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NCT vs Active Birth Centre

(30 Posts)
annaspans Fri 27-Feb-09 12:52:14

I'm 26 weeks pregnant and have recently moved house so wasn't able to apply for an NCT antenatal course until about four weeks ago. They've just got back to me offering me an intensive two day course, which is fine - I think I prefer that to the 8 weeks of shorter classes - but the two days it's scheduled for are when I'll be 36 and 37 weeks pregnant.

Does this seem crazily late to be leaving things? This is my first baby.

As an alternative, I'm considering doing an active birth weekend at the Active Birth Centre which happens to be close to where I live and which would happen a lot sooner. I'm really keen on having an active birth but I'm also realistic about birth plans changing and think it would be useful to get the full spectrum of antenatal preparation, which the NCT course would presumably provide.

What do people think is the better option? Going with the much later NCT course or doing a narrower (though I'm sure in some ways deeper) Active Birth Centre workshop? I don't think I can really afford to do both! I was a little taken aback to find out that my local NCT costs £279, which is the most expensive bracket they have.

One final consideration is that I have a final scan at 34 weeks to check the position of the placenta which was a tiny bit low-lying at 20 weeks, so if I do choose that late NCT course then at least I'll know the results of that (99% chance that it will have moved so I won't need a c-section but you never know...)

Any advice very much appreciated! I need to confirm my NCT place by the middle of next week.

alittleteapot Fri 27-Feb-09 13:05:06

Hi, we did the Active Birth course as didn't get into NCT even though applied at 12 weeks! It was good, very informative, though in my view you have to take the active birth evangalising with a slight pinch of salt - it's bad to feel negative about your birth if you end up needing something a bit more medical.

My only thing though is that because we did an intensive weekend course we didn't really make any lasting friendships whereas I know lots of people who have done the eight week evenings of NCT who keep in touch with other parents for a really long time. I feel I've missed that with dd and so if I were doing it again I would try and do a longer course - you're obviously in North London and there are a few other options in terms of ex NCT independent antenatal tutors. NCT can provide you with a list.

But if the intensive weekend is your only option then, to be honest, there probably isn't a great deal between the ABC and NCT - I think NCT is pretty pro active birth anyway but as you say I guess they may be more realistic about intervention possibilities.

Only other thing to say about ABC is it's a lovely place and their Baby and Me courses after baby is born are really lovely.

Sorry I've just re-read your post properly (in a hurry so skimming) and yes, in your situation if I couldn't find a sooner evening course then i would do ABC as I wouldn't want to wait till 37 weeks pg. ABC is good - we felt very well prepared and empowered by it, but, as I say, keep hold of your realistic head too about the possibilities of intervention. iirc though Janet Balaskas (who was the active birth pioneer) does say at some point that the bottom line is that your baby is healthy and sometimes you'll need intervention.

Pollyanna Fri 27-Feb-09 13:11:10

I have done both and would advise that the advantage of the nct course is that you might meet up with other couples who you will be friendly with (you might not of course...)

In terms of the helping you with the birth, I found them both helpful, (so sorry not much help there). I stuck with the active birth centre for my other children and did the nct course for my first child.

I know people who did do the Nct weekend course who did make friends that way. (we were also put on a condensed course, but still over a few evenings because like you even though I applied at 12 weeks, I didn't get a place.) (would you be doing the course in nw3? - if so, I think she is a very good teacher and would recommend her!)

annaspans Fri 27-Feb-09 13:42:11

Thank you both!

The NCT course is in the Holloway Road as my postcode is N7 (Tufnell Park)

Yes, the friends thing - which I didn't mention in my original post - was the other reason I was keen on NCT but since I'll probably go into labour within 2-4 weeks of finishing the course, it might not work out that way for me anyhow. I'm bound to be the person with the first due date, being that far along, so we might be quite out of sync with the other couples' babies' arrivals. Maybe I ought to ring the coordinator and ask about that.

Anyway, really useful tips - thank you again.

alittleteapot Fri 27-Feb-09 15:00:19

Hi again, I'm in N7 too! Let me know if you want any other tips around here. Whereabouts are you?

You could sign up for a local pregnancy yoga group which would be another way of meeting people. Again, Lynn Murphy at the Active Birth Centre is fab, but quite pricey.

Mammina Fri 27-Feb-09 15:02:48

pollyanna did you have ruth? she's hilarious (but very good)
annaspans agree about meeting other couples at the ntc and think you would get to know people a bit better if you did the 8 week course - also 2 long days at that late stage will be knackering and will be hard to concentrate.

i can't comment on the active birth centre as i never go round to going there

good luck with it all. where are you planning to have the baby?

Aranea Fri 27-Feb-09 15:12:26

I did the long nct course and the active birth weekend with my first baby. I don't think I learnt an enormous amount from the NCT course really, but then I had done lots of reading. It was lovely to meet other couples, and 4 years on we still have a couple of good friends from that course. Now I come to think of it, they had their baby early so we didn't meet them all that many times on the course, just liked them and managed to keep meeting after the babies were born. So don't necessarily write off the shorter course as an opportunity to meet people.

The ABC weekend was good I thought at the time, but actually I don't think it really made any difference to anything on the day. I just think it's good to go & do stuff that gets your head around what you're going to be doing really, so maybe it doesn't matter which you do in a way.

migola and pollyanna - I thought Ruth was great too! Fab for bf support afterwards, too.

Pollyanna Fri 27-Feb-09 15:47:35

yes, I had Ruth, and she really helped me with bfg (more than birth tbh).

I also did the yoga course at the active birth centre with Janet Balaskas - is she still doing it? That was really good also.

Mammina Fri 27-Feb-09 15:52:04

same here pollyanna (especially as I ended up having to go for a c-section)
i've heard good things about janet balaskas. i used to go to the one in primrose hill

annaspans Fri 27-Feb-09 16:46:14

good point migola about finding it hard to concentrate at that stage. I hadn't thought of that - although the two days aren't consecutive so that's slightly better.

Yes, Janet Balaskas still does the yoga at the Active Birth Centre and I was thinking that would be a good thing to try first. In any case, since writing my post at lunchtime, I've been on their booking system for the weekend course for the March one (the next one isn't till May, even later than my possible NCT course!) and there are no spaces now! So I've put myself on the waiting list but might have to go with the one day course instead...

I'm having the baby at the Royal Free, hopefully at the Heath Birth Centre. Did any of you go there?

alittleteapot, I'd love some tips - I haven't even changed GP yet because I don't know where's good, although I'm registered at the moment with Keats in Hampstead and they're good for Royal Free stuff so I should probably stick with them at least till the birth.

Aranea Fri 27-Feb-09 16:50:32

I know this is a little bit off your local patch but I think one of the most useful things I did to prepare for both births was attending Nadia Narain's pregnancy yoga classes at Triyoga in Primrose Hill. The other preg yoga class I tried there was rubbish, but Nadia is amazing. Really inspiring.

annaspans Fri 27-Feb-09 16:57:13

That's good to know because I have been to a couple of pregnancy classes at Triyoga (go there for normal yoga already) and I wasn't terribly impressed - but I'll try one of Nadia's.

The last few weeks I've been going to the Yoga Therapy Centre in Islington which was near work for classes with Francoise Barbira Freedman who set up Birthlight (so another active birth guru) but they've just lost their premises so I'm waiting to hear if the classes will carry on.

I've had such a growth spurt in the last week and a half, to be honest I wish I could be doing yoga all day, every day to relieve the tightness!

AccidentalMum Fri 27-Feb-09 17:01:46

Our local hospital did active birth classes for free, as well as breathing, positioning and exercise for pregnacy and birth classes. I found these so useful as you could get precise information about how the advice would work on the ward and where hospital protocol might be in conflict.

A good PG yoga class is the best prep though IMHO.

ByThePowerOfGreyskull Fri 27-Feb-09 17:02:23

I was about to suggest birthlight, I am in Cambridge and have done birthlight classes with both pregnancies, very realistic not pressured to achieve the "perfect birth" just clear explanations about the choices you can and may be asked to make during pregnancy and birth.

Francoise is great!

AccidentalMum Fri 27-Feb-09 17:03:19

Oh and don't worry about having different aged babies, my DD1 is a little older than all her little friends and you obviously can't tell. It does seem slightly significant that they are in the same school year but not massively so smile

annaspans Fri 27-Feb-09 17:09:20

It wasn't so much having different aged babies but more that by the time I come up for air after the birth, ready to start meeting up with other mums, they'll all just be giving birth! So my worry was that the contact might peter out a bit... But then I guess that's just a question of making a concerted effort to make sure it doesn't!

AccidentalMum Fri 27-Feb-09 17:39:53

I can see that but everyone just thought I was supper confident and relaxed LOL. I had a little more energy to organise things as well so looked enthusiastic and friendly smile

AccidentalMum Fri 27-Feb-09 17:40:29

BTW we laugh heartily at the cofident relaxed impression now!

SparkyMalarky Fri 27-Feb-09 21:11:45

Sorry - can't help with N London, but we only have condensed NCT courses where I am - 2 days for the ladies, an evening for the boys and then another evening for couples and I think the huge advantage with the NCT is the coverage of life after birth - breastfeeding etc. We also had a post natal catch up 8 weeks after the last baby was due which was lovely.

Like you, my course didn't start until I was almost 36 weeks - that worried me a bit (of course DS was late!) but made no difference to making friends. It helped massively I was on mat leave by then and could go off and meet my new friends for lunch and wait for our babies to arrive! 3 years on, and we still each other every week!! It might have been harder just going in the evening when I was working and didn't have the energy or time to see anyone outside the classes.

Is there an NHS class you could get into so you at least have an idea about the options? I did some at the hospital from about 31 weeks and so I knew the medical options and the 'logistics' - the NCT just helped cement it all - and offered me the contact with local mums. FWIW, it was the best £230 I spent in my first PG!!

scarlotti Fri 27-Feb-09 21:36:10

With ds we went to condensed NCT classes and they were great. We all went for lunch together so got to know each other, and the teacher at the end made sure we had a date of when to meet the following week.
3.5 years on and everyone still gets together, and there's been another round of babies since!
Don't worry about having yours first. At our classes the Thursday meet became standard from the first week after the class, and every now and then someone wasn't there, then turned up a week or two later with a baby!
We were all thrilled when the first one came along. One couple missed one of our classes as she got taken in for early labour and she was only 32 weeks so there's no telling wtih these things!! grin

annaspans Mon 02-Mar-09 17:52:16

Thanks everybody. I think we've decided to go with the NCT 2 day course as offered - at least it will all still be fresh in our minds being that close to my due date!

jenster1976 Mon 02-Mar-09 18:59:44


One other point is that the NCT fee includes a membership fee, which is optional - but they don't tend to make this obvious (or at least it was 18 months ago when I did it.) I think it's about £100 and you can opt not to pay it - which we as cheap skates did - only paid for the class which made it a lot cheaper and no difference. Still go to NCT coffee mornings and meet up with all the friends we made from the group. So it may be worth double checking the fee.

BTW agree with the others a pregnancy yoga class if you can find one is well worth the money and effort - definitely found it the best thing I did in preparation. Good Luck.

wobbegong Mon 02-Mar-09 19:30:54

Membership fee would be £39 not £100. It goes to supporting the wider work of the charity and gets you on their list for mags, local meet-ups etc.

lizzytee Tue 03-Mar-09 10:46:40

OP, do check the price you were quoted as I am booked on a two day intensive plus bf session in SE London and the price is £185 ex membership. (Here I will 'fess up to the fact that I am an active NCT volunteer and member. I also already have a dd)

membership for a year is £39, not £100 and will get you details of what your local branch is doing in terms of activities, postnatal support etc.

Like others I would agree that there are reasons other than info about birth for doing the classes - not only meeting others but also finding out about local support services, particularly bfing as whoever teaches the bf session is usually locally based. I didn't do classes last time (dd arrived too early) so one reason this time is so dh gets some info as I really want his support in labour.

vickyliz Tue 03-Mar-09 21:26:33

hi i think i'm a bit late to this chat but i'm can't find any available any antenantal classes either. i'm due on may4th this year and am looking for other expectant mums in the n1, n5, n7 area to meet up with as i know how important a good social network is with small babies!

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