2 normal deliveries and no problems with breastfeeding, but I have been very lucky, and there are many with no one to speak up for them.

EnjoyResponsibly Tue 05-Feb-13 15:30:37

The group leader hated me. I misunderstood the brief and when I said I'd be bottle feeding and having an epidural she looked like she wanted my head on a pike. She was also unbelievably scathing toward midwives, which was categorically unhelpful and in my case wholly inaccurate.

WingDefence Tue 05-Feb-13 15:37:08

I've just remembered a bit more about my NCT leader. She told us she was also a marriage councillor for the local Catholic diocese and I think that was linked to why she told us it was our duty to lie-back-and-think-of-England for our OHs at six weeks...

I can also clearly remember researching whether not having pain relief was linked to the Catholic concept of original sin i.e. that women are meant to suffer childbirth because of Eve's sin in the Garden of Eden. I cannot remember whether I used that information but I must have been pretty riled by her to have even considered doing so (and I'm a non-Catholic church goer so it's wasn't her religion per se that I had issues with).

On the upside, I'm still in touch with most of the ladies I met on the course, even though I have since moved 200 miles away from there.

MrsFruitcake Tue 05-Feb-13 15:40:02

I knew of the NCT whilst pregnant nine years ago with DD but was never tempted to sign up as I just didn't feel the need. In my experience, the birth classes provided by the NHS at the time were perfectly adequate and told me all I needed to know, and I made some good friends there too. The Midwives were non-judgemental about pain relief and breast/bottle feeding.

Do the NHS still provide classes of any sort?

Thanks for this. I posted in reply to Kirstie's original tweet as it struck a chord with me (although I also tried to be balanced - honest!).

Our NCT teacher was great and so was the group co-ordinator who stayed in touch after birth. However, I had so many complications (of which the least was a C section) that I honestly felt I didn't fit the NCT mould. There was an emphasis on "natural births" and breast-feeding (although other options were covered) which did make you feel a bit like a failure if you didn't, or couldn't.

However, looking at the other posts, it looks like there is a big range of experiences. Like another post said, having a healthy baby is the desired outcome, how you get there is pretty secondary (well, it was for me).

Shortly after birth, my son was also diagnosed with a serious medical condition and I didn't feel that NCT prepared me for that. OK, they can't cover everything, but I did feel that I was very much the odd one one (especially as we weren't well enough to attend the meet-ups) and it was a bit like we dropped out of the picture.

If the feedback can make NCT more inclusive and open to mothers who don't fit the stereotype, then that's a good thing. Looks like the debate is getting that ball rolling.

rollmopses Tue 05-Feb-13 15:43:58

I didn't even consider this lovely organisation, as I had no desire to be made to feel inferior because of my choice of CSection as the modus operandi of the birth itself.
I had my DTs with a marvellous consultant and his professional team and it was a glorious birth experience. For some reason I don't think NCT would have shared my opinion.
Why is it so? Why the animosity against CSections. pray tell.

Lemonylemon Tue 05-Feb-13 15:44:30

Hmm, not overly impressed with the NCT. We were allowed to underestimate how painful giving birth was and not really given a lot of information about painkillers. The breast feeding counsellor who came to see me when DS wouldn't feed, was absolutely useless. Just tried to get him to latch and then said it was because I had funny shaped breasts and left after about 20 minutes. First baby, not helpful.

NHS class held at my local GP surgery was run by a lovely HV who was pragmatic about things and non-judgemental.

plantarflexion Tue 05-Feb-13 15:44:41

I phoned my local NCT teacher 16 years ago when pregnant with DD. I knew the score but thought it would be good for me in a new area. The woman was very friendly until she asked me what I did. I told her I was a doctor, at that time working in Obstetrics. She suddenly went cold and said she was sorry but she could not have me in her class. To be fair, she offered to phone around to see if any other group leaders would be willing to have me but I was gutted. Absolutely speechless. I might have been quite comfortable doing ventouse deliveries and assisting at sections but I didn't know anything about being a mum and was hoping to make friends. Truthfully, I may have been tempted to pipe up if I felt people were being misled or if she plainly did not know medical facts or if she put people down for not towing the party line .
I went to NHS classes in the end and they were fine and I did go to NCT post-natal meetups for a bit too. Kirsty A. and Dara O'Brian are spot on .

sadivfmummy Tue 05-Feb-13 15:50:35

I went to two sets of NCT classes about two miles apart, with different course leaders. One was fab and covered c-sections as a good thing as well as natural birth. The other was was crappy, pushed hypnobirthing as the only thing to do, stigmatised c-sections and was a waste of money. I think it's more to do with the individual leader than the NCT in general.

LadyHel Tue 05-Feb-13 15:51:15

I have to say that I wasn't a great fan of my NCT experience 4 years ago. My GP surgery actually paid for an NCT instructor to lead a class for its expectant mums - consequently there were usually at least 15 couples at every meeting, so we never really got much past going around the circle to introduce ourselves. Or so it seemed to me at the time.

I had originally paid £185 to go to a private class led by the very same teacher (which I cancelled when I realised I could get her wisdom for free). I'm glad I didn't have to pay. She kept asking us to tell her what topics we'd like covered, and then never got round to discussing any of them.

I remember her telling us to call her if our waters broke early and she would give us advice about how to get labour moving. Mine broke before labour had started. I rang her. Her phone was switched off and she never called back.

At the breastfeeding session we were told by the bf specialist that powdered formula was full of bacteria and that formula in tetrapaks is carcinogenic. You would wonder why any ff babies survived the way she was talking. We were all planning to bf but had asked about formula as a back up plan. And at that point we were all petrified about what we do if we had to succumb to the dreaded formula for any reason. I remember one of the other mum's really struggled with bf and went to see her for advice. The only pearl of wisdom that she took from the session was being told that ffing your baby is like give them McDonalds. It made a very guilty mum feel even worse about her inability to bf her baby.

Yeah, so to be honest, the NCT way wasn't of great appeal to me. Whenever I've been asked my opinion by pregnant friends I've always said that the only good thing about NCT is the friends that you meet. I'm still in touch with most of the mums I met and we're beyond all the competitiveness thank god. We had a 4th birthday party for all the kids last year. It was lovely. So I can't complain too much I guess.

takethatlady Tue 05-Feb-13 15:51:56

I went to NCT classes, not for the childbirth information but because we don't have any friends or family near us who I could talk to.

It was lucky this was what I went for, because the focus on 'natural' or 'normal' birth and breastfeeding was overwhelming. We didn't talk at all about C sections, pethidine, or epidurals, except as things you want to avoid at all costs.

Of the eight of us, here is a one-line summary of our birth stories:

1. Emergency C-section after baby got distressed
2. Forceps after an epidural. Mother lost 5 pints of blood and had to have a transfusion.
3. Gas and air delivery.
4. Three day labour, gas and air and pethidine.
5. Mother got gestational diabetes, baby had to be induced and then delivered by forceps after baby got stuck. One push away from an emergency C-section.
6. Planned home birth. Got induction followed by emergency C-section.
7. Two hour labour - mother barely made it to the midwife unit!
8. Induction, constant vomiting during labour. Gas and air.

None of these are unusual or particularly bad stories, but barely any of us were prepared by the NCT for what happened! We also had almost no information on what to do to care for the baby in the first few days.

BUT it's not about feeling smug about having lots of other middle-class yummy mummies to bond with. It's about having people who get you out of the house when you really need it, people who find activities for you to do with your baby, people who don't mind you boring them for hours with details of your birth/labour/baby, people to babysit for you and to babysit for when the children get a little older and you don't have anyone else you trust nearby, etc etc. Considering we live away from family and close friends, that was crucial for us.

I felt intimidated by all the middle class mummies in their big houses and I am a middle class mummy a big house lol. One woman there was quietly (!)bragging about how her hubby had just been offered a salary package of circa 100k. The babies were at weaning stage, it was chit chat about all home made organic etc etc! Like that happens in reality (well, maybe with your first!)

I kept quiet, I care not about how much people earn or what they do but who they are.

I didn't go back.....

nannyl Tue 05-Feb-13 16:02:30

Our NCT class was great... we did a role play of an emergancy.... every one in the room had a role to play (to show how many people appear, when that buttons pressed, it certainly opened my eyes!)

We discussed ALL types of pain relief

out of the 8 of us
1 planned C section (for medical reasons)
1 emergancy C section
2 easy straight forward home births (mine was very fast)
1 breech vaginal birth
3 normal births in the hospital

7/8 tried hard to BF
6/8 were still BFing at 6m (5 of these had never tasted formula)
5/8 still BFing at 1st birthday

3/8 are in cloth nappies almost all the time (1/8 is always in cloth, even in holiday!)

I loved my NCT classes and met a lovely bunch of friends.... we are all still in touch 16m later, and 1st second child is due in 2 weeks,!

Shortbutsosweet Tue 05-Feb-13 16:11:23

I attended NCT classes due to poor provision of nhs ante natal classes in my area. I would also like to know why the sessions are so expensive!
I did find them useful and the teacher did not seem to be obsessed with natural birth. She gave a balanced view of all types of birth.
I was determined to breast feed but did find the breast feeding person patronising. Dismissing bottle feeding all together.
I was successfully able to breast feed for 6 months but wonder how the other ladies got on.
I didn't keep in contact with them because I did feel the undercurrent of checking each other houses and careers out.
It was interesting to note that out of the 5 of us 3 people had complicated births. Thankfully all the babies were fine.

wineoclocktimeyet Tue 05-Feb-13 16:14:37

I agree it can be hit and miss with the classes depends so much on the teacher and other parents-to-be.

Of the 6 in my class with DS1, 3 of us still meet up every 2 weeks 10 YEARS on! (we have just gone through the secondary school application angst together!)

But I have friends in the same area who just didnt get on with anyone in their classes.

All my children have been mainly clothed from their Nearly New Sales.

Startail Tue 05-Feb-13 16:16:02

Yes the NCT, is at a local level, is very middle class and what is wrong with that?

Degree level educated middle class mum's can feel very isolated indeed.

Very many of them have since they were 18 lived in away from their families and many may have moved several times.

If, as I did you commute to work in the nearest large city, you have absolutely no local friends.

When I had DD1, I knew a few local mum's with older DCs because I ran the local Brownies, when I had DD2 we had moved and I knew absolutely no one.

In both cases the local NCT was an absolute life line.

The house I lived in when DD1 was born no way big and posh enough to host coffee group, (it was a scruffy ex-council house, small and as DD was a baby unchildproofed).

No one worried, I went to bumps and babies and coffee at other peoples places and did my bit by type setting the local magazine. Something that having just finished writing up my university research I was set up to do.

Both here and back there most of the NCT people I've met and certainly my second antenatal class are well educated, but very variably well off.

I still have the scruffiest house, and neither the largest or the smallest income and 11 years later many of my last antenatal group are still friends.

Kaekae Tue 05-Feb-13 16:23:39

We paid for NCT classes just over five years ago. At 28 I was the youngest in the class so didn't bond that well with the group. C-section and formula feeding were not covered, I went on to have failed forceps/ventouse and then an emergency c-section which I knew nothing about at all. I couldn't breastfeed, no milk came through and generally had no idea what to do. I then discovered my son had a tongue tie. So much for the perfect birth and straight forward breast feeding hey NCT! For two years I felt like I failed at breast feeding and having the perfect birth. My daughter came along two years later, I had a better time and was able to put the sadness I felt first time round behind me. I would never ever pay for classes again and knowing what I know now I wish I had never bothered paying for them in the first place...they need to get real!

Fabsmum Tue 05-Feb-13 16:24:03

"The only think that I really struggled with with NCT classes is that they can't talk about bottle feeding at all. Not a peep about it."

We can. And I do! (antenatal teacher).

"I phoned my local NCT teacher 16 years ago when pregnant with DD. I knew the score but thought it would be good for me in a new area. The woman was very friendly until she asked me what I did."

Why were you talking to the teacher directly? Even 16 years ago all bookings were done through a booking clerk. Teachers' details aren't available to the public as far as I know.

"and even if the instructor got paid (and my understanding is that they volunteer)"

Teachers are paid for their services - roughly what you'd expect a teacher to get paid, whatever sector they work in.

As someone who works for the organisation, I think we just need to accept the reality of modern UK maternity services, and modern birth - which is that for the client group we tend to attract to NCT we are going to see increasingly:

high rates of epidural use
high rates of interventions in birth
high rates of breastfeeding fall-out
high rates of disappointment with care in labour
high expectations about what degree of control women want to have during birth

And find a way of acknowledging that this is the reality for most mums, without either a) implying it's always inevitable and b) that these things imply a failure on their part.

Until then we'll continue to get a massive kicking from women and from the media.

Having read the comments (blog post) by Belinda now, I feel that the natural birth and parenting agenda still comes through quite strongly, even though they say they are there to support all. So, personally I have a feeling they are not being completely honest. As I say I think they should have stuck with their original name "Natural Childbirth Trust" and admit openly that that's where they're coming from.

I would have no problem with that as I'm quite lentil weavery/ attachment parenting etc. style myself. But I just feel it would be more honest, and if that wasn't for you you'd know and feel more free to look elsewhere smile
As I'm sure plenty of people do anyway eg. going for hospital antenatal classes etc.

tiktok Tue 05-Feb-13 16:55:37

We do talk about bottle feeding (I'm a breastfeeding counsellor). In the session, we do focus on breastfeeding - it is the breastfeeding session, after all, and clearly badged as such.

Group teaching of bottle/formula feeding weeks/months before the knowledge is needed - making up bottles, safety, hygiene, which are the most important bits people need to have - is not especially effective or even safe. Most people at an NCT breastfeeding class want to know about breastfeeding, and don't want to spend much time talking about using formula - though I do talk about it, as do my colleagues, in response to questions, or why early use of formula can affect the choice to breastfeed.

LadyHel, I don't understand why it would be wrong to point out that formula powder has bacteria in it - it does, routinely, which is why preparation has to be done in a particular way. Three or four years ago, there were many articles in the press about the potential harm of packaging including the packs of ready-to-feed formula. I have not heard of this scare recently, and maybe the packaging has changed. Perhaps that's why it came up in the class you did.

CelineMcBean Tue 05-Feb-13 17:09:30

Just to set the record straight some bookings clerks were teachers. They haven't been for at least 5 years now since it became an employee role and teachers are not employees (self employed apparently).

I'm delighted everyone commenting has read the blog and had a recent experience of NCT. It would be dreadful if we all just spouting our impressions formed from a position of ignorance or the idea that the organisation and strategy has not changed at all in the last few years... wink

On a serious note I wish the organisation would hold it's hands up and admit sometimes they get it wrong. Anyone who feels a failure as a direct result if attending any NCT run activity or class has been failed and there needs to be a clear route to tackling this. Being honest does not detract from the thousands who have a positive experience but dismissing those who recently have not is folly. Organisational falibilty was not mentioned in the blog. It should have been.

Good post Fabsmum

Discolite Tue 05-Feb-13 17:13:23

I finished my NCT classes last month and they were great. All aspects of birth were covered (including around an hour on drugs, time spent on forceps/ventouse delivery and around 45 mins just on c-sections). I don't feel like any agenda was pushed one way or the other, and after reading a lot of criticism of the NCT on Mumsnet I was ready for it!

Maybe it's the luck of the draw with the tutor.

Yfronts Tue 05-Feb-13 17:14:48

My NCT classes were great. The best thing that came out of them was my new best friends though.

notcitrus Tue 05-Feb-13 17:15:42

I was very lucky, as the NHS told me there was no way I could attend any antenatal classes as I was too far gone at my booking appt (21 weeks). Advice from all friends with kids was to go for NCT classes so I could learn something about birth and babies - I'd never changed a nappy in my life.

Thankfully the local teacher was very down to earth and practical, and the other women were too. I live in that sort of area.

But I know others have had all sorts of poor teaching, though I also know women who take any suggestion that there are reasons not to go for anaethetics the minute labour starts as proof that the teacher is full of a hippy agenda.

What efforts do central NCT make to get feedback on classes and ensure they are taught up to standard? Also I'm told there are now two different courses, the standard and the natural-focus course? If that is correct, it sounds like a terrible idea both for the NCT's reputation and for confusing prospective parents.

KC225 Tue 05-Feb-13 17:15:47

I had a bad NCT experience and feel that I was robbed! I attended half of a morning when the leader talked about natural births, which was no good to me because I had already been booked in for a selective c.section with twins. I had to leave early for the an appointment with my obstetrician was admitted to hospital and had an emergency c.section two days later. I know that was not the NCT's fault but there was no follow up, support or offer to make up with other classes - nothing.

The Leader made it very clear that there was no refund. Although, she did send me some notes, via email. I felt I paid £300 quid when I could have bought a bloody book. I didn't get to 'bond' with any of the other mums etc. as I had only met them once (briefly) and then to add insult to injury the Leader kept mailing me about weaning, sleeping, behaviour classes but would not let me attend in lieu of missed NCT classes. I would have to pay further!

I've also since, met a mum who had a prem baby before the NCT classes started and again didn't get a penny back and when she asked for a refund they told her no as they were a charity.

tiktok Tue 05-Feb-13 17:17:03

"there needs to be a clear route to tackling this."

Complaints procedure vigorous and robust at NCT - CEO has tweeted and posted many times encouraging people to contact her. All complaints are investigated.

From website: "If you have a complaint or other comments about NCT or our services please email"

tiktok Tue 05-Feb-13 17:20:44

notcitrus - for info on courses. You have misunderstood something somewhere....not sure where your idea comes from smile

KC, my understanding is that refunds are always offered when someone is unable to attend a course for the reasons you describe....have never heard of anything like the situations in your post. Complain smile

jcscot Tue 05-Feb-13 17:22:29

Six years ago, when I was having my first child, I called the NCT organiser/tutor/whatever-they're-called to ask about classes. I knew that I was having an ELCS (for medical reasons) and I mentioned it to the lady over the phone, asking if the classes would still be suitable. I was told - and I quote - "We don't run classes for people like you.". I didn't get the chance to explain that I didn't have much of a choice about how I was going to give birth as the consultant had advised a section.

Supportive? Not in my experience. So, despite hearing lots of people rave about them and the friends they've made, I didn't attend and didn't bother even enquiring when it came to my two subsequent births.

StuckOnARollercoaster Tue 05-Feb-13 17:23:05

I think a lot of the comments on this thread echo the original thread about Kirsty Allsops blog, so what actually interests me is whether there is going to be any action as a result of the comments.
I see 2 choices - the NCT either decide that they are happy that they are meeting their target audience aims - which seems to be affluent families who want a 'natural' agenda or they need to make some serious changes.
I am pg for the first time and to be honest I probably look like I fit the bill - have a reasonable wealth level, would prefer natural options and I don't have a local network of family or friends BUT
a) I would need a reduction in the price of the antenatal course (closer to £100 than £300)
b) Confidence that the course is standardised and that there is a balance to the material covered that favours 'natural', but recognises that 'natural' doesn't always happen and doesn't make a mum feel like a failure if 'natural' doesn't happen

As it stands at the moment I don't think that the NCT is for me at the ante-natal stage. I potentially would be interested in them after the birth, but my area is not affluent enough to support an NCT branch, so it would be a fair trek to the nearest 2 possible branches. If I don't find any support locally I may end up looking into it, but it will be a last choice because I already feel like I am not 'posh' enough to be part of the NCT.

dawntigga Tue 05-Feb-13 17:25:12

IME the NCT was just like being in Mallory Towers and if you didn't fit in then you were definitely not welcome, until this changes the NCT will never move forward regardless of what is taught on courses.


LadyHel Tue 05-Feb-13 17:29:30

Hi tiktok thanks for your feedback. The point I was trying to make was that we all felt like we were being told that, if for any reason we were unable to bf, there was no other adequate choice. (I agree with you about correctly preparing powdered formula, but that point wasn't made to us - we were told that powdered formula was full of bacteria, don't use it).

I discussed it with my group afterwards and we all gleaned the same message from the class (which took place over two evenings because there were so many of us, so she evidently repeated the message so that we would all hear it).

Each of us had difficulties with breastfeeding (reflux, mastitis, bleeding nipples, low milk supply, tongue tie, twins) and when we all got together for the 1st time after our babies were born we realised that we had all felt like complete failures for giving our babies a bit of formula when things had got really, really tough.

New motherhood is hard enough, and we all have enough guilt to deal with, without adding more.

CelineMcBean Tue 05-Feb-13 17:29:30

Sorry tiktok but that's just not true. There is not a clear process. For a start nobody should have to seek out the complaints procedure. It should be included at the bottom of every booking email IMO. Not in large type, but it should be there.

However, there's a world of difference between somebody feeling something wasn't quite right and feeling they want to "complain". Everyone attending should be invited to give feedback on the classes. This should then be used to improve the classes. "Not enough time spent on c-sections" may well be a valid point for a particular class and teacher but probably isn't enough to make somebody seek out the complaints procedure. It is enough though to give a negative impression of the organisation for that individual.

I say this as a huge fan of NCT. I think they do brilliant work, I love the 20:20 strategy, in the past I have volunteered hundreds of hours of my time and money but I think some of the implementation is poor and the organisation needs to do more to tackle that.

coldethyl Tue 05-Feb-13 17:33:52

I think we need to differentiate between aspects of the NCT.

I never did classes with them, I should state that at the outset. But when I was a mum of about 9 weeks with a premie (5 weeks early) and going bonkers with no mum friends at all, I joined my local NCT coffee morning circuit and met a wide selection of lovely, supportive women. It was very broadly based (people up to ten years younger and 15 years older than me) and although the coffee mornings included babies up to school-ish age, plenty of the mums had older children and had seen almost everything. They were lovely to me, and even nicer and more supportive when DS2 was born ill and when DD was born. I missed them very much when I moved away (and am still in touch with some). In the interests of fairness, I should also say that someone I worked with also joined my group, because her local group told her she lived on the wrong street to be able to join!

The NCT in my new area did not run coffee mornings. They ran a bumps-and-babes group to which I could take my newborn, but at which my sons (aged 1.11 and 3.7) were not welcome, so I couldn't go. All meetings appeared to be in the pub after hours and when I said I couldn't help at the Nearly New sale at 4 days notice, I was pretty much cast off.

I think it depends very much where you are.

cmt1375 Tue 05-Feb-13 17:41:47

Regarding feedback and complaints about courses.
All teachers are encouraged to collect evaluation from courses to improve their own practise.
In addition to this everyone who attends a course is sent an e-mailed asking them to feedback, this is collated and the comments looked at. This is fed back to the teachers and any negative comments are bought up with them. Any feedback about other aspects of the course is also noted and action taken eg venues.
See for details.
If you have recently done a course and not been invited to feedback please contact who will sort this out for you.

tiktok Tue 05-Feb-13 17:49:27

LadyHel, I agree then, that the message you got was not right - the idea is to inform people. I'd suggest though that many people come to NCT classes already having strong feelings about how they want to feed (I know this from my own experience of listening to mothers and also reading their views here smile) - mothers are not mere empty vessels in which we pour our 'stuff'. The breastfeeding session is 2-3 hours. The whole culture and upbringing and experience of the average adult in the class totals a lot of years.

The feeling of 'failure' some mothers have when they give formula may not come from us - though it should never be enhanced or sharpened by contact with us, and I think we have got this a lot better and clearer these days (we have a 'new message framework on infant feeding).

Celine - everyone who does an NCT course gets the opportunity to give feedback, to the organisation and the course teacher. I agree with you that not everyone wants to complain, but I promise you they are invited to comment and to feedback, in any way they want, and thousands do.

"Overall assessments
19 out of 20 first-time mothers (95%) and first-time fathers (94%) agreed or strongly agreed their teacher did a good job, and would recommend the course to other parents.
97% of first-time mothers and 91% of fathers felt their needs were met by the course."

That's from survey 'preparing for birth and parenthood' - googleable, survey from 2011.

I'm bowing out of this debate now - got to get on with other stuff. NCT knows it gets things wrong, and has got them 'wronger' in the past, and it is continually making strenuous efforts to be more consistent ie 'righter' more often. The evidence is most people are happy with their experiences.

CelineMcBean Tue 05-Feb-13 17:52:04

No they are not cmt1375. They only ask for feedback from some classes. I have this direct from UKO. I asked the last 4 or 5 people who have done courses if they were invited to give feedback. None of them were sad

I have also spoken to teachers who never see feedback from their courses.

As I have said I am a big supporter of NCT but they don't do those basic things.

CelineMcBean Tue 05-Feb-13 17:53:47

Do I have to cut and paste the email from UKO feedback email below to prove this? I can but obviously I will remove all identifying information.

cmt1375 Tue 05-Feb-13 17:56:19

The NCT website clearly says that everyone is, I will try and clarify this.

CelineMcBean Tue 05-Feb-13 17:58:55

I know that. Which is why I emailed and said, eh? I have never been asked nor the people I know. I can pm you the name of the person at UKO but the wording used in the email included:

We currently only request feedback from selected courses

SnakesheadFritillary Tue 05-Feb-13 18:01:35

Our NCT class was very balanced. We did a good role play thing covering all the people who would be in the room if we ended up with a CS, all of which was aimed at helping us be calm and understand what was going on if that was what happened. Our teacher also put the bottle feeding card in our packs, even though she said she was supposed to hold it back, because she said that if we did end up needing it we were likely to be pretty stressed and she thought it was unhelpful to keep information from people.

Fabsmum Tue 05-Feb-13 18:03:20

"Everyone attending should be invited to give feedback on the classes. This should then be used to improve the classes"

They are. As cmt says above, everyone who attends the course is emailed and given the opportunity to give detailed feedback.

Once enough surveys have been filled out to be analysed they are fed back to the teacher.

If you took the comments of people on this forum to be representative of people's opinions generally you'd assume a fairly low satisfaction with NCT classes.

In fact the vast majority of people attend classes who bother to fill these forms out give very positive feedback about their courses.

But then if you pick through a lot of the criticism on these boards some of it comes from people who've not actually attended NCT, but have formed an opinion of the organisation based on what friends have said, or from attending NCT drop ins or other events. Some of the negativity seems to be based around people not wanting to mix with mothers who are old and perceived to be 'posh' sad.

I also take some of the comments here about what was and wasn't covered/said in NCT classes with a pinch of salt - I know from attending reunions that people often have VERY poor recall of what was said in classes. I've also had conflicting feedback from different people attending the same course, showing that people take away very different messages from classes depending perhaps on their personal agendas, fears and hopes for their birth and parenthood.

CelineMcBean Tue 05-Feb-13 18:06:29

<<bangs head on brick wall>>

I can't imagine where some people get the idea people in the NCT are dogmatic wink grin

Fabsmum Tue 05-Feb-13 18:12:55

"I asked the last 4 or 5 people who have done courses if they were invited to give feedback. None of them were"

Celine - I am sitting here looking at the course pack that EVERY parent who does an NCT course is given. It has a sheet in it with big writing across the top: How to give us feedback on your course.

It explains that they will be contacted by email within a month of finishing the course, and gives a contact address if this doesn't happen. It also gives a phone number if you want to make a comment or complaint about your course directly to the head of professional services at the NCT. I think that's pretty explicit.

Fabsmum Tue 05-Feb-13 18:16:10

Celine - you're insisting people aren't told how to give feedback. I know this isn't true. Maybe people don't bother to open the course packs or look through the information inside. Maybe they don't check their emails. Maybe they don't actually care enough to pursue it. Whatever - more than 9 out of 10 people who do NCT who DO feed back value their courses and would recommend them to other people.

WingDefence Tue 05-Feb-13 18:18:59

I think this all goes to show that, as mentioned by various posters on here, it depends on where you are and what group leader you have.

So fabs, while I'm sure you are a great antenatal class leader, can't you at least entertain that the commonly held vies and experiences of many women around the country aren't as good as those that you may provide?

I do remember a lot of what was taught at my classes (no need for a refresher course this time round; I'm 31wks pregnant) and the breathing exercises were great. I'm not saying it was all bad but the overriding impression wasn't great - my fellow NCT alumni still joke about the leader even now.

And re:feedback, quite frankly it wasn't top of my list to feedback (I wasn't asked to) or complain about the classes once my baby was born.

I think that's the case for a vast number of new parents and doesn't just apply to NCT: I have friends who had appalling birth experiences where the hospital was largely at fault but because it was so traumatic, by the time they'd recovered enough and got to grips with motherhood, they didn't want to go through it all again by complaining.

It also applies with workplace training courses - my organisation finds it difficult to get a good feedback rate for courses and seminars it runs.

Anyway, my overall point is that those at the top of the NCT need to realise that whatever they think their organisation is doing, it is often not the reality in many classes and in many areas.

AngryGnome Tue 05-Feb-13 18:21:44

We went to nct antenatal classes mainly to meet other local parents, and it was really good for that- I met two women in particular who I know I will always be close to. The information was fine, the teacher asked at the start of the course what we wanted to learn about, and tailored the course exactly to the group. We taled anout pain relief, c sections, episiotomy, inteventions, natural birth, water birth etc. It was far better than the hypnobirthing course we did ( where the tutor helpfully described having your waters broken as 'agonising' and similar to having 'a crochet hook forced into your uterus' - no fear there then angry)

Th nct breastfeeding class was a bit rubbish to be honest, but I think that's because you do actually need a baby in your arms to be learn to do it - it was all just a bit abstract. My teacher was really helpful after ds was born in arranging breastfeeding support for me.

However, the real problem in my area was the actual nct groups- very cliquey, very difficult to break into others conversations which disappointed me. Also, I had a bit of a rough delivery and was in a wheelchair and then zimmer for a long time afterwards. I went to a bumps and babes class on my zimmer one week (dh took me and picked me up, ds was about 4 months old, it was my first trip out of the house alone with him so a big deal to me) i did everything I could to join in and chat, and as they were asking for volunteers at the end of the session, i offered to sign up to help out at the group on a regular basis - was told that as I wasn't very mobile they didn't need me as I wouldn't be any use. Nice attitude. I didn't go back.

CelineMcBean Tue 05-Feb-13 18:29:26

Before lecturing me like I'm an idiot, perhaps read my posts Fabsmum? I have quoted UKO. As in replicated exactly what they wrote. They do not contact all course attendees by email post course. Regardless of what NCT writes they do we need to look at the reality.

If the problem we (royal we there) are trying to resolve is poor teaching or poor class experience relying on the packs being issued by the teacher is not the best way of doing it. How many people do not get a pack and how many do not read it and how many can remember where it is 3 months later when they've had their baby? UKO need to own and control the process. Sending an email to all course attendees would be a good way of doing that. But they don't currently by their own admission. This needs to change.

I'm sure you are an excellent teacher but some are not. I think that should be expected with so many teachers and so many courses. The fact issues occur is understandable. Failing to tackle them is not, nor is doggedly repeating everything is fine and dismissing the reports of people with valuable feedback. This is at the root of many of NCT's problems. Failing to acknowledge and tackle issues will not resolve them.

Narked Tue 05-Feb-13 18:29:33

You know what's a 'straightforward' birth experience? ELCS.

CelineMcBean Tue 05-Feb-13 18:31:25

Fabsmum are you suggesting that I am lying? Or do you think the person at UKO is? Who is it? Or has the person at UKO made a mistake?

Why can you not entertain the idea that what I am reporting is the truth?

I'm sorry they were so unfriendly at the group Gnome sad - at least you made some good friends at the classes ?
I thought the meeting other Mums aspect was the best thing, even though I did learn valuable things from the classes and gained confidence too, especially for the birth.

cmt1375 Tue 05-Feb-13 18:35:04

CelineMcBean I have PMed you but I have had management level confirmation that all course participants (that have given their permission to be contacted by the NCT) since 2011 have been invited to give feedback.

CelineMcBean Tue 05-Feb-13 18:38:08

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

mouldyironingboard Tue 05-Feb-13 18:40:10

It doesn't sound like the NCT has changed much during the past 20 years (my DC are adults now). My experience was that younger parents and single mothers didn't really fit into either the NCT classes or coffee mornings.

With my first child, I was induced and had an epidural. At the class reunion, the NCT teacher was absolutely horrified when I described how civilized it was to be sitting up in bed doing a crossword while the epidural worked the magic!

I know that the NCT promotes breastfeeding but it is wrong to make women feel bad if they give up. I chose not to breastfeed and didn't discuss it in the ante-natal group as I knew it was an unacceptable view and a completely taboo subject. A healthy Mum and healthy, thriving baby (whether breast or bottle fed) should be the obvious priority and I'm not sure the NCT has the balance completely right.

cmt1375 Tue 05-Feb-13 18:42:47

CelineMcBean please can you forward that e-mail in full to the e-mail address I PMed you. Thank you very much

I went to NCT ante-natal classes 9 years ago (NHS option was three one hour sessions in the middle of weekdays therefore very difficult to go to, impossible for DH). Our NCT teacher was a bit biased towards natural everything but did tell us all about the various pain reliefs etc. I have heard a lot of people complaining about her though. One of my friends wrote and complained to head office and someone high up (President or similar) phoned her up and discussed it all at great length, which was impressive, but whether anything happened as a result I don't know. The friends I made there have been brilliant, we still meet up every week 9 years later.

I also volunteered for them for several years on the committee and made many more friends via the committee, baby groups etc. They were mostly white, fairly middle class, middle income people though, not very representative of the town we live in. I never got the impression of cliqueyness or nastiness, but it must be offputting if you don't fit into that demographic. Dealings with the national part of it (as a committee member) seemed complex, bureaucratic and disorganised. I stood down about 5 or 6 years ago now, so things may have changed.

CelineMcBean Tue 05-Feb-13 18:48:25

I have PM'd you cmt1375

AngryGnome Tue 05-Feb-13 18:51:03

It seems the main problem with nct is that it is a national organisation run in a fairly independent way by local branches. My antenatal classes were good, my experience of the groups was atrocious.

There needs to be more central guidance for groups/classes that are run under the nct banner. A standardised approach to antenatal classes would be a good start (I might be biased, but I actually think my teachers approach of asking the class what we wanted to cover was an excellent starting point). Also, I think it would be helpful if there wa some guidance available to volunteers running groups, because from my own experience and that of others I have heard, they can be very cliquey and very inaccessible, especially to mothers who are particularly vulnerable. Post birth breastfeeding classes would be helpful. My mum said she had an nct mentor ( back in the 70s!) this was a woman who knew my mums due date, and would just call her up/ pop round for a cup of tea once a week or so in those early weeks - that sounds perfect and something I would definitely volunteer to do!

Xmasbaby11 Tue 05-Feb-13 18:53:28

50% if our antenatal class was about breast feeding. They did try to convince us that natural was best, but I have friends with kids so I knew this doesn't always happen.

I couldn't wholly breastfeed and did mixed feeding from day 1 on the advice of paediatricians. I had never heard of mixed feeding at that point.

Out of 7 women, only 3 managed to exclusively breastfeed. And that is out of 7 willing knowledgable women who were committed to trying. It should be made clearer that breastfeeding, while natural, does not come naturally to all mothers/babies and is not always the best option.

AngryGnome Tue 05-Feb-13 19:02:14

A lot of people have said that the pro-bf stance is a problem. I don't. I think it is great to have positive support and encouragement for bf. however, I think the risk is that becaus (in my area at least) all the bf classes are antenatal, you go along with no really understanding of the types of problems you can experience etc so you don't ask any questions and the classes are pretty much useless. As a result, the nct just adds itself to the list of people that say 'you SHOULD breastfeed' but don't actually give any support to do so.

They need to run postnatal breastfeeding support groups.

AngryGnome Tue 05-Feb-13 19:03:09

In my group of 8, only 2 of us were able/wanted to feed beyond 6 weeks.

CelineMcBean Tue 05-Feb-13 19:11:54

They do run breastfeeding postnatal support groups. Baby Cafe are now part of NCT and do exactly that. Many Bumps & Babies groups have breastfeeding support. Those that don't should be able to point you in the direction of a breastfeeding counsellor, NCT or NHS.

Personally I find the idea of any group that won't accommodate second/third/fourth time parents not to be in the spirit of NCT and have said so in the past.

AngryGnome Tue 05-Feb-13 19:21:43

Ah, ok thanks celine - must just be not in my area then.

girliefriend Tue 05-Feb-13 19:26:01

I joined the nct when my dd was born mostly as my mum said it would be a good way to meet other new mums.

However I exactly the same experience as many other mums on this thread. It was ridiculously middle classed, very snobby and I don't feel I gained anything at all from joining it.

Not sure what they can do to make it more inclusive though, I am a single mum and the nct essentially felt like a marrieds only club.

GreatSoprendo Tue 05-Feb-13 19:33:02

Just wondering where everyone is paying £300 for NCT classes.....? We are part way through their antenatal course now. Total of 16 hours of classes (plus a 'reunion') cost £170 - so just over £10 an hour for a couple to attend which seems like pretty good value. Not enough NHS places to go around in my area so opted for NCT rather than get nothing and so far we are very pleased. Tutor is very practical and honest too.
They also run Baby Cafe breastfeeding support in my area too which I have heard lots of good stuff about.

CelineMcBean Tue 05-Feb-13 19:41:28

You could set one up AngryGnome? BabyCafe local doesn't need NHS involvement.

Obviously you may well be too busy (I know I am!) but until somebody does it nothing happens. Almost everything local will have been organised by a volunteer.

LadyHel Tue 05-Feb-13 19:43:27

Yes Celine that's a very good point re NCT not accommodating second/third/fourth time parents.

We moved to a new area just before I was pregnant with DS2 and I didn't really know anybody, so had hoped that a refresher course might help me to make new friends and find out about things going in my new area (I didn't really need 'refreshing' per se as it had seemed that most things had occured during my first labour and felt that I knew the ropes quite well...)

The only NCT refresher course available to me was during the day with older children strictly not invited. As my DS1 was too young for playgroup / school at the time I was unable to book up for the course and the NHS didn't offer anything for 2nd time parents. I remember feeling rather disappointed and quite uncomplimentary towards the NCT (again) (sorry, just being honest). A friend from my original NCT group did have the refresher course option in her area, which she attended in the evening with her husband, so I guess it is all about where you live as to what you get.

AngryGnome Tue 05-Feb-13 19:44:02

We paid £180 And I think that included a years membership. My midwife advised me not to go to the nhs classes if I could afford nct, as she said that nhs ones were basically for teenage mothers hmm...

AngryGnome Tue 05-Feb-13 19:45:20

celine - would have loved to set one up, but the comments that I wasn't needed because I would not be useful with my mobile problems somewhat put me off...

AngryGnome Tue 05-Feb-13 19:46:09

Mobile,? Ffs iPad. Actually meant 'mobility'!

projectsrus Tue 05-Feb-13 19:51:52

I have had many many dealings with the NCT over the years, in many guises. I think centrally their intentions are good, but my main criticism reflect many on here:
1 - disjointed organisation, disorganised and not run professionally
2 - each branch/group tends to do their own thing, this makes it inconsistent
3 - it does tend to be cliquey
4 - it doesn't encourage feedback or new ideas, it sticks to an old formula and carries on regardless of social and cultural changes

jaynebxl Tue 05-Feb-13 19:53:53

Well I can't comment on the NCT because 7 years ago when I was pregnant with my first I couldn't get a place on one of their antenatal classes despite being still quite early on in the pregnancy so they must have been doing something right to be so popular!

KelleStar Tue 05-Feb-13 19:56:34

I didn't take advantage of the NCT antenatal classes, I was let down as there wasn't enough interest over the period I was due and didn't want to be going to classes at 5 months pregnant.

However, I went to a Bumps, Babes and Tots group which was brilliant and helped with my breastfeeding issues. I didn't expect to like it, tbh at first it was just the BF support, but then I kept going. DD is now 2 and I'm expecting my second. They've been a great group of relaxed and chilled out people. Everyone is different and we all have different parenting styles, sometimes it's helpful to hear a different opinion as it can help you try something new. I am a full time toddler tamer, so this group having more emphasis on cake/coffee/chat has been a soul saver for me. I make the effort to talk to people looking lost or alone. I love talking about things other than the tiddler, but my taste in books/films/knitting doesn't appeal to many smile but I have the ability to talk about other things too.

I'm going to my first branch meeting Thursday, am thinking about helping out on a local level.

SillyBlueHat Tue 05-Feb-13 20:01:21

I volunteer for the NCT, and have mixed feelings. In response to projectsrus, branches are different because there is a different number of volunteers in each. Ours has practically nobody at the moment so we are very limited in what we do. We also have no suitable venues in our area to run coffee mornings/bumps n babes. We have tried but just get complaints about the suitability of the venues, or nobody turns up.
HO make things difficult for volunteers, there is a lot of red tape as someone said upthread. Many committee roles have to be filled by members, so many of us actually have to pay to give up our time. That one really pisses me off!

Cliques are everywhere, not just the NCT, and these come and go as different personalities move on.

CelineMcBean Tue 05-Feb-13 20:04:29

I don't blame you AngryGnome. Although I would argue they need people like you more to get rid of the ignorant people (or at least dilute them). I joined my branch team years ago because they had the whiff of some of the attitudes mentioned on this thread. They're now a great bunch although admittedly very white, very middle class and very female. That is quite representative of the area though. Except the female bit. I know they're desperate for help too sad

shinyblackgrape Tue 05-Feb-13 20:22:57

Re bottle feeding - my DS is 10 weeks old and we went to a weekend NCT class. We meet lovely people and our tutor was nice.

However, we were told nothing about bottle feeding. I am bottle feeding DS but exclusively with expressed breast milk as he had a tongue tue and couldn't latch on. Once it was snipped, we were already in a good expressing routine and have stuck with that.

The NCT seem to totally overlook the fact that you may very well need to sterilise bottles etc not just for formula.

In my experience, both the NCT and the NHS totally overlook this "third way" of feeding and it is more by accident than design and the luck of having a very good supply, that I managed to get in to an expressing routine and work out what I needed to do.

shinyblackgrape Tue 05-Feb-13 20:28:42

Fabs - I did a course at the end of October 2012. I can assure you that we weren't given feedback forms. Just because they exist do not mean that they are distributed

scottishmummy Tue 05-Feb-13 20:43:30

well done nct,responding as ms allsopp made v valid points,generating good discussion
your brand is broken,you need to regroup,redefine what you do,what's your purpose
set consistency in message and approach the teachers take. like it or not nct is middle class,prosperous with an anti-medical bias

TimberTot Tue 05-Feb-13 20:45:23

After telling us that she believed in the parents setting their own agenda for the course of sessions, our NCT teacher then read through our group's list of things we'd all like to cover and told us that WHO guidelines prevented her from informing us about any aspect of formula feeding. hmm

She also said that breastfed babies have a higher IQ later on life (although I now understand that this data had not had the effect of higher than average middle class take-up rates with regards breastfeeding eliminated from the study).

At the re-union she was very sad about one woman's grim time starting with induction which took daaaays and eventually lead to a c-s and her attitude was "oh poor you, were you too scared to fight the cascade of intervention that led to the c/s ?" I congratulated the new mum on having been the only one from the group to have laboured and had a c/s, "the only one who knows what both feel like" as the rest of us had either a VB or a planned c/s. She said she hadn't thought of it like that although she did end up with v bad PND later on and was fixated on having a VBAC for her second, ended up with tears and now various gynae/urinary/rectal problems for which she is awaiting surgery and is on AD medication.

The NCT lady mean't well but was text book "pain relief to be avoided at all costs" and "why on earth wouldn't a woman want to breast feed when it's so much better for baby than formula" blinkered to the circumstances/preferences of some of the group.

Munchkinsmama Tue 05-Feb-13 21:37:25

I did NCT classes 2 years ago and was hugely dissappointed. We had x2 2 hour sessions on breastfeeding (excessive is an understatement) and despite the length i found it barely usefully. Most of the time was spent lecturing us on why BF was neccessary important and very little advice on what to if you encounter difficulties - becuase bf is the most natural thing in the world and you will be able to do it. People that say they can't are just giving up - her actual words. Massive pressure to co-sleep, despite it going against NHS guidelines, to the extent that we were made to feel like we'd be bad parents leaving child new borns left to feel alone and unloved, if we didn't.

The labour sessiohn was actually good and our course leader was very open-minded and supportive of peoples choices. A rare thing from NCT i think.

I was also massively disappointed by the extemnt to which the classes facilited socialisation, as they didn't. As i'm pretty sure nonone from my class stayed in touch, because noone had the opportunity to get to know each other.

Treats Tue 05-Feb-13 21:43:36

Fab responded to my query about whether the course leaders were paid - they are apparently.

Which I think makes it even more important that the central office applies some more rigorous standards to what is taught under its banner. There seems to be a really wide range of experience on here about what is taught - which I think is unprofessional and potentially damaging.

CrackleMauve Tue 05-Feb-13 21:52:56

I have mixed feelings about NCT too. On the one hand, I didn't get the impression from my course teacher that she was very one sided. We went over all the forms of pain relief, pros and cons, and she was quite pro-epidural in a funny sort of way. Not "go have an epidural" but still positive about the benefit of pain relief being available. Very anti-pethidine though.

I do think the courses vary far too much though. The one I went on included nothing about labour techniques. No positions, no breathing exercises, no massage, none of the things I thought might happen. There was a bit about after you've given birth that was kind of useful, but it wasn't focused on practicalities enough. There didn't seem to be any structure too it and I think had I not been reading other birth stuff I might have struggled to put it all together.

She also disappeared once the course ended. Not one of us got an email back after we gave birth, despite letting her know. There was no reunion class organised. When I eventually emailed her asking about the reunion class, having realised this is meant to be included in your fees, she said "oh let me know when you're next all meeting up and I'll come along". None of us really wanted to see her again after that so we didn't bother.

I did get sent a feedback form, but it was anonymised so I have no idea how they match it up with your teacher. And at the time it was sent I had a 2 week old baby and filled it out in a muddled state of amazement that I was coping. It was only later as I spoke more to the other couples on the course and people who had done different NCT courses that I realised our course content varied so much from others.

And I do think this is a problem. I really think there needs to be more standardised content and delivery in the courses so we don't get so much of the personal views creeping in. And the NCT could really do with commissioning a proper piece of research into their courses rather than relying on feedback forms. From what I have seen I don't think the central bit has a clue what is going on locally.

I don't regret doing NCT and probably would still recommend it to people, depending on what they were looking for. But in hindsight part of me does wish I'd spent my £300 on the hypnobirthing course instead.

tropicalfish Tue 05-Feb-13 22:33:35

I went to nct classes in my local area 15 years ago given by a very nice lady in her house. I do think they give slighly misleading advice, in that they create unrealistic expectations of what to expect. I attended these classes because the nhs ones were fully booked up. I do think they serve a purpose which allows you to acclimatise to the idea of having children, it is generally a social gathering with a social purpose.
However, I attended coffee mornings after the birth and I am best friends with all of the people I met there even now.
The nct doesnt just provide info about births but a network of like minded individuals to mix with afterwards. This can be very important when you have moved away from your home town, away from school friends and family. You have alot of restrictions placed on you after the birth, cant stay out drinking with your work colleagues like you used to, you need new friends that can fit in with your new lifestyle.

noviewsonbiscuits Tue 05-Feb-13 22:35:41

We just always seem to have the same conversations again and again about the NCT and after a while I just lose the will to live. I feel that the organisation is so utterly maligned and puts up such a desperately crappy defence. Mothers volunteer to host coffee mornings for strangers- hated. Mothers who volunteer to run a Nearly New Sale on a Saturday morning, so you can buy cheap stuff and frequently buying nothing for their own kids as they are already on DC3- despised. Mothers who volunteer to spend time running breast pumps around to the homes of women who want to breastfeed (this week I heard of an NCT volunteer spend an hour of her evening at the home of a stranger who had a baby in NICU, trying to help her)- gits. Mothers who volunteer to write crummy articles to share their stories about PND to help others- fuck off. Mothers who volunteer to put people in touch with others who are isolated locally so that EIGHT years later they are still going on holiday together- who gives a shit etc. Our blessed Tiktok, who spends days and days of her life helping others who want to bf. The people who answer the Early Days Helpline to try soothe miserable new mothers struggling. The people who go into Holloway Prison to see pregnant inmates, who set up programmes to help refugee pregnant women, who organise toy swaps and picnics and discounts etc. all completely gratis and frequently totally out of pocket.

All hated hated hated.

It's all fucking pointless. Women hate each other so much. I just want to burn the whole organisation down.

WMDinthekitchen Tue 05-Feb-13 22:41:22

Long time ago now but I took one set of NHS classes and one NCT. (Long gap between DC and moved to a new area where I knew few people). NHS class fine, until we were told it was OK if a man would not 'allow' a woman to breast feed because the breasts were 'his'. We were shock!

NCT classes good for info on labour if no medical internetion required, but I cannot remember any talk about either ff or emcs. I did meet some people with whom I was friends for some time - DC all grown and flown now.

Dromedary Tue 05-Feb-13 22:47:56

I did have a bad initial experience with the NCT. When I phoned up to book on a course the woman asked about my husband. I explained that I would be having the baby on my own. She then said that the courses were designed for couples and refused to accept me. I had to spell out to her that although I wasn't a couple I was going to have to give birth in the same way as a woman in a couple and therefore needed to go on the course just as they did. She thought for a moment and agreed to let me on the course. Not a great welcome.
I enjoyed the course, but found that when it came to the birth having been on the course was of little practical value - as far as I can remember it very much focused on breathing techniques, imagining being on a mountain, etc, and very much didn't focus on pain relief, the baby needing help coming out, etc, in fact all the things I could have done with being told about before the birth, rather than during it when in great pain etc.

CelineMcBean Tue 05-Feb-13 22:51:41

sad noviews I was right with you until your last paragraph. I do agree the defence is just rubbish. Belinda on Twitter makes me want to die. BUT, it is salvagable.

I for one am extremely grateful to the women who do things for NCT. They deserve more support from UKO and more respect from those who do nothing but complain.

It's easy to mock the NCT and it's army of volunteers. Fashionable even but not always fair or accurate.

WMDinthekitchen Tue 05-Feb-13 23:05:08


louschmoo Tue 05-Feb-13 23:10:05

Hmm. My NCT classes were generally okay, fairly balanced and no 'agenda' re: natural/drug free delivery. But the teacher was woefully disorganised and as a result we failed to cover some really key stuff like 3rd stage of labour (not even touched on!). And we spent over 4 hours on breastfeeding (2 hr BF session then another 2 hrs during our final women-only class). At least an hour of this was spent getting us to talk about our feelings about BF. just a waste of time in a group where everyone, mums & partners, had said at the outset they were keen to/supportive of BF. Much of the BF info was very anecdotal from the teacher and it was a lot of wittering on really (this was from the regular teacher, not the BF counsellor who did the special BF session). In the BF session I asked about how to spot problems like mastitis and my question was totally glossed over with 'we'll talk about that later' - except we didn't.

So, like almost everyone on this (and every other NCT thread I've seen), I think that there needs to be better consistency of course content, probably with a syllabus distributed at the beginning of the course so you know what will be covered. It seems like a no-brainer really. And it might go a long way to professionalising the courses and enabling the NCT's other, incredibly valuable, work to get more positive recognition.

SingingSands Tue 05-Feb-13 23:19:15

I never made it to NCT. I rang the local leader to enquire about classes, to be informed it would cost £320 (HOW much?!) and I had left it too late to join the local group (I was 26 wks). She was quite rude and after a bit of huffing informed me that I could attend another group, about 12 miles away from where I live. I said I couldn't drive and this was not on a bus route so wouldn't be helpful. When she said "can't your husband drive?" I told her I wasn't married and at that point she said "I don't think NCT will suit you dear" and practically hung up on me!

Luckily, after a tearful confession of that call to my darling of a midwife, I was signed up for the NHS classes run at my local clinic by the local midwives, who were fantastic and covered everything about childbirth and the weeks afterwards (and yes, formula feeding was covered). It was great to meet the community team and know that perhaps one of them would be on delivery when we went into labour, or visiting us as home afterwards. We also had a tour of the delivery suite and a session with the "active labour" specialist midwife who gave a great session on positions/massage/movement for active labour and who actually ended up delivering my DD ("nice to see a familiar face" she said, whilst peering up my vagina grin)

When DD was 5 wks old we were invited back to speak to the class about our experience. Which we were honoured to do, and it was great being on the "other side" of the session, answering questions and talking about our experience.

I can't praise my NHS sessions highly enough, they were so inclusive and welcoming, done with great humour and with real midwives who were working in our area. Drawing on their knowledge and experience was like tapping into a gold seam, I feel very lucky to have had that experience.

allagory Tue 05-Feb-13 23:51:24

NCT seemed like a great club to belong to but I couldn't reach their high ideals (i.e natural childbirth, breast feeding, cotton wool & water). Needless to say I self-selected out early on.

I am happy for women who find support and friendship in the NCT but I also understand the critics: swallowing the NCT orthodoxy certainly made me start motherhood feeling like a failiure.

tiktok Tue 05-Feb-13 23:59:36

"As a result, the nct just adds itself to the list of people that say 'you SHOULD breastfeed' but don't actually give any support to do so. "

Eh? Are we talking about the same organisation that specifically does not say 'you should breastfeed' and whose 300 breastfeeding counsellors support something like 20,000 postnatal women a year - voluntarily ? And who train peer supporters so they can support another however many 1000s? And who publish a ton of information which postnatal women read? And who train HCPs so they can support women to breastfeed? And who trains people like me who spend time online supporting women to breastfeed?

Can't possibly be the same organisation...must be a mix up.


tiktok Wed 06-Feb-13 00:00:50

"cotton wool and water"???

Startail Wed 06-Feb-13 00:16:47

Bravo tictoc

BartletForTeamGB Wed 06-Feb-13 08:23:37

Another Bravo from me, tiktok. My NCT BFing counsellor is the reason that DS was BF at all. She helped me through his weight loss & formula top ups & EBM top ups with phone calls, emails & clinic visits for weeks while we waited for his tongue tie to be snipped & then helped me get back to EBF.

Taffeta Wed 06-Feb-13 09:15:36

I assume the cotton wool and water refers to using that instead of baby wipes on a newborn.

9 years on I remember like it was yesterday when DS did his first meconium poo which leaked through the sides of his vest and all up his back. It was at night, no one around, midwives at hospital couldn't have been less willing to help. It took me an hour to change him, him screaming continuously, partly as he had a headache from the ventouse (but I didn't know that at the time just thought I was doing it all wrong.)

Cotton wool and water. If I'd known about wipes. If I'd known that those vests can go down over their body instead of over their head. It's these stupid minutiae that NCT and the NHS should tell new mothers about. Not tell them which to do, its a mothers choice, not theirs, but just tell them what the options are. Not leave them sweating, exhausted and feeling a failure before they are even out of hospital.

I know if I had not had this experience in hospital I wouldn't have been such a nervous parent in the following 6 months.

worldgonecrazy Wed 06-Feb-13 09:54:27

I never went to NCT classes, but our NHS tutor was an NCT tutor too. She was great, ensured we knew all about the possibility of CS and how many people would be there, and despite the NCT image, if it hadn't been for he I would probably never have had pethidine, but she said there is a time and place for it. I found myself in that time and place ...

The reason I stopped going to the coffee mornings was because of one very loudmouthed cow who kept pushing formula feeding to other mothers (whilst her 3 month old eczma covered screaming tot drank blackcurrant squash). Quite the opposite of the pro breastfeeding slightly hippyish image that I was expecting. Apart from one, the other mums just weren't my type so I didn't go. Looking back I can see that she was trying to force other mums into formula feeding to ease some of her self-imposed guilt but when you're still recovering from baby hormones it's hard to be forgiving or tolerant.

ubik Wed 06-Feb-13 10:31:17

Re: cotton wool and water - all my newborns got terrible nappy rash from wipes.
I have always done this when they are tiny, it's standard advice.

tiktok Wed 06-Feb-13 10:34:57

Taffeta, that's horrible first night, and I think a lot of us remember bad, very tearful moments/hours with a newborn that you have not a clue how to cope with sad sad

But honestly, it's not normally an antenatal course's job to do a comprehensive consumer round-up of products, clothes and equipment - NCT courses do cover some of this, but I would be surprised if many included comparative details of different vests and toiletries (though it might come up in a discussion). You can't blame NCT because for some reason the midwives were either unaware or unbothered by your struggles with poo (which does have a tendency to go everywhere...and if you are feeling underconfident anyway, the whole business of dressing/undressing/cleaning up with a squawky screamer is overwhelming, no argument with you there). Good maternity care includes hands-on support and confidence-building in those moments.

(What's a vest that is put on 'down over their body instead of over their head'?)

Treats Wed 06-Feb-13 10:47:19

I think we should probably divide the services the NCT offer into two - the classes that they charge (lots) for - and for which we ought to expect a reasonable standard of advice and instruction (not the varying quality that MNers report and which appears to be directed by the whims of the teacher) and the volunteer services that they offer to new mums - coffee mornings, breastfeeding support, nearly new sales. Whatever we might think of the individuals involved, it's not fair to criticise people who are freely giving up their time to help others.

I think it's possible to criticise the quality of the teaching provision without damning all the volunteers. And possible to defend the voluntary services without barring criticism of the teaching.

For a lot of people, experience of NCT is either one or the other (the teaching or the support services) and our views will be influenced by that.

Taffeta Wed 06-Feb-13 10:58:57

Tiktok , am not blaming NCT for that awful first night. I have never been involved with NCT in any way. what am I doing on this thread?

Just making suggestions for what I would have found useful as information pre birth.

The normal vests you buy for babies that go under their baby grows. With an envelope neck. They have that kind of neck so they can roll down over the body instead of you smearing the poo over their head. Which I found out after both of mine 5 yo. hmm NB I don't blame NCT for this either, am again just commenting on things that would be useful to know.

klmnop Wed 06-Feb-13 11:18:16

I did NCT classes and met some great friends ( the biggest benefit of doing these classes I would say!). I kept up my membership but I am now reconsidering as I spotted posts from Belinda Phipps re breastfeeding and baby led weaning on the Cow and Gate facebook page.... These pages do suffer from trolling from very Pro Breastfeeding and BLW activists and while her posts were not as bad as some, I'm not sure this is professional behaviour from a CEO......?

tiktok Wed 06-Feb-13 11:39:12

Taffeta, I get you about the vests smile They still have to go on over the head somehow and it was this that confuddled me.

You talked about the minutiae that NCT (also NHS) 'should tell mothers about' antenatally. That's why I, understandably, took it that you were laying at least part of the blame for your horrible night at their I see you have had no experience of NCT, so this explains some of misunderstanding.

Taffeta Wed 06-Feb-13 11:46:18

Yes, no experience personally of NCT, although have plenty of friends who attended their ante natal classes, which is how I know they don't talk about the minutiae, for whatever reason. And neither do the NHS.

I guess we all just need to buy that new MN book. grin

JambalayaCodfishPie Wed 06-Feb-13 11:55:07

Our NCT tutor was brilliant.

It was my second baby - that wasn't a problem, she asked my opinion on a lot of things.

We didn't pay £300. We paid £30.

We discussed all forms of pain relief. Information was practical. We also did the CS role-play. Active birth was discussed. Breastfeeding was discussed. Bottle feeding was discussed. Our tutors own experience of birth was discussed.

We gave feedback at the end of the course, and then anonymously online.

Meet-ups continue weekly, even nine months later - Sometimes just mums, sometimes just dads, sometimes all of us. These people have become my friends.

I think I probably had the experience everybody would want to have having joined the NCT, it makes me sad that not everyone is getting it!!

Floweryhat Wed 06-Feb-13 12:01:35

What is the response rate to the requests for feedback?
At what stage is it collected? (At the end of the course pre-birth?, A couple of weeks after birth? A bit later when people's heads are straighter and have had time to reflect?)

pollypandemonium Wed 06-Feb-13 12:52:37

natural birth this just a label really and Kirsty should be less worried about this - each birth experience is individual. Insisting on birth at home when there are medical risks is selfish but women need to be assured that they can have a comfortable birth in hospital as well.

breastfeeding fascism is patronising and like attachment parenting has become some kind of new normal, pushing everything outside as abnormal. Many babies can't breastfeed due to poor suck but appear to be and it can be very damaging for them when their mothers are made to feel a failure, continuing to try, and baby isn't getting the nutrients.

middle class only this is wrong and should lose them some serious funding. I remember going to a coffee morning on a council estate held by a non-middle class parent - there wasn't a good turnout. This is a reflection of our awful class-ridden society and adjustments by organisations such as NCT must be made to encourage social inclusion. However the benefits to families generally, brought about by the social aspect of NCT is indisputable and invaluable.

somewherewest Wed 06-Feb-13 13:05:09

I did an NCT antenatal course about 18 months ago. Our tutor was very pragmatic and encouraged us to approach birth with an open mind (her realism might have been connected to the fact she had four children grin).
There were only two things I would remotely fault her for. Firstly, I was sad she didn't take the opportunity to very gently intervene when one of the women said she would feel a "failure" if she had a CS. Secondly, the breastfeeding section wasn't remotely entirely realistic. We were shown innumerable pictures of happy smiley women BFing while picnicing/boating/abseiling down cliffs and not one of some poor sleep-deprived sod trying to achieve the perfect bloody latch at 3am. I vaguely remember hating some of the literature we were given though. Its ages since I read it but I seem to recall a heavy homebirth /co-sleeping blah blah agenda. And the course intake was very white middle class. Also I'm wary of the NCT assuming that members are lined up behind every aspect of its agenda. I rejoined recently as a way to meet other parents having moved house, but I'm not a huge fan of the wider agenda (my approach to birth could be summed up as "gimme drugs").

A couple of first posters here have said it all really for me, Bridget and itonly, you are right.

HermioneE Wed 06-Feb-13 14:00:43

Wow, nothing on here seems to chime with my recent experience of the NCT, which frankly could not have been more positive. DH and I finished classes a couple of weeks ago and both found them extremely helpful. No bias, there were several couples aware they were either definitely headed for CS or it was a strong possibility, and the tutor's attitude was very positive and supportive.

I don't think there was a judgemental approach about anything - even when the topic of dummies came up, which I was expecting would raise NCT eyebrows.

The only thing that one of the tutors got evangelical about was pelvic floor exercises grin

Fabsmum Wed 06-Feb-13 14:37:28

I've read comments about NCT on mumsnet where posters describe NCT teachers and breastfeeding counsellors saying things that are breathtakingly cruel, judgemental or just factually inaccurate, and I find myself worrying about how comments I've made in class will be remembered and interpreted, weeks or sometimes even months after the course has ended. I've already pointed out further back, that feedback from different people attending the same course can be very conflicting, and that people sometimes say things at reunions to show that they have very poor recall of what was covered in class. Every teacher will tell you that she experiences this happening regularly.

I wonder if my discussion of the side effects of epidural will be remembered, but my comments about wonderful epidural births and the importance of women being listened to in labour and given the pain relief they need will be forgotten. And the class will be remembered as being 'very anti epidural'. I worry that when I talk about the benefits of birth outside of an obstetric led unit, what some people will hear is me 'pushing' home birth. I get feedback forms from the same class where 6 will comment about how 'balanced' and 'realistic' the class was, and 2 people will say that the information frightened them and eroded their confidence. It's made me feel very guarded and paranoid about my teaching - even made me want to give up my work. I think it's very hard for NCT teachers to know how to position themselves, given that the 'status quo' for first time mums in the UK is births involving a lot of intervention taking place largely in hospital settings.

Would want to add, that as part of my training (and work external to the NCT) I've observed a good number of NHS classes, which as far as I can see teach to pretty much the same normal birth agenda (in the sense that while interventions and pain relief are covered the focus is mainly on the normal process of labour and there is a reasonable amount of discussion of self-help strategies). Midwives seem to get away with saying things that NCT teachers would be pilloried for on mumsnet. I had a very experienced midwife attend one of my classes as a birth companion to her daughter in law. She told me at the beginning of the session that she'd try not to say too much, but eventually couldn't stop herself talking about orgasmic birth - that she'd witnessed these in her work and how amazing it was. And I thought, if I ever mentioned this in NCT classes even in passing, I'd worry that it would end up being reported as 'the NCT teacher banging on about people having orgasms in labour' and being 'completely unrealistic'.

GreenShadow Wed 06-Feb-13 15:06:23

Personal experience of the NCT is nothing but positive.

Excellent teaching, offering facts - none of this telling you what you should and shouldn't do. Everything was covered including caesarians, FF, all types of pain relief. Dad's all attended and got involved.

As well as meeting up with my antenatal group, I subsequently joined the local branch and met lovely, ordinary mums - no airs and graces, just normal people. I have also been a long time member of various NCT online chat forums.

Later, I also joined the local committee and finally the regional committee. Never did I come across most of the bad experiences note up thread.

I have been a member of two different branches in different counties. Size wise they were very different, but both welcoming and inclusive.

I will say however, that my sister's experience is not so positive. On my recommendation, she signed up for classes, but their teacher didn't cover so much in the way of facts, but was more about 'feelings'. The dads quickly all stopped attending and my sister considers it a waste of money.

This is where I agree with a comment way up thread. I do think there needs to be more control over what teachers are teaching. And yes, I appreciate not everyone wants the same thing from a class, but if it is going to concentrate on anything other than facts then I think this needs to be made clear to those paying out a fortune for classes.

Sunflowergirl2011 Wed 06-Feb-13 15:24:52

" We have tried but just get complaints about the suitability of the venues, or nobody turns up.
HO make things difficult for volunteers, there is a lot of red tape as someone said upthread. Many committee roles have to be filled by members, so many of us actually have to pay to give up our time. That one really pisses me off!"
BLUEHAT- I couldn't agree more on both these points smile You put it much better than I could

Gherkinsmummy Wed 06-Feb-13 18:07:18

Me and my husband really enjoyed the NCT classes. Our tutor asked what we wanted to cover and tailored the class accordingly. She had had one CS, one hospital birth and one home birth, so could describe all three accurately and non-judgementally. There was lots of role play, and we learned in a way much more likely to stick. The outcomes for our group were pretty mixed, I think there were two c-sections and one (planned) home birth. Six of the eight breast-fed successfully.

While not BFF with any of the women from the group, we still meet up a couple of times a year, but when we were on maternity leave it was weekly at least and a life saver in the early days. We shared information on local activities, and went along to a variety of classes.

The NHS classes were useless - we were lectured at by a bored midwife with an extremely strong Spanish accent. She did collect emails but they were never sent on, so we never saw any of the couples again.

orangeandlemons Wed 06-Feb-13 18:25:14

I was pushed towards them by midwife. I refused, as I was adamant that their beliefs and way of thinking were not for me.She didn't push it....and sort of agreed with me.

My understanding was that unless you were prepare to have a natural birth, and failed then you would be made to feel guilty. Ditto breast feeding

JeanBodel Wed 06-Feb-13 19:20:47

I tried to go to an NCT coffee morning, but it turned out you had to own a car. Their meetings weren't accessible to anyone using public transport as they all lived in big houses in the suburbs.

tiktok Wed 06-Feb-13 19:46:49

Sorry, Jean, not getting your point. Should volunteers only be allowed to open their house to other people if they live on a bus route? Kind offers of hosting from elsewhere declined?

When I didn't have a car, I went to get-togethers with people who did - there was an informal lift-sharing thing. Probably some branches are better than others at getting that sort of thing done, of course.

CelineMcBean Wed 06-Feb-13 20:10:38

When it comes to coffee mornings you sometimes have to put in to get something out. A friend of mine has just started hosting. She lives in a v v small house. Less than 900 square foot small. Of the 6 people who said they were coming only one turned up hmm and none of the others even sent a one line apology. She's not giving up because she's bloody minded but I know loads of people would say, why bother? She did say it felt more like being on a speed date than a friendly chat!

She does live on about 8 bus routes and near a mainline station and tube grin

MaNeo Wed 06-Feb-13 21:21:25

My DH and I signed up for an NCT course after a recommendation from a colleague. I did it because we wanted to make new friends and meet new people but also because the NHS classes were not convenient for me. I found the classes to be informative and very helpful. But more than that, I found the network of friends I made brilliant in the first few months when we were on maternity leave. I ended up with EMCS - the only one in my group- and thank goodness it was covered in the class because it would have been even more overwhelming than it already was. I would do it again in a flash though. The information was invaluable and I got to meet a great bunch of people I now call my friends. smile

toomuchpink Wed 06-Feb-13 21:40:08

My NCT teacher went through an entire C-Section scenario with us parents-to-be playing the roles of different hospital staff. I don't think those that had sections would have felt a failure after that. It was very focused on breastfeeding, but then so was my NHS course.

FailedActress Wed 06-Feb-13 22:12:49

Hi, also just wanted to say that I had a pretty positive experience with NCT too. There were obviously some things in the classes that didn't necessarily help but no more so than some of the stuff I was told by health visitors / midwives after the birth. It would be really interesting to hear some dads' points of views though because I think one of the big plus points from the course is that my DH got to understand and hear about things that he wouldn't have known (and probably wouldn't have read about of his own accord) so that when I was taken into theatre for an episiotomoy, ventouse and forceps, he was prepared for the fact that there would be (what felt like) 100s of people in there too! We did get asked for feedback as well and our course definitely didn't cost £300. Agree with another post saying that you need to differentiate between courses which are paid for (and therefore teachers who are paid) and events manned by volunteers too. There is a huge difference between the two in the context of this argument!

easterbaby Wed 06-Feb-13 23:04:36

Our antenatal course (in SE London) cost £300 - I believe that fees vary by area. I wouldn't recommend NCT as I don't consider the views/information presented to be either balanced or useful to impressionable parents-to-be. When I called up to cancel my membership, I gave feedback about this lack of balance and felt distinctly fobbed off by the guy on the phone.

PolkadotCircus Thu 07-Feb-13 07:12:52

They're not keen on twin pregnancies.They were very unhelpful when I rang up already knowing I'd need a section saying a lot wouldn't be relevant to me so I never joined.

My sister did join when pg with twins and thry point blank refused to give any info re bottle feeding. Bil was livid as wanted to support my sister knowing full well already having twins in the family that some bottle feeding was highly likely.

Many people chose to bottle feed anyhow and thorough training in safe formula preparation is vital? I don't know how any organisation can justify not fully informing parents in the correct and safe way to bottle feed.In this country the vast maj of babies are bottle fed at some point to ignore that is just plain wrong.

ballroompink Thu 07-Feb-13 08:47:55

Chiming in to say I also had a positive NCT experience. I live in a cheap price band area so it was affordable for me; it educated me a lot about the birth and I made new friends who have got me through mat leave. Agree with what someone said further up the thread about you needing new friends when you don't really have any in your local area and are used to working full time. I don't live in an affluent area so there's been none of this wealthy mummy stuff going on, although my group is still pretty middle class and professional.

We had an appropriate amount of time devoted to pain relief and c-sections, although the teacher did make it clear that she was very pro-natural birth and talked a lot about the 'cascade of intervention' etc. She seemed disappointed that none of us were going for a home birth! She was very much in favour of co-sleeping and breastfeeding well into the toddler stage.

In the end our class came out with two c-sections (one scheduled, one emergency), one forceps delivery, one water birth with G&A, one normal delivery with G&A (me) and one normal delivery with an epidural. None of us felt 'judged' because of our choices or what happened to us. We all breastfed for at least 6m and at 9m two of us are still doing it so I think we were all a huge support to each other with regards to breastfeeding. We did agree though that the breastfeeding workshop, while useful, didn't prepare us for the fact it is actually pretty tough at first even if you're doing it right.

When we've gone to our local Bumps & Babies group it seems to be about 50/50 with who's bf/ff. We didn't go to the coffee mornings arranged for us because we felt that we were happy meeting up at each others' houses. Plus one of the venues was in a village just outside the city where we live - and two of us don't drive.

It IS concerning though that there seems to be such a breadth of information and attitudes.

soverylucky Thu 07-Feb-13 09:48:30

I didn't join because of the cost. Despite having a reasonable income on paper we needed every penny. And the thought of going to a meeting at someones house filled me with dread.

tiktok Thu 07-Feb-13 09:55:58

Polkadot, it was good that you were told in advance that some of the course might not be as helpful to you as otherwise - and it is wrong to say 'they are not keen on twins' sad

My experience is that antenatal twin mums do find it hard to relate to the postnatal aspects of the course, because everything that's said about caring for the baby has to be doubled, and there is a limited amount of individual attention that can be paid to one couple out of a whole course....we do try, though. I had a twin mum in a recent session and I did include twin-specific information - but it would not meet all her needs, I know.

This is universally recognised in antenatal provision and in many areas, the NHS has multiples-focussed antenatal groups, which draw mothers from a wider area to make it viable, and which is usually not so much a course but a monthly (or thereabouts) education session.

I have already explained the rationale for not covering bottle feeding/formula preparation in a group setting focussed on breastfeeding. I don't understand why anyone would be 'livid' at this not being covered in the breastfeeding session - the NCT course is far from the only potential source of information on bottles and formula, and if there is further need for information from anyone, we can (and do) help individually, we can signpost to other sources, and we support in other ways than the group setting.

CelineMcBean Thu 07-Feb-13 10:54:52

The safe way to make up formula is printed on the tin/box. Any other questions can be dealt with on the NCT feeding line. I formula fed one of mine and did call the helpline on the box to ask a specific question regarding quantities because it wasn't completely clear from the box.

NCT won't tell you which formula is "best" or which bottles are "best" because it's all so subjective. The NCT library has got a brilliant article available online to members about the differences in formula milk.

Tamba do great work with multiple birth families. They have recently started a new scheme offering specific support for mothers breastfeeding multiples. Their peer supporters are trained by... NCT.

CelineMcBean Thu 07-Feb-13 10:58:24

The helpline I called was the formula one (just to be clear). But that was only because I didn't realise the NCT breastfeeding line could help and actually 4 years ago before the strategy changed they probably wouldn't have been able to but they can now!

PolkadotCircus Thu 07-Feb-13 11:10:14

Any parent paying £300 should be told the full picture re feeding options not to do do is wrong.

There are plenty of multiple mums,we don't have a contagious disease we're simply pregnant with two babies instead of one.Any group supposedly catering for pregnant women should encompass all pregnancies and I do get the impression twin mums are simply a pain in the arse to NCT as the many of the other twin mums I know felt the same.

It was both a "you won't fit in"impression I got along with a "we're letting you know we're not going to bother catering for your pregnancy"- either way a pretty shite attitude.

Anyhooo I went to a fab NHS group which I highly recommend to anybody in these cash strapped times,seriously best bit of advice I'd give to any pregnant mum is save your £300 and spend it on a mountain buggy instead.

PolkadotCircus Thu 07-Feb-13 11:13:55

Sorry but being prepared beforehand,having helpful tips,being able to ask questions re time saving in a safe way,dealing with formula when out,the ins and outs of mixed feeding is waaaaay better than reading tiny print at 3am the first time you use formula.

The NCT give half the picture and it's shite.

CelineMcBean Thu 07-Feb-13 11:25:32

I quite agree and that is why I said you can call the NCT feeding helpline. Admittedly they're not open at 3am but they are open 8am-midnight. That's pretty good.

When I used to go to meet ups we had a couple of twin mums who were regs. I got lots of lovely baby cuddles when mum went for a wee smile

There are so many places you can get help with formula feeding (every formula company for a start) but good breastfeeding support is necessary for those trying to breastfeed and providing that support doesn't mean formula feeders are not catered for. The needs are different. Breastfeeding is a skill that often needs to be learnt. Making up a bottle is much simpler because you just follow the instructions. Regularity, "is my baby getting enough", "am I doing it right?" are universal queries which is why the helpline offers that support to all parents.

Unless you've used the helpline or talked to someone who has in last 2 years I think it's a little unfair to make sweeping statements.

The helpline costs the same as a local call btw. Not £300.

PolkadotCircus Thu 07-Feb-13 11:29:51

Formula is a feeding choice which the vast maj of babies have at some point.If you're paying £300 you should get the full picture and the information you want,need and ask for.

Perfectly possible to encompass and offer support for both-the NCT simply don't want to as it doesn't fit in with their image.

Giving a twin mum your hands for 5 minutes isn't embracing twin pregnancies or making twin mums feel welcome.

CelineMcBean Thu 07-Feb-13 11:31:20

I mean I agree about needing more than here's the box, get on with it. The other stuff just sounds like a load of misconceptions to me. Not that that isn't important. NCT must address these misconceptions and any events that are within their control that might contribute to those opinions.

CelineMcBean Thu 07-Feb-13 11:33:58

As a volunteer running a postnatal group making sure the venue is accessible for all mums (including multiples), making sure all mums feeding or who otherwise have their hands full get a drink and that they can go to the loo does help. Not bad for a £1 donation.

CelineMcBean Thu 07-Feb-13 11:35:35

As does providing information about Homestart and TAMBA, having a conversation and sharing experiences. All really valuable and the cost? Sod all.

tiktok Thu 07-Feb-13 11:36:21

Polka, I signed up last year for a ballroom dancing class (with dh).

Actually, we have decided since then that we're not very likely to go ballroom dancing now (and we were or he waswink not very good at ballroom dancing anyway....) and we would have been better off doing ceilidh dancing. We have been to several ceilidhs, and had a good time.

I wonder what would have happened if I had told the ballroom dancing teacher, at one of the ballroom dancing classes on the ballroom dancing course, that we'd like to cover ceilidh dancing as well, because we think that in a few months time we'll be ceilidh dancing, and not doing much ballroom at all.

Here's what she might have said:

* Sorry, MsTiktok, but my course was clearly labelled 'ballroom dancing'....if I was going to include other dance options it would have been labelled 'dancing' or even 'ballroom and ceilidh dancing'. It wasn't. Everyone here has come for ballroom, and wants to learn that

* If I teach you ceilidh dancing for you to only actually do it in a few months time, you are likely to have forgotten quite a lot of what I teach you - how would you remember it sufficiently well to do it without mistakes?

* the thing about ceilidh dancing, is the instructions are given at the time you need them - by the caller. So advance teaching of the steps is not really needed - sure you'll be awkward at first and you'll be learning as you go, with practice, but the first few times you do it, you do have the instructions there. It's not the same with ballroom dancing - no one is shouting out how to do it for you

* however, if you would like to cover ceilidh dancing, then I can help you individually - just not in the sessions clearly labelled 'ballroom'

I think she'd have been a bit taken aback to be told we were paying her, and that she had a cheek giving us only 'half the picture' smile

CelineMcBean Thu 07-Feb-13 11:40:58

I do agree based on my personal experience that the breastfeeding class I attended left a lot to be desired. But that was pre-policy change regarding formula and feeding. The class was also optional and if you opted out you didn't pay but I think some teachers do the antenatal and breastfeeding bit. A breastfeeding counsellor did ours. I complained it was shit but I think that particular woman was a bit crap, not the whole organisation.

PolkadotCircus Thu 07-Feb-13 11:41:05

Sorry Tiktok I don't think that analogy fits at all.

When I was pregnant, my GP suggested that I go to the NCT classes on the basis that I was "the right type" hmm Needless to say, I didn't go grin

I did go to the NHS classes and tbh, I wonder of the NHS had been infiltrated by a splinter group of the NCT as the m/w refused to talk about any pain relief shock

PolkadotCircus Thu 07-Feb-13 11:55:21

Basically the NCT only want to provide support only for mothers who will be rich,singleton,natural birthers and feeders.

They're not interested in the vast majority which is the rest of us.That is fine but do be honest guys otherwise you're simply taking money off of people with false pretences.

Sounds like Kirsty was spot on to be frank.

Taffeta Thu 07-Feb-13 11:56:01

Pain relief = cost, MissBee sad

CelineMcBean Thu 07-Feb-13 11:56:32

Probably not Miss. My NCT teacher absolutely covered pain relief.

Shit classes happen in NCT, NHS and other providers. It's not because the organisation is shit it's because that particular teacher is. The issue is when an organisation fails to have any accountability or auditory process. NCT does but it needs to be more robust IMHO.

CelineMcBean Thu 07-Feb-13 11:59:20

Interesting that you completely disregard everyone's points Polka. But you carry on dear smile

tiktok Thu 07-Feb-13 12:02:00

"Sorry Tiktok I don't think that analogy fits at all. "

In what way?

CelineMcBean Thu 07-Feb-13 12:03:52

I thought it was a brilliant analogy tiktok

PolkadotCircus Thu 07-Feb-13 12:09:25

Because pain relief,c/ss and formula are more often than not part of the picture not a separate entity however much NCT would rather they weren't and most mothers I know want to be fully prepared for any eventuality not an NCT ideal.

CelineMcBean Thu 07-Feb-13 12:13:13

That's why NCT classes cover c-section and pain relief. What do you think they cover for 20 hours? What whale music to choose and how to breathe? wink Don't be naïve.

tiktok Thu 07-Feb-13 12:30:26

Yes, Polka formula is used by most mothers in the UK - eventually. Just as most of the learner dancers in my ballroom course go on to do do other forms of dancing - eventually.

The majority of women who plan to breastfeed are not using formula in the early weeks of their baby's life - you'd be demonstrating, in a large group, important practical skills upon which their baby's health depends, weeks and most likely months before they need them.

It is far safer for someone using formula for the first time to read the instructions on the tin - don't expect someone (possibly in a crisis, as has been suggested, at 3 am) to remember accurately information they were told months beforehand. (I suppose there my dancing analogy falls down (ha!) because it's not actually a risk to my health if I learn ceilidh steps months in advance smile )

The class is badged clearly as 'breastfeeding session'. No need for anyone to be disappointed, or livid, or outraged, or even surprised, that there is not a great deal of info on formula feeding in it.

All breastfeeding counsellors can offer support and information on formula feeding to individuals, just not in a group setting. If they don't have the exact information (for instance, health/medical related queries about specialist formula; consumer related queries about the best-value bottle) they know where to signpost the mother to get the answers. You talk as if only NCT could possibly supply formula information - and without formula details in the breastfeeding session, parents are left adrift and unable to find other sources.

"what whale music to choose" Celine

- hmm, my music - Chinese flutes by the Guo Brothers - was very important to me during the water birth of my DD smile

But I agree they need to cover all possibilities.

And/or admit they favour things being as natural as possible.

As I've said personally I think that's fine, but in trying to be more inclusive - at least in their language and stated aims - I think there's a danger they're not being honest.

PolkadotCircus Thu 07-Feb-13 12:45:25

I think parents want and presume they'll be getting "feeding" information.Info on a tin however comprehensive doesn't provide the additional crucial information (which I listed before )which parents are left to learn by word of mouth.

As I said Kirsty had it spot on-NCT needs to own it,admit they will not be providing the information/ support most mothers want and will instead focus on an ideal rosey picture the majority of which mothers never actually have and move on.

CelineMcBean Thu 07-Feb-13 12:50:10

But of course you've never attended a class Polka. Nor do you seem to think much of any of the other stuff that has been listed - local support and helplines.

If it's not for you then fine. But there are many, many happy people who have had positive experiences with NCT.

Horses for courses and all that.

CelineMcBean Thu 07-Feb-13 12:52:00

Polka you are complaining you we're told what the classes would entail and you didn't like it, so didn't do it.

You are also complaining parents aren't told what courses entail.

Which is it? Or are you just hopping on a bandwagon?

tiktok Thu 07-Feb-13 12:59:48

"I think parents want and presume they'll be getting "feeding" information."

Why would they think that, when the session is clearly badged as 'breastfeeding' and the tutor for that session is a 'breastfeeding counsellor'???

"Info on a tin however comprehensive doesn't provide the additional crucial information"

No - and add to that the many individual, specific and health-related pieces of info they might need....and together with a demo/explanation months before it might ever be needed, just cannot be supplied safely or effectively in a group setting.

" which parents are left to learn by word of mouth" - so there are no midwives, health visitors, formula helplines, websites, books, factsheets, they can ask? It's only NCT antenatal courses that can supply this information? NCT breastfeeding counsellors also - as has been explained - can and do answer 1000s of formula related queries a year, individually. Heavens, I post about formula here myself, often.

PolkadotCircus Thu 07-Feb-13 13:12:32

Celine and there are clearly many who didn't.

NCT states it will answer all questions,clearly they don't,they didn't for my sister.

"Whether you bf or bottle feed we are hear to support you"- what ignore fathers who ask for info and send the couple to a hotline?


tiktok Thu 07-Feb-13 13:25:08

Polka, I don't know what your sister's question was but I have had sessions where I did not deal with questions in the class for some reason or other - I was not there when your sister posed the question (whatever it was) and nor were you, so we are both speculating. If someone asks 'how do I make up a bottle of powdered formula?' I would not be so rude as to 'point blank refuse to answer' or however you/your sister put it, but I would very briefly explain where to get that information and then move on, perhaps explaining why I was not going to dwell on it.

What's wrong with asking someone - mother or father - to phone a helpline? If the question cannot be answered, for whatever reason, in the session, then suggesting where to get an individual response is perfectly fine.

No one can promise to answer everybody's questions fully in a session of 2-3 hours - but we can deal with them in other ways.

I often get asked, in the bf session, to cover specific questions about expressing and going back to work - everyone's situation is individual (distance from work; hours worked away from home; age of baby when this is to happen....etc etc etc) and it would be impossible to discuss each one fully, and boring for everyone whose situation was not the same. I invite them to call the helpline (or me) and get an individual response - you cannot object to that, can you?

tiktok Thu 07-Feb-13 13:26:49

Bowing out now.

It's fruitless.

"I think parents want and presume they'll be getting "feeding" information" Polka
"Why would they think that ?" tiktok

Well, tiktok, (and I'm strongly in favour of BFing) I guess that'd be because we're about to have a baby that will need some form of nutrition to survive ?

I would think they could go over the basics of making up a bottle as part of an "all bases covered" approach, as well as expressing, mixed feeding, co-sleeping, and anything else that might be relevant. (I was quite confident eg about making bottles if needed though, as had already cared for other babies before having my own)

I actually think it would be helpful generally to have more on care of your new baby and not just on birth, though there's a lot to cover already I know !
But might focus the mind that whatever else happens hopefully everyone will soon have a baby - I found that hard to remember through pregnancy and birth !!

PolkadotCircus Thu 07-Feb-13 13:29:38

Suggesting a helpline isn't providing support.

Maybe the NCT need to rearrange their course schedules or make them longer providing time for the other questions customers want to ask and expect to be answered after paying £300.

Perhaps they could include a short safe bottle feeding course at a separate time.

tiktok Thu 07-Feb-13 13:37:40

Helpline calls are about 20-30 mins of individual support and attention from a trained practitioner - service available 16 hours a day, every day of the year.

Surveys show over 95 per cent of callers to our helplines would recommend the service to others and have very positive things to say about it.

Sounds like pretty good support to me. Can't think why you would think not, Polka.

Clearly 2 of you - Polka and Juggling - don't accept that a group demo of how to make up a formula bottle and other related info months before the info may be required is unsafe/ineffective. Juggling - I explained that people who sign up for a 'breastfeeding session' with a 'breastfeeding counsellor' should not be surprised that the session focuses mainly on 'breastfeeding' and that's why I wondered why someone would be 'livid' when it did.

I wasn't 'livid' when I found the 'ballroom' teacher taught 'ballroom'.

PolkadotCircus Thu 07-Feb-13 13:43:11

My bil was under the impression all their feeding questions would be answered,as I said perhaps a separate session for bottle feeding would remedy that confusion.C/s were brushed over too.

If teachers can run cookery and food hygiene lessons with 6 year olds pretty sure the NCT could run safe courses on bottle feeding for mums the majority of whom will use bottles at some point.

A helpline isn't support,I'm staggered somebody working for an organisation that supposedly works to support often emotional first time mums would think that is the case.

PolkadotCircus Thu 07-Feb-13 13:44:14

Face to face,hands on practice,time for a whole host of quesions is what mums want not some stranger at the end of the phone.sad

tiktok Thu 07-Feb-13 13:49:08

You're not understanding the nature of helpline support, or the range of what parents want and how different forms of help can be effective, Polka. But that won't stop you being 'staggered' at my supposed ignorance, I suppose smile

CelineMcBean Thu 07-Feb-13 13:50:47

Works unpaid as a volunteer helping out to try to plug the gap with friendship and support. A helpline is definitely support. The clue is the help bit.

I give up. You obviously have a huge chip on your shoulder for which I am very sorry. I think I've expressed my position on this thread and the ill informed comments are irritating but not worth giving up my afternoon.

tiktok Thu 07-Feb-13 13:51:17

And of course we do face to face individual support as well....but again, your lack of information about the many ways NCT works doesn't match up to the power of your second-hand experience of a question your brother-in-law felt was ignored.

tiktok Thu 07-Feb-13 13:54:42

Better English this time smile : me trying to plug the gaps in your (*Polka's*) information about the range of help and services from NCT does not match up to the power of your second-hand experience.

PolkadotCircus Thu 07-Feb-13 13:58:17

Repeated questions re that and c/s.He's normally a very reasonable bloke

Simply don't agree re a helpline being support,it is at odds to the image Belinda Phipps is trying I convey in her op statement.

Ah the old patronising "chip" as a way of belittling to make a point.hmm

Anyhow as you were, clearly Kirsty was completely wrong and nobody has a problem with the NCT-it is perfect.hmm

No, your right tiktok, I don't really accept that a demonstration "months before the info may be required" would be unsafe/ineffective. I think in reality there are other ethos based and practical reasons (time) for not doing so.
After all we're all expecting to learn and remember the info from the breastfeeding demonstration ?
I think making up a bottle in this country ie. with safe water and sterilisers to hand is a relatively straight-forward and simple process. So not rocket science, but could be reassuring for most Mums-to-be to see at some point. As I said I'd already learnt to make bottles as a student nurse whilst caring for other people's babies so not a big issue for me. And I went on to breast-feed my DC's quite happily !
- After attending a very good, straight-forward BFing session by an NCT BFing Counselor - for which I'm very grateful for the good start it gave us (me and DD)
However if I'd not had that demonstration I wonder if DD would have taught me to do it - she took to it so naturally smile Best advice just to hold baby towards your body !

CelineMcBean Thu 07-Feb-13 14:00:18

If you really need face to face, hands on support to make up a bottle of formula with the instructions on the box you probably shouldn't be in charge of an infant.

Sometimes you have to take a bit of personal responsibility and just get on with it.

<<disclaimer: anyone seeking more support including steralising information and dosage and support for "bloody hell, am I doing this right" can call the NCT helpline or go to a local NCT group and expect nothing but support and to be directed to further help if necessary. Some group support will be peer support (ie another parent just like you who is offering an opinion only and is unlikely ti be an expert but can be vital for the "bloody hell!" dilemmas) and so anything medical should probably be run past midwife, health visitor or GP>>

Nonsense Celine - I hate following instructions on boxes, and much prefer to learn first-hand by seeing someone else do it -
Babies don't come with a manual - following written instructions is not an essential skill in raising a baby grin

tiktok Thu 07-Feb-13 14:10:30

Juggling, the antenatal session on breastfeeding does teach something of the skills of breastfeeding, but much of the preparation lies in 'making the baby real', emphasising the unpredictability of a newborn's needs, discussion of social factors eg night feeds (all of which are also applicable to formula feeding, anyway) together with a brief outline of how breastfeeding works, to enable mothers who want to bf to approach it with more confidence. There is not much risk that a faulty memory about the content of the session would put the baby's life/health at risk. And of course, the bf session takes place (usually) a very few weeks or even days before this is needed.

Contrast this with formula feeding. Actually, it is more complex than most people think. Unless you trained as a student nurse within the past 5-6 years, you will not have learnt how to make up formula powder and store bottles according to current safety guidance, either smile . As I said, the first few times of making up a bottle, parents really need to read the tin and not think they already know what to do, 'cos of a session months before or a student nurse experience years before.

Maebe Thu 07-Feb-13 14:15:31

Oh, yes, Celine, that's an appropriate analogy hmm

There is more involved in making up healthy formula than just reading the instructions. I was one of the only mums on the ward to use formula and even though the hospital itself had been part of the decision for me to ff rather than bf, I got no support and was barely shown the room with the fridge, let alone talked through what temperatures might be appropriate to serve formula at, or how long to store a made-up bottle or an open carton, or the best way to sterilise a bottle. Things that can seem pretty daunting when you have a tiny little newborn to care for and you only gave birth 48 hours ago and are still an absolute mess.

I'd have appreciated being able to have a chat about it during the NCT courses (though it seems my tutor was sticking to the bf-only line more closely than others).

Not all mums start ff when their baby is a month or two old.

FFS, that's kind of like saying all there is to bf is sticking a nipple in a baby's mouth...

CelineMcBean Thu 07-Feb-13 14:19:30

Ah I knew some of you wouldn't read the disclaimer grin

RL beckons. Have fun

Maebe Thu 07-Feb-13 14:26:00

And it looks like you haven't read the responses to your comment either.

Yeh, yeh, I know you add the powder later these days ... my friends gave me that tip in case we were out and about with baby ... but as I said I was BFing anyway.

But in any case that was more my point than yours ... that Mums-to-be should probably be given a simple guide to best current practice on preparing bottles as well as on BFing. Seems like many would appreciate it. Just as part of an inclusive "covering all bases" reassuring approach.

louschmoo Thu 07-Feb-13 22:52:00

juggling yes I completely agree with you re: the simple guide to best practice for preparing bottles. It's all very well saying 'read the packet' or 'there are so many places you can got to get advice on FF', but in practice there are still SO many misconceptions about how to safely prepare formula. I BF to 6 months then switched to formula, and the number of friends who told me to just use cooled boiled water to make bottles was unbelievable. It's a really common belief that it's the water which needs to be sterile, not the powder.I would say it's akin to the 'BF every 4 hours' myth which is still prevalent amongst a lot of women who gave birth decades ago. And most people who BF will also give formula at some point, even if it's just the odd bottle when the baby is older. So I really do think it would be added value to most people to include a very short briefing on the dos and don'ts of preparing bottles.

Also, when you sign up to an NCT course you don't get a choice about signing up to the BF session, it's an integral part of the course. If you do NCT antenatal then that's what you get. So it's a bit disingenuous to say 'well you signed up to a BF session'. No, I signed up to an antenatal course.

I'm not saying this to be antagonistic, i think it's really important to encourage and support BF and the NCT does really valuable work in this area. And I certainly wouldn't want to disparage any of the work that volunteers do. But it would be really great if there were a little more acknowledgement of the issues raised here, specifically with regard to the (very expensive) courses.

CelineMcBean Thu 07-Feb-13 23:06:19

Do you mean some thing like this?

I found that Googling "NCT formula feeding fact sheet"

There was another one for breastfeeders who need to use bottles too

louschmoo Thu 07-Feb-13 23:18:33

Yes, having that included in the pack you get when you start the course would be great, perhaps accompanied by a brief 'don't use cooled boiled water to make up bottles please' instruction in the class. Because nobody actually tells you that, and LOADS of people tell you cooled water is fine as long as it has been boiled.

SnakesheadFritillary Fri 08-Feb-13 00:00:46

That's the sheet that my NCT teacher did choose to include in the pack.

Andcake Fri 08-Feb-13 09:08:27

I had a good experience of nct although I felt the bf advice was to idealistic and did not prepare anyone in my class for the realities and struggles. The bf class was done by a different lady whereas the rest was done by a v down to earth practical mother of 4. I also did the local one day nhs and both were similar.
I had a planned cs due to my ds being breach our nct teacher was nothing but supportive. However this morning the nct sent me an email survey in partnership with the wi asking about my birth experience with no mention of cs or options how to feedback on that experience. Sigh seems Belinda Phipps recent blog views isn't reflected throughout the organisations research!

tiktok Fri 08-Feb-13 09:16:49

"an email survey in partnership with the wi asking about my birth experience with no mention of cs or options how to feedback on that experience. "

I don't know what 'wi' means - typo? But asking about your birth experience includes cs (that's why it's called 'caesarean birth') and 'asking about' means asking for feedback....maybe I'm misunderstanding you, sorry, but I don't get the problem you are raising here.

PolkadotCircus Fri 08-Feb-13 12:03:59

Hmmm you know what I think MN should do their own version of NCT- cheaper so all could go,encompassing all mothers,better planned out and more realistic courses which cover the subjects mothers actually want in a depth they actually want.

They'd be so successful. You could link them to the local forums on here,sales etc,books are already written and they've got the perfect platform to actually listen to mothers and keep up to date on what mothers actually want.

Hmmmm <strokes chin>

BartletForTeamGB Fri 08-Feb-13 13:42:12
natbod Fri 08-Feb-13 14:38:55

I had a great experience at my antenatal classes and found the teacher very informative. She gave us all the options and it definitely helped to build my confidence for the birth, which I was absolutely terrified about! It wasn't all middle-class people that attended our classes, but generally the people that go to classes have moved away from their families to new areas for work, like myself, who don't have the support network around. I don't know what I'd do without the people that I met.

PolkadotCircus Sat 09-Feb-13 08:19:49

The mode of birth section in that piece I found rather insulting to be frank."normal" birth- wtaf!We're all born with different bodies,pregnancies and babies,there is no "normal"but a huge amount of luck.

Many women would also actually give anything not to have had a "normal" birth,having to subsequently live with the injuries it can cause and which are often swept under the carpet.

Seems to me buying into that piece is akin to buying into a fantasy rather like those extortionate Stagecoach lessons parents shell out for and which in most cases are very unlikely to make your child a star.

tiktok Sat 09-Feb-13 09:21:19

Polka, the word 'normal' is clearly used as technical term - as it is throughout the literature - to mean 'physiologically normal'.

The word 'normal' is used three times in the document, which is a formal briefing paper, making no comment on individual women's experiences:

"Birth is a normal physiological process and most pregnant women are fit and healthy"

"Improving the opportunities for women to have a normal birth has positive benefits, both physical and psychological."

"Over the past 20 years birth centres have become increasingly recognised as highly appropriate options for healthy women with normal pregnancies"

In other publications, NCT uses the word 'straightforward' as a synonym, and many of us prefer this word when speaking to (or writing for) women directly, as it is more readily understood and accepted.

No need for you or anyone to feel 'insulted' by the use of a technical term like 'normal' to refer to the physiological process of vaginal birth...any more than you would feel 'insulted' if the optician told your friend she had 'normal' eyesight because you wear specs.

PolkadotCircus Sat 09-Feb-13 10:18:46

Hmmm in all my years of wearing contacts I 've never actually heard the word "normal" used,there are far too many variables. My dc all have perfect eyesight but none have the same prescription.

PolkadotCircus Sat 09-Feb-13 10:21:02

Oh and birth with medical intervention is still giving birth- just sayin'.

I think done of the wording and structure in that doc is offensive,sorry.

PolkadotCircus Sat 09-Feb-13 10:35:48

" negative effect of interventions on transition to parenthood" puts unnecessary pressure on something you have little choice about.I've yet to meet anybody where this is actually the case,this infers it's widespread and scaremongering.Most mums I know after interventions are just grateful their babies/themselves are still alive and out.

You can look at all the knitted wombs you like but if you need intervention,you need intervention,this infers otherwise.

PolkadotCircus Sat 09-Feb-13 10:39:20

There are some good bits in there though,shame as I suspect some of the wording of the bits I have mentioned would switch many mothers off.

However maybe they wouldn't be "normal" NCT mothers so who cares.

tiktok Sat 09-Feb-13 12:11:32

It's a briefing document to inform a discussion at a conference.

It's not a leaflet written for mothers.

It uses technical language, of the sort common in the obstetric literature.

It does not 'infer' anything (I guess you mean imply) points to evidence about different effects and outcomes for mothers and babies in general related to birth; these do not not necessarily apply to every individual.

Hope you are not still feeling insulted or offended.

BartletForTeamGB Sat 09-Feb-13 16:24:27

I think that polkadot might be reading too much (or in one sense, not enough) into 'normal' births.

There is a very specific definition used in obstetric statistics:

A "normal birth" has been defined as one which starts naturally and does not involve any medical or technological intervention. This definition would therefore exclude births which involve induction, acceleration, medical pain relief (including epidurals), forceps, ventouse, a Caesarean or an episiotomy.

This means that my otherwise entirely uncomplicated home birth was NOT 'normal' by this definition because I had an episiotomy. I have also been induced following an intra-uterine death - definitely not normal. Next week, I expect to be induced due to complications with this baby. That will not be normal.

My experiences don't mean that we shouldn't try to improve labour care for women all round and it doesn't mean that there isn't a very appropriate place for medical interventions for some mothers. The issue is ensuring that these are done no more and no less than what is appropriate.

"Hmmm in all my years of wearing contacts I 've never actually heard the word "normal" used,there are far too many variables."

Incidentally, normal vision is 20/20 vision (although we actually do in metric measurements now, so it is 6/6 vision).

oldebaglady Sat 09-Feb-13 16:31:23

"Whatever your income"........ so long as you have a car! round here anyway! The nearest NCT antenatal classes are in a posh village miles out in the sticks that you can't get to by public transport at that time in the evening! So they may offer me a discount on class fees, but they still make damn sure it's not accessible to the likes of me!

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