Tuesday 12 May 2020

NCT Antenatal Course Review - 2019*

I thought I would share my experience of the NCT antenatal classes that we took in case anyone was considering them. We had the option to attend free classes run by the NHS but we found the times and locations weren’t suitable for us and it would mean taking time off work which neither of us wanted to do. We were recommended NCT classes by a couple of people and although expensive, I think they are worth going to if you’re new to parenting.

The first class was more of an icebreaker than anything and we were joined by 7 other couples. We introduced ourselves and shared our due dates. It was nice to have a small class as it felt like you could really spend the time getting to know people and having plenty of time to ask questions. The due dates ranged from Mid-May to the end of June with me being pretty much in the middle, so it was great that everyone was at a similar stage to each other and everyone was first time parents too. In the first class, we split into 2 groups, mums and dads and had to write down some of our queries and concerns so that future lessons could be planned around this. It was quite funny seeing the difference in responses, then men came back with questions such as “When can we wet the baby’s head?” whereas the women came back with more sensible questions! We then looked at photos of different babies and had to categorize them into sections on if they were in deep sleep, light sleep, hungry, angry or playful. There were no right or wrong answers but we got some great tips on how to tell if a baby is hungry and how to try and settle them by recreating a similar atmosphere that they experienced in the womb. Finally our last task was to categorize photos of items into three piles for newborns, essentials, nice but not needed and not needed. It was interesting to see what other people thought of as an essential item. We also learned about the stages of labour, and how the baby’s head fits through the pelvis.

Photo by Bizzy Lizzy Photography
The second class felt more relaxed as we knew what to expect. We also knew where the kitchen was to help ourselves to tea/coffee and biscuits! We started off by splitting into groups and discussing what we could do in slow labour. Things like eat, sleep, relax, listen to music etc. Then we talked about what to do if still at home and labour progressing to needing to push! We were taught how you can tell if labour is progressing too and signs that your partner can look out for. We then tried out different labour positions including sitting on a bucket much to my amusement. I even joked that we have to go past B&Q on the way to the hospital so I could pick one up on route! My favourite task of the night was creating a 24 hour timeline of our current routine. We were then given some cards with babies on them and nappies and had to try and fit them into the routine somehow. It was an eye opener as to how much time babies really need. In a 24 hour time period we learned they can feed between 8-20 times. It didn’t seem like there was time for much else after nappy changes! Babies don’t appear to have a routine and we were told the best thing you can do in the first 2 weeks is to try and survive. I can understand why people don’t like to have visitors during this time because it seems absolutely sporadic. Finally we discussed reasons that babies cry and things we can do to soothe them.

The third week we learned a few different things, starting with how to swaddle a baby. It was useful to know how to do this as some babies like to feel wrapped up so it’s something we will definitely try when she is here. We also had some practical stations on nappy changing, putting baby to bed and using slings. We really liked the slings but I am not sure how it would work in the summer as I can imagine the baby would get rather warm stuck to me all day! We also each had a task to research different types of pain relief so we brought all of those together. These included, a TENS machine, Gas and Air, Water Birth, Epidural, Pethidine and a few others I can’t quite recall. We even got to try a TENS machine out which was a strange experience! It was interesting hearing about how each method works. It also gave me some ideas of what to put in my birthing plan and which types of drugs I would be open to receiving. Although of course, who knows what will happen on the day.

I couldn’t believe how quickly week 4 came around, and by this point I had started to remember peoples names. We firstly talked about hospital bag essentials and things we would be packing. I had already started my bag at this point and felt as though I had everything I needed but got some handy tips, especially about bendy straws as they are easier to drink from when in labour or lying down/in a pool. We also learned a bit about Inductions, and other self help methods you can try to bring on labour (curries, long walks etc!). By the end of the session we created a whatsapp group so we will be able to keep in touch and I thought it would be great to see when the other ladies have their babies!

We then had a Saturday afternoon session which was all about feeding. James couldn’t come along to this which is a bit of a shame as I was the only one alone and we had a lunch meet-up as well but it was fine once I got chatting. The session was mainly focussed on breastfeeding and was run by a breastfeeding specialist. We learned a lot about the technique, how to encourage baby to latch on and also how to tell if they have had enough milk if you aren’t measuring it in a bottle. I found the most interesting and memorable fact is that you can indeed have an alcoholic drink when breastfeeding, as I thought you couldn’t. They just don’t encourage you to go and get drunk because you then might not be in a fit state to feed or hold your baby anyway, but it was good to know my milk wouldn’t be affected.

I couldn’t believe how quickly the final class came around. It was almost a shame to stop them as I felt like I was really getting into them. This class taught us about caesareans, recovery, second stage of labour and breathing techniques. We also had the chance to ask any questions about anything we wanted to know. When we finished, we said goodbye to everyone and it was strange to think that the first lady was due in just 2 weeks. The babies would start to arrive any time now and all of our lives will change as we know it!

We also booked in a reunion for all of us and our babies for the end of July, roughly a month after the last baby was due.

*Disclaimer - This blog post was written over a year ago now before any of the Covid-19 and Social Distancing Measures were in place. I highly recommend NCT however I am not sure what the classes look like now or if they are currently going down the virtual route. It was great to come away with a support system and as a group we still talk now. the second I had my baby I forgot 90% of what I learned, standard! This post is not sponsored in any way.
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