Dadsnet/Mumsnet – NCT classes – useful or a waste of money?

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  • Dadsnet/Mumsnet – NCT classes – useful or a waste of money?
  • Premier Icon mtbfix
    Subscriber

    We didn’t go the NCT route and just went to the one antenatal class offered by the local PCT. The NHS class was of limited use. We have made loads of friends through the various baby groups since the little one came along and plenty of them are also in touch with their former NCT groups. If you can afford it I’d say you might as well go for it. Support of folk in the same boat can be invaluable as baby looms.

    Premier Icon alfabus
    Subscriber

    no first hand experience, but all the people I know who have done NCT blather on constantly about all the things they’ve done with their NCT group…

    It’s all blah blah barbecue this, and blah blah camping trip that.

    Not one of them has mentioned anything that they’ve actually learnt on the course, it seems to be just a good way of meeting people who are in the same boat.

    Dave

    willyboy
    Member

    We just did the one day session with NHS, which was very good. It was much more informative than I expected and the midwives were very approachable. A breast feeding specialist came along too and was also very informative. I don’t think there were any teens at our class – virtually everyone was late 20’s+.
    Our friends did NCT and NHS and the thought the NHS to be better. But it’s down to you really.
    Apparently NCT is good if you are new to an area/ want to make new friends etc.

    Premier Icon Doh1Nut
    Subscriber

    You will be the one stuck at home getting cabin fever – the friends you make at NCT can be invaluable.

    Or as happened to us, the group might just not gel, some people go straight back to work full time, move away or what ever and it was always more effort than reward trying to get the group together. After hosting the first and second birthdays for the whole group at our house we declined to offer for a third time. 🙄

    As it happens Mrs Nut is going for a drink tonight with some girls from the NHS antenatal class.

    Having said that I would still go to the NCT one as the majority of people appear to get some good friends out of it.

    Premier Icon Richie_B
    Subscriber

    Useful for the basic coping stuff and how to look after the baby, breast feeding etc, as long as you remember that NCT ‘instructors’ (or whatever they call themselves) are a self selecting group who have had ‘perfect’ births and are fully signed up to avoiding medical intervention (our instructor (and her NCT assessor who sat in on the sessions were both incredibly negative about any form of medical help). This left 4 out of the six mothers in our group feeling as if they had somehow failed after their births.

    Premier Icon Jon Taylor
    Subscriber

    I am keen to go to NCT classes as I think they will be useful and will allow us to meet new people our age who are expecting at a similar time. We don’t have any friends as such in the town we live in.

    My riding circle has significantly come together through contacts gained in NCT classes 🙂

    Premier Icon pedalhead
    Subscriber

    We did the NCT classes before our first child & it was useful from the point of view of meeting & making friends with other new prospective parents. Now that we’ve done the parent thing (twice), I’d take the NCT attitude with a huge dose of salt. In my experience they are extremely anti-painkiller, pro-breastfeeding (virtually demonising the alternative) and not a little self-righteous. Fact of life…sometimes breastfeeding doesn’t work out, and usually painkillers are bloody marvellous during childbirth (or so my wife tells me). Keep that in mind & I think the classes can be helpful.

    Premier Icon molgrips
    Subscriber

    We went to the one day NHS bit. Told us most of the info we needed to know, it was good. There was one teen, everyone else was 20s ish except for one couple who were mid to late 40s and looked really self conscious! 🙂 It was done by our actual midwives too which was nice.

    PS Top tip for breastfeeding – you don’t feed the baby, it feeds itself from you.

    Premier Icon kimbers
    Subscriber

    Richie_B – Member
    Useful for the basic coping stuff and how to look after the baby, breast feeding etc, as long as you remember that NCT ‘instructors’ (or whatever they call themselves) are a self selecting group who have had ‘perfect’ births and are fully signed up to avoiding medical intervention (our instructor (and her NCT assessor who sat in on the sessions were both incredibly negative about any form of medical help). This left 4 out of the six mothers in our group feeling as if they had somehow failed after their births.

    ^^ this

    Premier Icon Stoner
    Subscriber

    NCT itself is a bit gaga. But you do get a chance to make some new friends who will have kids your own kids ages. In fact this weekend we had two other “NCT” families over and all the kids went off and played.

    (Its the health visitors and district midwives you want to avoid. Bunch of under-educated quacks the lot of them. They “invite” themselves into your home and spout crap at you. Just tell them to ****off. You are not obliged to meet them.)

    bearGrease
    Member

    We did both and both were good. Bear in mind the comments above about NCT but we learnt from both. Meeting local folk in the same situation is the most useful aspect.

    Good luck!

    Course was shit, but it was worth it to meet people going through the same thing at the same time. Fortunately i was away biking for quite a few of the sessions.

    Bang on about the negativity. For my wife though, she doesn’t know many local people who don’t work full time so it was good for her to have poeple to meet up with during her maternity leave.

    Same as Richie B. I know a few young mums who went to the NCT and really felt that it was a superior mums club for middle class and above. Just a funny little vibe that they got and didn’t go back.
    We did the NHS antenatal and it was very informative, helpful, non judgemental.
    Go NHS.

    Ro5ey
    Member

    For a fella it blooming hard work… super dull.

    But

    I would defo recommend it for the social side.

    My wife is still very much in contact with some of the other mothers, 4 years on. The ladies you do your course with, could very well turn out to be a great support group… very much recommended.

    Just let your bloke skip the beast feeding session !

    Premier Icon Doh1Nut
    Subscriber

    I had forgotten about the anti-intervention stuff.

    The course could have done with a bit that covered what happens if you dont have a “perfect” birth. as what actually happened to us bore not relation to what we covered in class.

    loum
    Member

    [video]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=khfJ-HB12Z0&feature=player_detailpage[/video]

    deadlydarcy
    Member

    Funnily enough, about to book on one ourselves. We have no close family nearby so I reckon it would be nice to have a support network. Also interested in opinions.

    Van Halen
    Member

    go to the classes. they are great for mums who have no existing support network/friends with kids the same age. less so for dads but you have to show a bit of willing as you did you bit to be in this situation!

    they go on about the breast feeding a bit and, while there are some benefits (mainly dad gets to sleep for the 3 months while mum is feeding) my 2 bottle fed kids (for various reasons) are just as bonkers as the 1 breast fed.

    I was very wary for some of the reasons above – not sure I wanted to make random friends just ’cause they happened to be having a kid at the same time as us, hidden (or even open) agenda from the NCT and all that. We’re going through a big change so not sure I wanted a bunch of strangers involved. However, we’ve also not got much support locally.

    It’s obvious that the courses vary massively.

    Had our last session last week and overall the level of advise was excellent, very down the line and factual. We discussed options openly from natural to assisted birth, feeding (breast versus bottle), parenting styles, nappies (natural or disposable) – all very informative, realistic and non judgemental but with benefits and drawbacks cleary explained. Lots of topics covered that friends on other NCT or NHS didn’t get so we got lots of info both about birth and aftercare.

    Plus, we’ll admit, the social side appealed – more likely to meet people with a similar situation/perspective in NCT and it turns out overall everyone form our group is decent and similar outlook. Friends for life? Not sure yet. Useful peer support? Yeah, looking good. All the girls have been meeting for cake pre birth.

    Premier Icon mintimperial
    Subscriber

    We’ve only stayed in touch with one family we met via NCT and we’d have met them anyway as they live just round the corner. The social thing is useful for some but most of the other parents we get on with we met after the birth via playgroups and that.

    Contrary to what others are saying I actually found our NCT group leader was very positive and helpful about what happens if the natural-birth approach doesn’t work, she did a big session about the various interventions and I’m genuinely glad I was there. When our boy was born my wife started out doing it all natural in a nice hippy-dippy birthing suite, then tried gas and air cos it wasn’t happening, then when things started going properly wrong we moved on to a childbirth ward where they broke out the syntocinon and epidural before wheeling her into the operating theatre for an emergency section. If we hadn’t gone through all the possibilities at NTC beforehand I would have been significantly more panicked by it all. You feel properly daft acting it all out in the group beforehand but when someone’s hooked up to a load of weird-looking machines that go beep it helps to know that it’s still normal, run of the mill stuff for the doctors and midwives. No-one was judgemental afterwards either.

    I have to disagree about midwives being “under-educated quacks”. Our midwife was one of a very few pragmatic and genuinely helpful professionals we dealt with, she even went massively out of her way to help my wife when she had very severe PND after the birth, and after she was supposed to have signed off completely she still checked up on us informally. Like any profession there are good ones and bad ones, don’t write them all off just because one of them was a bit useless.

    (Apart from breast-feeding counsellors, they can all **** right off, **** judgemental nazis the lot of them, and they really are under-educated.)

    brakes
    Member

    I have a 3 month old baby and we chose to do NCT classes.
    I found it very informative and interesting, and would disagree that it’s dull for Dads.
    The classes are useful and they give you good knowledge of what to expect, but what has been invaluable for us has been the support that you get from having eight other couples nearby to swap stories, worries and concerns with once baby has come along. This has been brilliant for my wife and she has made some great friends too.
    My only caveat is that NCT are mercilessly pro-breast feeding (which the NHS are also), on the verge of brain-washing, so keep an open mind and try to learn about bottle feeding as well as it is often the case that you don’t have a choice about how you feed your baby so you need to understand different ways of doing it.
    The blokes go for regular drinks too, so it’s a good excuse for your other half to get bevvied whilst not wholly shirking his responsibilities as a father.

    Premier Icon GrahamS
    Subscriber

    Never bothered with NCT ourselves.

    The main focus seemed to be alternative birth options etc, which were never an option for us anyway.

    We did go to a (free) NHS class on breastfeeding which was excellent and really helped us later.

    I think the main reason folk go to NCT is to meet other mums in the area. We found we soon made good friends at the various baby massage, swimming, tumble tots, soft play etc

    joemarshall
    Member

    For us, the whole thing was quite useful, and the group of friends afterwards was a nice bonus too.

    Contrary to what others are saying I actually found our NCT group leader was very positive and helpful about what happens if the natural-birth approach doesn’t work, she did a big session about the various interventions and I’m genuinely glad I was there.

    Yes, us too. It seems like a bit of a lottery obviously from the posts above, but they aren’t necessarily pushing a particular thing as the only possible thing and everything else as failure.

    (Apart from breast-feeding counsellors, they can all **** right off, **** judgemental nazis the lot of them, and they really are unqualified.)

    Our NCT group leader was also one of these and was jolly useful, so again not guaranteed whether they are good or bad.

    The midwife was good too.

    Don’t get me started on our health visitor though – pretty much everyone locally doesn’t get on with this one particular health visitor, heard a few stories now.

    Premier Icon molgrips
    Subscriber

    Some breast feeding councillors are ok. Some are ineffective, and we never saw one who explained what we really needed to know and found out by ourselves.

    I think the reason they become a bit strident is that they meet a lot of people who just can’t be bothered putting any work in to give their baby what’s best for it. The people who really have genuine problems with it get a lot of guilt by association.

    Let the flaming begin.

    We did NCT. I wouldn’t do it again.

    On the positive side we didn’t know that many people in the area and it meant that my wife had a support group of other mums on the run-up and following the birth of our son.

    The dad’s weren’t all that sociable though, and the group as a whole was (predictably for where we lived at the time) a bit monocultural. Lots of bankers and the like with big 4x4s… we got some funny looks turning up in our VW van.

    There was some useful stuff in the classes themselves but as others have pointed out, it’s all a bit earth motherish. Militantly pro breastfeeding and natural childbirth…. that’s fair enough, and certainly something which we were hoping for but at one one point our instructor told us in all seriousness that 90% of emergency caesareans weren’t needed, which I actually thought was a pretty dangerous thing to say.

    The result of this was that my wife felt under unreasonable pressure to have both a natural birth and to breast feed. As it turned out she had a really difficult labour, our son having moved into a breech position towards the end. She required an epidural and eventually an emergency caesarean which was just terrifying – it all came good in the end, but required a long time for both here and the baby to recover. We had some problems with breastfeeding initially, but stuck with it – although my wife (largely as a result of the NCT advice) felt really terrible guilt at the fact that we had to use formula top-ups. This, and the whole “competitive parenting” thing which developed in the group amongst some of the mums (some of the babies apparently slept through the night at 8 weeks!) probably contributed to a serious bout of postnatal depression.

    If you do decide to go to NCT, my advice would be to speak to people who’ve been to the same group and see what their opinion of the instructor and the group was, and to take any advice with a liberal sprinkling of salt. It’s your child and you who need to make the decisions about what is best for them and you.

    Papa_Lazarou
    Member

    We did the antenatal class offered by the local PCT/NHS, which were good and useful to us both. The Mrs has met loads of friends through local groups and baby sessions (baby yoga, baby massage, baby kung-fu etc).

    The NCT route works if you want to find middle class friends, but IMHO not worth paying for over PCT/NHS in terms of finding out information to help look after a baby.

    brakes
    Member

    I think the reason they become a bit strident is that they meet a lot of people who just can’t be bothered putting any work in to give their baby what’s best for it. The people who really have genuine problems with it get a lot of guilt by association.

    +1
    the majority that I’ve come across/ heard of have one approach to counseling which caters for parents of babies who are arguably in most need of counsel; problems occur when the problems parents are having require a different approach and the counselor doesn’t have the capacity to modify their advice.

    Papa_Lazarou
    Member

    Its the health visitors and district midwives you want to avoid. Bunch of under-educated quacks the lot of them. They “invite” themselves into your home and spout crap at you. Just tell them to ****off. You are not obliged to meet them.)

    I found the absolute opposite to this. Having someone come to your home regularly when you have a new baby does two things (i) gives you the chance to ask questions and provide reassurance all is well (ii) allows them to ensure the baby is well cared for, which I’m sure isn’t required for most people on here, but is in the interest of many babies.

    Premier Icon puppypower
    Subscriber

    I would do them, I didn’t do NCT classes but was lucky enough to latch on to my friends NCT group so made lots of friends through that.

    You don’t really NEED the course content as such particularly if you are the type to read up by yourself, also agreed on the taking the course with a pinch of salt, though I know a local NCT teacher who is not at all militant, etc, I think some are a bit though. I did a course with some local independent midwives and it was awful – I asked what would happen if you had a c-section and the silly bitch said “Oh that won’t happen don’t worry”. (I did have a c-section (x2 with the second as well) – it was fine and I don’t particularly feel like I missed out on much :-)) Oops went off on a bit of a rant there.

    It’s also nice to have other people who are pregnant at the same stage as you to get excited with and discuss boring stuff like what pram to buy, etc. (I was lucky that I had 2 good friends pregnant at the same time anyway and it was really nice to have)

    Oh I do have a friend who met a lovely group through NHS classes as well, but I think this is more rare.

    And congratulations 🙂

    Premier Icon domino
    Subscriber

    Our first baby is due in February. I am keen to go to NCT classes as I think they will be useful and will allow us to meet new people our age who are expecting at a similar time. We don’t have any friends as such in the town we live in.

    My other half is less keen – he thinks it will be a waste of money and it will all be common sense and we can make do with the one NHS antenatal class (I’m worried that this will be full of pregnant teens).

    I see his point but I think it would be useful for both of us in terms of meeting people and for him, and I to get a bit more baby knowledge.

    Premier Icon molgrips
    Subscriber

    problems occur when the problems parents are having require a different approach and the counselor doesn’t have the capacity to modify their advice

    Well to be fair they don’t necessarily know which is which.

    Scamper
    Member

    Didn’t go to NCT, and from what i saw of the participants, it met the stereotype, but so what.

    Our NHS classes were great, massive range of backgrounds and ages. It covered all the important stuff form birth to the first few weeks. Don’t know why you’d want to drag this out for NCT apart from to make friends, but you have plenty of opportunity for that later. My Wife also found the NHS breast feeding class even more useful.

    I’d also disagree about the district midwives and health visitors – both were excellent in our area – well informed, supportive and non judgemental.

    Sounds like experiences of both NCT and NHS advice vary a lot depending on where you live.

    Premier Icon ransos
    Subscriber

    I thought NCT was great – I felt very well informed about what to expect with the birth and afterwards, and the instructor wasn’t at all pushy about breastfeeding or home births. We also both greatly appreciated having a wider support network of friends in the same situation – for example we now have a baby sitting circle.

    Premier Icon GrahamS
    Subscriber

    Some breast feeding councillors are ok. Some are ineffective, and we never saw one who explained what we really needed to know and found out by ourselves.

    NHS breastfeeding class was excellent. Very much everything we needed to know. Lots of stuff I didn’t know. Lots of expectations suitably set in terms of what to expect and how hard it may be at times.

    I think the reason they become a bit strident is that they meet a lot of people who just can’t be bothered putting any work in..

    I think there is some truth in that. Obviously not everyone can successfully breastfeed – and if they’ve given it a fair go but can’t continue for a good reason then fair enough.

    But there are lots of bad reasons too – like social barriers and bad advice from grandparents – that have to be challenged a bit.

    Example: breastfeeding takeup in low income groups is significantly lower than takeup in middle income groups. Odd given that formula is so expensive, but it largely seems down to social influence.

    Premier Icon theotherjonv
    Subscriber

    We did it and made some friends that are still friends, and met some people we’d happily never talk to again.

    The NCT consellor we had was pretty good, a bit ‘new age’ but I think that’s part of the NCT self selecting demographic. I whole heartedly recommend also doing the NHS session, if like ours they’ll show you round the wards and a birthing suite so it’s not all new and scary when the time comes.

    re Breastfeeding (FETCH ME MY SOAPBOX!) My wife was determined to b/f our daughter, but from an early stage it wasn’t happening. She suffered massively from sore and bleeding nipples, couldn’t get her to latch on properly, all sorts. All through we got great support both from the midwives and NCT b/f specialists but nothing seemed to work. Daughter wasn’t gaining weight, wife was getting more stressed, and the first 3 weeks of parenthood were something i would never wish on anyone. i hated my daughter, because of what she was doing to my wife and by extension us.

    Eventually my mum, who was an NCT counsellor in the past, snapped, and ordered my wife to give Polly a bottle. Overnight things changed. She started to gain weight, she wasn’t crying the whole time (poor thing had spent 3 weeks being hungry!), my wife was less stressed and she was able to start to breastfeed a bit and top up with expressed and formula as well. But we were dreading the next call from the health visitor because of what she’d say.

    {ascends soapbox}

    She was as nice as you like. In fact she said that she’d thought that was what was needed, but because my wife seemed so determined to make it work, and because she had performance targets to meet for mothers who breastfed that she had been warned about by her bosses for underperformance against, she hadn’t made that suggestion! I was furious, initially with her that she’d allowed my wife and daughter to go through it but then at a system that imho failed to recognise that the needs of the baby are higher than any b/f target.

    I still believe breast is best, and our second took to it immediately and was breastfed exclusively, but formula either entirely or as a supplement is not by extension bad, and compared to a starving baby is absolutely **** brilliant.

    Premier Icon domino
    Subscriber

    Wow thanks, lots of useful advice there.

    Re the breastfeeding and natural childbirth thing, I am a pragmatic person and will go for what works for me and baby, I’m not easily pushed into stuff. My midwife (from the one appointment) seems good – she was much relieved that I didn’t smoke, drink much and was capable of filling in all my forms unsupervised 🙂

    Luckily I have lots of sensible Mum friends to offer advice, its just a shame non of them live in Skipton.

    Premier Icon GrahamS
    Subscriber

    I whole heartedly recommend also doing the NHS session, if like ours they’ll show you round the wards and a birthing suite so it’s not all new and scary when the time comes.

    😀

    My missus worked as a doctor at the hospital she gave birth in, and spent two weeks as an in-patient there before the big day finally arrived. It was anything but new by that point and afterwards all she wanted to do was go home (a little too early as it happened).

    Premier Icon molgrips
    Subscriber

    but formula either entirely or as a supplement is not by extension bad, and compared to a starving baby is absolutely **** brilliant.

    Of course.. but many (not all, obviously) people give up too easily imo. And before people started pushing BF many people didn’t even bother trying – bottles were entirely the norm according to my mum.

    a system that imho failed to recognise that the needs of the baby are higher than any b/f target

    Not sure you are understanding the issue. BF is all about the needs of the baby. The point is that there are frequently early difficulties, and they are solved with time as the baby and mother learn and adapt. That’s why the midwives etc push it, because persistence is often rewarded. Only in unusual cases is it actually fatally doomed afaik. Our first only got the hang of it at 3mo when she grew physically big enough to deal with the nipple, fortunately though she was getting enough to get by in the early days.

    Beware mixed feeding though. It messes with your supply and causes more difficulties.

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