NCT courses - experiences or recommendations?(30 Posts)
I am 21+3 with a much-wanted pregnancy after three miscarriages, and I am eager to go on an antenatal course as have next to no experience with babies whatsoever!
I looked up the NCT course and was quite happy with everything until I saw the price - almost two hundred pounds including membership is a lot of money to shell out this close to Christmas when we've also just had to replace our boiler, pay the excess on a motorbike accident and buying lots of new baby things!
So I was just wondering if it was worth the money - I do really want to do it but I need to justify spending the money, somehow... Can anyone tell me if they have had good or bad experiences with theirs? What kinds of things were covered in the sessions?
Thanks in advance, any advice appreciated.
Gosh that does seem expensive - looking forward to the answers!
I would recommend it. Our group still meet at least once a week and the kids are over 2. If you don't have any friends with kids due at exactly the same time, do it. You will learn lots, but also its a great way to safely ask questions that you nay feel silly asking someone who has kids. I
I think it was worth it in terms of meeting people having babies at similar times to me, and having their support since then has been invaluable as we didn't know many people with children, and none in our local area. In terms of the course content, to be honest everything was in the pregnancy book we'd bought (the DK day by day book-it's v good), though it was good to talk about it all with people who were interested. There's only so many times you can talk about epidurals vs spinals with non-pregnant friends
its a bloomin expensive way to meet other pregnant women, there are lots of other ways, there's other (free) coffee mornings and meet-a-mum notice boards and much (more useful) cheaper classes like hypnobirthing, yoga, antenatal exerise classes etc where people meet and stay in touch
in terms of the content I didn't rate NCT and hate that they have seeped into the psyche of todays mums that they are THE way to make friends - tis rubbish, mums have been having cuppas together long before the NCT and would just as much if it disappeared in the morning
FWIW about half of my group met for the first 9 ish months after the babies were born, but soon as our maternity leaves were over and some went back to work FT, some PT, some stayed at home, some had other babies.. it fizzled. I have lots of mum friends though from other MUCH CHEAPER places!
Firstly congratulations. We did an NCT course with our first baby, which was 6 couples and run by a woman who was also a midwife. I found I knew more than I thought about babies (having had nieces and nephews) so it wasn't really an investment from that point of view for me. The midwife was reassuring about birth and had a very minimal intervention, low key approach which reflected my own feelings. However we didn't cover any techniques to help with delivery, and with hindsight I'd have looked into something like hypnobirthing CDs as you do need a strategy to get you through when things get a bit painful or stressful. It might not have worked I suppose but worth a go and comparatively inexpensive.
The thing that made it well worth the money in my opinion was the group however. We all got on ok during the course, then lost touch a bit until the babies were born, but then met up at least every week after that and still so over 2 years later. I think it is brilliant to have someone you can talk to who has a baby exactly the same age - even 6 months older and they are on a different phase! Also you are on maternity leave together so you have some company when everyone else is at work.
If it's just 'how to look after a baby' tips you want I think you can read them elsewhere, or attend the free hospital classes (though I've heard they can be a bit too basic), and actually once it's your own baby you do just know what to do. I think the money is an investment in a longer term support group, which for us was very much worth it.
I'm 6 years on from our NCT course and we still meet 2/3 times a month, we all have approx a 2yr gap between siblings now. Very useful really as we can all whinge about the same things. I didn't know anyone else having children at the same time so we've all muddled through together. I was the (first and) only one to become a single parent and it's been reassuring to see that we all deal with pretty much the same chaos from our kids regardless of whether we work / SAHM or have 2 parents or one parent.
Yes, it was expensive, but it did cover things in a lot of detail. A good amount of time was spent on c-sections too, which was a good thing as I was wheeled into an emergency one within hours of our last ante-natal class . Although I get the impression from MN that teachers can vary and some are more woo than others.
The one thing that did annoy me about the teacher was that she only seemed to invite mums back to talk to the following group if they had had a 'good' birth. Whether this was coincidental or not I don't know.
Did them as a birth partner, would have been crap without them! They covered most variables and everything we asked for. They don't have a core course as such and the teacher reminded us to set our own agenda.
The group has been friendly and the babies lovely. The leader was fun and info accurate. I found out lots giving birth hadn't taught me.
I certainly benefitted from meeting other mums, but definitely my DH appreciated the chance to chat to other prospective dads. It's all very well saying that you can meet other mums on maternity leave but this was something he could join in too.
I think the support of the group would be invaluable to me... none of my friends (bar one) have had children, and she told me she felt very isolated and lonely being the only one of us with a child, some of her other friends just lost interest in her when she became a SAHM and I really don't want that to happen to me.
Mine wasn't great, tbh.
I didn't pay the membership subscription, which made it a bit cheaper.
if that's what you want then you can do it for much cheaper or for free. There are lots of free coffee mornings if you hunt around and a lot of antenatal exercise classes have a social element and coffee mornings etc. NM meet a mum board is good for finding people at the same stage as you and finding out about the classes and coffee mornings
I'd highly recommend hypnobirthing, wish I did it last time instead of NCT and you meet couples due around the same time. Plus its cheaper and IMO way more useful in labour
Ours were expensive too (I think the price varies from region to region but I think ours, earlier this year, were even more expensive than you've said!).
I must admit to doing them mostly to meet other people in the same situation as me. I'd just moved to a new area too, so had no friends locally. It was great for that. The classes themselves were helpful, but I think I could probably have found everything out on here or from mw. It was really good for DH, though (because he was forced to listen!!). I met a brilliant group of girls and we still meet at least once a week. It was definitely worth it for that.
OP: There's a sliding scale of fees so depending on your income you may not have to pay full whack. Check the website.
In terms of content, I have to say it wasn't for me. Too much time spent on the birth and, like you, I was more keen to learn how to look after babies. There was a free parenting class (triple P) for mums to be in our area and I wish I'd gone to that instead as it would have been much more relevant.
In terms of meeting Mums, you get to meet a certain type. Very middle class, which may be what your after but for me, wasn't the best support system. Nothing wrong with them as people, just facing very different challenges IYSWIM.
Meglet: That is outrageous!! Ours would never have done that. on your behalf.
It was worth it for me, both for meeting people who have become close friends, and for the birth info.
But you don't need to if you can't afford it. People round here who didn't do Nct have told me they found it difficult to meet people as everyone "already had their groups" but I don't think it's impossible, you just might need to put some effort into going to the same playgroups/activities regularly so you get to know people.
FWIW I did hypnobirthing too and found both HB and NCT useful in different ways.
Oh, I forgot: There was a breastfeeding tutor. She was brilliant. Would have been much harder to establish breastfeeding without her help.
oh and attatchment parenting groups/sling meets tend to be free (although not my personal cup of tea) and people seem to build lasting friendships through that too
EllaRees: I think you lucked out getting a tutor who is also a midwife. We had a couple in our class who were both veterinary surgeons. They were the most authoritative medical opinion in the room. The tutor would look to them for fact checking
I planned to go to NCT classes, partly to meet other mums, but DS had other ideas, and turned up before the classes started (although the NCT did give me a full refund on the class fees).
However, after DS was discharged from hospital and we were going out and about, I met plenty of other new mums at baby/toddler groups, some of whom I've become good friends with. My local NCT branch runs a bumps and babies group, which was great when DS was tiny - if you want to meet other new mums, I'd advise seeing if your NCT branch has a bumps and babies group you can go to. There were also a fair few toddler groups around once I started looking for them. NCT classes certainly aren't the only way to get to know other parents.
Agree with CitizenOscar that it does help to go along to baby/toddler groups a few times to start getting to know people.
I'm half way through my nct thing (in the Southampton area). I've had a full day last Saturday, a bf session one evening this week and have a full day tomorrow.
I don't have a bloke so took my mum instead.
To be honest, due to mumsnet and reading books / websites I knew most of what they covered on the Saturday session. Small things like ways to use the gym ball were helpful. It was also really good to meet the other mums.
The bf session was a bit hmmmm. They said 97% of women should b able to bf and if its not working you are doing the wrong thing. (Well that's what I understood from the session). It made me feel if I can't do it I'm a failure and its my fault. They did emphasise that there is support out there but it would have been good for them to say out loud that you aren't a bad mother if you can't do it. I did however learn a lot.
I'm not sure what's being covered tomorrow. I think they are going to talk about pain relief in labour. (Among other things).
We have paid for the NCT classes but not the membership - what we will we be missing out on?
I found the nct classes invaluable as an easy way to make friends in a new area. The course content was good, but the hospital classes provided a summarised version of everything we covered. I went to loads of baby groups and classes post birth and it was great to chat to the other mums during the groups, but you'd have to put in a bit more effort / be more bold than I was if I'd wanted to meet up beyond the group. Our group of 6 nct couples still meet on a regular basis over 2 years on.
On balance I'm glad I did NCT class - the content wasn't amazing, the other couples were really nice but not soulmates (and other posters are right, it is very middle class yummy mummy stuff) - but all in all it gave me more confidence and it is helpful and nice to know people who are all in exactly the same situation as you (everyone in our class was due in the same week). Some sessions were a lot more helpful than others in terms of learning things but perhaps the most useful bit was giving me and my partner a chance to talk about things we didn't know we should even talk about - and my partner said he found found it incredibly useful both in terms of learning information he didn't know, meeting other fathers and talking through his fears about how he would deal with the birth etc. As a form of couples counselling it's quite good - it led us to talk through a lot of things I think we probably wouldn't have known we needed to talk about.
I didn't pay for NCT membership, which made it £170 instead of £210 and my midwife said afterwards I could have asked for a fee reduction because of low income. The only free provision on the NHS was two 2 hr classes in a very large group and I wasn't even told about these by my midwife until late on. Apparently in my area you used to get a genuine free NHS alternative to NCT but cuts have reduced it down to 2 sessions.
Oops. sorry repeated myself a bit in last post. Doh.
I did mine 9 years ago, and it has been well worth it from the friendship point of view, 5 of us still meet up most weeks, we all had our second DC within two months of each other as well. As for the content, it was useful, I only had one friend who already had a baby and no relatives with young children, I did use the Babycentre website quite a lot but it was limited compared to what is available online now. The teacher was a bit pro-natural and a bit weak on science and statistics for my liking.
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