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NCT classes - worth the cost?

(31 Posts)
KitKat1985 Wed 04-Jun-14 10:50:09

Hello all. smile

Just turned 25 weeks today and expecting our first baby (a girl) in September. Right back at my booking appointment I was given a booking form for NHS antenatal classes and told to send it off after my 20 week scan, which I did, but didn't hear anything. I saw my midwife yesterday for my 24-week check and she saw my antenatal request form and told me all the funding for the NHS antenatal classes have now been withdrawn in my particular NHS trust, and despite all the midwives themselves objecting to this the budget holders are refusing to budge and so there will now be no NHS antenatal classes in our area. I feel a bit freaked by this as I was rather relying on those classes to help me feel a bit better prepared for labour / those first few weeks, as neither me or DH have much previous childcare experience. Also I was looking forward to meeting some other new parents due at roughly the same time. The options now open to us are either no classes at all (and just study pregnancy book etc) or pay out for NCT classes, but they're expensive (I think the 'essentials' course alone wold be about £200 for me and DH). We have lots else to pay out for over the next few months as we prepare for DD, and plus for various reasons our budget has been a bit stretched recently (e.g, by enormous car repair bills). So my question is has anyone done the NCT classes? Did you find them worthwhile or could you have managed without? x

wispaxmas Wed 04-Jun-14 16:05:31

I hesitated and very nearly decided against them, but ended up booking us in last minute because I suddenly panicked that although I was doing loads of reading and preparing for birth and beyond, my husband wasn't and I knew he would benefit more from classes than a book.

Also, I quite like several of the women who were int he class and we're already planning when to meet up when all the babies a re born.

Pobblewhohasnotoes Wed 04-Jun-14 16:43:48

I found them worthwhile purely from the making friends aspect. Two years on we still meet up.

The other thing was Nct was a small class where as my NHS classes had about 100 people in them and we didn't get any chance to meet people or ask many questions.

DH found Nct useful in learning what his role would be during labour!

crazylady2013 Wed 04-Jun-14 16:45:09

Our NHS trust has also stopped antenatal classes angry . I'm also a first time to be and was looking forward to finding out a bit more about our hospital and how it all works. Ended up deciding to go for the NCT classes as my DH is very keen (not a huge reader, though I am). Will be going to our first one tomorrow night so will see if it is worth the money (that we can not really afford as I'm a student). We were lucky to get a bit of a discount due to financial situation. Good luck.

icklekid Wed 04-Jun-14 16:45:43

Althow expensive our nct classes have been worth every penny to prepare us and make fab friends!

lucidlady Wed 04-Jun-14 16:58:58

Totally worth the money. 2.5 years on I still meet up with my group and it was a godsend to have people in the same situation in the early days. Kept me sane.

lchats Wed 04-Jun-14 17:13:13

Best money you'll ever spend - my NCT friends got me through the first year and will continue to be my friends for life!

Thurlow Wed 04-Jun-14 17:22:37

I've made friends from our class, so that was good. I didn't know anyone in the area so it was nice to meet a few other people. We don't see each other that much 2 years on, but in those first few months of maternity leave it was a godsend having people with babies the same age around.

As for the actual advice... I'm not sure about that bit. I know the content of each course differs depending on the tutor. With hindsight mine wasn't enormously helpful, I remember 2 full-day sessions that was almost entirely about how to have a pain-relief free vaginal birth (which is great and obviously what the NCT's ethos is about) but hardly anything about how to look after a baby. Most of us ended up having emcs's and so that was 12 hours worth of info that didn't actually help!

But overall I'd err towards yes, if you can find the money for them without breaking the bank. As in, given the choice between a brand new £500 travel system, or NCT classes plus a slightly cheaper or even second-hand travel system, I'd go for the latter (if that makes any sense grin)

stillstandingatthebusstop Wed 04-Jun-14 17:25:30

I'd say they weren't worth it for me, but I think my group was full of weird quite unfriendly people. We only met up once at my suggestion and it was a disaster.

The NCT classes made me feel like labour and birth were going to be a calm, controlled experience which they weren't. They also meant I overthought everything when I should have just listened to my body.

The most useful piece of advice I ever had was "push like you are doing a poo". So now you know that, go and watch a few episodes of One Born Every Minute, and you'll be fine. grin

weebairn Wed 04-Jun-14 17:34:43

I just did the one day NHS course. I didn't get a lot from it, but DP found it helpful. I did make a good friend from it rather randomly, we didn't get back in touch afterwards, but made friends for a completely separate reason some months later and then remembered we'd spent a day in that antenatal class all hot and bothered and heavily pregnant together! But that was just coincidental really.

I think with the NCT thing you're just paying for mates with babies basically, which is ok, if that's what you need. I found I made some (not close) mates at baby groups when DC1 was little. I also had my SIL and several friends having babies at the same time, so maybe I just didn't really feel the need.

I know some people get quite isolated on mat leave and this could be a good way to avoid that

There are other (free) groups you can join as well - e.g. breastfeeding groups (If you'd like to bf) and there are free bumps and babies groups etc going on all over the place. Children's centres do lots of free stuff.

EllaJayne123 Wed 04-Jun-14 17:47:29

I hated my NCT classes - the tips for labour seemed useful (will know if they are in a few weeks!) however I didn't really get on with anyone in my class. I'm allot younger and a lot less err- wealthy, to put it bluntly than they were. They were very judgemental due to this and left me out - made comments constantly digging at me and I have no interest in ever seeing them again. I managed to look past it all and think 'I'm here to learn about having a baby' however wish I'd spent £5 on a book instead, it would have judged me less!

whereisshe Wed 04-Jun-14 17:48:45

I didn't get a lot out of the NCT course c

whereisshe Wed 04-Jun-14 17:50:36

Oops.
... course content as I'd already read a huge amount, but DH found it helpful. I mainly did it to meet local people with babies and it was great for that - we all still catch up regularly as we're all still on mat leave.

Plateofcrumbs Wed 04-Jun-14 17:51:23

To be honest I've not learnt much from NCT that I couldn't have picked up from mumsnet and reading a book. But:

-it forces you (and perhaps more importantly your DH/DP) to think about things for a few hours a week and not just put them to the back of your mind.

-most people seem to make friends. Although none of my NCT group are people I would normally seek out as friends, we've all bonded over all being in the same boat and I feel surprisingly close to them all already, despite the fact we haven't even finished the course yet.

Really I think the main value is 'buying friends' - I guess time will tell whether that was a good investment!

allisgood1 Wed 04-Jun-14 17:52:05

No, but I didn't have a good experience. I tried twice. Both times the groups had lovely women but really we had nothing and common and ultimately all parted ways. I think there are two who have stayed in touch only with each other. I feel like it was a complete waste so no longer recommend to anyone.

weebairn Wed 04-Jun-14 17:55:39

Sounds awful EllaJayne. I found I didn't really like any of the paid baby groups I went to for similar reasons. Some of the free ones were great though.

Redling Wed 04-Jun-14 18:05:58

I've opted out of NCT, because of what I've heard about the course mainly being about the perfect drug free vaginal birth, which I'm all for having a go at but I really want to know about all the what ifs, alternative choices, what happens in a EMCS, what pain relief does etc, for which I'm doing the NHS course and waterbirth workshop. But I'm lucky that our hospital does an NCT vibe anyway with 8 couples per course max. I see how your situation is made difficult by your NHS trust not offering that (which is utter shit of them). I'm also not swayed by the 'friends with babies' aspect as (a) a lot of NCT groups do mother and baby coffee mornings and breastfeeding workshops, so you could meet people after baby comes, and (b) they might all be assholes and then you've wasted your money grin. Purely from a birth preparation perspective though, if you would really feel a lot more reassured to do some classes then would it be worth the money? Or can you ask your midwife, friends with babies etc, and glean enough info from them? I'm of the opinion that giving birth isn't something I need to 'learn' to do, as baby is coming out whatever, but this is my first pregnancy so I may be wrong! As for learning about looking after a baby, I strongly strongly recommend finding a local Sure Start centre, they are amazing places and the reason they exist is to support new parents and babies, with trained child care practitioners. And they are free! (I've worked with them for years and I think they are an amazing resource).

weebairn Wed 04-Jun-14 18:09:32

Yes Sure start are fantastic. I did loads of free stuff with them in the early days - baby massage, breastfeeding groups.

FWIW my NHS class only really focused on how to get through normal labour and only very briefly mentioned complications or c sections.

Plateofcrumbs Wed 04-Jun-14 18:44:05

Our NCT class hasn't conformed to stereotypes at all - we've been given pretty objective info about c-sections and pain relief and didn't push an agenda.

And no judgey yummy-mummy types - all very down to earth normal folk and no oneupmanship on expensive buggies etc.

I guess the problem is you can't guarantee what you're going to get!

madamweasel Wed 04-Jun-14 18:53:32

We had no parenting experience and went to NCT. We found it very worth while but the classes were about BIRTH and breastfeeding, nothing about PARENTING. Be very clear about what you want the classes for. If you're looking for parenting advice then spend some time (e.g. a whole day) with someone with DC under 3 and they'll give you a crash course without meaning to!
If on the other hand, you wanted a detailed introduction to giving birth and preparing for the baby, with the opportunity to ask questions then a course would be ok.
We found out about tongue-tie on our NCT (which we'd never heard of before, despite all the books) and that was invaluable because our DS was born with tongue tie and needed a procedure to fix it. Priceless?

Heatherbell1978 Wed 04-Jun-14 18:54:44

I'm due to start my NCT classes next month (due August) and all our friends have raved about them so we're looking forward to them. I'm lucky that I've been invited to NHS antenatal classes but at 2pm in the afternoon they're not exactly convenient for both DH and I to attend. I could get time off (legally I have to) but DH couldn't and I'd prefer to go with him. The friends thing is a big part of it for us, we have plenty friends with babies/kids but I don't know anyone who'll be on mat leave when I am so I'm hoping to meet people that will get me out of the house!

martha15 Wed 04-Jun-14 19:56:51

I think the classes are worth it socially - you will meet other ladies who live near you, will be on maternity leave at the same time as you, and will have babies at the same time. I haven't kept in touch with them long term other than occasional facebook contact, but I saw them a lot in the first year and enjoyed their company.
Its not worth it for the content of the classes - at the risk of starting a fight, the NCT have, in my view, a bit of an "agenda" - interventions are bad, you don't have to do what the doctors tell you etc etc, which I thought was pretty unhelpful and often not entirely accurate.

KitKat1985 Wed 04-Jun-14 23:28:57

Hey thanks for all of your replies. I heard back from the local NCT course organiser to say that the course local to us is now fully booked (guess I should have thought of that - that's the problem I guess with only finding out the NHS classes weren't running this week)! hmm They can offer us private sessions but they are £58.60 an hour (!) which seems really steep. Also that kind of completely takes away some of the point of doing them (I.E, to meet other parents etc) so not sure they are worth it. Has been interesting to hear all of your experiences though. x

TurquoiseDress Thu 05-Jun-14 07:32:54

I had my LO earlier this year.

Looked into local NCT in my area but they all seemed to be booked up so that made the decision for me.
TBH I wasn't really that bothered- the cost certainly freaked me out!

The early months with baby were cold, wet & miserable so I just enjoyed lots of cuddles on the sofa while watching DVD box sets grin

I know of a few new mums through friends and family who I've met up with from time to time, as well as doing lots of solo trips to the park with baby when the sun was shining.

Do NCT if you've got the money to spare but from what I've heard, the information you could pick up anywhere but it was more the making friends aspect that draws people in.

If I could've been guaranteed a good set of couples where we all got on and bonded etc I would've probably done it.
Obviously there are no guarantees!

I don't really get the whole panic of needing to know a load of women who are pregnant at the same time/have small baby at same stage but I absolutely appreciate the support aspect.

For what it's worth, I've loved my maternity leave & sharing special time with my baby I've had no regrets about not doing NCT.
In fact it saved us a load of £££!

Squeakyheart Thu 05-Jun-14 07:47:29

I went to pregnancy yoga where I met other mums to be and learnt a lot about birth and newborns as they did a talking bit at the start. They also ran an antenatal class for dads to go to as well. It was all really useful and a lot cheaper then NCT plus I got to do some stretching etc which helped with SPD. Have also attended the sure start classes and they have been really good and free!

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