Are antenatal classes worth it?

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When I was pregnant with Olivia, like many other mums, I looked into antenatal  classes to help us both prepare for the birth of our baby.

After doing some research, we signed up to our local NCT class, mainly because locally there weren’t many other options, but also because the reviews of these classes seemed to be really good. I had heard of them before, and that you could end up with a lovely group of friends too if you all kept in touch. I’m pleased to say that we all have, but I’m probably the flakey one of the group as I live out of county to the rest of them! (Apologies if you’re reading this guys – I do try to make it to meet ups!)

The classes are attractive not least because you are grouped with a bunch of people whose due dates are all within a month or two, so your babies will all be the same age.

I didn’t really know what to expect from the classes when we started going, and had been suffering a bit with antenatal depression and anxiety so had a bit of trepidation ahead of the first session.

As a brief overview, we had 4 sessions in total.

The first session was pretty much about the scientifics – labour, assisted delivery, emergency c-sections, birthing positions, oxytocin, the different types of  induction, etc… I had no idea what I’d gotten myself into and found it quite helpful, except for the terrifying visualisations of what a 10cm diameter circle looks like!

The second session was a mums only session to talk about “gross and personal bits”. I actually really disagree with this session being mums only. We talked about episiotomies, tearing, and postnatal depression. Dads need to know this information too. Dads can suffer with PND and even if they don’t, it would actually have been brilliant for them to be involved to know what to do and how to support their partner if they were going through it. As far as I know, 2 of the 8 of us had PND, and both men were excluded from the discussions about it in our antenatal class. On the other hand, it was a nice opportunity to get the know the other mums more personally, but again there was no similar dads only session. I also wonder how the NCT would deal with this scenario with a lesbian couple if only one of them was pregnant – they do need a bit of modernising, despite the content of the session being really good.

Then the third session – the breastfeeding session. Oh my lord. Just going to share a highlight: “you can feed the baby upside down over your shoulder if you wanted to”.

Do I need to say anymore than this? Didn’t think so…

The final session rounded it all up, in truth I can’t remember much about that one now, it was 3 years ago. It was by far the least controversial though, more of a well wishing and any final questions sort of session.

There were 8 of us mummies in total (and 8 daddies), so I’m going to share some stats:

  • 4 of us had girls
  • 4 of us had boys
  • 4 of us had vaginal deliveries
  • 4 of us had c-sections
  • We all attempted breastfeeding
  • We all stopped at different times
  • 2 babies had tongue ties
  • 2 of us had PND (that I know of)
  • 6 of us were married before we had the babies
  • 2 of us got married afterwards
  • 4 of us have had a second baby
  • 2 of us went late
  • 6 of us went early

We all still stay in touch and try to meet up at least annually, and in honesty, the best part of the antenatal classes was the amazing friends we made.

I feel grateful to know such lovely and inspiring mummies on top of knowing the amazing mummykind mummies. It’s brilliant having a WhatsApp group with the mums so that if my toddler does something totally weird I can ask them questions and see if anyone is going through the same. They encouraged me to drop the nappies at night time and since last week Olivia has been dry at night too! They’re a really supportive bunch and they were definitely the real gain behind doing the NCT class.

Did you take any antenatal classes? Have you stayed in touch with the other parents too? We’d love to hear about it!

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Sarah

I am well on my way to becoming a barrister, and hope that one day my little munchkin will follow in my footsteps! I'm also a wife to a Grenadier Guard dealing with army life, and I write letters to Olivia as well as writing for the amazing blog we run over at www.mummykind.com

7 thoughts on “Are antenatal classes worth it?

  1. I think I’ll look into ante natal classes when I get pregnant as it will be my first baby and there’s so much information out there it’s a bit daunting! I don’t like the mummys only part of the class either I’d want my husband there with me for all of it. #KCACOLS

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  2. I found the class pretty pointless and really out of date as a genderfluid parent. I didn’t really learn anything, everything was just funny and well, I was left out cause I’m neither the birth mum nor a dad. #kcacols

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    1. My first thought when writing this post was that these classes (at least in the format that ours was delivered) are really only geared towards heterosexual couples. What springs to mind is a scenario we played out where ‘mums’ and ‘dads’ were separated and given a scenario where ‘mum’ has a hellish day with baby and ‘dad’ comes home from work asking what ‘mum’ has done all day! Yes it was funny, but actually of no real use… Thank you for commenting!

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  3. I never went to any of these classes but I did go to a first time mums group run by my GP surgery. I was the youngest. I didn’t have a high flying career, I could drive at that point, nor did I own my own home or was married. But the main issue was I didn’t breastfeed at all. All mums made sure I never forgot this except one. It wasn’t a fun time for me to be honest and I have never spoken to them since our kids turned two. That being said, I made a lovely friend in hospital and we stayed really close for a few years. Now our girls are both in the same class in secondary school and became friends all on their own not knowing. they will be friends for life I think! #kcacols

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  4. I didn’t go to any antenatal classes with either of my pregnancies, partly due to not really knowing where to even start looking. There’s no NCT equivalent in Mexico. I always thought they would be more useful than the ones you described, and more than just four sessions, so now I’m thinking I didn’t really miss out on much! #kcacols

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  5. I only had one NHS antenatal class as both of my kids were born early. I wasn’t offered them at all with my second pregnancy as they just assumed I had already had them. I think they are good for first time parents, they can’t prepare you for everything but they are a good start I think.
    #KCACOLS

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  6. I did NCT classes with number one, mainly to meet other mums. I wouldn’t say the classes themselves were worth it but it def was to meet people – we’re still friends now! #KCACOLS

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