This was the first, but I am sure it will not be the last, dilemma that led to sleepless nights and general angst for me. Now resolved (for better or worse), the following describes our rather different levels of enthusiasm for taking NCT classes.

Elly:

I think it was the midwife who put me off. Going through the standard booking in appointment questions, we got to “education” – what classes was I going to do to prepare myself? “Um… NCT?” cue look of having eaten sea urchin sushi (don’t ever do it) on the midwife’s face. “Should I not do NCT?”, I say, a little befuddled. “You can… But we also have the hospital run classes and they cover the same things”, and she passes over the leaflet for three antenatal education classes covering healthy pregnancy, birth preparation and breastfeeding. A three stop shop, presumably a lot shorter than NCT and more importantly free?

So that got me doubting…

I spoke to my friend who had just given birth last month. Her view was that NCT was “for mummies to meet mummies” and the sessions themselves were not very practical, mostly focusing on the birth rather than how to cope with the product of said birth. So when it came to actually breastfeeding she had no idea how to hold the baby or really do anything with the baby. Despite this, the NCT group has been a lifeline for her – not knowing anyone else on maternity leave in the area, it’s nice to escape the flat to meet women in exactly the same position as you, going through the same thing, who are quite happy to talk about their babies the whole time. Even if you’ve been flung together simply because you had a baby at the same time as them.

And the ladies on the internets mostly agree that their NCT mates were the best support group ever, that they have potluck lunches together and bond, that they couldn’t have done it without them.

But £300 to meet other mummies? Couldn’t I pay thirty women who I find on the street with buggies £10 each to hang out with me instead, thereby having a greater selection of potential mummy friends to choose from? Or perhaps spend it on classes after the birth to tackle being a Norma-no-mates at the same time as transforming my body back to pre-pregnancy proportions a la Megan Fox with a podgier baseline?

But if I don’t sign up will I regret it? Will everyone be in chummy NCT groups and not want to be my friend?

I had a week to decide before we have to pay up or lose our spot…
I coughed up… Clueless as we are with absolutely no baby experience between us, they must teach us something, right?

And why back one horse when two will do? Perhaps I’ll see if there are slots on the hospital classes too!

Cath:

Our midwife, on the other hand, actively encouraged us to book our NCT course as soon as possible, and didn’t even mention the NHS option! Perhaps she has shares in NCT… And this was at our 10 week appointment so we hadn’t even had a scan yet! After her warnings about the classes getting full, we wanted to book up straight away, so it was an effort to wait until after the scan. Even so, we then read their cancellation policy carefully. You never know… and £300 is indeed a bit of investment, especially when you factor in everything else that you need to buy for the baby. Ours actually costs a bit more than that as I think it is a couple of hours longer and includes a reunion at the end. I suppose the attendees could orchestrate the reunion themselves, but I like the idea of being organised!

My sister in law went to NCT classes with her husband when she was pregnant with her first child and they loved them. Moreover, they made some brilliant friends who funnily enough all ended up having girls – whereas our new addition to the family was a nephew. Already a ladies’ man at the age of one month! They are still in touch with the “NCT lot” to this day and one of them became godmother to their third child last year.

Although our family wouldn’t judge us if we didn’t go with NCT, it is these positive precedents which make me think that nothing but good things could come out of the classes. As we are fortunate enough to have the opportunity, it seems silly not to go for it. The price is pretty high, especially in London, but there are different payment options to help out those who need it… it is supposed to be a charity after all! National Childbirth Trust?

And of all people, I probably need NCT classes the least. Not because I’m a baby expert – I’m most definitely not that! – but because in addition to Elly, I have two other friends due within a month of me. That’s half a class already! However, none of them are within walking distance. I get the impression that one huge advantage of meeting people through NCT is that they are all guaranteed to live in your local area, so you can pop over for tea and so on. Much easier than visiting my friend in Tunbridge Wells which takes an hour on the train.

What’s the worst that can happen? Eating sea urchin sushi sounds more painful, and I’ve never tried that either!

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