Before booking onto the NCT Antenatal classes I was unsure of the pros and cons. I mean the NHS provide free classes for expecting parents, so what exactly are the benefits of paying for classes through your local NCT support group? Find out in my truthful review below for all you expecting mums and dads who are also debating this decision…
So firstly my community midwife began discussing my Antenatal class options with me at about 20 weeks. She indicated that I had two options; one, the free NHS classes in my local community or two, the National Childbirth Trust (NCT) reasonably priced classes also in my local area. Of course, this naturally led to my question – why pay when something is offered for free? This is when I began to research who the NCT were and if their classes would offer me my value for money.
The NCT is a charitable organisation that has been running for over 60 years. The main aims of the organisation are to ensure all parents-to-be are supported, informed and left feeling confident. I looked into my local NCT groups and their Signature Antenatal Course. The course promised to cover everything from pregnancy, labour, looking after your little one when they are here and breastfeeding. These were all hot topics that I had a million questions on, so we decided to go for this popular course.
The Signature course includes six sessions on your own or with your birthing partner, this is all within a relaxed and friendly environment alongside other expecting parents. Ours were on a Monday evening between 7.30pm to 9.30pm, and one class on a Saturday from 9am to 4pm.
The course is renowned for its network building for mums and dads to be as they all prepare for the wonderful journey ahead. We were matched to a group in our chosen local area that are all due around the same date as us. This makes the networking even more special, and you begin to form unexpected friendships with people you have never met before. I can safely say, we walked out of there six weeks later knowing that we had formed some really special friendships with the seven other couples. We got to share personal stories and tearful moments and we haven’t even introduced our babies into the mix yet!
Before attending the classes people warned me that the NCT try and promote breastfeeding and almost shove it in your face to have a drug-free birth plan. This was not the case, and I did not feel this pressure once.
Myself and Dad-to-be were a little apprehensive about what the classes would be based on, and did also worry that they would be cringeworthy and school-like. These worries were soon dismissed in our first ever session. When we first arrived to our session, the very friendly group leader Tracy greeted us all and broke the ice immediately. We were shown to the biscuit tin and kettle, and the session then began. Tracy put all the males on one side of the room and the females on the other. She asked us to all write down what we wanted to cover during the next few weeks, and this simple activity confirmed we all had the same worries and questions. The two hours flew by before we knew it.
I was genuinely surprised by how much the Dads-to-be enjoyed the classes, and it really showed just how effective the support within the group was. Myself and Dad-to-be would leave each class and sit in the car on our journey home discussing everything we had learnt with one another. It was lovely bonding time, and made the experience that little bit more special for us both.
Each session we got closer to our group, and ended up having a little giggle and intimate discussions. By the end of all the classes, we had formed several WhatsApp groups, arranged a reunion and a ‘bring on the baby’ curry night. Personally, I would highly recommend these classes for that simple reason. The NCT want to help you form these type of connections, and that’s exactly what we did.
Our group leader Tracy was very knowledgeable and was the right balance of being a leader, and a supportive friend. We never felt silly asking our millions of questions, and she always knew how to put our minds at ease (plus she supplied biscuits and peppermint tea – winning!).
The six week course starts from £160, but find out more information on your local classes here, and you can even sign up to become a member.
I would highly recommend the NCT Signature Antenatal Course, and I know that I now feel fully informed and prepared for my first steps into motherhood.
Thanks Tracy, all my other session heads, my birthing partner and of course, the NCT!