During your pregnancy (particularly if it’s your first), you will likely be encouraged by your midwife or obstetrician to attend antenatal classes.
Generally your hospital or birthing centre will run these and you usually attend towards the end of your second trimester or beginning of your third. You just have to remember to ask your midwife about how you register onto these.
However, we found out about the NCT antenatal classes through a friend of ours, who highly recommended them. The NCT (National Childbirth Trust) is a charitable organisation, so you do have to pay for these classes, but we found they were well worth the money.
With NCT, they match you to a group in your local area, with other mums-to-be that are due around the same few weeks as you. Which means it’s a great way to meet other people in your area, that hopefully you’ll be able to stay in touch with when your babies arrive. This was a big appeal to us, as we still didn’t know lots of people in our area, particularly anyone having babies.
Pretty much as soon as we found out we were pregnant, I looked-up my local NCT class and booked on. We booked onto the ‘Signature Course‘ which promised to cover everything from pregnancy and labour, to breast-feeding and coping with a newborn – all within a relaxed and friendly environment. You attend as a couple (if you are one) and the class leaders promise to be knowledgeable and informative (which ours certainly was!). The course is made up of 8, 2-hour sessions that happen twice a week (ours was on a Monday and Wednesday evening).
So onto the classes themselves…
In complete honesty, both hubby and I were worried they’d be a bit cringe. We didn’t want to feel like we were in some sort of team-building activity session and spend the whole time waiting for the time to fly by. But this wasn’t the case at all. When we arrived, our group leader Helen, greeted us with a smile and beckoned us into the room, where another pair of couples were already seated. You could tell everyone was a bit apprehensive, but we all said hello, grabbed a cup of tea and some biscuits and settled in a circle.
There were 8 couples in our group, which was just the right amount. I think any more than this and we wouldn’t have got the specific and detailed attention we got throughout the course. It also meant that as a group, we got to know each other quite well and managed to talk to each other each session.
Helen started us off with a little introduction exercise (which genuinely wasn’t too cringe) where we had to get to know something about someone else in the room (not our partner). We then went round and introduced each other to the rest of the group. It was quite a nice ice-breaker. Helen then asked us what we hoped to cover in our classes, which was when we all spoke up about all the unanswered questions we had about the birthing process. It was a relief for everyone to realise that we were all in the same boat and had exactly the same questions, worries and fears.
Each class then generally comprised of 45 minutes of chat, activity and questions, then a 15-minute tea and toilet break and then the final hour of more chat, activity and questions. It was a really good format and every week, the 2 hours flew by!
I was surprised to see how much the partners were all enjoying themselves too, including my hubby. He said it was really great to be involved with the pregnancy, learn things that’d help along the way and to meet other Dads-to-be in the same position. I think this is definitely one of the highlights of the NCT antenatal classes – that you get to share the experience together as a couple and your partner gets the opportunity to really feel useful (which they are!).
Each week, we got more and more relaxed as a group, shared lots of giggles and really made the most of our antenatal classes. By the end of the 8 weeks, we were all genuinely gutted that we wouldn’t have our twice-weekly meet-ups anymore. In fact, we celebrated with a post-class trip to the pub (soft drinks for the mums) and set-up a WhatsApp group so we could all stay in touch.
I think that’s the best thing to come from the group – a real support network of other mums-to-be. We’re in touch almost daily and have been sharing our stories and experiences as we go along with the final weeks of pregnancy and birth for some of us. The dads meet up regularly for a pint too.
I couldn’t recommend the NCT antenatal classes enough. Our group leader was very well informed and was the right balance of informal, yet informative. We never felt silly asking or saying something and were always fully stocked with biscuits and tea (hugely important when preggers!). We covered all eventualities of labour and birth and were also given a useful pack of hand-outs, numbers and support groups that we could call on too.
The 8 week course is about £180 and you can also become a NCT member, which is well worth it, as you get lots of offers, events and discounts sent through to you each month. You can pay in installments, which really spreads the cost out and makes it very manageable.
Have you booked onto any antenatal classes yet?
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