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Antenatal NCT courses -to do or not to do?

(46 Posts)
marushka82 Fri 22-Feb-13 10:17:36

Hi everyone! I'm currently 18 weeks pregnant with our DC1 and I was wondering whether NCT classes are worth attending.
As far as I know I only have one antenatal Birth Preparation class on NHS (around week 30-36) and I'm worried it's not going to be enough.
I read a few threads here and I think the general consensus is that NCT classes are not only very informative, but also a great way to meet new parents in the area.
I've got two questions:
1. we're going to be moving (not very far from where we are now, but still) - should I wait to book the class after we move (might not be until June, a month or so before my due date) or will it be way too late?
2. I can't seem to find a lot of information out there about the pricing - I think most courses in my area are around 16-18.5 hrs and are priced according to bands which depend on the area - is there any way to find out which band my area (Ealing) is in, or should I just email the course organiser and ask?
Sorry for so many questions, I'm new to this! I'm also a bit of a control freak so I want to do my homework before the baby is here!

TwitchyTail Fri 22-Feb-13 10:26:09

You can get a rough idea of price by multiplying the number of hours by the price band in your area, but definitely email the course coordinator, as our local ones were significantly more expensive than I had calculated...

I gave it a lot of thought but in the end decided not to do it. The NHS classes locally have been great and everything I need, but I appreciate that they can be pot luck (but then so can NCT).

In the end, it came down to not wanting to spend £240 in the hope of making friends, and to learn stuff I could easily access from books, the internet, mumsnet and talking to people who've had children. Although we could "afford" it in that we have the money, it's still a huge amount to spend IMO. And knowing some of the people who have done NCT in our area, lovely as they are, I don't think we would have fitted in socially. I may be technically middle class but find I blend in much better with the NHS demographic grin

But I know plenty of people who swear by it. Maybe ask around people who have been to the local classes and see what they are like? If you are definitely going to move, you could always attend classes in the new area - you don't have to be living there already.

ChunkyPickle Fri 22-Feb-13 10:29:17

I think it depends how confident you are about these things, and how much reading you're doing independantly.

I didn't bother with any classes, and I have a 2.5 year-old who seems to be doing OK.

I know that if you want the classes, you normally have to book as soon as you can as they fill up very quickly.

ChairmanWow Fri 22-Feb-13 10:43:52

I did them for the sake of DH really as I'd been avidly reading up. Also I must admit meeting others was a motivation. I made some good friends there. Two years on most of us are still in touch and it's been great sharing the journey with them. As PP said you can choose to go in a different area.

Re the actual classes, there some useful info but on our course there was a big slant towards natural birth which was a bit unrealistic in terms of not acknowledging that intervention is needed sometimes so take some of it with a pinch of salt. DH did find it helpful though.

If you don't go there are loads of other ways of meeting people. One of the friends I met whilst off was a brilliant networker. She didn't do any classes, just wasn't afraid to go to baby groups, get phone numbers and arrange meets. She made loads of friends. Of course not everyone has her confidence.

Guntie Fri 22-Feb-13 10:48:59

Interesting. I was just thinking the same thing. Not sure I want to pay for the classes just to make friends. I have not heard anyone saying they teach you anything you wouldn't know anyway through reading/research learning on the job!

JambalayaCodfishPie Fri 22-Feb-13 10:52:29

We did them. And loved them.

Check you don't qualify for a discount though - we paid £30 for our course. Bargain. grin

Beatrixpotty Fri 22-Feb-13 10:55:43

I did NCT and the main advantage was social as I had moved to a new area hours away from old friends.It was great to have a group of girls around going through the whole thing with babies exactly the same age,and we really bonded when mat leave started and babies started to be born.Out of 8 in the group I am good friends with 3,3 years on,but have also made other good friends through baby activities,toddler groups etc so although nice was not essential to do NCT.All the birth stuff was a bit irrelevant as DH & I are medical & I had an ELCS anyway but I think if you are a 1st time mum it can be useful.

rabbitfrommars Fri 22-Feb-13 10:55:57

I was actually looking in the Ealing area for a NCT class and once I saw the price decided that there were other things I needed more, I think if you are worried about the birth or have major questions then it's worth looking into. I just felt that the hospital class would be enough for me (though I do worry about not knowing any other new mothers). marushka82 if you're going to be in the ealing area and want to chat, feel free to give me a shout.

ThePavlovianCat Fri 22-Feb-13 11:02:54

We did them and found them useful. DC1 is now 4 months and I still regularly meet up with the other mums I met which is really useful for sharing knowledge on the post-birth stuff about both me and the baby (and comparing what the dads are doing/feeling!) I definitely found there was a slant towards natural birth so push the co-ordinator to discuss epidurals, inductions and caesareans as it's likely a few people in your group will go through them.

If you look on the website it will recommend courses based on your due-date. Don't leave it too close to your due date or you may miss part (or all) of the course if you have your baby early.

There are also loads of other ways to meet new mums before and after the birth. Check out any bump and baby groups happening near you, swimming classes, sensory classes, baby massage, breast-feeding drop-ins, local libraries do stories for babies - really there is a lot of support etc out there!

DachsandPup Fri 22-Feb-13 11:07:32

NCT is fab for meeting people. I'd recommend if you know where you want to be moving to, do the class in the new area not the old area. Our babies are 10 months old now and we still see each other at least once a week and sometimes go out for girls' nights out leaving the babies with their daddies...

There are other places to meet mums, but the NCT group is our core social group.

mrsmellow Fri 22-Feb-13 11:12:19

I'm just trying to decide this too -the classes where I am are £340 - which is a hell of a lot to pay just to make friends....which is the motivation for doing them for me as we've just moved here. I can't decide what to do!

marushka82 Fri 22-Feb-13 13:36:40

Wow, thanks for all your opinions everyone!
I will wait for a reply from the coordinator in my area re: prices and maybe email a coordinator from our new/desired neighbourhood and then discuss it with DH (although he might need a bit of convincing as he thinks it will all just work out and we'll be fine grin)
I have to say I'm a bit overwhelmed with everything that seems to be happening out there for mums and babies, especially everything that ThePavlovianCat mentioned! I hope I'll slowly get my head around all of it! :D

rabbitfrommars I don't know anyone in Ealing who's got kids (actually none of my London based friends do!) so I might just take you up on your offer! thanks! thanks We're planning to move around Hanwell/West Ealing/Northfields around May/June as we need a bigger place and rents there seem a bit cheaper than around Ealing Broadway!

OneLittleToddleTerror Fri 22-Feb-13 13:39:42

To you question 1, you could just enrol in the classes in the area you will move to. In my NCT class, one of the mums were trying to move to our area, but it's fairly close in distance. In the end, they didn't manage to sell and move until well after the little ones are born!

OneLittleToddleTerror Fri 22-Feb-13 13:41:25

Oh and my main motivation is to get my DH to the classes grin. The NHS ones in my area doesn't really cater for the dads.

We chose not to spend the money on something you can get for free, our nhs class had about 8-10 couples so all the dads went too and met a very close friend there, ill admit I was abit worried what would the type of couples be ill be honest it is a chavey area but wasn't the case at all and I'm glad I didn't let that put me off, I don't see why it's necessary to pay over £200 to meet friends when you will meet the same amount of couples at the nhs one, if its for extra knowledge or they do more specific talks on things that's different but if its a case if learning the basics and meeting people at the same stage of pregnancy then you will get that for free, if you don't meet anyone there or feel you'd like more I think nct so after birth ones aswell but agree you will also meet alot through groups etc once you little one arrives

Quilty Fri 22-Feb-13 15:10:04

I've read a bit about NCT classes on these forums and I get the impression that some of the instructors are a bit too preachy and the groups can often become very cliquey so I'm not prepared to spend all that money for something that potentially annoy the hell out of me!
I plan to go to some baby and toddler groups once baby is a few months old which seems as good a way as any to meet other mums and have a chat and would be a lot cheaper or even free!

kalidasa Fri 22-Feb-13 15:23:16

We coughed up for the NCT. To be honest it was a bit of a waste of time in terms of info - if you've read a couple of books and a few threads on here you'll know everything they tell you and more - but I think it was just about worth it for the coffee meetings, especially in the first few weeks/months after the baby is born when you're sleepless and overwhelmed, and the baby is probably a bit too small for most groups and activities.

I also found the actual classes really depressing because I had a truly awful pregnancy and seeing other women looking so much healthier and happier was hard to take. I felt like a bit of a freak! We were also a bit younger than most of the other couples, a bit different demographically (the others were all doing similar sorts of jobs) and all the others were married. In London I think there are so many groups that they end up drawing from a v. small so probably quite homogenous area, though the plus side of that is that we all live really close to each other which is great in the early days when you are nervous about long trips/tackling the bus or whatever.

Thundercatz Fri 22-Feb-13 15:37:36

Hi marushka I'm in Ealing and due in July too with first baby. We've gone for NCT classes in June, largely because we feel a bit clueless and also don't know others locally! I believe the cost was £365 for ours though you can pay by DD - I understand they get booked up quite early but may be wrong. I'm in west Ealing but am doing classes near Ealing common/acton as those dates suited us best. smile

marushka82 Fri 22-Feb-13 17:49:20

Thundercatz Congratulations! Which hospital are you going to be in? I chose Queen Charlotte (mainly based on reviews on the NHS website).
Wow, £365 is very expensive, definitely something we'd need to think about, unless we manage to find something cheaper!
We're thinking of moving to West Ealing in a few months, it seems really nice there (though most of Ealing is pretty awesome as an area I think).
Good luck with everything; give me a shout if you wanted to meet up for a coffee one weekend - would be cool to meet someone who's not only in the same area but also the same stage of pregnancy smile

Ipp3 Fri 22-Feb-13 17:58:06

You get more chance to talk about issues at nct, but is hit and miss and depends on facilitator as to the quality. Our nhs antenatal breast feeding midwife was much better than the nct one, for example. We went to the nct class as my husband could not make nhs classes as they were when he was at work.

GreatSoprendo Fri 22-Feb-13 18:21:16

I would really recommend them but think its probably really dependent on the quality and attitude of the individual teacher. We have our final class next week. It's cost about £150 for 16 hours spread over 4 sessions (in the Midlands). I've picked up plenty of things I didn't get from reading loads of books and definitely wouldn't have got to have a go at practical stuff from a book - such as holding, bathing, nappy changing, dressing etc ( ok all fine with a doll at NCT but its been very helpful). Nice small group with just 5 couples too. I agree lots of people have had less good experiences so it can be a bit of a lottery, but we've been very pleased and feel a lot more confident as we hit our 6 week countdown!

Thundercatz Fri 22-Feb-13 18:30:34

Thanks and congrats to you too! We love it here too and west Ealing post code gets you more for your money but we are still only a ten min walk to Ealing broadway! I'm also at queen Charlotte - so far so good!
Absolutely coffee would be great and happy to chat bumps and houses! If you were born in 1982 then we have even more in common!

chickydoo Fri 22-Feb-13 18:49:02

I met my best friend doing NCT classes...that was 17 years ago smile

marushka82 Fri 22-Feb-13 22:29:30

Thundercatz haha, yes, born in 1982! :D I'll PM you soon ok?

Thundercatz Fri 22-Feb-13 23:04:45

Sure! smile

lozster Sat 23-Feb-13 05:18:17

Interesting to read this thread as I have the same conundrum. Everyone at work (urban area) is asking me if I am going but I live in a semi-rural village and the nearest groups are in a city and a town many miles from my village or nearest town. I also want to make friends blush but I'm really wondering if it is worth it due to the lack of proximity and the fact that my hospital (also miles away and serving a massive rural area) offers classes for free so in terms of info I can get that there. My oh was super keen for ME to join. I think he thought this was a women only thing. Now he knows the meeting would be a one hour round trip involving him, he seems less keen! grin

lozster Sat 23-Feb-13 05:22:22

Does any one have any alternative suggestions for the making friendship part? I will speak to my midwife as there are lots of children's centres near me I could reach very easily but are these mainly for post birth? Will I have to wait until I have the baby?

Lozter if you do the nhs one you are just as likely to make friends there, they are exactly the same, pregnant women usually on their first looking for info and to make friends, no difference apart from cost and content, there will usually be bf classes you can go to aswell, the majority of groups and coffee things are after birth though

If anyone is reading this outside of London, don't assume there will be local NCT classes. My nearest were miles away, and would have been hopeless for meeting local friends. I didn't bother and opted for the 2 x 2 hour NHS sessions which were just 6 miles away. These were great, and as they were held at the local birthing unit we were able to watch the nurse change and bathe a new born.

Mums and baby groups are just as good for making friends, and they are free. I think NCT classes are just too expensive.

rabbitfrommars Mon 25-Feb-13 13:54:12

I just went to the Breast feeding class at Queen Charlotte (scheduled to be 3 hours but only took 2hours). It was run by a Breast feeding specialist and she was very good (she also helps post birth and runs a clinic to check all is going well post birth). I liked the class and it really covered what I felt I needed to know. I'm going to the antenatal class later in the week, so I'll let you know how that goes.

marushka82 Tue 26-Feb-13 11:00:59

rabbitfrommars that's such great news, thanks for posting this! I'm with Queen Charlotte as well and so far I've been to one class about exercise/nutrition etc in pregnancy - it was very informative and the instructor was very nice.
The next one on my list is the Birth Preparation class which I can attend between 30-36 weeks (and need to sign up to asap!) - is that the one you're going to next week? I think this one is with the partners and I'd be really interested to read your feedback! Is the breastfeeding class for when you're around 30 wks + as well?

A quick update from me: I got a reply from the NCT coordinator in my area (Ealing) and the price of one of the courses (sadly all booked out) is £278, the other (with places still available) is £318 (which is outside of our budget I think). I emailed the coordinator today to find out the prices of two more courses, so I'll share here once I get a reply.
I also found a few shorter antenatal classes run locally (not by NCT) and I'm considering giving them a go). There's also a course called As 2 become 3 which we were recommended at the first antenatal class in the hospital. It's heavily subsidized and about £45 a couple; from what I gathered from the website it focuses more on the transition and the emotional aspect of becoming a parent (also interesting!) rather than practical (link here if someone is interested: http://www.as2become3.org/)

In all fairness, I think what we'll end up doing will be: reading a lot of books/Mumsnet, going to the NHS classes and maybe trying out the cheaper, one day or 2-3 hour courses.

rabbitfrommars Wed 27-Feb-13 14:26:49

Ok so the course at Queen Charlotte was good/interesting.

It felt a bit overwhelming as there was a lot of information and not that much time to go into all of it. It covered a lot on what to expect if you have pain relief and the steps they go through for an epidural, she also went through when to call the hospital and where to go when you arrive at the hospital (including parking and what to take). She reminded people that they should have their notes on them (I hadn't brought mine blush ), and told people where to find hospital numbers on them etc. Also covered giving baby first bath, holding baby, how long you'll stay in hospital.

It covered a lot on c-section and what happens with more difficult births.
I'm glad I went as I think it was good to know what to expect at the hospital you're actually going to give birth in (especially telling you which ward to head for when you first arrive - birthing suit vs labour ward) but I would suggest taking your partner and one of you taking notes as it's a lot of information and they didn't give handouts (which they did in the breast feeding).

rabbitfrommars Wed 27-Feb-13 14:31:10

Things I think were missed out at the class was,
Delayed cord clamping (nothing said at all)
Skin to skin after birth (they did cover a bit of this but not much)
Physiological 3rd trimester (again covered the injectiong but not the advantages and disadvantages of having the injection post birth)
Luckily all these things can be looked up onlie and discussed with your midwife
There was probably more missed but I can't think of it at the moment

marushka82 Wed 27-Feb-13 15:53:58

rabbitfrommars thanks for taking the time type all this up - very useful!
Just looking at the paragraph about what was NOT covered I realised how little I know. No idea what the delayed cord clamping is about (well, ok, I suspect it's to do with the umbilical cord, but not sure why you'd delay sorting it out), same with injections? Thank god for Mumsnet and books. I think I'm going to prepare myself a huge list of questions to ask my MW at my next appointment!

rabbitfrommars Wed 27-Feb-13 17:13:23

delayed cord clamping apparently helps reduce iron deficiency when they get to 4 months (esp if they are breast fed) - basically it means they wait til the cord stops pulsing before clamping, if you decide to do that then you may also need to go for physiological 3rd stage which means that instead of giving you an injection to get the placenta out they wait for it to come naturally (which can leave take upto an hour), this basically means you need to breast feed straight after birth to get the hormones to kick in. Please please chat to your midwife first though so you know all the pros and cons

MiaowTheCat Wed 27-Feb-13 18:21:54

I'm glad I didn't stump up for NCT last time to be honest - with how things went both during and after the birth, I think I would have felt too damned wretched in somewhere with a heavy natural birth+breastfeeding slant (both went to pot cos the baby didn't read the birth planning)... plus when she came prematurely - that kind of kicks you into a bit of limbo where the people still waiting to have their baby don't quite with you, and the people who've had their babies at term and are progressing along milestones (while you're still in negative numbers regarding adjusted age) don't quite fit you either. I've been in coffee shops when our local NCT groups have come in with their babies afterwards and I definitely wouldn't have gelled with them.

I found getting out and about after the birth got me to know people fast enough - as it turned out a couple of the women who were on our NHS classes have started using our local Children's Centre recently and recognised me there anyway, and it's just a case of finding out what's going on in your local area and taking the leap of faith to go along and join in - some are cliquey as fuck and you think never again, some are really nice and welcoming (I found it helped if you showed up with a nice teeny baby as people ALWAYS wanted to come over and say hello more then!).

Found the content part of the NHS classes a bit TOO geared to scaring you away from things like epidurals and the like though - and the "oooh look at the scary forceps let's pass them around" bit REALLY irks me in hindsight as it just set a nice tone of terror in my mind for when they reared their ugly head in the delivery room. The other bit that in hindsight really winds me up about them were the dolls they used for people to practice with - one was disproportionately smaller than the others - and there were loads of quips about "oh you've got the premature baby" and "oh, obviously you're not going to be in the situation where you need to bath a baby THAT small"... well, yes, actually I was so totally disregarding the possibility when premature birth is as common as it is wasn't doing the women in that room any justice. (I also cannot take a bright blue knitted breast seriously - if it goes THAT colour get to the doctors - but that's another story). They had a minor hitch with wanting to do a baby bath demonstration - it was the first sunny day of the year so every new mum the organising midwife had rang around to ask to borrow for it had politely told them to sod off we're going to the park!

flowerpowergirl Wed 27-Feb-13 18:32:59

Hi I just wanted to say that I went to NCT classes before the birth of my first child and would highly recommend. It wasn't at all biased towards a natural birth but I felt gave all the info I needed on all options. My DD was a breech and I tried to have her naturally but ended up having an emergency caesarean. I can't imagine having gone through all that without my husband having all the same info as me. Our local NHS classes were for mums only. I think this is fine if the birth is very straightforward but if it becomes complicated it is a huge reassurance to know your husband knows what's going on! Plus I made some great friends who I still see regularly even after 10 years! Obviously a lot depends on your area but that was my experience. Good luck!

MyDarlingClementine England Wed 27-Feb-13 20:46:35

I think its worth every penny myself - when you have small baby etc any support will be invaluble, obvisouly the longer you are at something all chatting the longer you have to really make friends.

Id take the natural birth slant - for what it is - one point of view and be resistant if you have a particulary brainwashing teacher.

You can read all you need to know in books but the little tit bits that come out from chatting about all sorts are worth that bit of extra money.

A friend told me years ago to go to NCt and i had no idea what it was about - I went to a useless local hospital one instead, no chance at all of making friends.

I had a very very different expereince to another friend who did go to Nct and had all these baby friends....

When I look back on how we penny pinched first time round i really really kick myself....we have less money now than then - this time I have made sure I have everything I need!

It can be incredibly isolationg with a young baby - honeslty go to as many courses as you can purely for the potential of making friends.

Even if you dont speak to someone in one course- if you go to a baby group and dont know anyone - its still a convertaion starter - oh - didnt i see you at so and so - what did you think of the teacher.

shave off the budget elsewhere. dont skimp on this.

AmberLav Wed 27-Feb-13 20:51:15

I really enjoyed my NCT classes, and all the couples meet up regularly, sometimes just mums, just the dads , sometimes all together... It was great that we were all at the same stage of uselessness!

I also know a lot of people who have booked into a class in the area they were moving into, and they said it was a great way to make new friends quickly...

SizzleSazz Wed 27-Feb-13 20:58:46

I met 2 really good friends at NCT (the others were all great tbh, but just not longlasting friendships) and it was great to have people going through the same things as you physically and emotionally. You tend to blank it all out afterwards and now i find it difficult to put myself back in the shoes of a pregnant person or new parent.

We did it mainly because we knew no-one in a new area and it was a great springboard to meet new people.

From early on we were having a medical c-section, so the natural birth stuff was entertaining (and they were quite evangelical on this point!)

6 years on from early baby days i keep in touch with 2 NCT friends, one friend i met on the postnatal ward and i friend i met in the midwife led 'cottage hospital' i transferred to to recover from my c-section.

crazyhead Thu 28-Feb-13 12:12:43

I think it is worth doing NCT, or something similar, unless you've got a group of established friends having babies nearby at the same time.

As someone going from a full on, highly structured career, nothing could have prepared me for the total lack of structure of having a newborn baby. Weekly NCT meet-ups were an absolute lifesaver for me.

For me, it was a bit like being a first year student at university and meeting other nervous freshers - something about the newness of being a mum and the fact of being a group of women in the same situation did mean we gelled despite some differences. Even if the relationships don't last for ever, they make the first year a lot nicer!

rabbitfrommars Thu 28-Feb-13 14:27:03

crazyhead I don't have a problem with NCT classes themselves, I actually would of gone to one myself, but in the area I live the classes start at £250 (and go up to £300) plus the cost of joining NCT itself made me have to rethink.

crazyhead Thu 28-Feb-13 14:29:35

I do agree they are a bit prohibitive rabbitfrommars, and I'm sure it is quite possible to find other ways of creating a network! It is just that I do think that it is well worth planning a network in advance unless you are used to not working.

marushka82 Fri 01-Mar-13 11:12:29

I had a think about whether to take the classes or not, based on feedback I received here (thanks!!!!) and prices I've been quoted (£318 in Ealing) and DH and I decided that we will not be signing up for these classes; we'll go to the birth preparation class offered by the hospital and possibly a short baby care course (few hours in Isleworth) (non NCT) which costs £30 per couple and one called Gentle birth in Kent which is £65 per couple and takes 7 hours. Much more reasonable and within our budget. As for building a network I already started and I'm meeting up with two fellow Mumsnetters I met through this board!

CheapTarnishedGlitter Fri 01-Mar-13 13:28:01

If friendship groups are important exercisey type classes can be good. I really like my local aquanatal class as there's a nice mix of first timers and second timers and it's led by a midwife. There's obviously not the same structure and info as you'd get in an antenatal class but it's very friendly and great for a how's-it-going gossip!

1500mmania Fri 01-Mar-13 13:34:12

Don't do NCT if you only want it for making friends - you don't need to spend £300 to make friends. Just head along to baby groups, rhyme times, etc and you will get to meet people (it is the easiest time in the world to make friends when you have a new baby!)

Your NHS antenatal session will probably cover everything that you need to know and at the end of the day its good to be informed but the antenatal classes are not rocket science.

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