So, you’re having your first baby and somewhere along the line there may be talk of booking an NCT class. Though they aren’t compulsory, antenatal classes can help you and your partner to focus on the pregnancy and help you become better prepared for your duties pre and post childbirth. But antenatal classes aren’t for everyone and can seem a big waste of money if you’re not prepared for the realities of what they offer. We’ve teamed up with Verybestforkids and Dadsondoody to come up with 6 key questions to ask BEFORE you book your class.
1.Do you need the classes?
Will at Dads on Doody – “The biggest benefit for me and my wife was to have some exposure to the process of childbirth.”
When the NCT was first founded, in 1955, it enabled couples to access information which they couldn’t find anywhere else. 60 years on, we are generally much better informed. From TV programmes like ‘One Born Every Minute’ to pregnancy books, websites, forums, friends and family who will share their experiences too.
However, the problem for soon-to-be parents is that often the advice is either too general or sometimes conflicting and this gives rise to questions which you need answering – and the best place to do this can be in an antenatal class.
As a soon-to-be parent you also have a lot of fears. It can be reassuring to know you are not the only ones feeling anxious and sharing these feelings in a group is a good way to get answers and help feel less stressed.
2.Are you ready to be social?
Kevin at Very Best For Kids – “It was weird watching the gender dynamics in operation. In the first sessions all the women were chatting away merrily to each other whilst the men sat quietly by their sides. Then the men began talking to the other women and their partners were talking too. Finally, the men began to talk to each other.”
While a lot of your appointments during pregnancy are one-to-one meetings with midwives, doctors, consultants, etc., the antenatal class is a much bigger group, with as many as 20 attendees. If you don’t really want to meet new people or find that you just don’t want to go through the pregnancy intimately with anyone else but your partner, then these sessions may be a real turn off and, in more extreme cases, may actually cause more stress than they’re worth.
3.Do you enjoy the classroom environment?
Will – “I didn’t know a thing so it was good to learn the basics, particularly about when your wife goes into labor and how to help during the delivery.”
In exploring topics like childbirth, understanding your partner and coping with the pregnancy, it would be easy to think that all classes are fully hands-on all the time. In fact only the later classes are more ‘hands-on.’
The first few classes will feel like you’re back at school, going through topics, being tested and, in some cases, even being given written homework. If you were the head-boy type, this kind of learning might be a great blast from the past but, for others, it may seem like you’ve regressed to the point of being a young teenager again.
4.How much do you like Twister?
Kevin – “Watching the women practice birthing positions didn’t bother me until the men were asked to try it too – then it became awkward.”
Now it’s unlikely you’ll actually be playing Twister (as great as that would be!) but there are certain situations where you may not want to see your heavily pregnant partner and other women in some very strange, contorted positions.
If hands-on, weird positions are your thing – you’re in for a treat in the latter part of the course!
5.Do you like getting passively competitive?
“Oh, you got your pram from Argos? Ours is from Mamas and Papas – the nanny thinks it’s amazing.”
Getting a set of newbie parents together can’t be complete without talking about all the equipment, gadgets and general stuff that’s been purchased. As this talk meanders, it builds up this passive competitiveness that you’ll be thinking about all week with the aim of getting one up on the rest.
How far are you willing to go…:-)
6.A dog isn’t just for Christmas
Kevin – “From a personal point of view, I’ve made some great friends through NCT and enjoyed the social gatherings they provide for birthdays, outings and such, but I know that for some newbie dads, the idea of a constant social calendar with a group of fellow new-dads is the last thing they would want.”
As in any social situation, there are some people at the classes you will want to avoid like the plague, however, there are always like-minded people there too who you will soon end up befriending.
So do be prepared; the people in your class often become a small fraternity and the likelihood is that that this new social group will be around long after the course finishes.
If Antenatal classes aren’t for you, don’t worry, there’s a load of alternatives including couples yoga, and hypnobirthing! Whatever you choose, make sure it’s the right activity that you will enjoy and learn from.