Would you like to be a member of our research panel? Join here - there's (nearly) always a great incentive offered for your views.

What do you think about Kirstie Allsopp's view on NCT Classes?

(71 Posts)
LaurenCaddy Fri 04-Jan-13 19:11:04

So Kirstie Allsopp (Kirstie's Vintage Home ect) has slated NCT classes.

The NCT - despite being a rite of passage for middle-class parents to be - does not prepare women sufficiently for the possibility of birth complications, she has claimed after she had to have 2 cesareans not by choice. She said she was made to feel like a failure for them not being natural.

She described its classes as "politicised”, “dogmatic” and “scary”.

I have booked some NCT, and my first is on January 19th, and i too have been warned about the stereotyping to younger mums/couples.

Me and my partner are 21, and if someone was too look down upon me, and talk to me like a child, my mouth may get the better of me.

Your thoughts/opinions?

Full statement: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/women/mother-tongue/9780932/Were-to-blame-not-the-National-Childbirth-Trust.html

Daisy17 Fri 04-Jan-13 19:14:57

Depends on the class. The lady who took mine was brilliant, a mother and midwife herself, informative and balanced, neutral on all contentious matters. But I know other people who have had the same experience that Kirsty appears to have had. Pot luck on who is in charge, I think.

rrreow Fri 04-Jan-13 19:23:07

The class I went to was well balanced. The person conducting it was a bit of a 'natural' type, so maybe not as much was covered about interventions (but it was definitely touched upon). Also I think it's difficult to strike a balance between talking about everything that can happen, but not making people unnecessarily scared by having an overly large emphasis on stuff that can go wrong. You worry enough in your first pregnancy as is.

Also there is a lot of pressure on people to have some type of heroic natural birth. The pressure is built up from the beginning and magnifies in your head. I feel the most judgy person is usually yourself (as in you're usually the most self-critical and induce your own guilt, about pretty much anything). I'd find it hard to believe that people afterwards would actually judge someone for having a cesarean or make them feel bad about them (but if there are such people, shame on them I guess).

I don't know. I feel pregnancy and motherhood in general are pretty guilt-ridden as a whole, and it's mostly us making ourselves suffer or putting words into other people's mouths ('oh that woman is looking at me, she must think I'm the most terrible mother to my toddler' 'my baby should be sleeping through by now, what am I doing wrong?').

GoodnessMeNoGinInTheHouse Fri 04-Jan-13 19:24:39

The classes I attended were ok. But breastfeeding was pushed and nothing helpful was discussed around bottle feeding. You were made to feel guilty for asking about other options in terms of birth plans, pain relief, bottle feeding etc They covered but glossed over c sections or pain relief above gas and air. I was unprepared for my category 1 c section and after effects. I suffered PTSD afterwards but that could have happened anyway. I in no way blame them but it would have been good to be more prepared for if things don't go to plan. But I was under no illusion that NCT classes would be any different (from anecdotal evidence) and also mainly used the classes to meet others and make friends. Nearly 2 years later we all still meet up which is great.

Imabadmum Fri 04-Jan-13 19:25:50

I went to NCT classes and agree that they are perhaps not the best preparation for labour.

I wrote my birthing plan, like I was told to, following the dogma of no pain relief. I wanted a natural birth, soft lights, soothing music, a calm and relaxed atmosphere to welcome my unstressed new born to, my partner massaging my shoulders, mopping my brow and offering me fruit nice through a straw.

The reality bore no relation to this. I will spare you the details but I was woefully unprepared and felt like I had let myself, my baby and my partner down.

My second baby (some 8 years later) was born at home and was much more in line with the NCT theories. But not because of them.

I won't comment on Kirsties views, but regarding the NCT, go to the classes, but don't take their word as gospel, approach your labour with an open mind and go with the flow.

Good luck xxx

TwitchyTail Fri 04-Jan-13 19:27:51

Agree they seem to vary from place to place. Some people swear by them. My area unfortunately has a reputation for the strictly all-natural whale-music-in-a-lavender-field-or-you're-a-failure approach, and I'm at high risk of needing a Caesarean, so I'm keeping my £240 to myself thanks very much.

I also dislike the way it has seeped into common consciousness as the "only" way to gain mother friends. I know people who haven't been on them and made friends through breastfeeding groups, baby activity groups, etc. The NCT also do post-natal groups for a fraction of the price.

Maybe ask around people who've been on courses in your local area?

minimisa Fri 04-Jan-13 19:29:11

I have to say I agree with the allsop. Ours was run by a pretty loopy woman who mentioned carrying the placenta in a lavender bag until it dropped off! She was extremely negative about hospital births and by the end I was fuming and dying to point out that historically many, many women died in childbirth and still do in many parts of the world.

LaurenCaddy Fri 04-Jan-13 19:34:45

I'm travelling to Weston Super Mare for ours, i was lucky, i would never pay the full £174 for the 3 sessions and a meet up session, but because i'm worked seasonal and then went on to income support, i got a 90% discount, so have only paid £17.40.

Tbh i'm not really bothered about making friends, if it happens that would be nice, but i'm there for me, my partner and my baby to get as much information as possible.

I too have heard the pushyness of the breast feeding session, but as it is something i would like to try i'll appreciate the information, but would like to know about bottle feeding ect just incase it doesn't work out for me.

I don't think i'll have a perfect birth, as i have low BMI currently and if i don't get it up on time, i won't get a water birth which i would like.

I'm more worried about judgmental people.

I'm the opposite to Lauren, I'm looking to go to meet other mums rather than course content although I'm sure that will be useful.
I think it's a bit unfair to expect any antenatal course to cover every possible situation or complication in pregnancy.
Go and hopefully you will get what you want from it but just bear in mind that anything can happen in labour

StrawberryMojito Fri 04-Jan-13 19:49:45

I only went to a post natal course but it was a good mix of people and ages (24-36), the instructor was lovely and non judgemental. Everyone had different birth experiences and it was interesting to hear the different stories but nobody judged me or the others in the class that had every form of pain relief going or the woman who had a c section. Some of us were breast feeding, some weren't and again, nobody cared. One poor woman was suffering extreme pnd so we don't see that much of her but a year down the line we are all still in touch and meet up regularly. It was money well spent.

BikeRunSki Fri 04-Jan-13 19:57:51

I did NCT and only dealt with both my emcs because of them! We'd done a "c section role play" in which I was the "patient". When I had my baby a few weeks later and needed an emcs (wanted a water birth, but footling breech diagnosed at 10cm dilation) It was because of the NCT role play exercise that I didn't freak out that there were 12 medical people in the room.

elizaregina Fri 04-Jan-13 19:58:34


I find in life generally unless someone specifically says to you " I think you are x y and z" i really wouldnt worry you have no idea whats going on in other peoples heads - and to be honest what is going on in thier heads is non of your business.

as others have said it totally depends on your group - they could be anyone from anywhere and perhaps all there on reduced rates like you!

persoanlly i would never rely on only one source anyway for info and as you are already on MN you have an invaluble source of info on every aspect of labour/births/Bf etc....

i would also try and do NHS course as well as NCT..and if you dont get on with your group or like the leader - try the post natal course...its all a bit of pot luck...

re making friends it depends on your personality but - the fact its usually smaller groups - everyone has a turn to talk - you all share and talk about quite initmate things - means people open up quicker - so can be opp to make friends and it can be isolating being stuck in with baby.

LovesBeingAtHomeForChristmas Fri 04-Jan-13 19:59:18

Her comments are nothing I haven't read on here before.

Root99 Fri 04-Jan-13 20:02:50

NCT worked well for us. Our group was fab and we're still all good friends three years later. I remember the sessions being more of a class led experience with the NCT lady seeming to be there to facilitate rather than dictate to us.
Out of eight couples six had c-sections and the two planned home births didn't happen so we weren't all soft lighting and lavender in any way. Of course most people weren't planning to have a c-section but we did cover them and it didn't feel judgemental to me.
The best thing I found was that all our babies were exactly the same age so the group was an invaluable help at different stages when you wanted to compare things.

Agree it differs from teacher to teacher. Ours was lovely and really did just tell us the facts - both about labour and birth and about what to expect with a baby afterwards. When in labour I very much felt as if I was in control and understood what was going on at all times. I ended up with a EMCS.

DH also found them useful as he knew nothing at all beforehand I think. Three years later I am still very good friends with 2 others and we still meet every two weeks! Again luck if the draw I think!

niminypiminy Fri 04-Jan-13 20:13:10

For the first time ever I agree with Kirstie Allsopp.

IME NCT classes are run by pie-in-the-sky fantasists who peddle a view of childbirth that is frankly unachievable by many, perhaps most women, and sets us up for disappointment, or worse.

I expected that I would make friends with my NCT group but basically I had very little in common with them aside from the fact that we were all pregnant and could all stump up the extortionate fee.

loveschocolate Fri 04-Jan-13 20:13:19

I didn't find the content particularly useful but met really nice people. The teacher started trying to go down the airy fairy whale music route but quickly realised that we were not engaging with it and changed the approach

LaurenCaddy Fri 04-Jan-13 20:19:48

I've opted for NHS classes as well, and have them also coming up, which i think will benefit me more due to them being more local.

I'm lucky as i have a sister with a very young baby, and some friends due at the same time. So i have people i already know to talk to and discuss. I'm involved in various groups, but the Weston NCT classes, i hear are well known for having generally judgmental people. But i'm taking all the options open to me because there's not many things for parents/to be parents to get involved in around here.

Fingers crossed for the good useful information, covering sections rather than all natural. I think i'd have fun if it involved role play.

Maria101 Fri 04-Jan-13 22:09:22

My NCT teacher was a bit snidey about intervention, c-sections and bottle feeding & I've heard similar stories from friends. HOWEVER, I made some brilliant friends there who I still see regularly. Most people I know go along to the classes to make friends, rather than get info on pregnancy and birth as what they tell you in class you can read about in most books or pregnancy magazines. I'd definitely go along to NCT though, as you pick up some useful bits and can make great friends who will get you through the early days.

Rockchick1984 Sat 05-Jan-13 08:30:35

I was by far the youngest at my NCT class but to be honest I wasn't viewed any differently and 2 years later am still friends with some of the other women from the course and still have occasional texts and phone calls with the others we just didn't get on as well as I did with the others.

On the first day the teacher ran through what she was going to cover and asked if we wanted to look into anything else. One couple were very interested in pain relief so this was comprehensibly covered, Caesarians were talked about but not very in depth.

Overall I found them fantastic, but definitely agree it depends on your teacher. I did them for the social aspect but found them to be informative as well - particularly for DH as he's not the type to go looking for info but he liked knowing what to expect and what could go wrong!

Notmyidea Sat 05-Jan-13 08:56:28

I did nct classes with my first. They were very balanced, most of the mums in my group ended up with c-sections and went on to do the post-natal group, too.
It didn't suit me, though. I needed a bit more of the natural philosophies and critisism of obstetrics. They were very "this is a nice, cuddly area with a high homebirth rate" when I needed to fight because of risk factors. I got there 2nd timesmile

jkklpu Sat 05-Jan-13 09:02:41

Depends entirely on the person doing it. I think it's reasonable, though, to expect parents-to-be to do more research on their own than just attend a few classes. The web has gazillions of sites as well as all the books available. Midwives train for years so you can hardly expect everything about childbirth and before and afterwards to be covered by the NCT.

Pandasandmonkeys Sat 05-Jan-13 10:56:33

We had a fantastic NCT leader. We covered all types of pain relief in detail, what happens during a c section and why one might be needed and other types of assisted birth. She was pro natural birth, and a bit of a hippy type, but none of us felt under pressure or patronised. I had planned a water birth at home bit last minute complications mean I ended up with a c section before I even went into labour. The NCT woman was amazingly supportive when I told her what had happened, even offered to arrange counselling for me as I was very trAumatised from my experience. We had a different bf specialist for our bf session, again she was very down to earth and told it like it is.

lljkk Sat 05-Jan-13 11:14:02

I can't comment because it was impossible for me to attend NCT. Antenatal classes were only held on Tuesdays when I already had to work an 11 hour day, plus a few all day weekends including one when I had to host a work colleague visiting from Denmark. All rather impossible.

"I also dislike the way it has seeped into common consciousness as the "only" way to gain mother friends. I know people who haven't been on them and made friends through breastfeeding groups, baby activity groups, etc."

This. There are plenty of places you will make friends as new parents.

It's a big myth that C-sections are not covered in NCT classes. I think many women who are totally set on a v v natural birth don't actually pay attention in this class as they are convinced it won't be relevant to them. Then when they end up with an EMCS they bitch unreasonably about the NCT.

KenDoddsDadsDog Sat 05-Jan-13 11:22:33

Like everything some leaders are good and some aren't. There are a lot of good experiences and some terrible ones on her twitter feed. Same as pregnancy and childbirth!

lotsofcheese Sat 05-Jan-13 13:35:24

It seems such a shame that there seems to be such variation in people's experiences.

I would have thought that a national organisation would have some kind of standardisation of advice/teaching & perhaps some aspect of "quality control".

I'm swithering about NCT classes 2nd time round, as it's a high risk pregnancy for me & I've been told I'll be having a section by my consultant - so I'm not sure if I'll "fit in". But I've heard so many good stories of friendships & support.

Better make my mind up soon!!!

BlingLoving Sat 05-Jan-13 13:44:37

It definitely does depend on the teacher but our wasa good about explaining other things, while simultaneously implying that candles and soft music were all we really needed! One friend from the class took candles and music, including specific pushing music and nearly tore her stitches laughing at how ridiculous the idea was after. smile But it is a good way to force you (and even more so, dh) to think about stuff. There's no doubt dh would have gone with me to the hospital without having read a single thing so nct at least gave him a way to get info easily. And our teacher was also very good about emphasising how important the birth partner is not just for back rubs and water but also as the person interceding on your behalf.

I think you get a certain type of people who will do the NCTM course. I don't find they are preachy and against c-sections or bottle feeding. But all the mums there wanted vaginal birth and breastfeeding. But if you fail no one judges you as a failure. I don't know about the c-section but for bf, most mums who failed feels strongly they have failed and hope they could do better next time. (Half of us bf, half ff). I think the reason bottle feeding isn't really covered is that if you do decide to bf it's crucial to get the first few days right. And bf is much more information via word of mouth, while you can find out how to make a bottle from the box, iyswim.

lauraellajane Sat 05-Jan-13 14:14:32

Glad in a way to hear all this negative comment, don't feel like I'm missing out on much now by not being able to afford them! smile

LaurenCaddy Sat 05-Jan-13 14:24:55

I agree with lotsofcheese i'd also thought they'd have some form of routine, or lessons plans to follow of some form then to go off of it depending on the group of parents to be they are helping. There is so much variation. Will let you know how mine go!

reastie Sat 05-Jan-13 14:54:16

I didn't go to NCT classes but I did the NHS ones. I found them also to gloss over csections and go into alot of detail about bfing but nothing at all about bottle feeding.

Natty4 Sat 05-Jan-13 15:05:19

I agree with her. My classes were lead by a really nice lady but they scared the hell out of me during the c section class. It left me with an unrealistic view of child birth as she made out c sections were full of complications and so high risk. However 4 of the 7 couples attending needed c sections and those of us who had natural births were left with a lot more lasting complications than those who had emergency cs.

They also heavily pushed breast feeding. They laid out pictures of babies being breast fed in different positions or in different situations and we were supposed to say how we felt about each picture! I couldn't think of anything to say other than "they are just babies being breast fed" which didn't go down well. Our class leader also told us she was not allowed to give us any information on bottle feeding!

pistachio Sat 05-Jan-13 15:11:41

just to answer the point about standardisation- I am an NCT teacher and we are trained for 3 years as facilitators, which means we are qualified not only to deliver the classes but also to write the course content ourselves. This means we are flexible and ale to respond to the needs of each group. In reality that can be ripping up the session plan on the spot and teaching in a different way, if need be! For example today I am spending the afternoon rewriting the class i will deliver on Monday, in response to feedback from my last group.

And as for quality control, the training itself was intensive and excellent, and I speak as someone with a degree and a masters behind me already. I will be reviewed this year and then every three years subsequently, and must attend at least two full days of training every year as well to keep my registration.

Of course there will be teachers who are not of suitable quality who slip through the net, but the NCT do make it clear that they want to hear about complaints so they can sort it out.

It is somewhat dispiriting to read KA's endless twitter feed when I am passionate about the work, constantly strive to give clients a balanced, informative and fulfilling experience and spend hours of unpaid time making my course the best it can be.

snowmummy Sat 05-Jan-13 15:20:08

I think they're overrated and push an idealistic view of childbirth and feeding.

rainrainandmorerain Sat 05-Jan-13 21:29:53

I never wanted to do a nct course because, for reasons a bit long and complicated for here, I was always heading for a planned cs (which I was happy with and turned out fine). I wouldn't have minded the bf info, tbh, but couldn't just sign up for that one session.

Just 2 things - I'm sure nct groups are good for meeting other mums - but with a new baby, I found SO many ways to meet other new mums after birth. bf groups, library groups, new mum groups - just walking into baby friendly caffs - it was fine.

Second thing - I seem to know a LOT of women who did nct courses, were very pro them, were very upset and disappointed with their births but who continue to be very pro nct, even though most of them seemed to be attending in the hope they would get an intervention free vaginal birth, and certainly didn't get one.

One friend is what I would call typical - late 30s, wanted massage and nice music, ended up with a long labour, lots of pain, lots of intervention and an EMCS - she says now that she thinks until there are 'NCT hospitals' and 'NCT care' across the maternity care system, the nct are effectively preparing women for a birth that is really hard to achieve in the current system.

Does anyone else think that is true? And if so, is that a problem?

LoveYouForeverMyBaby Sat 05-Jan-13 22:28:51

Personally I wasn't keen. Felt no real information, advice or support was given, and by the time all the babies are around 5 months all the competitive parenting starts.

I know a lot of people have made lifelong friends but o me it was useful for about 7-8 months while I got out and about to more baby and toddler groups nd made friends that way.

slightlysoupstainedbabygrows Sun 06-Jan-13 02:04:20

I went to both NHS and NCT. I signed up for NCT so that my partner could attend, as I felt he needed the support of meeting other parents too. (Glad I did, as it was really helpful for him!)

I didn't find the NCT classes preachy at all. Our teacher was very keen to find out what we as a group needed most info about, and responded to that. I'd much rather pay for that than for a rigid, unchangeable curriculum that wouldn't answer what I needed to know.

We covered pain relief and various interventions (inc C sections) pretty well and I found that section informative and helpful. It definitely wasn't all "massage and whale music". I thought she was pretty realistic about stuff tbh.

BikeRunSki Sun 06-Jan-13 19:22:57

My experience was similar to slightly's. My NHS classes were a lot more hippy dippy - the mw who did them is very into hypno birthing.

pistachio Sun 06-Jan-13 21:27:03

rainrainandmorerain you make a really valid point which is about us possibly setting women up for something which is not possible given the current maternity system. And believe me that as NCT teachers we are constantly trying to walk that fine line. So for example, I will cover waterbirth, and the pros, cons, things to consider, impact on levels of pain. And my groups are usually very responsive and positive about wanting to try it. So then i open it up, point out that it is first come first served in hospital, that if you are high risk you will not be allowed in the pool at our local hospital, etc etc. And point out that the way to give yourself the best chance of a pool being free and being able to use it is to have a homebirth. I don;t tell anyone what to do, and i don't push one location over the other- just talk about how physiological birth works then always refer it back to the choices they make and how it all connects together.

It is also the reason I spend about 90 minutes or so covering CS in detail- both the procedure and practicalities, and also using the experiences of other mothers who have been through it and have written about the emotional aspects for me. No matter what is right or wrong, approx 25-30% of my clients will have one, so it is right that they are given as much preparation as possible, IMHO.

Kelbells Mon 07-Jan-13 07:41:57

I went thinking it would be very 'pro' natural labour and mainly hoped to make friends with all of the nitty gritty gained from the NHS. However at the NCT class the first type if labour we discussed was csection as 1:4 women in my pct have one. She was very balanced, realistic about the interventions that might be needed, prepared us to have a wish list but be flexible depending on what happens and not judgemental at all. Of nine mums, 3 if us had 'natural' births with the rest having some sort of intervention and we were all well prepared! As others have said I think it's really pot luck on who you get teaching you - a really, really positive experience here!

MissinBloom Tue 08-Jan-13 17:21:03

I didn't do NCT as my brother told me they were a bit preachy and heavily pushed breastfeeding and he knew I didn't like that kind of thing. Had one NHS antenatal class and it was all NCT literature and so heavy on pushing breastfeeding that at one point I had to say something...it got WAY too much, they tried to tell us that breastfeeding increased your childs IQ....so much bullshit, we asked for the evidence and it was so weak....some Irish study asking parents to rate their child and recall if it was breastfed or not. This, in my opinion, is not helpful. I really wanted to breastfeed, I just didn't want it shoved down my neck and I don't think it's helpful to make women feel bad if they don't want to or even worse can't. Unfortunately for me my Betsy was very poorly and in SCBU the first week of her life and consequently I couldn't anyway. Good for Kirstie, there definitely needs to be some change in the way that the NCT and the NHS are making new mums feel.

Mutley77 Tue 08-Jan-13 20:29:23

Re bottlefeeding - it is against current guidance (or possibly even illegal) to "promote" bottle feeding. Hence it is not discussed in NHS or NCT classes, which I think could be potentially slightly over exaggerating what is meant by promote.

Personally I wish I had been given some basic advice about bottle feeding as it is fairly straightforward but I had planned to exclusively breast feed and was not prepared for the fact I would be told to "top up" for medical reasons and therefore had no bottles, steriliser etc and it was hard to get my head around it all given recovery from a traumatic birth ending in EMCS and being a sleep deprived new mum. I think basic info about sterilising, expressing and preparing feeds is crucial really and something that was ignored in all the classes I went to as we were told "Don't give bottles or worry about expressing in the early days as it may cause nipple confusion and end up causing problems with breastfeeding" - hence I had no idea I might be told I needed to do that!!

LaurenCaddy Tue 08-Jan-13 20:42:51

Embarrassing Confession Time

I made my first bottle a few days ago for my 11 month nephew whom was staying with us.

Now when i'm at work, i'm always warming bottles up for people with hot water. So instantly in my head i assumed i make it with cold water and warm it up in the bottle warmer. I got very very angry when the clumps started forming and going over the amount my sister had told me.

My OH found it hilarious, and was laughing when i was trying to explain. He had to explain its with boiling water then its supposed to cool down, and you warm in up when people take it out with them on the go.

Seems extremely simple now. And i feel like a complete twat and an utter failure.

I also don't get, the different types of teat, slow flow, fast flow, anti colic ect and all the different companies and how the teats differ.

It should be brushed upon!

OhGood Wed 09-Jan-13 15:27:14

In my class, I hated that they did not cover bottlefeeding. I think that's just wrong. My class was also totally pro natural birth and sniffy about all pain relief other than gas and air. Made some totally gorgeous friends though.

Splinters Wed 09-Jan-13 17:56:21

Ours is very balanced, perhaps more accepting of interventions than I would actually like.. The teacher knows the hospital really well so can really help us with what to expect. There are three couples expecting twins in our group, at least one woman who knows she'll have a CS for medical reasons, and whenever we practice breathing exercises etc the teacher points out that they should also be useful for helping CS mums feel less stressed about what's happening.

Purplelooby Wed 09-Jan-13 22:27:58

If you're lucky enough to live in an area that still has Sure Start provision (generally areas with lower average incomes) then you don't really need NCT.

I attened guided birth session, prenatel breastfeeding groups, 'bump' groups and 2 antenatel sessions all for free, some on NHS and some on Sure Start. Many were run by midwives and all were great (not that I used the guided birth or successfully breastfed... but that's a different story!). Oh and a very cheap aquanatel class.

Now I attend lots of Sure Start sessions with my baby and because it's many of the same Mums I've met loads of lovely people. The guided birth was still loopy and unrealistic though grin. How I would love to laugh at my birth plan!

SophieLeGiraffe Wed 09-Jan-13 22:47:53

Our NCT teacher was awful. Flappy, didn't respond to in-class feedback, dogmatic, had a clear agenda and only covered Caesarian sections - with a lot of huffing - when I plucked up the courage in the last session to ask.

In our group two of us ended up with sections and mine was a cat1. I was very glad I asked for the info.

So I do agree with Kirsty as our lady had an agenda she wanted to push and didn't prep us for the reality. We spent one 1.5 hour session randomly massaging each other. The whole session!

I did make some fab friends though - I think we bonded over mutual dislike of the crazy teacher who clearly disliked our entire group because we asked a lot of awkward questions grin.

SophieLeGiraffe Wed 09-Jan-13 22:58:19

And whilst I'm on, it's about time someone told the truth about breast feeding rather than glossing over the harsh reality. It hurts like fuck and you have to give up everything over to being attached to your baby for a few months but then it will be fine. And yes, sensible advice on sterilising, pumping and yes, horror, bottle feeding. No one denies breast isn't the ideal but if you can't or don't want to you need somewhere to go for advice.

Sophie it sounds like you had an awful teacher. Interestingly our bf session was very truthful - I went into it knowing that bring can be difficult early on, that I might end up permanently attached in the early days etc... I did find it difficult to establish bf for various reasons and the bf lady was so helpful. It really does depend on the teacher and the individuals. We did it as DH was keen too to meet other dads to be - many

Of them are still in touch too.

ladymia Thu 10-Jan-13 11:16:18

I decided not to do the NCT classes because of the mixed reviews I kept on reading about them and did not want to risk going to a bad class. Also it seems the only good thing I ever heard about them was "I made great friends" and I don't really have a need for that.

I assumed some things about the NCT classes from what i read/heard and what Kirstie said about it confirmed what I thought and made me happier about the decision I made not to go.

Lorrainbow Thu 10-Jan-13 14:26:22

I went to NCT classes in York and they were very useful. Not at all pushy or hippy thinking. She kept saying it's all about choice - you choose your birth plan, you have a right to choose your pain relief, etc. It was a really good class. I felt very informed.

I still meet up with all 6 women (and babies!) I met through the class. Before the class my husband and I didn't know anyone with a baby and yes I could have met other mum's through other classes, which I have - but there's something about us 6. We've been pregnant together, we've watched our children grow together and I feel more comfortable with those 6 than any other mum I've met in the meantime.

LaurenCaddy Thu 10-Jan-13 16:52:17

Out of interest, how long was people's NHS run Antenatal classes?

My NCT ones are over 3 Saturdays; first 2 are 9.30am-4.30pm and the 3rd session which is BF is 9.30am-11.30am

The NHS ones we've signed up to are on 2 completely different days, and are both 2 hours long. So in total 4 hours.

Was everyone's that short? Moreover do you think that will cover enough?

ubik Thu 10-Jan-13 16:56:00

it's just a middle class introduction agency

coffee mornings are held in these enormous houses, the host had just completed her MBA. I knew i could never invite these women to my little flat so i never went back.

EbbNFlow Thu 10-Jan-13 17:00:30

I found them horrendous and left after the first two. You learn NOTHING you cant read in a decent pregnancy guide and I hated all the mummy-bonding crap. They were also totally irrelevant to someone having a planned section (for medical reasons) and the teacher we had was out of touch with the reality of hositals and the health care system here - all the talk of birth plans and 'your midwife' as if we were all booked in at the Portland. It was bollocks.

Having said that, I have friends who have had good experiences and made lifelong friends through the NCT, and I believe they do sme valuBle campaigning on maternity issues, so fair dos...

louschmoo Thu 10-Jan-13 17:42:46

My NCT classes were fairly balanced, but we didn't cover CS in anything but the most general terms - no role play for us. As 4 of us ended up with CSs it would have been helpful. And CSs are common, they're hardly an unusual complication so there is every reason to cover them in a class.
Where I really feel my NCT clases failed were breastfeeding and lack of organisation. We didn't cover the 3rd stage of labour at all, mainly because the teacher lost track of time and went off at tangents. I thought this was a real omission.

The BF sessions (we had one formal session then spent 2 hours of our women only sessiondiscussing it as well, as the teacher wanted to 'recap') were very focussed on our 'feelings' about BF, biological nurturing and bonding etc. There was no info on how to spot a bad latch, mastitis, what to do about cracked nips etc. In my group we all wanted to BF and our partners were all supportive. None of us needed to be persuaded. And all of us bar 1 did BF, successfully, for at least 6 months. But we ALL had problems in the early weeks. I was the only one who wasn't surprised that it wsn't easy - and that's because I'd been lurking on mumsnet during my pregnancy. The NCT info we had was so far removed from the reality of BF a newborn. It is easy to see how women feel like failures when something has been painted as easy and instinctive and then they find it hard. You feel like you're the only one, so the problem must be you.
Sorry, that's a bit long! Basically I think the NCT needs to have core syllabus which must be covered, with time allowed for the teacher to add in extra stuff if required. And they should be a lot more upfront about BF and how challenging it can be.

slightlysoupstainedbabygrows Thu 10-Jan-13 18:46:19

LaurenCaddy the NHS classes round here are two hours long, and they do 5 sessions. 2 from the midwives talking about birth, 1 session from a physiotherapist, 1 session on breastfeeding, and 1 session from the health visitors about early days after the birth and what support is available.

So I guess if your area just focuses on the labour and birth itself, it should be enough - the first two sessions for us talked about labour signs, when to go into hospital, phases of birth for a "normal" birth, interventions, pain relief options... I think that was more or less it.

Whitetara Thu 10-Jan-13 20:31:07

oh dear. just lost my post. In sum, they are pro natural and dont' always give you the whole story of what might actually happen. The breastfeeding advice from mine was rubbish to my and another woman's detriment, and in my view a bit unsafe.

On the other hand, I met some lovely people and am still in touch with one couple after 5 years and we all used to meet up for quite some time afterwards as well.

AlexanderS Thu 10-Jan-13 20:53:20

I did NHS classes, I think I went to a 2-session once a week for 4 weeks.

To be honest, I'm not sure any classes totally prepare you. We covered everything but every time they talked about interventions and c-sections I just thought to myself, "I'm a young woman, I'm going to have a straightforward birth, none of that is relevant to me". Oh ho, pride before a fall! I had a 31-hour labour, nearly every intervention going and an emergency c-section sad At least as they were intervening I knew what they were doing and why.

After DS was born I was an NCT volunteer. Some elements in the NCT are very pro-natural birth...I'm on the fence, coz though not everybody can have a natural birth more women could than do. In my case I think I might have had a better birth if I'd stayed at home - I was labouring well at home, it was after I went into hospital that I stopped dilating. That's quite common.

Purplelooby Fri 11-Jan-13 21:00:07

The breastfeeding advice from mine was rubbish to my and another woman's detriment, and in my view a bit unsafe.

To be fair, I found this in the NHS-run session that attended too - and I agree with the poster (sorry lost your name!) who said that the truth about breastfeeding should be covered. I was told again and again when pregnant that giving a bottle would cause nipple confusion. The consequence of this was that at 4 days old DS was rushed into A&E having not eaten anything for 18 hours (he didn't properly recover from this until around 2 months old). Typing that, I sound like a total idiot, but I was desperately hormonal, sleep-deprived and anaemic... all I could do was keep shoving my nipple at his (unconcious) mouth.

LaurenCaddy Fri 11-Jan-13 21:40:14

Oooo that sounds horrible purplelooby

This is what i'm worried about. I'm hoping to breastfeed (fingers crossed), but also express with a pump, for bottles so OH can have some daddy time with baby and bond also. I'm worried if i say this i'll get the nipple confusion talk and disapproving looks.

I think i may write a list of questions i specifically want answering, and take no shit til i get the answers!

louschmoo Fri 11-Jan-13 22:30:42

Yes, sounds awful Purple. Laurencaddy - whether you do NCT or not i would highly recommend rummaging around the breast and bottle feeding forum on here, especially any posts by Tiktok, who is a breastfeeding counsellor/lactation consultant. She gives eminently sensible advice. Also the website kellymom.com is great for info on breastfeeding and expressing milk. I found both of these invaluable when i was BF my son, i BF him for 5 months exclusively ( with 1 bottle per day of expressed milk). I then mix fed formula/BF for a further couple of months before moving to formula (plus solids as he was weaning by then).

Sorry, end of the thread-derail!

LaurenCaddy Fri 11-Jan-13 22:33:55

Thanks louschmoo, will take a gander smile

HoldensPhonies Sun 11-Aug-13 12:42:50

Hi, just wanted to let you know that our NCt group has had a pretty bad experience and I felt the need to re-animate this thread. I am thinking of starting a twitter campaign to let new mums to be aware of what NCT does not cover. I did not become a mumsnetter until after our baby was born so did not pick up on this. Our NCT teacher could and should have given some practical tips - eg told us to have some formula in the house - that would have avoided the midnight run to the 24 hour tesco to get some. But no - they give unrealistic expectation that breastfeeding is without hitches. What she did say was "Its nice to ask your baby for permission before you change it - you'll know if they agree or not". What piffle. I feel quite angry about this, so feel like igniting a twitter campaign and seeing what happens.

TarkaTheOtter Sun 11-Aug-13 14:05:11

holdens why don't you complain to your local NCT about the teacher? Our nct classes were very balanced and covered cs and pain relief in much more detail than the local nhs classes. The bfing classes spent a lot of time on highlighting the various problems that might occur and how to get support for them. They also covered how to supplement without affecting supply etc. We were also told the safe way to make up a bottle but that specific formula has specific instructions so beyond telling us to read the carton what more advice do you want?

Most bf experts agree its a bad idea to keep formula in the house when you are trying to establish bfing.

Oblomov Sun 11-Aug-13 14:51:50

Never did NCT. But our AN classes were completely useless, for the reasons Kirsty gave. So I'm sure she has a point. As others have said, depends on the person taking the class.

LynetteScavo Sun 11-Aug-13 15:07:42

The NCT classes I attended were at worst crap, at best hilarious (I howled with laughter all the way home each week).

I have since sat in on some which were very good.

I also went to NHS classes, which may have don't more harm than good. That particular midwife was a nutter.

Both, however, covered baby care to some extent.

With DS2 I went to hypnobirthing classes, where I learned more about birth than I already knew, which impressed me, as I had already given birth. (But didn't cover anything about caring for a baby, which was fine by me)

LynetteScavo Sun 11-Aug-13 15:08:45

So for once, I guess I do agree with Kirsty.

(But I'm still not going to make bows from reclaimed ribbon to stick on my shoes)

Harriet6919 Tue 13-Aug-13 09:27:34

I strongly agree with Kirsty. Childbirth, as many here have noted, and the individual experience has very little to do with your state of mind rather the position of baby, health of baby and mother. I had a wonderful first birth and a horrific second where I nearly lost my son. I know very well the attitudes of some on breast feeding too. How dare anyone lecture a distraught mother who has not managed a natural birth or managed to breast feed, and how dare any individual or organization place a value judgement on something that is completely out of a mothers control. No surprise that this debate is still raging and if those NCT who are offended by Kirsty do sue her, I could barely believe what I was reading, I for one will be fundraising for her defense.

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

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

Register now