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I was hoping for some advice on antenatal classes. I've noticed that nct offer two types of classes but I'm unsure of the difference or which one to go for! It would be great to hear your experiences and recommendations. Also how do you sign up? Is this through my midwife or do I do this myself? How early should I do this? I'm currently 8 weeks.
we did both nct and the hospital ones.
The hospital ones you'll be given information about via your midwife through the course of your care - with ours we didn't have to sign up were just given dates when we could turn up.
They weren't so great for making friends as they were like going to a class at school, but they were fab for a lot of practicalities - for example, where's the bell if its after hours, where would you stay if kept in, what facilities - all of that. It was useful.
The NCT - we did the signature class, the 'essentials' class didn't exist for DS1 three years ago! For me it was great for the social aspect and three and a half years on we're all still really close - a fantastic support network if you don't have one in place - or even if you do its nice to have people at the exact same stage as you to text at 3am whilst you are breast feeding!
The classes them selves are very pro-breast-feeding / pro-baby-led-weaning / pro-natural-birth-no-drugs etc (or at least ours were). As i discovered with DS1 - this was all lovely in theory, but a difficult labour and a poorly baby put paid to a lot of their ideals! It's best to go along with an open mind if you do them - some great tips, lovely sessions, etc - they're not for everyone but i enjoyed them and nearly four years on we still all have a laugh about how idealistic some of it was!
They're expensive mind - looks like the essentials is their 'affordable' version. No idea what they are like!
We are doing the refresher course again, as none of my NCT lot,or my close friends in the area, will be on mat leave when i am - they'll all be working - so would be nice to have a few friends to hang out with.
Hope that helps and congrats as well!
The NCT did nothing - repeat - NOTHING for me. I ended up complaining as the whole course was entirely fixated on spontaneous natural labour - my class had 100% non-spontaneous labours with interventions and we were all totally unprepared for our birth experiences.
A couple of our NCT girls also did the NHS classes and felt they were much more informative and realistic.
Here's what I think: there's precious little in it between "signature" and the other one. So ask yourself this: do you want to spend £300 and long evenings in the hope your class gels and you make a group of chums? Or do you want to save your money and go to the NHS classes and spend the money on making friends at baby massage/rhyme time etc?
I don't know where you live; if it's a small place then maybe it's good for the support network. If you're in the city then I advise you save your £.
Of course other folk have great NCT experiences but I was bitterly disappointed with mine. It did fuck all and cost me a shitload.
As you can tell, I'm a bit biased
Yours, Narky of London x
You can get a pretty decent discount from NCT if your household income is below about £28k, and in some areas you can do the course over a couple of weekends rather than evenings.
I wasn't sure whether to do it or not, but I live on the outskirts of a smallish town (but commute into city) and I thought it would be good to have a local support network, and for my DP to meet some local dads.
I did a free course run by the nct, which my midwife told me about. It sounds like there's a fair bit of regional variation in what is covered, but I found it really helpful. They covered both natural births and drugs/c section births without bias. Also covered nappy changes, bathing, breast feeding, how to hold baby and exactly what the body is doing during contractions and ways to cope with them. When to go in to hospital etc. I'd recommend it (if free) you've nothing to lose but the 6 hours or so.
If you can afford NCT classes, do them, but don't expect to learn anything useful We basically paid money to make friends with other couples. Have been extremely lucky as daughter is now 17 weeks and I see NCT mum friends at least once per week - it's been an absolute life saver as I don't have any friends or family nearby.
NCT do a more expensive class, which runs over about 5 weeks- plenty of time to get to know people properly, make friends and prepare mentally for the birth. The cheaper class runs over a weekend so much more intensive, less time to get to know people and absorb all the info.
The info you get in the longer course is based on what the group says it wants to cover, so the formats are really variable (that's one of the reasons ppl have such different experiences of NCT). But with the cheaper/shorter class you get the standard info and formats.
Either way you sign up direct with NCT, just go to their website and enter your postcode to see courses near you.
I found NCT very useful, as did DH. The NHS classes were also useful in a different way, except the breastfeeding one which was a complete waste of time.
It is expensive but we are coming up to celebrating another round of birthdays and are still in touch. The NHS group was purely for information and I made no friends at all.
I think the experience and what you cover varies wildly depending on people in your group. We covered interventions, all types of pain relief and a realistic day in the life of a new born!
I am in the middle of my NCT class at the moment. My primary reason for doing it was that we haven't been in the area for long and I wanted to meet others in the same situation. I would definitely recommend it, my group are great but actually my teacher isn't at all what I was expecting, she is open minded to all types of birth and feeding. We've covered breast / bottle feeding and all types of birth including assisted and c-section at length.
We attended our first NCT class last week, got the second class tonight. I totally expected the teacher to be all preachy and for me to be rolling my eyes for two hours but it wasn't like that at all. We heard about useful things and I'm looking forward to the rest of the classes. DH, on the way there last week, told me to remember the way as if it was crap, I'd be going alone this week. Cheeky! But he's coming this week so he can't have found it that bad.
We've not bothered with the NHS ones, as it would be duplicating information and I'd rather someone who couldn't afford NCT took the place I would have taken.
I did NCT and enjoyed it. But it didn't do much to prepare me for my actual labour. This time around I'm going to do hypnobirthing or Daisy birthing classes instead.
But NCT was good for making DH and I really talk about all the aspects of being a parent, which he wouldn't have seen the point of otherwise.
I did NCT and NHS classes.
I had a very different experience of NCT thank most I think. I didn't really gel with the rest of the (much better off) couples, and had really drifted apart from them by the time the babies were 18 months old or so. The teachers however, were brilliant, very down to earth and did cover pain relief ! We did a c section role play, which meant I didn't panic when I had one and there were 12 people present!
The NHS classes were a lot more focussed on hypnobirthing, minimal pain relief etc. There was a tour of the maternity ward, but I'd been in and out of hospital so much with hyperemisis I was fairly familiar with it!
I ended up working on the local NCT branch committee, which i really enjoyed, and found the wider stuff NCT do beyond antenatal classes very interesting (working with asylum seekers, helplines, campaigning for improved premature care...)
As for longstanding friends - I found them at local parent /baby groups, Surestart and other local groups, as well as NCT "Bumps and Babies" coffee mornings - a cheap and easy "in" to NCT.
I did one and will never do it again. Other than pictures of birth and breast feeding videos which there were 4 of. They told us nothing.
When anyone asked questions she said she would answer at the end. At the end of class she said we have run out of time and we could come to another class to ask questions next time
I think the quality of NCT classes probably depends quite a lot on the facilitator for your particular class. We did NCT and were really impressed. There was a lot of useful information provided, both about labour and about caring for a new baby. And we met a lovely group of people, who I hope we'll stay in touch with for a long time.
I had heard people say before that NCT facilitators could be quite judgemental and unwilling to discuss anything other than natural birth, but that wasn't our experience at all. The classes did focus mainly on 'normal' birth and what you could do to maximise the likelihood of you having the birth you planned, however they did also discuss different interventions so that people would be prepared if these were needed.
One thing I especially liked was that the facilitator spent quite a long time talking about how to make decisions about your care before and during labour. This made me feel a lot more confident about being involved in decisions, rather than just assuming that a doctor or midwife will always know best and going along unquestioningly with what they say.
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