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Antenatal classes - any advice on finding good ones?

(29 Posts)
emeraldgirl1 Tue 02-Oct-12 15:11:20

Just beginning to look into this as I know my MW is going to ask how I am progressing with finding a class when I see her tomorrow.

I am keen to meet expectant mums in my area (though we are moving so don't yet know where that will be which makes it harder!!) and obviously would like some basics of how to actually handle a newborn (!) but I am NOT at all into anything hippy-dippy. A lot of the local classes I have been looking at all seem to involve a lot of hypno-relaxation and yoga poses, and that is just not me at all.

Obviously there are NCT classes but (and please please don't think I am knocking these!!!) I have heard such mixed reports. A cousin of mine LOVED them and made friends and support for life. A good friend of mine HATED them and said she felt as if she was being indoctrinated into a particular style of birth/child-rearing that wasn't at all up her street.

Does anyone have any evidence or experience one way or the other to support either of these extreme views?! Obviously NCT is nationwide so is the easiest one to research on-line but my friend had such a horrible experience with her class it gives me a lot of pause! I don't get the impression NCT is hippy-dippy, though, which may mean it would suit me more?

I really am looking for genuine advice, this is such a steep learning curve and I am floundering a bit. Thanks so much in advance. smile

emeraldgirl1 Tue 02-Oct-12 15:13:38

Stupid me - I have only just realised there is a whole separate board for ante-natal questions... will re-post there, sorry!

BionicEmu Tue 02-Oct-12 15:43:12

I did NCT classes last time and loved them. I am not remotely hippy-dippy and neither were any of the other ladies in my group, or indeed, the teacher. However, a friend of mine who lives elsewhere in the country also did NCT classes, and I've met up with her group since. Not my type of people at all, lots of competitive breastfeeding and even more competitive co-sleeping and organic baby-led weaning...fine for some, but not for me! My group is v much more "do what you need to get you through."

I think it depends on your teacher to a certain degree TBH. And, (this'll get me flamed), my v unscientific observations appear to indicate that hippy-dippiness (especially in nct groups) increases the closer you get to London. <runs away>

ThunderboltKid Tue 02-Oct-12 15:46:03

My nct group is lovely...out of 8 I'm the only pro-homebirther/co-sleeper/extender breast feeder etc!

emeraldgirl1 Tue 02-Oct-12 15:48:42

Bionic thank you! Don't run away!!!!

Competitive breastfeeding scares me... that was what made my friend flee her NCT group in terror. I like the idea of a 'do what you need to get you through' approach but that was v much not my friend's NCT experience, it made her feel inadequate before she'd even started and yes there was a lot of one-upmanship, lots of implied and explicit criticism of her passionate desire for pain relief etc. That said my cousin (different area, though still Greater London) had the most fabulous experience at her group and couldn't have been more positive. They seemed a really supportive little group and no agenda at all from the teacher one way or the other.

I am in London... interested in your observation re London-based groups... considering moving to Hebrides to escape it all!!!

emeraldgirl1 Tue 02-Oct-12 15:50:43

ThunderboltKid thank you so much for reply! Can I possibly ask where you are based?
Btw am not at ALL knocking the homebirth/co-sleep etc approach!! It's just v much not me and as I lack confidence I think I fear being press-ganged and made to feel that my choices are 'wrong' IYSWIM.

Splatt34 Tue 02-Oct-12 16:01:25

I think you never can guarantee what you will get. my nct grouo was (is) brilliant. 3 of is see each other every few weeks still (2 years on), the boys go out for beers & bike rides & we are all due number 2 dcs within 10 weeks.

Our nct leader was ace. as an anaesthetist i was worried what the reaction to my job would be but she was very happy for me to pass on my own knowledge & experience of when things don't go to plan.

Our course ran over about 8 sessions weekly. that was far better for forming friendships than a friend's which was intensive over 1 weekend. what i wantrd from nct was to meet some people who would have a baby the same age who might become friends and offer support & i definately got thay.

emeraldgirl1 Tue 02-Oct-12 16:05:29

Thanks Splatt - can I ask if you were a bit nervous about 'admitting' your job because you thought that there might be some negativity about it? Very glad to hear of yet another positive NCT experience though, thank you!!!

Brugmansia Tue 02-Oct-12 16:05:32

I'm looking into this too and have heard mixed things about nct these days, but most of my friends have said definitely worth going for the social side. If you know what you want anyway I'm sure you can take any hippiness with a pinch of salt.

What I'm not sure about its when is best to do them. I've left it a bit late to book it seems so only limited options for classes left. Should I choose closer to EDD, or is a course finishing 2 months before ok?

BionicEmu Tue 02-Oct-12 16:05:36

<sneaks back>
I would research the teacher. I'm in Derbyshire and my teacher was v much a "here are your options, here's what they all mean, by all means think about them but be prepared to be flexible".

I have friends in Northampton and Ealing and their teachers were staunchly pro-homebirth, formula is poison, co-sleeping is best.

The teacher's attitudes really do seem to influence the way the group goes, although there's also possibly an element of one-upmanship as well as people not wanting to seem like a "failure" compared to the group's standards.

Also, out of our group of 8, only one person was originally from where we live, the rest of us had all moved here in the past few years so didn't really know anybody here, so our main motivation was to meet people for support.

emeraldgirl1 Tue 02-Oct-12 16:07:38

Great advice about researching the teacher, Bionic thank you.

Brugmansia I don't know when to start them either!! Will have to ask MW tomorrow. What have you heard negatively about NCT?

I think on balance if the social side is more the point then it sounds worth trying.

Brugmansia Tue 02-Oct-12 16:14:24

The sort of things already mentioned - very pro natural drug free childbirth, anti medical intervention. Sometimes overtly dogmatic on these things, to the point of not giving accurate information. I think it does depends on the teacher though.

Splatt34 Tue 02-Oct-12 16:31:36

I was terrified about admitting my job!! Said nothing first week. quietly told leader following week (after had sussed she wasn't hippy home birth type). The only part which was awful was the breast feeding session, given by a different person (who we all thought was probably still feeding her 6 year old). She could give no useful advice about what if it's difficult, merely insisting everyone can. Queue me with a 6 week old being scared to admit at lunch with fellow members to formula top ups, but the others didn't care.

As far as timing, we started mid august with babes dues mid october. all grouo was due within 3 weeks of each other.

halloweeneyqueeney Tue 02-Oct-12 16:34:17

I did NCT last time and was awful, if you don't have a waterbirth at home your child will be born high on loads of drugs and scarred for life! hmm

this time I'm having them with an independant midwife, I didn't even know about that option last time I though the choices were NHS at hospital or childrens centre, or NCT, and that was it!

halloweeneyqueeney Tue 02-Oct-12 16:39:41

Message deleted by Mumsnet for breaking our Talk Guidelines. Replies may also be deleted.

piprabbit Tue 02-Oct-12 16:51:20

I think you are very lucky if you have an array of different antenatal courses to choose from.
In many areas there is no longer any NHS provision and the NCT is the only realistic choice.

In my opinion, antenatal courses are a great way of meeting people and gathering information in order to start visualising the sort of choices you hope to make during birth. I've never experienced an NCT AN leader who imposes her views on anyone, but I accept some people may have experienced this.

If you really feel that you can't face going to classes, then please do still get in touch with your local NCT branch. If it is a thriving branch (with lots of volunteer parents) it may well offer a range of choices for you, such as Bumps and Babies sessions, where you can meet other expectant parents and start to form a support group for yourself.

You could also get in touch with your local Children's Centre and find out what they have on offer for pregnant and new mums.

WizardofOs Tue 02-Oct-12 16:51:38

The NCT has been the National Childbirth Trust since 1961!

The ethos of the classes is, in the main, informed choice so all aspects of childbirth are covered and also early parenting. There are some teachers who have a strong belief that teaching for an expectation of 'normal' birth means that the clients are more likely to have a normal birth so are less likely to actively teach about caesareans and other interventions. These teachers are open about this so if you are worried you can give the teacher of the course a ring to discuss (and get a vibe) before you book. All teachers will give an honest run down of the disadvantages of some methods of pain relief though..unfortunately they have not invented anything that takes the pain away and has no downsides!

The teachers, and indeed the organisation, do not have any control over who books the course so cannot be blamed if people on the course don't appeal! I have to say though that I don't recognise these reports of groups of militant breastfeeders and co-sleepers - quite the opposite in fact.

halloweeneyqueeney Tue 02-Oct-12 17:09:29

"In many areas there is no longer any NHS provision and the NCT is the only realistic choice"

a lot of people think this because noone they come in contact with (NHS midwives or the NCT) tells them about the independant options. There are independant midwives in almost every area and most run classes and social groups. With an indipendant MW's classes you can find a midwife whose ethos really suits you, they often oporate in networks too so ONCE you are aware they exist and get in contact with a couple you can meet a range of them before choosing whose classes to do. I picked mine by going along to a coffee morning run by a network of independant midwives - there's a whole range of alternative options out there but I just had no clue they existed with no1

Some doulas also do forms of birth preparation sessions but obv a bit different to a midwife class

the indipendant MW classes prices are also often better than NCT too

halloweeneyqueeney Tue 02-Oct-12 17:10:42

I genuinely thought hospital, childrens centre or NCT were the only 3 classes that existed in my area with no1

emeraldgirl1 Tue 02-Oct-12 17:18:35

Thanks so much everyone!

halloweeny - good advice re independent midwives - can I ask how you found your class? Are you London based?

halloweeneyqueeney Tue 02-Oct-12 17:22:27

I'm not london based no, so I'm sure there's lots to choose from in london. I found the network of them by liking a local doula's facebook page and she had a link to that local independant midwife group's coffee morning which I went along to and it went from there

I suppose now I know more about it all I'ld just google area-independant midwife, but it never occurred to me to even search for that last time, I vaguely knew you could go private for the birth, but didn't know that there was a whole range of private services you can pick'n'choose from including private independant antenatal classes. I'm still going NHS but having my classes privately and going along to the independant social stuff

emeraldgirl1 Tue 02-Oct-12 17:23:53

Thx again halloweeny - will hit Google and see what comes up thx!

So many options, it seems, and actually that is maybe the problem! Just one choice and you wouldn't have to worry so much about it!

WizardofOs Tue 02-Oct-12 17:52:31

Good idea re the independent midwives classes. If you do look for classes outside those run by qualified midwives, NCT or the NHS please do check the qualifications of those running them. Anyone can run antenatal classes at the moment without any quality control. Midwives obviously qualified and know their stuff and NCT teachers have university ratified training and are subject to ongoing assessment and CPD.

horseylady Tue 02-Oct-12 20:41:28

I'm doing nct and enjoying it!!

So balanced about each aspect if child birth etc and honest!! The group is also lovely!!

There is one two hour nhs class which the mw basically told me not to go here and no tour of the labour ward.

I feel much more prepared now and still have two classes to go!!

shittingit Tue 02-Oct-12 20:56:11

Did NCT first time around, mainly for the meeting other parents thing, in my group there are only 2 other sets of parents I'm still in touch with and even that is on a fairly casual/touch base now then basis. Think it depends on how lucky you are in clicking with the other couples in your group-we weren't to be honest.

Also think the NHS classes are probably a tad more helpful and realistic in term of options available. In hindsight found NCT definitely had a set ideal/agenda when it comes to labour/ childbirth.

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