Worried about NCT classes

Hi, I am almost 22 weeks pregnant and just received a reminder about my NCT course which is due to start in June. I had a look online at what to expect from the classes and am now pretty worried and stressed about it.

My main concern is that NCT (and the other local classes I have been attending already), books and general 'fashion' these days seems to be to push the message that natural, drug free, non-medicalised birth = good & positive, and hospital, pain relief, c-section and doctors = bad & negative.

I have not seen anything or heard anyone talk about a 'medicalised' birth being positive. Why can't I have an epidural or c-section and that still be a positive experience? Why can I only have a positive experience if I do everything naturally 'like a true earth mother should'?

My friends are all horrified that I want to give birth in hospital and not in the local midwife led birthing centre or at home. The general attitude seems to be that hospitals are awful and lead automatically to horrible experiences.

I started this process being quite open minded but happy to embrace all that the medical profession can do to help me. Now I am just feeling upset and confused.

Just wondering if anyone can share their experiences?

16 Replies

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  • hi I am currently going to the classes... I was also told that they push natural all the way etc.. we had some time discussing pain relief last week and she didn't push either way. She didn't give us all that much info but the questions I asked were all around sections/inductions as I am consultant lead and that is where they are heading with the dicusssions at the moment. She didn't push against this at all. we had a session on breastfeeding last night and I was very interesting in the expressing side - again thinking they would discourage this but she didn't at all.

  • Thank you, I think you have touched on one of my big concerns, which is that I want to feel prepared and empowered no matter what my birth experience (medical or natural) and able to make it into a positive experience. I already have had to deal with more than 3 years of ttc, repeated surgeries and IVF in order to get pregnant, and really do not need any more 'feeling like a failure' or unnatural.

    My husbands view is: go to the hospital expecting to have an epidural, and knowing that intervention is a possibility. If during the process you stop and think 'actually, I can manage this' and end up with a natural birth then consider it a bonus.

  • Hi there,

    That's a shame to hear. We would never want you to feel that you wasted your money.

    We support parents however and wherever they choose to give birth. If you feel that wasn't the experience you had, please let us know who your antenatal teacher was and the date of your course, so we can look into it. You can email: enquiries@nct.org.uk

    Unfortunately a birth plan is not set in stone. Things may happen during labour that you hadn’t planned for. Additionally you should also feel that you can change your mind as labour progresses too.

    Many thanks,

    NCT

  • Hi Katrina

    Please don't feel worried and stressed about your class. We would never want you to feel upset or confused.

    However and wherever you give birth, it needs to feel right for you and we will support you every step of the way.

    We often have other clients on our antenatal courses who want to give birth at hospital and have scheduled a c-section. Consequently you may have the opportunity to meet others going through the same experience to share ideas and concerns, and discuss questions of common interest. Additionally your NCT Antenatal Teacher would be happy to answer any questions you have and support you on your journey.

    Hopefully this has reassured you and please get in touch with us if you have any further questions or queries on our Helpline: 0300 330 0700.

    Take care and we hope to still see you on your course.

    NCT

  • I chose a midwife led clinic attached to the hospital as help was 2 doors down if I needed it. My midwife was adamant that I should choose a home birth. I spoke to a friend who's also a midwife and she gave me a big hug and said "it's your body and baby. Go where you feel safest." I Had planned a water birth, but my waters broke prematurely and baby presented backwards and forehead first. That wasn't picked up until I went into labour. I didn't feel bad asking/begging for an epidural! She eventually came by emergency csection. Any way your baby comes is wonderful.

  • I have to agree with the NCT I don't think natural was "pushed" and likewise in my group there was a few under consultant care who were discussing induction/section option etc.. The NCT teacher we have was impartial and just gave the info rather than her opinions. The general concensus was that everybody must do what is correct for them and if interventions of whatever type are suggested by the hospital than its for the of you and the baby.. ultimately that is the end goal so please try not to feel guilty about anything. I would honestly recommend the course and the 2 course leaders we have had.

  • Hi Katrina I went to the NCT classes just to gain information and it was the best thing I could have done. I personally wanted a natural birth, the one thing I didn't want was a C-section unfortunately I had to have one but going to the NCT classes meant I was prepared for what would happen. The classes covered all sorts of things like all the various pain medication available and so on they didn't push anything on us. Also the other thing I gained is friendship which I wasn't expecting, my little girl is now 15 months old and we meet up once a week. Hope this puts your mind at ease.

  • I felt the NCT course I went on was well balanced. There was reassurance that you just might not need pain relief so it's not always awful through to information about all the different pain relief options, how they work and any side effects (this helped me plan to miss out some of the options and skip to an epidural if needed). I never felt any bias towards shunning medical care at all.

    I found the advice about birth positions and water births invaluable and despite being all up for as many drugs as I needed I think through their advice I gave birth to a 10lb baby on a bit of gas and air. I'm now pregnant again and my birth plan is still stacked with drugs just in case. Being ready to just do what ever you need at the time, where situations change is the most important. I think just having the information in advance so you can spend time thinking about things made me more relaxed that I wasn't suddenly going to be in a really unfamiliar situation. There was also a session about c-sections to forewarn you of how many people may be there and what their roles were so if it happened you wouldn't start to panic that things had hone wrong.

    I too was worried it might be a bit lentil-loving (I'm a scientist) but it was balanced and really useful.

    Good luck!

  • Hi Katrina... I did not even go to all of my ante natal classes as I just felt deep down that whatever me and baby needed at the time would happen. I kept an open mind for the whole process and made no 'plan' because very close friends of mine had births that were poles apart from each other and nothing like they'd imagined.

    Me and my husband were ttc for 4 years. One successful IVF cycle later and pregnancy came... it was a relatively easy pregnancy and then my due date came and went.

    There was talk of membrane sweeps and induction which immediately put any notion of home birth or MLBU led birth... including a water birth which I had not previously considered.

    I was term plus 2 weeks when I went into hospital to be induced and another 48 hours before my son was born. In the end I had no choice but to leave it to the professionals and I can say I felt safe throughout the whole process. They gave me choices along the way and did not force anything on me.

    I had an epidural (that was difficult keeping still during contractions!) and even though this was a success I was still scared about 'feeling' things. I was never rushed and was fully reassured throughout.

    I guess what I am trying to say is being prepared for all eventualities is a good idea: having set ideologies on how your baby will be born and should be born is unrealistic. I read up on enough to put me in the picture on intervention and pain relief as well as more 'natural' ideas (breathing and positions etc) but for me when the time came I relied on instinct and was guided by professionals.

    Whatever happens be kind to yourself :-) x

  • All classes that you attend whether it is nhs or nct will push for a 'natural' birth, nct will cover hospital birthing and cesarean sections too. I did nct and I had a hospital birth with an emergency section and not a single contraction. What I found really helped about doing nct wasn't the information that was given but the support I had. Going home from quite a difficult birth I had the girls from my group helping me and we still see each other almost every week which has been amazing. You need to remember that however you give birth you will still have the same result and that is all that matters. In my opinion that is what the nct guides towards and I didn't feel as though I had any less of a bond or experience due to having a hospital birth! Good luck!

  • I did the NCT classes with my first baby and have to say that we were given all the information out there and the benefits and disadvantages of all were discussed. Our NCT lady did point out the benefits of a natural birth but she did not try to encourage us to go down that route. Some of us were keen on epidurals and asked questions, one knew she have to have a C-Section and a couple of us were keen on water births. None of us were made to change our thoughts or plans but health risks, pain implications, recovery time and all was discussed.

    The one thing she did try to tell us what to do was to be clear with our birthing partners what we wanted so that they could help us get this help during birth, especially if we were not in the state of mind to voice our opinions. And she reminded us that birthing plans can change quickly, so suggested to stay open minded. I wanted a water birth, no epidural. When I was in labour and in a lot of pain I changed my mind and wanted to have the epidural, and due To the discussions we'd had during our NCT classes I felt I was making an informed decision on this. However, my labour was so quick that there was ultimately no time for an epidural.

    At no stage did I feel pushed to decide one way or another.

    The labour discussions are also just one aspect of the entire course, there is so much more to the course! Enjoy it and hopefully you'll meet lots of lovely couples!

  • I already knew I was going to have an elective c section before attending my group. Altho I was the only one at the beginning of the course to consider this option, the course leader took us through all of the possibilities and options available in a safe guided environment. It was an invaluable experience. The other 5 couples have become our friends. Altho the other ladies wished for natural easy births, we ended up with 2 more c sections, 2 forcep deliveries and 1 drug free water birth as well as my straight forward elective. No matter what prep anyone does, all bets are off on the day, so don't let your concerns about "what others think" cloud your judgement. The only lady at beginning of course who made me explain exactly why I'd made the elective decision rather than taking my chances with a natiral zen birth was the one who went on to have the most traumatic 72 hour delivery and who confessed she wished she'd had an elective. Of the 6 ladies 4 are bf and 2 are on formula too. It's brilliant to have a close group of mum's you can whatsapp at 3am bcos you know they'll be awake too, ladies who really do understand the time and space you are in at any given moment. It's also been fantastic bf together at local pubs and cafes - really does help build self confidence. Don't be scared. Jump in. You have absolutely nothing to lose and everything to gain. Best thing I did and now my son has a ready made group of best buds to share his birthday with :)

  • Oh and it was my NCT course leader who helped me put together a c section birth plan and give me tips on how to communicate effectively with the medical team at the hospital to ensure we had the birth we wanted, with music and skin to skin etc. Without her insight I wouldn't have appreciated the full range of options that were available to me. She's even helped me post birth with bf counselling :)

  • I did NCT classes more to meet other people with pregnancies at the same time as me. I don't know what I would have done without them all! Just take everything they tell you in the NCT classes with a pinch of salt. I learnt a lot from the classes but they do try to encourage a natural birth as drug free as possible, this was pretty much the opposite of my sons birth.

    I said I would NEVER have diamorphine/pethidine, as soon as I got to the hospital I would have taken whatever they could give me and that is exactly what I had. My waters had broken at home and my son was back to back which was pretty painful. Anyway due to his awkward position I ended up with an emergency section. As far as I was concerned I'd had enough and that was the only way he was going to come out. I don't look at any part of my birth negatively. I did the best I could and all the midwifes and consultants were amazing, they weren't negative at any point.

    I wanted to be in hospital and I want to be in hospital with my next baby, on the flip side my cousin had an amazing home birth and really recommends them. Each to their own.

    It is so difficult with your first pregnancy because even if you don't want to, you end up listening to everyone else. I was frustrated with the NCT classes because they are so pro natural birth, pretty much everyone I know has had some intervention with their birth. It really comes down to oxytocin! Read up on the part oxytocin plays in labour and hopefully it will make things a bit clearer!

    Every birth really is different and you can only do what you feel happiest with. At the end of the day its your body and your baby.

    Your labour is just the bit you have to go through to get your baby and your baby is the most important thing. Once you have your baby your labour disappears as a distant memory!

    Good luck! x

  • Hi there

    Thanks for your message. We support parents however and wherever they choose to give birth. If you feel that wasn't the experience you had, please let us know who your antenatal teacher was and the date of your course, so we can look into it. You can email: enquiries@nct.org.uk.

    NCT

  • Hi, I was terrified about going to the NCT classes. I was convinced it would be full of snobby yummy mummies looking down on me and my (admittedly very juvenile) attitude towards becoming a mum for the first time. I actually gave myself nightmares about it and was up at four on the day of the first course because I was so worried but I had nothing to be worried about. The teacher is very nice though I suspect that she does have a tendency to lean towards earth mother if given half a chance. The other 7 couples are at various stages of preparedness, views on pain relief, breast-feeding, views on being a parent and cracking inappropriate jokes. However, all are supportive of the others.

    Advice based on the state I got myself in would be to go in with an open mind and see how it goes. The worst case scenario is that there might be a couple of other parents that you don't get on with... there will be some that you do and it might be all of them. The info given in the class is useful, even if just to reassure you that you are quite prepared.

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