When you are pregnant, you will probably think about attending some kind of ante-natal class before the baby is born – or parent craft class as they are often called now.
You will usually be offered some kind of class by your NHS hospital before the birth of your baby, which will be free. I was offered a parent craft class to attend with my husband and a separate breastfeeding class to attend on my own.
You will also have the option to attend your local NCT class which runs over a longer period of time and you would have to pay for yourself.
I chose not to attend an NCT class, as my ‘local’ one was in a different town (and therefore the other attendees were from a different town) and it was too expensive for us personally. I also found it difficult to find one that fit for us time wise – a class starting at 6 pm didn’t work when you finished work in London at 5.30pm. However, my friend Mrs Lighty from All Things Spliced did attend her local NCT classes and she has kindly offered these words of wisdom about why she decided to attend:
“We opted to attend our local branch of the National Childbirth Trust’s (NCT) antenatal classes as the NHS in our area only offers two sessions for parents-to-be, and as complete baby novices, we felt that we needed a bit more in depth knowledge than the NHS could offer. We’d also heard that it was a good way to meet other new parents with babies of the same age.
There were 8 sessions in total, including a women’s only session and a breastfeeding class. As we attended the NCT’s “signature” course, the course content was very much set by us and the other couples in attendance.
I felt that the breathing and relaxation techniques for during labour helped a lot, and I managed my whole labour on just gas and air because I’d learnt how to breathe through a contraction and use distraction and relaxation techniques. My husband knew how to best support me based on what we discussed in class, too. One of the best things for us, however, was the fact that we made new friends whose babies are the same age as ours.
I would definitely recommend the classes – and indeed, I already have done so – to new parents. Although some people may be put off by the cost, we felt that they were well worth the money.”
So as you can see, the NCT classes can be hugely beneficial. The one thing regret is that I don’t have a group of mum friends who have had babies at the same time and could share their experiences and give each other support and friendship as the babies grow up. I am very lucky though that I had a few friends and family who have had babies at the same time as me so I’ve not been alone!
The NHS class I attended though was brilliant. I first attended the breastfeeding class on my own. When I got pregnant, I always said I was determined to breastfeed and in order to set myself up for that, I researched and researched and researched some more! I wanted to know the benefits, the techniques, the highs and the lows so I was prepared for the journey ahead. The class I attended was fantastic. The midwife was very honest and knew her stuff – she said it would be hard, there probably would be some pain and there would be days when you wouldn’t be able to leave the sofa because you would be feeding (so make sure you’ve got Netflix set up!!) She also told us how beneficial it was for the baby, and I learnt a lot of stuff I didn’t know. We were even given a doll to ‘practice’ positioning! The attendees were given a chunk of leaflets and information that I immediately read when I got home, and found very helpful!
A few weeks later, I attended the parent craft class with Craig. I’d spoken to my sister in law about what to expect and she’d given me a rough idea. We arrived arrived 9am and there were four other couples there. We were introduced to our midwife, Lucy, who was lovely!
The session started with us breaking into two groups – mums v dads (or birthing partners) and we have to write down any worries or fears we had. These ranged from not knowing when labour had started and when you should go to the hospital, to tearing during labour. The midwife wrote these all down and we discussed them in details. We then did a few other exercises, such as what to pack in your hospital bag, what pain relief is avaliable, and the pros and cons of each, the different stages of labour and some relaxation techniques.
A lot of the stuff covered I had already done a lot of research on. I think as a first time mum, you have no idea what to expect, and because of that you do a LOT of research (although the Internet is a vast and scary place and you can come across some great stuff, but also some frightening stuff!). I thought the class was a great source of information for Craig though, and it really got him prepared for what would happen during labour. There was stuff though that even I didn’t know about!
We were then given a tour of the hospital. In the area I live, we have two options of where to have the baby – the maternity ward of the main hospital or the midwife led birthing centre. The birthing centre is where we were given the tour. I had already decided to have the baby at the birthing unit so it was great to have a look around. We were shown the two delivery rooms, one of which had a birthing pool. There was also one private room for after the delivery that can be used. This means dad is able to stay over for the first night when the baby is born, something that was very important to us.
After the class, we felt able to confidently write a birthing plan and this helped us to focus on what we wanted for the birth of our child. More about that in my next post!
I’m very glad we were able to attend these classes, and would thoroughly recommend!
Did you attend any classes pre-baby? What did you think?