Antenatal classes - are they worth it?

I'm 33 weeks and thinking about antenatal classes. I was never keen on the idea as I wasn't sure if they would be quite patronising and my partner felt the same. I've also decided to give birth at a hospital that's not my local and because of this I feel like my community midwife has taken a bit of a step back because the hospital have their own team of midwives etc so think it may be a bit more hassle to try and get them arranged!  I'm considering it now for the social side of things though, and meeting people going through the same thing. Does anyone have any experience, good or bad, of antenatal classes and whether they're just teaching you to suck eggs or actually helpful?! I've had such differing opinions and comments from different people (including the whole "you need to do it" from someone who has never been pregnant or had a child!) 

Thanks!! :) 

14 Replies

  • Hiya 😊  Do you know where your local classes are held? Mine were at our local children's centre & my midwife advised me to phone them direct to arrange. I couldn't actually make the dates they gave me & then the next dates were way to close to my due date so I never actually went in the end. I don't regret not going, there are plenty of ways to get the info they give you. you can google about the pain relief available to you, contact local breast feeding support groups etc. the midwives at the hospital will even show you how to bath baby if your unsure etc. 

    maybe the social side would have been nice, but I found attending the groups after my daughter was born good enough for that. I met one of my best friends at a baby massage class, & I've also made really good friends on this forum 😄 

    Sorry I can't give you advice on wether or not they are worth it- but thought I'd comment as someone who didn't go at all xx

  • This has helped me to thankyou

  • Hiya! It's nice to hear from someone that didn't go that they don't feel they missed out! I've done so much reading up and research in to the things that I want to know more about and feel like I should be prepared for that I feel like the only reason I would go to a class is to meet other new parents but I'd happily do like you've done and meet people at classes I will go to when the little one is here!!

    Thank you for writing :-) xx

  • I attended a one session class and another breastfeeding session. I would say it was useful in that fair enough you can look up what pain relief is available on Google but it might not all available at your hospital, especially if you're in a mid wife led unit. Also any questions can be answered there. I found the breast feeding one more helpful even though I still struggled when I actually started it but eventually managed. Possibly I might not have been as perseverant if I didn't do it. 

    I didn't actually keep in touch with any of those people. Sometimes just having a baby in common as the only thing in common is not enough, and if it's just one session you don't have time to bond.

  • we had ours at the hospital but I believe they are now at the children's centre which would have been much easier for us! Anyway, I thought like you and wasn't expecting to enjoy them but my husband wanted us to go. I ended up learning a hell of a lot and was so glad that I went to them. I am someone who researches all the time but I still got more information from these! I felt more prepared for labour too. I am sure not everyone has the same experience but that was mine!

  • I think it's a good idea to prepare for baby's arrival and know more about the various aspects of birth and following days. I did the NCT classes which were lovely albeit pricy. We also attended the NHS evening that I think you're talking about and that one freaked me out and left me feeling scared of birth as they passed around tools to help get baby out if he/she gets stuck etc. I didn't find it helpful and based on my experience I wouldn't recommend it, although a different class might be taught very differently.

    Otherwise why not look up your local NCT coffee mornings? They are usually every fortnight and locally and a nice way to get to know local young families. Most mums there are with babies but there are also some bumps and you can ask the new mums questions, get advice etc.

    Final thought, if you're not going to a local hospital id recommend really familiarising yourself with the various stages of labour. If you have a longer journey to hospital and go too early and they want to send you home again it could turn into a stressful situation. At the same time, if you leave too late you might find yourself giving birth at home or en route!

    We moved during pregnancy and I stuck with the old hospital and found ourselves in heavy traffic during labour, which wasn't ideal. My labour was only 2 hours so I was lucky I left early enough! Second labour was 16 minutes but hospital aeon the corner. Having a hospital nearby, especially for following births is not something to dismiss quickly ;-)

    All the best 

  • Hello, I attended nct classes. The teacher was wonderful but the course mainly focuses on vaginal birth and labour. There was a session on c sections but it was too brief as I ended up having a major (and very traumatic) c section that I was totally unprepared for. 

    The classes were informative but the ladies I met, well, let's just say that you may not necessarily bond with other new mums just because you have babies around the same time. I'm a very open and friendly person but I don't keep in touch with the ladies I met (2.5 years down the line). I found some of them judgemental and really mean, especially in the weeks after the traumatic birth. My expectations were too high though as I was expecting to make friends for life as everyone says you do. The reality is that some people click and others just don't. At a really vulnerable time of my life, I felt so let down by my nct 'friends'. I don't regret doing the course, but I regret expecting to make friends out of it. I ended up forming close friendships through various baby groups as you're more likely to bump into a like-minded person. 

    Sorry to be negative but it was just my experience. Nothing against nct, I just wish it was more comprehensive in covering all childbirth possibilities with equal time given xxx

  • Hi bd123, we're sorry to hear that your course didn't meet your needs.

    We're always open to feedback on improving our courses and if you would like to provide some more, you can email us at

  • Hi AshleeJA. Antental courses are a great way to learn and meet mums at the same stage as you in your local area.

    You can check whether there's a spaces available at an NCT course run in your local area at our website:

    If you decide not to attend a course, you might like to attend one of our coffee mornings. They're run by local branches for new and expectant parents to catch up and share their experiences and you don't need to be an NCT member to attend one. You can find your nearest one here: 

  • My husband and I attended the local hospital for a one session workshop run by NHS as I thought nct was too expensive and local groups were 30 miles away.

    I found the session really beneficial to give an overview of what to expect and what drugs were available at each point in labour and their possible effects.

    The most invaluable part was attending with my husband so that we both felt prepared and he was arrested to take an active part in OUR birth plan ensuring that he could reinforce our wishes when the time came - it was nice to feel that we were embracing the labour together not on my own.

    In my experience the most important thing when thinking about your labour is to be flexible and keep an open mind xx

  • We attended local NCT classes and I have to say they have been invaluable. The course itself was helpful but the group of ladies I met has been the best part, they're lovely and have all been a big support over the last 4.5 months with lots of new mummy questions and queries. I'd say if you can afford them then go for it, there's nothing to lose really just information and potential new friends to gain.

  • I have also attended the childbirth class (this is how it's been called here). For me it was so helpful as it kind of helped me to know what to expect for and how to know when to go to the hospital and how to identify the first stage of labor. Also it was important for me because English is not my first language and I was not familiar with all the terms such as bloody show, effacement, dilation etc. They told us how to identify the mucus plug and so on. 

    I'm sure you can find everything online but the question is if you'll be able to actually know what to look for.

  • Hi :) I was the same and ended up goi g as I didn't know any other pregnant people or people with baby's , I really enjoyed it :) they played little games and it was really light hearted not so school like and serious as I imagined X I would go again if I had a second if just for the social side we all swapped numbers on the last session and two of the lady's where in hospital the same time as me !  , it's also lovely if you attend baby groups when baby arrives and you see the people from your group , xx

  • I had taken the 12-hour Lamaze childbirth education series( ) from new mummy company in Hamilton. It actually helped me prepare for my labour, birth and early parenthood. The program gave information about healthy pregnancy, labour and birth, breastfeeding and more. Just remember to make sure that the tutor is from any registered company if you are opting for in-home classes or has been properly trained.

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