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Nct classes: Are they worthwhile?

28 replies

Jzee · 01/04/2003 11:58

Baby 1 is due in July and I've enrolled for dh and I to attend nct childbirth classes. I'm feeling a little apprehensive as the course involves groupwork and discussions and I'm not too keen on this sort of thing. Can anyone elaborate on what I should expect and did you find the course valuable?

OP posts:
SoupDragon · 01/04/2003 12:06

The best thing I got out of the classes was a group of friends who we're still close to 4 years and 4 extra babies later. The classes are certainly informative and very good at letting you know what you've let yourself in for, labour wise.

Don't worry about the group discussions - I'm painfully shy and hate this sort of thing but I honestly didn't have a problem - if you don't want to say anything, you don't have to. There'll always be someone who takes the lead in these things and you'll probably find you can happily follow on once someone else has started the ball rolling.

From what I remember, the group work consisted of things like putting cards with "labour events" into the right order, writing a list of the pros/cons of breastfeeding/bottlefeeding, lists of what you'll need for the baby etc... easy things like that. Nothing major!

Worst bit of our classes was trying to get 7 fat women out of squidgy seats at the end!! There used to be a rush at the start of the calss to get the firmest seats

sb34 · 01/04/2003 12:10

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sb34 · 01/04/2003 12:17

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CAM · 01/04/2003 12:28

Enjoyed them greatly and still have friends 6 years later from them. But (and I went to them when pregnant with dd2)they do tend to present an idealised version of labour and birth (that's all I'm saying)!

Marina · 01/04/2003 12:33

I would definitely recommend them. A lot depends on whether you have a good antenatal teacher (ours was brilliant). While not being at all anti-pain relief she really encouraged us to think about our choices in delivery and antenatal care, and was very well-informed about practices (good and bad) in local hospitals.
You get a lot more time to discuss your anxieties about birth with an NCT class - the hospital ones are also useful but are usually much bigger and more impersonal.
The groupwork stuff, as others have said, is nothing heavy, and in my experience, was only embarked on once the participants had got to know each other a little.
For various reasons I knew I was having a c-section even before the classes started and she covered this type of birth just as fully as "natural" delivery.

NQWWW · 01/04/2003 14:17

Here is the text of an email I sent to a colleague with a pregnant wife this very morning (what a coincidence to see this thread!):

I don’t know if anyone’s mentioned the NCT to you, but it’s well worth joining it several months before the baby’s due, particularly if she doesn’t know many other mums-to-be in your area. Me & my other half went on a weekend course with them just before I had Toby (they go through all your birth options and generally give you a bit of warning about what you’ve let yourselves in for!). It’s really useful in itself, but the best thing about it for me was that I met 7 other women expecting their first child in the same month as me and we formed a fantastic support group – the NCT provides the group with a supporter who invites the group to meet in her home every week for the next few weeks, and then when the babies are a couple of months old the group takes it in turns to host. It was invaluable, and 4 of us still meet up every week, do lots of social & child-related things together and provide each other with lots of support.

NQWWW · 01/04/2003 14:17

Whoops, should have previewed!

Meid · 01/04/2003 14:23

I think I must be the only person who didn't stay in touch with any of the people on my NCT class. We just didn't gel - as far as I know no-one stayed in touch. It is a shame because before I went I was really hoping to make friends.
But, having said this, I would recommend it. The course was very informative and there was plenty of chance to ask questions. My DH got more from the course than me - I already knew quite a few of the things covered having had my head in pregnancy books for months!!

Marina · 01/04/2003 14:59

Meid, I've gradually lost touch with mine too...three have moved away from London and I was one of the first to go back to paid work...but like you, still enjoyed the classes.

Cha · 01/04/2003 15:05

I would second what most of the others have said here - my NCT class all still meet every Friday 18 months on and 3 unborns on the way. The course was informative and better than the NHS antenatal classes simply because we were a much smaller group, but the best thing is the support you get after your baby is born from other local mums who are going through the same (and worse!) than you.

Meid · 01/04/2003 15:08

My experience wasn't a gradual parting of companies, it was instant. Even at the post-birth meet up you could tell that no one really wanted to be there.
I made friends, though, through a post-natal group organised by my health visitor but since going back to work full time I'm gradually losing touch with those too.
If I have another baby I will probably go again just to hopefully make friends, and also laugh at some of the men's input - their perpective on pregnancy and birth was quite entertaining at times. After one man said he thought a womans cervix was in the chest I told my DH he was not allowed to contribute to discussions unless he was 100% certain of his facts!

zebra · 01/04/2003 15:12

I was going to take a local NCT antenatal class, but am glad I didn't. I've since met (small town) most of the women I would have taken the NCT antenatal class with -- and many of those women are snobs! I made terrific friends thru a local authority run post-natal class, from all social backgrounds.

NQWWW · 01/04/2003 15:22

Surprised to hear that Zebra - my group are very mixed social-class wise. The one thing we all had in common was a keen interest in what was about to happen to us! I know it has the reputation of being an exclusively middle-class organisation, but that certainly wasn't my experience. Depends who's there on the day, I suppose - you may be lucky, you may not.

Flippa · 01/04/2003 15:23

I was on the domino scheme - ie community-based midwife team - and their classes were excellent. I hear that the NCT is great for getting to know people so it depends whether that is a big priority. I think all classes tend to involve discussions although mine didn't involve any of the stereotypical 'relaxation' sessions where mums with bumps lie on the floor and practice their breathing. Have to say we were also presented with a matter of fact description of childbirth which was good.

bells2 · 01/04/2003 15:29

I agree NQWWW. My class had people of all different nationalities and from all walks of life. My teacher was also realistic about the birth process and completely non-judgemental about pain relief.

sed · 01/04/2003 15:30

I think we might hold the record. Our NCT group met every week for five years after our births, plus a summer party and a Christmas one with dads and father Christmas! We now have eight couples and sixteen children, aged from 10 years down to eight weeks and still do the annual summer party!

elliott · 01/04/2003 15:31

I enjoyed my classes too but found the most valuable thing was meeting up every week afterwards - it was fantastic support being with a group of mums all at the same stage, and fortunately we gelled enough for it to be really worthwhile. We do still meet and though I don't feel I have loads in common with them, it is still valuable and I am very fond of the babies too.
My group was not, however, exactly socially diverse - in 6 of the 8 couples at least one partner was a doctor or dentist!

Marina · 01/04/2003 15:33

Mine was more like Bells and NQWWW's - pretty mixed socially, reflecting the area it covered in London.

Bugsy · 01/04/2003 16:42

Jzee, exciting news about your baby. I really enjoyed my NCT classes. The actual education I received was a little bit patchy. Our teacher was very nice and having had two c-section herself, certainly did not try and push us towards any particular birth style.
However, I made some really great friends who lived locally. We all still meet up 3.5 years on and I think that all of us have found the group a source of great support.
There were also some hilarious moments and I look back very fondly on my evenings in Sandra's baking hot room! I even started having contractions during my last class and ds was born the next day.
To be honest, I doubt that any class can actually prepare you for the experience of childbirth. As you will discover the more you look through Mumsnet, everywoman's experience is very unique.

gingernut · 01/04/2003 16:47

My NCT group still meets up once a week (babes are 16/17 months now). We also have a girls' night out once a month and the boys' have a night out every month too. I did make some good friends through my NHS-run classes too though. Our NCT classes were much more detailed and informative than the NHS classes. Husbands/partners were encouraged to attended all the NCT classes, unlike the NHS run classes where there was only 1 evening class for us plus partners. We had time during each NCT class to chat generally and get to know each other. After the course, the tutor prodded us into continuing the see each other by arranging a `coffee morning' and a reunion timed for when all the babies should have been born. NHS classes were very basic and rushed - I certainly would have felt ill-informed had I relied on them alone. We had little chance to get to know each other. The NHS post natal group was good though.

So, I'm glad I did the NCT course but it's just a matter of luck whether or not you get on with the others in the group.

Rhiannon · 01/04/2003 20:55

Our NCT group consists of 6 Mums and children 5 of the 6 children start school in September (the other one has started already). We have been meeting weekly since they were babies.

AliP · 01/04/2003 21:09

Hi I'm due in June with baby no 1 and we have joined NCT classes and are now part way through - the people there are a mixed bag and I don't think it is likely that I will keep in touch with any of the women - just not my 'sort'. Having said that i am glad we joined and it has certainly prompted some discussions between me and dh!
I think you should attend some sort of classes and if you are quite quiet then NCT is probably better than the NHS classes where a friend has just been and said there were about 30+ people in room - so no chance to discuss properly etc.
We've done some groupwork but we set groundrules within the group early on and one of ours was about respecting people who did not want to contribute on that night so there has never been any pressure on any members.

Hope this helps

soyabean · 01/04/2003 21:22

I really enjoyed mine with my first pregnancy. We continued to meet up for about a year, but it fizzled out eventually. I have stayed in touch with one of the others though. We dont meet that often now but she is a good friend and it is nice to keep that connection. Bizarrely, I met her and another of the Mums who I hadnt seen for 10 years, waiting for our baby boys to come out of a secondary school entrance test last Nov...
In my area of London there was also an active postnatal group that met each week in peoples houses: about thirty on the list with various ages of child/baby and usually 5 or 10 wd turn up. It was a lifeline for me, tho I used to often feel very 'out of it' as lots of them were very much better off and more 'grown up' than me. However, I gritted my teeth through some conversations and persevered and in the end, through meeting people again at the park or nursery, it paid off. Some of the other Mums that I am close to now, I first encountered at that. I think these groups vary hugely from place to place. Ours really was very middle class and not at all representative of the area. A friend in Scotland found hers overwhelmingly woolly and lentil eating...(she's a veggie, nothing agaisnt lentils)
But, to answer your question after all this rambling, I think they are really worthwhile to find out about childbirth and the first few weeks of having a baby, and also to meet other people living locally who will not be out at work all day, at least for the first few months.

Lindy · 01/04/2003 22:28

Well, just to put the other side - I loathed my classes - it was all terribly 'PC' and I just couldn't bear sitting around discussing intimate matters with other peoples' DHs (let alone my own - who could only bring himself to attend the first class & the visit to the hospital) - I found it frightfully airy fairey - no discussion of c/sections (our midwives were heavily into home births - very commendable but not for everyone) - 80% of our group had a c/secion in the end!! No mention of any possible 'problems' - two of us had children with 'abnormalities'. I thought the card game of putting things in order was childish beyond belief. Yes, I did meet some new people but two years on & I still can't shake them off!!!

I know a lot of people get a lot out of the classes (my SIL meets up with her NCT friends after 21 years) - but its not for everyone.

Sorry, rant over!!!!

soyabean · 01/04/2003 22:42

Well Lindy I do know what you mean about the airy fairy-ness of the classes; luckily dps were only invited to one of the sessions with ours, and mine was unable to attend but he would have absolutely hated it. I did laugh later (hysterically) at the 'blowing out candles' exercise we had been advised to do: frankly a ludicrous idea to think it would have any effect on excrutiating pain, but anyway...
What I did enjoy was the time to really think about and prepare for the birth with other women who were as new to it as I was. I reckon squirming a bit at some of the exercises was worth it for that.

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