NCT is a funny thing. Fantastic and frustrating in equal measure. It creates great opportunities to build supportive friendships but also can be guilty of being a bit misleading. In this post I thought I would bust a few myths about what you will and won’t get from attending NCT sessions. Hope it is some use to parents to be and of interest to others like me who attended NCT.
5 Things you will get from NCT classes
1. A group of new friends: people going through the same thing to talk to are invaluable. This is what NCT is great at delivering, a support group that will be there for each other through the terrifying months to come!
2. A not completely accurate sense of calm before the storm: NCT is designed to make you feel calm and at ease before birth. This certainly has its uses, but my view was that this was perhaps a bit too much the emphasis, and the reality was quite different (see below)
3. A basic understanding of the ins and outs of childbirth: for a complete newcomer like me, there was a lot I learned through the classes – however I actually learned a lot more from books I read, so I’d recommend seeing NCT as more a top up. Do some reading too – I particularly recommend “The Expectant Dad’s Handbook” by Dean Beaumont (http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Expectant-Dads-Handbook-pregnancy/dp/0091948045)
4. Some information about your options, but only a bit: you will learn a bit about birth options, but again read around the subject
5. A hangover: if like me you go out with the the dads from the group and drink too much jäger a horrific hangover is a certainty. Do this before the baby arrives!
5 Things you won’t get from NCT classes
1. Understanding of how to hold a real life baby: at our NCT there was never a class that featured a real baby. Holding a doll is VERY different to a real life wiggling baby, believe me. Practice with dolls in now way prepares you for the terrifying first time you take your tiny newborn in your arms.
2. An insight into the true horrors of childbirth: the discussions about the various birth options was somewhat lacking to say the least, and the reality of birth (no matter how it happens) is far more brutal and far more horrendous than NCT will let you know. I appreciate they don’t want to scare expectant mothers, but in light of what I know now, I think a bit more honest wouldn’t hurt, as it is as much about being prepared for the mental anguish as the purely physical pain.
3. A knowledge of “Breathing techniques”: we both expected to be taught lots of breathing techniques for labour – this just didn’t happen. In the end these wouldn’t have helped us anyway as our birth was rather more complex, but it was something we expected so don’t be surprised to not all be sat in a circle panting
4. How to manage midwives/consultants etc: one of the biggest challenges with birth is talking to midwives/doctors/consultants and actually being heard. The prep for how to make these people actually listen to you was lacking, and is something that could certainly be improved
5. How to change a nappy when you have a screaming baby: the nappy changing session really didn’t prepare us for the challenge of changing a screaming poo and wee fountain. If you want to practice, find a friend with a baby and get stuck in!