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Reviews of NCT Antenatal Classes(20 Posts)
I attended NCT classes with my first pregnancy, to make some friends as I knew nobody in the area we lived in. It was an expensive course, I think around £150 and I don't feel the expense was really worth it for the information we received. I actually made friends with people once baby had arrived and pretty much nothing we had been told in the classes ended up being helpful to my situation. We were told things like making the room your own by moving the bed and having fairy lights etc - when I was induced, these were the last things on my mind and really quite unhelpful in preparing me for what labour would actually be like! When I found myself pregnant a few years later, I looked into all sorts of classes and a friend suggested Lazy Daisy, now known as the Daisy foundation. I was dubious after my experience with NCT, but went along to a taster class and Loved it!!! I wish I had found the classes sooner and with my first pregnancy. I learnt some amazing skills that genuinely helped me in labour and I would not have had such a positive and informed experience if it wasn't for my Daisy sessions. They were a lot cheaper too, I think about £70 for a 6 week course of classes. Highly recommend to everyone!
Mine were excellent and included playing with a real TENS machine and getting the chance to see all the tubing they use in an epidural. Nothing was off limits in terms of pain relief, interventions and feeding choices.
I am sure that it was key to my feeling so proud and positive of my own (medicalised and intervention heavy) labour.
tiktok, It is actually very difficult to pin down what will be covered in classes. I have spent a month missing the coordinator of my local course over the phone and her responses to my emails imply she hasn't read them. And this was just in order to book a course to best fitted my due date which had changed. I can't imagine how we would ever get to the meat of what was covered in the courses. Eventually I have the 'full' details of two courses by which I mean I have their dates, times and prices. The only session in which the content is described at all is the session on breast feeding. I can't tell what my local course will cover and I can't compare the content of a local course with ones in other areas to find one that would suit me. I am naturally suspicious of paying over £300 when there is such a reluctance to communicate what for. In fact any hoarding of information from me at all sets off alarm bells when I what I am seeking is a frank and open exchange of facts. If my experience is anything like other peoples then it may well be that rather being misled about course contents people are simply in the dark. Which feels quite the opposite of a woman centred approach.
Oh, I do talk about expressing, but not in great detail. There is not time, everyone's expressing needs are so individual, it would derail the class. Some mothers come wanting to talk about pumps, but beyond the very basics, it's just not the right time. Some branches do a postnatal class specifically on expressing, weaning, returning to work...all those things that only make real sense when your baby is here.
I'm an NCT breastfeeding counsellor and I don't recognise those bf classes, either - though with about 400 bfcs you probably do get the occasional individual who makes people feel uncomfortable or who messes up information. You should raise it with NCT though if things are that bad.
If it's important to you to learn about formula feeding, then a breastfeeding class (the clue is in the name ) won't meet your needs. I don't think I would glare at anyone who mentioned combination feeding - and they sometimes do and I am glare-free ! - but I would point out the drawbacks of trying this too soon (my experience is people do not know these) and I would not spend a lot of time on it but invite the parents to call me and talk individually if they wanted to. Most people don't want to do combination feeding and it's not fair to take up too much time with it.
The reason formula feeding is not covered is nothing to do with legality - who told you that?!
It's because the format of the classes is in line with standards of UNICEF Baby Friendly which proscribes group teaching of formula feeding. However, formula and bottles are certainly discussed in most classes I do, and anyone who wanted to know more can be signposted to further info and we have a factsheet, too.
NCT does concentrate on breastfeeding it its teaching - just as it concentrates on birth where the mother is at the centre of decision-making and choices in care, supported by a partner. If these approaches don't suit you, then that is fine but you cannot criticise NCT for covering these, unless you have been misled about class content.
Best thing to do is to find out before booking if it's likely to be what you want.
gerbiltamer - It's a bit of a broad statement to say "The NCT has a very definite agenda" I'm an NCT teacher & I definitely don't have the agenda you described. The NCT is made up of people some of whom will have an agenda for 'natural' birth, others of whom will have an agenda for 'informed birth' (my personal thing), and there's probably all sorts of other agenda's in there too. Your teacher had an agenda - someone else's teacher may not. Anyone booking should always check what their teacher will cover.
I understand that the classes weren't much good for you, but it's sweeping statement to say "they're not much use". They weren't much use to you - and for that I'm sorry - but they may be very useful to someone else.
PS the NCT conveniently quote that the reason they cannot discuss other feeding methods is legal; this is very convenient, and it still doesnt provide adequate explanation as to why they dont talk about expressing, or for example sterilising bottles etc to use with breast milk.....
In terms of the actual courses I didnt find them very useful as I was quite well informed going in. Our teacher was nice and not particularly OTT on the earth mother pain scale. However, we did have one full morning on breastfeeding and the breastfeeding teacher was enough to make any bra burning womens libber turn in their grave. She looked at me like I drowned kittens when I mentioned our intention to do mixed feeding, and in her zeal was factually incorrect on a number of points (for example, said that expressing would dry up your supply when in fact if you are struggling with supply the recommendation is to try expressing to increase production...). I went into it with my own ideas re feeding and im not the kind of person to bow to pressure but i know other women who have really really struggled after the fluffy NCT breastfeeding talks when for whatever reason feeding hasnt been as easy as it was made out. the whole 'everyone could do it otherwise the whole human race would have died out' that we were told, isnt even true. women have fed each others babies over the centuries. myself and my husband both think its appalling that in this day of supposed equality, that the NCT courses focus on exclusive breastfeeding and creates an un-necessary pressure on many women and doesnt encourage the fathers involvement.
re the people. well. my group are all nice people. we did the course because we dont have much in the way of family support and having been prone to a touch of anxiety and depression in the past, I thought I would need it; to be completely honest, i really dont want to spend my precious time sitting around eating cake listening to the endless gastric complaints of baby A and the very advanced baby B, and i just want to do normal things, and have conversations with people about politics and cinema and the weather and all those lovely things. Also, as soon as that baby comes out you are put into so many situations where you are surrounded by other new mums, that its more of a challenge trying to escape them than to make friends....
i think the other thing to bear in mind is: what kind of person are you? if you are a fairly tough cookie who's had a few genuinely difficult times in life and who's attitude is to ruddy well get on with it, you will probably find the whole support network a bit superfluous to requirements and be keen to just get on with your life without the fuss factor.
I think it really comes down to a huge amount of luck to whom you're on the course with. However, given my time over again I wouldn't bother wasting my money.
missimac - thanks for that explanation about different courses. I hope the NCT are making that very clear in their blurbs - personally I think not explaining about possible interventions is a big mistake!
My NCT teacher was great and our group are still in touch 3 years on, but it helped that we were all similar ages and wanted similar things out of the course (ideally fairly natural birth and breastfeeding but all wanting to know about pain relief and intervention just in case, which was invaluable when it looked like I would need a cs and was asked to read and sign all the consent forms in case - as it happened I didn't need it). Also covered a fair bit on how to look after your baby afterwards!
So invaluable for me, especially as I'd never done much with babies before and there were no NHS classes available.
The content of the classes was variable: some a bit wishy washy and common sense, but the intervention ones were very useful. Breastfeeding one was good but 2 of our group had problems feeding and then felt guilty about it. There was no advice on bottle-feeding at all, how to do it or that it's not the end of the world if you can't.
We've made a fantastic group of close friends: of the 8 families, 6 still see each other weekly and the children are very close. They are now at school! The support network of having these friends was invaluable to me on maternity leave. I would always recommend, even just to give yourself the chance to see if you meet good friends there.
Just to add my bit: I attended NCT antenatal classes back in 2007 when I was pregnant with my one and only DS. They're not much use, sorry. The NCT has a very definite agenda - i.e. no pain relief etc and it doesn't add up to a great deal of use when you're screaming in agony. Ditto the home birthing stuff: fine if your NCT trust has enough midwives but none do. My teacher was a bit crazy and closely resembled the Dawn French character from Psychoville - she was cradling the plastic doll and as for smearing mustard on a doll's bottom to replicate baby poo - that's just plain mad.
As for the girls: there were seven couples and one single mum. One couple disappeared a few weeks after the birth and wouldn't respond to contact, the rest of us bumped along for a while. I've now decided to leave the group after 4 years because one of the other member's sons was repeatedly violent to mine and the mother did nothing. I told the others about it but they sided with her.
In conclusion: a good place to meet yummy mummies I suppose but don't expect a great deal of substance. However I did meet a lovely mum from another NCT group and she's one of my closest friends so I guess it's a matter of luck!
I didn't rate our nct antenatal classes but that's mostly because the leader's teaching style didn't match my learning style. I know others got a lot out of it.
I also missed the session on labour because we were on holiday which was unfortunate. One of the reasons we chose the nct class was to meet other prospective parents but our group didn't gel very well and we met up twice after the course.
With dc2 I did the one day session at the hospital which was a bit too brief to be useful.
What I found fabulous was the nct post-natal course which discussed what you do once the baby has arrived. FAR scarier than labour imo.
I have good friends from that. We continued to meet weekly until we went back to work and still meet up fairly regularly 2 years later, especially as 5/8 of us are on child 2.
I think a lot depends on the tutor and a lot depends on the group and that will vary from course to course.
Hi, I have just done 4 of six classes and I think they are great, ours teaches the interventions which I think is essential though I sometimes feel the way epidurals etc are discussed is to frighten you a bit. There are 9 couples 25-35 so quite a range and we have a private facebook page to share news and discuss what exercise classes etc are about. Everyone is really lovely. My DP was totally against it before we went, thought it would be all about breathing and be embarrasing but I managed to persuade him and he finds it really useful. Does anyone elses teacher use really old fashioned, graphic photos in their sessions? They make us all laugh every week, especially the set that explains how water can help, in which the men are mostly wearing moustaches and speedos! Ours were only £120 (Lincolnshire) and I think worth every penny. I have also met some nice people at aquanatal etc but I think those acquaintences will take a little longer to become friends.
Not bothering now.. had booked but immediately cancelled when we discovered it was going to cost almost £300 here in East London!!!!! Spending the money on ante-natal yoga classes instead, and will take our chances on the NHS classes. But that said I have two friends who took the classes and found it a great way to meet other mums in their area.
Hi everyone, I'm an NCT antenatal teacher and having just returned from a workshop with other NCT teachers I feel I should alert you to a division in the way teachers chose to teach which could affect how your classes are run.
Every teacher choses what to teach and how to teach it so no two courses are the same. There are a growing number of teachers within the NCT who chose not to teach interventions at all. By interventions I mean what to expect if you have a forceps, ventouse, induced labour, caesarean, or an episiotomy. There seems to be a growing divide between those who think these necessary in a birth preparation class & those who don't.
If you want these topics fully covered I would advise you to contact the booking secretary for your course and check that your teacher will be covering these issues.
I cannot comment on the rights and wrongs of it, but I do believe that you have the right to know exactly what you're getting or not getting for your money. Make sure you get the course that's right for you,whether that's a 'positive birth' NCT course (no interventions), or a 'realities of birth' NCT course (interventions explained).
Hope this helps you make the right decisions for you & your circumstances.
It was ok but nothing to write home about. Met nice people I have not kept in touch with a year down the line.Same age range as us.
None of the advice was helpful to me as I had a CS and did not breastfeed.
My instructor are very biased towards breastfeeding and natural birth and did, IME, a lot of scaremongering with regards to pain relief apart from tens machine.
I would not do it again but some of my friends are raving about these classes but mainly because of the people they met.
Hi Becky - loved mine. Our group were lovely, and have met up once or twice a week for tea/walks in the park ever since. We have also all signed up for baby massage classes together and things. There's a lot of social stuff, but its also very good for information and support.
My NHS one was terrible - One 2hr session, and i found most of it was uninformative. HOWEVER, I think it depends which hospital you go to.
Are you working? Did you know you are entitled to time off work for antenatal sessions? You might still be able to go to the nhs sessions if so.
Loved mine - still see everyone and the dc's are 2 now.
I have to say it was DH who wanted to sign up. I wasn't bothered. However I found the girls a huge source of support in the early months and out of 8 couples I would say I was friendly with all, close with 4.
They are very pro bf'ing as you would expect, and our co-ordinator went through labour, interventions, emotional preparation etc. She was very balanced and helpful.
I was the youngest there at 30, eldest couple 38 ish.
We used to meet once a week at each others houses until we started going back to work, and now try and meet up in the hols. 3 of us are now on dc2!
However, my db went to classes in London and really didn't gel with the other couples, although that was more to do with distance and people being transient I think. And DSiL can be a leetle high maintenance.
I'm sure you will love it. DH certainly felt he knew a lot more about what to expect, even if I was pretty well read up.
I'm 22 weeks pregnant at the moment and have today signed up for the NCT antenatal classes which start in December as the free NHS ones were smack bang in the middle of the day which is a real pain in the bum.
I just wondered what you all thought of them, what to expect, what sort of age ranges were there and how you all got on really.