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NCT - worth it?

(85 Posts)
Plateofcrumbs Mon 10-Feb-14 16:06:31

I'd always assumed I'd do an NCT course despite the fact I find something about the whole idea sets my teeth on edge. Then I found out the price - £327 for the course in my area! shock

Is it actually worth it?

I know everyone says it's worth it for the friends you make but I'm finding something faintly horrific about the idea of being forced to make friends with people just because they happen to be up the duff at the same time as you. And paying over £300 for the privilege.

Do I just need to get over myself and suck it up?

Hessy Mon 10-Feb-14 16:23:11

For me, all things considered no, not worth it.

Couldn't stand the woman running it - gave loads of totally spurious advice, badly organised, repeated herself as she didn't plan from one class to another. Ran it from her living room so total money spinner for her (her kids had to remain out of sight in their bedroom with her dog) Was pretty disgusted by the end of it. Have often thought about complaining.

Had very little in common with the other women; DP couldn't stand most of the men.

However, in those early weeks, having someone at exactly the same point as you was useful in some ways for sharing experiences.

But it is a cliche but there was an underlying competitiveness after a while over whose was the 'best ' sleeper/eater/crawler.

If I had my time again I'd save the money and put it towards a coffee and cake fund, possibly baby classes if I was keen to meet people.

People I know who haven't done NCT don't seem to regret it.

Best of luck!

flymo79 Mon 10-Feb-14 16:26:41

hey, plate, I have just had similar convo over on August thread. I'm a first-timer and really do want to make friends with people who are upduffed at the same time as me, but equally don't want to have to pay. We have been sharing ideas about how to access these people, through other local bump clubs that might be advertised, NHS classes, fitness classes etc. There are also ways of getting involved in NCT locally, so I understand, without being roped in to the "signature classes" although those who have been on the classes do say you learn a heck of a lot about third trimester/labour/breastfeeding and beyond which is useful not only to you but your partner. I'm sure there are other positives. It's hard to put a price on these things and everyone's different.

polarpercy Mon 10-Feb-14 16:29:24

I did an NCT course last year, really glad I did. Our parenting classes, to be run by our midwife were cancelled just before they were due to start. We met a lovely group of people who we are still in regular contact with.

I also found it hugely helpful when I was finding things tough to know that others got what I was going through and were experiencing it as well. Don't underestimate the benefit of that in those early days.

I do agree about the spurious (or in our case slightly woo approach) information in places, we found that some things that were shared were not particularly evidence based. But, again we had a great group and in many ways we ended up conspiring against our leader! People were not afraid to ask questions and challenge information.

I've also met people through our Sure Start Centre, but found the ones I see the most are still the NCT-ers.

greentshirt Mon 10-Feb-14 16:37:16

I'm a first timer and not doing antena classes at the hospital or NCT. I asked my midwife if I was going to learn anything I couldn't google and she said they were mainly about meeting people. I've met loads of people through a couple of fb groups I've joined and swimming and Pilates that I've been doing since being pregnant so decided to give the classes a miss. They are a lot of money and a big time commitment in the last few weeks before baby is due. I'm doing a one day hypnobirthing class in a couple of weeks too.

Hope I don't end up eating my words when thd baby arrives!

KathrynK Mon 10-Feb-14 16:38:09

Really sorry to hear about your experience Hessy. You don't say how long ago it was, but I'm sure it's not typical. NCT would welcome your feedback as it's important to us that poor quality teaching is addressed. Must 'fess up that I'm an NCT teacher, just here by co-incidence looking for something else, but had to jump in. Oh, BTW, the teacher gets a set fee from NCT, so not a money spinner to run from home.

Plateofcrumbs - I can see why you feel that's a lot of money - I'm guessing you're living in the London area! I hope you're aware of the discounts that are available, which we hope make the courses accessible to everyone (though you will of course set your own financial priorities). I suppose the only thing I can add is that most of my clients write on the feedback form that it was money well spent, & they will recommend to friends/colleagues.

You're certainly not forced to make friends with people. A good facilitator will create situations where you get to know the other clients, and many people do make good friends, though you don't have to stay together for life wink

The competetiveness thing is certainly not propagated by NCT, and personally I suggest that parents can simply refuse to play that game, as it doesn't help anyone. But wherever you go, you'll find some people use this as a way of communicating. You can choose to participate or not.

And of course, even if you decide not to do an NCT course you'll still be able to have a baby, as we don't have a monopoly grin. And you can use the website and helplines, which are open to everyone.

All the best with your pregnancy.

dashoflime Mon 10-Feb-14 16:39:43

Hi OP,

The fees are on a sliding scale so you may not have to pay full whack. That info is well hidden away on the website though. I think I found it, in the process of actually booking. I had just lost my job and so we ended up getting the classes for about £25 if I remember correctly!

I personally didn't find it that useful. The info was OK, but is available other places.

The people were not the kind I would normally be friends with and surprise, surprise, being up-duffed did not change this.
TBH even if I had been interested in maintaining the friendships it would have been tough since they all seemed to move to satellite villages during their pregnancies so that their kids could enjoy an outdoor life and they could hasten PND isolated somewhere they knew no one waiting for their DH to get home

I also felt there was an undercurrent of competitiveness and I think this is a product of being very keen but very anxious new mums, socialising with similar. The best Mum friends I've ever made are people with kids a little bit older- they have no reason to be competitive and have been through everything your going through already.

After NCT classes I didn't do anything mumsy (except MN of course!) until DS was 6 months. And that was only because he needed some large indoor spaces to practice his crawling.

GemsyB Mon 10-Feb-14 16:43:15

I've just paid up my £300 this afternoon Hessy and our teacher is running it from her front room. I hope it's not a dog-haired room, I will freak and not be able to relax and enjoy it!!

dashoflime Mon 10-Feb-14 16:48:00

Gemsy Our tutor gave us a dog hair covered doll to practice comforting. I didn't care though. I have a dog at home. I told the class my actual baby would probably be dog haired (he isn't)

theborrower Mon 10-Feb-14 16:50:47

£327?! shock

I did the NHS classes at my local GP surgery which were pretty rubbish - the midwife for 2 of the 3 lacked presentation skills, shall we say, so it was all very boring, and nothing I hadn't learned from a book, although the last class was ok. However, a friend did her NHS classes in a neighbouring area and she said hers were great. Maybe it depends who you get.

As it turned out, I had an EMCS because baby was an undiagnosed breech and couldn't feed properly, so the NCT classes would have been a waste of time for me in that respect!

But yes, I've heard they can be good for friends, but then there are other places to make them.

dashoflime Mon 10-Feb-14 16:54:26

theborrower NCT classes are not useless for EMCS. We had a whole lesson on what to expect if this happened.

I'm going to my second class tonight.
The first one was interesting, but I don't think I learned any brand new information that I hadn't learned from MN or browsing articles on different issues online. We're doing complications confused tonight, so that might be more challenging.
I think DH is finding it more useful - he was also forced to give me a mini back massage in class which was lovely.

The other people are nice enough and the trainer is good... But it's only £140 in Birmingham for the signature one - I think I'd feel differently at £300! WTAF?! Do you get special gold plated leaflets and is a lunch of quail and swans tongues provided?! How do they justify the difference?!

Hessy Mon 10-Feb-14 16:58:18

Gemsy, Kathryn it's fair to say I was in the minority - the other women didn't feel the same about the course.

I think my feelings were exacerbated by the fact we were in her front room so couldn't challenge her and debate the - frankly - nonsense she was coming out with. Linking mother's pethadrine use to child's later drug addiction! My DP was constantly asking her to back up her points with evidence and I kept trying to get him to stop as I was embarrassed as I felt we were guests in her house.

And Gemsy if it is the same woman, don't worry - the dog was kept well out if the way upstairs and I don't remember it being dog-haired! Good luck!

Plateofcrumbs Mon 10-Feb-14 17:00:09

I do appreciate there are discounts available for people in tougher financial circumstances - finding the money isn't the problem but nevertheless I still don't spend £300+ without thinking about it.

I'm a very rational 'show-me-the-evidence' type of person so anything a bit 'woo' is likely to give me the rage.

I also think I've got some prejudices about yummy-mummy, gossipy competitiveness. But on the other hand I might just need the enforced socialising to get over it - otherwise I'm just going to spend my maternity leave being a lonely misanthrope.

IsabellaRockerfeller Mon 10-Feb-14 17:01:17

Even if you dont do the nct classes, you can go to the nct meet ups like bumps and babes etc.

SliceOfLime Mon 10-Feb-14 17:02:11

What my near-namesake dashoflime said about EMCS! I didn't have one but we did a whole role play type scenario about what sort of circumstances the doctors would recommend a cs, how it happens,who is in the room etc. I found my NCT classes really helpful, the teacher was lovely and very practical, not at all 'woo'. We got on really well with the others there and I am still in touch with and meet up with the other mums 2.5 years later. Of course you are not 'forced' to be friends, how would that work?! You get opportunities to chat to them, then you get each others' contact details afterwards so you can meet up or not as you prefer.

Trinpy Mon 10-Feb-14 17:04:08

I considered the NCT classes but the cost put me off, and I didn't fancy making friends that way anyway.

Really glad I didn't because the NHS classes we're going to at the moment are really good.

There is a surestart centre 10 mins walk from my house so I will probably go there to mix with other new mums.

Plateofcrumbs Mon 10-Feb-14 17:07:39

Is a lunch of quail and swans tongues provided?

Of course, us London folk wouldn't deign to dine on anything less wink

Is it really that much cheaper outside London? That does seem an insane price difference.

Gatorade Mon 10-Feb-14 17:08:30

I didn't get much from the classes from a practical perspective that I couldn't have read in a book. I however went along as I was new to the area and needed some friends!

It all depends on the luck of the draw as to who is in your group. I have made some lifelong friends who made my year of maternity leave an enjoyable and fun experience and not the isolated existence I was worried it may have been with a small baby in a new area. I still see a lot of them at least twice a week (with or more importantly without our children!).

MrsOakenshield Mon 10-Feb-14 17:10:51

yes, mine were excellent and still friends with the people we met on it. If you are in the SE15 area PM me and I'll give you my teacher's name - she really was good - the very first thing she said was 'NCT - the National Childbirth Trust, not the Natural Childbirth Trust' and went on to discuss absolutely everything, natural or assisted.

flymo79 Mon 10-Feb-14 17:14:17

obviously expecting and having a little one is a very fraught time for mums, some will find it comforting to be among others, some will find it stressful. If you just want to learn about options, scenarios etc, I have genuinely found One Born Every Minute to be fascinating! and my midwife seems happy to answer loads of questions. They might not have the time to spoon-feed you everything, but I do think it's an opportunity to ask as much as you want if you're an inquisative person.
I get the thing about competativeness, my friend who did NCT classes before her DC1 just had to cut out a load of people who were a bit that way, but then she's stayed in touch with two or three others. I'm in a slightly different position to her as now a load of our friends have had kids, I'm likely to spend more time with them. It's clearly each to her own, and the classes will be different in every area (I figure it's like some Adult Ed classes I did once, I got on with a few people, still stay in touch, but the teachers were a bit [hmmmm] in terms of some being totally credible but with no people skills and others being completely bonkers but lovable!).
I'm not sure that saying there's "sliding scale" of fees isn't a little disingenuous - clearly if you don't work or are on benefits that's one thing, but even having a full-time job up until due date doesn't make it affordable for me. Sorry! I can appreciate that the NCT class lady (was it kathryn?) wanted to counter the arguments against, but to some people it's just not doable, and coming from an education background with an interest in equitable practices, if you're only targetting the people who can afford that I sort of feel like that limits the crowd. No offence intended. Anyway, I found the most useful thing which is that you can still go and get involved in NCT stuff without doing the classes - and it's all free. A lady I met at a nearly-new sale run by NCT this weekend who is fully involved wasn't even a member. I know they're a charity, and I fully support what they do, and I wouldn't suggest not donating, but that should be your choice and I don't think I agree with the price point for their classes. that's all!

Plateofcrumbs Mon 10-Feb-14 17:16:46

Of course you are not 'forced' to be friends, how would that work?!

I mean feeling pressured on account of having spent £327 largely to make friends and fearing being mummy-no-mates if you don't immediately pal up.

flymo79 Mon 10-Feb-14 17:16:57

should have said hmm!!

flymo79 Mon 10-Feb-14 17:18:06

don't sweat it plate, someone's got a busines to promote.....
i was worried about the same

I looked into NCT classes in my area (East Anglia) and they were £150 for the 6 sessions - we were not eligible for any of the discounts. I sent an email to the lady running the class asking a few questions and all I got in reply was a "thanks for your enquiry, you've been signed up to start classes on x date" email hmm. None of my questions were answered so I decided if she couldn't be arsed then I wasn't interested.

I did some more research and found a Lazy Daisy Birthing class nearby. The cost was £55 for 6 classes and the lady running them bent over backwards to answer my numerous questions before I signed up. I enjoyed the first set of classes so much I signed up for more and have my last class tonight. I can't recommend Lazy Daisy enough! We did an extra "couples workshop" over the weekend and DH found it incredibly useful grin

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