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NCT antenetal courses - are they worth doing?

(25 Posts)
redballoon3 Sun 23-Mar-14 17:43:14

I'm expecting my first baby in the summer and am starting to think about antenatal classes/ courses. I've been booked into one at the hospital, which I've heard is very good and comprehensive. All my friends who've already had children rave about the NCT classes, but I wonder if they're worth doing? I feel like the only reason I would do them is to make friends and I think I could do that simply by becoming a member of NCT, taking advantage of the organised mother and baby groups/ meet-ups and possibly doing a postnatal course with them once the baby is born.

What do other people think? Is the NCT antenatal course worth the £375, or will I get exactly the same - if not better - information from the NHS run courses? Thanks in advance for any thoughts/ shared experiences! smile

ohthegoats Sun 23-Mar-14 17:53:05

Wow, that's expensive! I booked the NCT one here the other day and it's £110 for the 6 x 2 hour sessions.

We're doing them because we've just moved to a new town and I want to meet some people. I'm an obsessive reader/researcher, and expect I'll know a lot of the stuff, but I know my partner won't. So partly it's to open him up to some conversations that I think he would otherwise brush aside. He's already told me for example that even entertaining the idea of a doula is a silly idea, do I not trust him to be strong and sensible? Considering he won't even watch the opening credits of one born every minute, that'll be a no!

wispaxmas Sun 23-Mar-14 17:59:53

You must be London, too. NCT is ridiculously expensive in London. Like your wondered if it would be worthwhile... We will till be going to the NHS one in our area, but it's only 2 hours on a Saturday and they show you a video of the ward (which is why we are going, as the ward doesn't allow tours), and a 2 hour breastfeeding session on a weekday evening. It didn't seem comprehensive to me, but I still hesitated booking NCT, as I feel very clued up on my pregnancy, labour, etc. I've read so much had advice from sister and sisters in law, etc.

But then it hit me that while I am very clued up on it all, my husband is sadly not! He is the most loving and supportive husband I could imagine, but he is clueless! I want him to feel confident and prepared for the birth, too. So, with that in mind I booked us onto the slightly less expensive NCT essentials course. I booked it last week as there was a cancellation and it starts next week!

I feel relieved that we've booked it, even though it was £175!

wispaxmas Sun 23-Mar-14 18:00:30

Sorry, should read "like you I wondered..."

MoonHare Sun 23-Mar-14 18:15:40

Almost 6 years down the line and I'm still in touch with half the people from our NCT group. The children have grown up together and our friendships have endured this far. I never joined the NCT, you can go to baby and toddler groups to make friends without shelling out separately.

The whole point of NCT for me was to make friends. It proved a life saver in the early months after DD1 was born. It's important to know other women with babies the same age as yours, first timers too. The weekly meet ups kept me going and later it was great to go to groups with people I already knew, it gave me the confidence to widen my social circle and do things on my own.

I honestly remember very little about the preparation for birth and parenthood side of things at NCT. I remember very clearly however the relief of receiving text messages from new-found friends confirming they too felt shattered and offering me the chance to go round to their house, eat cake and stare at a different four walls for a couple of hours.

Some people are unlucky and find themselves in a group where they don't gel with anyone else. The majority I think find lasting friendships.

No amount of classes or books can prepared you for the experience of giving birth, so I wouldn't honestly worry about that aspect of it. Partners might gain a little but getting them to watch OBEM would probably be a better education.

MrsMillions Sun 23-Mar-14 18:26:37

I'd echo what pp have said on both the friendship aspect and the way it helped my husband get to grips with what was going to happen - he'd only managed 15 minutes of OBEM before giving up on it!

In terms of friendships, the group activities in the classes really helped us get to know each other and break down boundaries so we got closer quicker. You can't help but be honest with each other when discussing fears of episiotomies etc! I'm now really sad that we're reaching "back to work" time and won't have our weekly meets, although I'm sure we'll find ways to meet up.

I have another group of mummy friends from pregnancy then baby yoga. We didn't talk much in the pregnancy yoga classes but interacted more in baby yoga then meeting up outside the classes. It's therefore been a slower process to develop the friendships and support they offer despite meeting earlier.

Having said all that our NCT classes were nothing like £375!

snoggle Sun 23-Mar-14 18:32:28

Yes, I am still close to my NCT class friends 5 years on. It was so wonderful in the early days to have an immediate support network who were going through the exact same stages. The classes were useful but the real benefit was the friendship group we formed.

EugenesAxe Sun 23-Mar-14 18:36:17

I think in terms of content you will get as much, if not more, from NHS. I wasn't bowled over by the 'help' I got from the NCT classes. Bit too much hippy talk and anecdotal stuff from the leader about her experience... I was OK giving birth but not with BFing, but I think had I struggled a lot with the birth or pain, they'd have left me feeling a bit 'at fault', when you shouldn't feel that way at all. I really beat myself up about the BFing as it was.

What you tend to pay for with NCT is the network... but you can find that in other ways. Running Mummies in Greenwich Park, for example, gave me four lovely friends I'm still in touch with. And you may get that with NHS too, of course!

Bunbaker Sun 23-Mar-14 18:39:45

If time allows why not do both? My sister's eldest is 20 and she still has NCT meet ups

Expectingtwins1975 Sun 23-Mar-14 18:53:55

It had better be worth it I've just paid £320 for mine

stoopstofolly Sun 23-Mar-14 19:00:10

Worth it. Can't remember what we were told (apart from watching DH trying to squeeze a large plastic doll through a small plastic cervix grin). However, I'm still in contact with all the people I met- particularly close with some (we've been away together and are godparents to younger ones etc!). Meeting people local to you in the same situation is amazing and worth every penny.

squizita Sun 23-Mar-14 19:01:14

WOW that's a lot- I'm in London too- I've reserved for the essential course, £120 which I must remember to stump up the cash for.

kjh5 Sun 23-Mar-14 19:50:34

My last class is this weekend and I have to admit that although I was ambivalent to begin with, I've found it worth every penny. None of the generalisations that people seem to throw around about the NCT have held true (hippy-ish, anti-forumla feeding, anti-pain relief, pro purely natural birth, middle class, snobbish etc etc).

Even although I already felt pretty clued up on labour and birth, it has been massively helpful to discuss the realities of what to expect. The woman that runs our classes has been fabulous, she has given us loads of really useful and balanced information on pain relief, interventions, breastfeeding (and formula feeding) and I've actually learned a lot.

I agree with a few other posters on here in that DH has found it massively helpful in understanding exactly what to expect and how he can help me during labour and after the birth, as well as a few practicalities in dealing with a newborn.

Lastly, I've met a group of really fantastic people and I can't stress how great it has been to talk to a bunch of women in exactly the same position as me - we're making plans to meet up regularly after the classes end and I'm looking forward to having a group of friends who live close by going through what I'm going through.

TisforTiger Sun 23-Mar-14 20:30:40

I would say yes (but ours were no way that much).

Firstly I found it a really nice way to enjoy the journey and preparation to birth with my DH, it was nice to do something together about the birth.

Second, despite my repeated requests my DH read nothing about the birth. So he learnt loads.

Finally, I've made fantastic friends from it. We meet up every week apart from Christmas/Easter and our DCs are 4 soon. These meet ups have been invaluable to me and DD, the other kids are now her best friends. This will change once school starts but it's been great for her. Now that we all mostly have second DC they are becoming friends.

Rommell Sun 23-Mar-14 20:37:05

I would say save your money and join an NCT baby group after you've had the baby, because meeting other people with babies is the most helpful thing about those classes. The NHS classes cover pretty much everything you'd need to know about labour and birth and in many cases are actually better, in practical terms.

lchats Sun 23-Mar-14 20:45:05

Best money you'll ever spend. I can't tell you how much of a life saver my NCT friends were to me in the early days. Two years on and I see at least one or some of them every week.

You'll learn nothing useful about bringing up the baby and a lot of it will be about a birth plan you'll end up completely ignoring once the contractions come...

In my experience (I can't claim to be an expert) NCT classes tend to attract like minded people in your local area and will offer you a unique opportunity to meet people who are in the same boat as you that you can experience this amazing learning curve with!

Beccadugs Sun 23-Mar-14 20:48:08

My NCT classes were really worth it.

Three weeks into parenthood - so so glad I have had them to text etc.
I'm pretty lonely and really glad I had the time to make the connections pre baby, as it was nice to make a connection when I could still string two words together!!

moomin35 Mon 24-Mar-14 13:09:51

Is NCT really the only way to meet other mums though. Surely other mums can be met at bumps and babies groups or even on the free NHS courses. They just seem ridiculously expensive to me...

Rommell Mon 24-Mar-14 13:55:13

It's the only way to guarantee meeting other middle-class mums though. wink

McBaby Mon 24-Mar-14 14:02:11

Very happy I went to NCT I still see them a couple of times a week with my 20 months old and we are moving on to second babies together.

I have met a few other mums through baby groups etc but it's nothing like having 8 other mums living locally with babies the same age. I can imagine it would take a while to get close enough to mums you see every now and again. Where as NCT you feel like you have been through it together so are happy be a weeping mess in a tip of a house with them!

SignoraStronza Mon 24-Mar-14 14:10:03

Not in my experience. I went to them as was hoping for a vbac after a hideous first birth experience abroad. By the time the classes had finished my mind was made up to have an elcs instead (helped, in part by the presence of a couple of medical professionals actually on the course, who have the whole proceedings a healthy dose of reality).

I got on ok with the others and am still in touch with one, but only because she lives in the same village. Dh wasn't enthusiastic about meeting up with the other couples when, in his words, 'the only thing we have in common is that we bred at the same time' and I tend to agree.

Have since helped out at NCT sales though, through a friend who's involved and they're a lot of fun.

HomeIsWhereTheHeartIs Mon 24-Mar-14 14:17:31

I did the NHS one which was good and taught in the hospital so I felt a bit more familiar with the surroundings by the time we got there.
I know of someone else who did the NCT one and it seems as though it focused more on post-natal baby care - nappies with treacle smeared inside them etc, and less on the basics of childbirth. She seemed to have some gaps in her knowledge when it came to things like waters breaking etc.
Personally it was the birth I wanted to be more prepared for, and I'd rather not pay all of that money for someone to show me how to wipe a bottom!
However she has kept in touch with lots of couples from the course.

Gemdar Mon 24-Mar-14 14:33:57

Echoing others, great for meeting likeminded new friends/parents and helped DH as he wouldn't have read anything. Got him on board for breastfeeding and he was really supportive esp through my ups and downs of BFing in early days...

Feedback from quite a few friends who did nhs antenatal was that no-one talked to each other

We don't have any NCT post birth classes here but should imagine they would be equally good for meeting and making friends. A few friends made lasting friendships from NHS post birth meet ups if they have them in your area?

Never joined NCT...

TheScience Mon 24-Mar-14 14:41:07

If you have the money to spare, then it is definitely a good way to meet other couples with money to spare!

If not, just save your money and meet mums at baby groups.

redballoon3 Mon 24-Mar-14 22:02:30

Thank you everyone for your thoughts! Really useful and reassuring.

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