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NHS v NCT classes? Is it worth going to both?

(18 Posts)
Liskey Sat 22-Aug-09 18:50:47

Myself and DH have booked an NCT course for Sat Mornings in Nov and Dec as I'm due in Jan. However DH is now questioning whether we also need to go to the local NHS classes as well - which have far less convenient times etc.

Everyone I've spoken to recommends the NCT classes. Do we really need to go to both?

RhinestoneCowgirl Sat 22-Aug-09 19:07:20

I found the NCT ones great for information, DH also found them useful. The fact that they were on in the evening was major bonus. I didn't make bosom buddies with the other women, but some people do. They were handy to meet up with in the early months after DS was born tho, when I knew nobody!

I made it to one NHS one (on pain relief). I was planning a homebirth and my MW told me that NCT wouldn't tell me about epidurals hmm (not true). It was ok but fairly basic. There were some partners there, but I was definitely not the only person there without.

ReneRusso Sat 22-Aug-09 19:13:03

I would skip the NHS ones if they are not convenient. In my experience, you should find out everything you need to know at the NCT ones.

Issy42 Sat 22-Aug-09 19:18:03

I was advised by a friend who's just given birth that it's good to go to both as they have a different ethos and you get a balanced view.

claremal Sat 22-Aug-09 19:39:33

I found the NHS course fantastic for meeting local mums-to-be (all in walking distance) and some of us still meet up 3 years later. I didn't go to NCT classes as well, but my friends who did found that whilst they also met people there they stayed in touch with, the geographical spread was wider and it wasn't so easy to meet up especially in the early days. If your DH isn't keen you maybe you could go on your own? Mine were during the day, but you should get time off work to attend if that is an issue.

MrsKitty Sat 22-Aug-09 19:44:52

If you're going to NCT then I wouldn't bother with NHS if it's inconvenient - You should get all the info you need from NCT (Including stuff re: epidurals, C-sections etc).

We went to both when we were expecting DS and I would say the only real benefit to the NHS ones was that they included a tour of the delivery suite/wards.

I'm still friends with most of the women I met at the NCT classes and we meet up regularly, whereas the NHS classes didn't really give you a chance to chat to the other expectant parents who were there.

whinegums Sat 22-Aug-09 20:15:39

The NHS one should explain the protocols at your particular hospital (e.g. not all hospitals offer all forms of pain relief), and provide a tour of the birth suites, etc. I found this far more useful than the NCT ones, although tbh, both were on the whole pretty useless!

BertieBotts Sat 22-Aug-09 20:24:32

Our NCT ones were fantastic and very well balanced on the options available. Our NHS ones were so awful we only went to the first one and were tempted to leg it during the tea break!

However having said that it really depends on the area you live in, they can vary loads (especially NHS)

NumptyMum Sat 22-Aug-09 20:33:00

We went to both, though DH only came to one or two NHS classes. I got more out of the NCT one but found the hospital one useful too - as others have said, it is more medical, includes procedures for your particular hospital (eg whether they offer pethidine or diamorphine) and also a tour of the delivery suites, which gives you a better idea of what to expect. From what I remember, they covered slightly different points (eg NHS said about different colours of waters breaking and what to do, don't remember this from the NCT one).

Assuming you are working, your work have to give you time off to attend NHS maternity appointments, including antenatal classes. I'm not sure whether it's the same for partners or not, perhaps some HR folk could clarify?

Gingerbics Sat 22-Aug-09 20:40:47

I went to both but actually found the NHS ones more informative and realistic.
The problem with the NCT one I went to was that it almost gave the impression that the midwife was the enemy and epidurals and formual feeding are the worst things you could possibly do. i felt it was very unbalanced and although for example the epidural does have risks, it felt as if anyone in the class who had one would feel like a failure.
The other thing was that the NCT teacher had no midwifery background so I actually found the NHS midwife run classes much more informative as the info was given by someone who actually deals with pregnancy and birth day in day out.
However, this was only my experience and I actually made a friend in both the NHS and the NCT classes.
Enjoy both your classes I'm sure you'll gain something from both of them.

JiminyCricket Sat 22-Aug-09 21:04:10

I met more local mums through NHS ones - but my experience was that more dh's/ dp's went to nct ones so it can be more social. The people were posher, but both were useful.

Liskey Sat 22-Aug-09 21:52:17

Cheers for that everyone - useful to know.

Sounds like I might let DH off the NHS ones -though I think if they show you round the delivery suites it might be quite useful for us both. I had wondered about the NCT ones being a bit too OTT re natural childbirth - says me who dreads pain. Sounds like I'll go along and see what they're like - too bad and I'll leg it during the break.

ReneRusso Sat 22-Aug-09 21:55:38

I agree that the NCT approach can make you feel like a failure if you don't end up having a natural delivery. So take it all with a pinch of salt.

NumptyMum Sat 22-Aug-09 22:12:59

With any birth plan, it's worth having a back-up plan anyway (ie best case scenario, OK so now it's not going quite how I wanted it to scenario, oh heck I'm going to be induced scenario etc). So you can aim/hope for an NCT style natural birth, and end up with epidural, but know that it was the best option for the situation you found yourself in.

antenatal Sat 22-Aug-09 22:50:44

Speaking as an antenatal teacher, the NCT approach is one of true informed choice - no-one aims to make anyone feel like a failure....

Also, there is no such thing as an 'NCT style natural birth'

Penthesileia Sat 22-Aug-09 23:05:59

I booked a place on the (free) NHS course at my local hospital, but then cancelled my booking as I did an active birth workshop and ante-natal yoga classes instead (from about 34 weeks). The woman I spoke to on the phone when I cancelled was very grateful that I cancelled, as there was (and is always apparently) a waiting list of people (they have limited places at any one time on the NHS courses), and, as she gently pointed out to me, if I could afford to pay for other ante-natal classes, it would be good to leave a free spot for someone else who might not be able to pay. I thought that was quite reasonable, TBH. In the end, I had a homebirth, so a hospital-based course would've been useless to me.

I can't comment, however, on the NCT, as I didn't go to any of their classes.

NumptyMum Sat 22-Aug-09 23:25:13

antenatal - apologies. Didn't mean NCT style birth, just meant natural - but the chap who was the inspiration for the founding of the NCT was a proponent of good techniques for natural birth at a time when giving birth was seen as a terrible thing, and he did do a lot to change that.

Having been on an NCT class, I know that there is still a greater emphasis on natural positions and ways to manage childbirth than we had at our NHS class, but we did also cover induction etc. And it was also clear that labour was unpredictable, and that there were many options to help manage it.

LilyPeach Sun 23-Aug-09 10:30:50

I did both - personally felt the NCT ones covered more (8 lessons vs 4 lessons at Parentcraft) bu am glad I did both as it was useful to hear the mw point of view as they are the ones delivering the babies.

Re NCT - can i just say it sounds like they vary as much as the NHS classes.

My NCT class spent 4 hours covering pain relief and c-sections (2 lessons) including an exercise where the teacher pointed out all the different people who would be there if I had a section, which was really useful and not covered by the NHS ones. I thought it would be a bit preachy, but I thougth at the end it had been very balanced.

Partners didn't go to the NHS ones at all in my case as they were in the day, so the NCT ones were good for DH.

I've been meeting up with both goups since the classes ended.

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