The only thing I knew was going to happen throughout pregnancy were the NCT sessions, the informative antenatal sessions put on by the National Childbirth Trust. As money slips through your fingers as you prepare for the imminent arrival of your little beast, the cost of around £200 for NCT classes might have you putting it aside thinking it’s another baby expense that you can’t afford. Yes there is a free NHS version which has had very good feedback from friends of ours, but we went for NCT. The £200 actually allows you access to help from the charity for the time during the antenatal classes and the first few weeks of baby’s time on Earth. The NCT also cover the first 1000 days if you need further help and information. This is my account of our NCT sessions.
Now my initial reaction to booking NCT was that of excitement, the thought of meeting new people in a similar situation was quite appealing. I just needed to make sure I wasn’t that weird socially awkward bloke at the back who didn’t talk to anyone. ‘Make sure you make eye contact when you talk to people’, Jen said. Apparently I do that sometimes, I’d like to blame it on my creative thinking process distracting my eyeballs when I speak, but it’s probably my lack of concentration attacking me from all directions with pretty colours and moving objects. ‘Yes dear’, my normal reply to orders from Wifey.
So, the first job I bestowed upon myself on arrival of the first session was to make sure I initiated conversation with as many people as possible. ‘Hi Pete nice to meet you , Hi Dani nice to meet you’. With the first couple met I thought this was going well, then the football team selection notification came through so I forgot what I was doing and the names of the people I had just met. Bugger. But Harry Kane was playing so that’s all that mattered.
Wind it up
Practical Dad Ross and his Wife Debbie were on the same course as us, Practical Dad James and his Wife Laura missed out on our course and would start after us. This left enough time for us to wind James up as he was soooooo not into NCT/anything involving strange, unknown people in a circle.
Here a snippet from our What’s App group:
Ben: First NCT went well James. Wish I could see you on your first one when you have to introduce yourself to the group by talking about a random picture you pick up from a table.
James: Yeah I’ve been warned about that b******s.
Ross: You’ll enjoy the holding hands bit too.
James: I’ve accepted the fact that NCT is not really going to be my thing, but I’ll get through it!
Ben: I actually enjoyed talking to the bump in the middle of the circle though. Introducing myself as Daddy and making promises was really cool.
James: Right that’s it I’m not going.
James: (Finding out we had set up an NCT Facebook group). Have you got a Facebook group already?
Ben: It may have only been one meeting, but after holding hands with all the women and looking into their eyes and saying ‘you will have a stress free and loving birth’, a Facebook group seemed the next logical step’.
James: Well I for one will not be holding hands or adding anyone on Facebook. I fully intend to be that strange loner that everyone thinks is weird, and sits in silence not partaking in any group activities.
After saying this, James’ first session went surprisingly well. He tells us how the boys and girls were split into different rooms to discuss what they expect from NCT. Using this time wisely, all James went on about was the ‘Man Shower’ that we all went on a week previously (athough ‘Man Shower’ sounds suspect, it was actually just chicken and beer). He also showed them this photo which took him from weirdo in the corner to absolute lad status in an instant.
Anyway, session one was going well, our teacher was very friendly if not very softly spoken which is tiring at 7pm to 9pm in the evening as you strain to listen to her. But she made us feel very welcome and was enjoying her new group. The group consisted of eight couples who attended each session. This of course doesn’t have to be the case, only one person need attend if that’s the way it has to be, there was no judging during the sessions.
Pleasantries over, the boys now had to label parts of…well, the lady parts. After labelling parts such as the fallopian tube, cervix, rectum, bladder, hymen (huh?) we sat back confidently… The first part that was labelled incorrectly was the vagina. Our NCT teacher highlighted this to fits of laughter from the girls ‘you can’t even find the vagina boys’, she said. Being at an NCT class with women full of babies, Ross felt for some reason it would be appropriate to pipe up and say ‘well, I found it once’, cue fits of laughter from the boys.
After the incorrect labelling of the vagina, the boys were somewhat less vocal. The rest of the session followed a large group or small group discussion setup with the occasional big piece of paper to write on and share ideas.
As the sessions followed we were taught manymanymany things. I won’t go into them all as I’ll have nothing to write about ever again. A few bits that were included were; the different stages of labour, how to dress a baby, how to change a nappy, the dangers of labour, using BRAIN to make a decision (which I did in my home birth article), pain relief options, different birth positions and things that Dad could help to do.
‘There’s no such thing as a silly question’
As the sessions progressed so did the confidence of the group to bring up questions and go off on tangents. We were in contact via What’s App with a Mums group, a Dads group and an overall NCT group with all members. This helped everyone ask questions, ask advice or opinions, share how long people have been throwing up in the mornings for and all the other fun and games of pregnancy. This is by far the best thing to come out of NCT. The network you create and the resources which arise from knowing people in the same situation as you is worth so much more than the NCT knowledge itself.
Although the course covered a lot of subjects which did really help, as a qualified teacher and watersports coach I spend most of my life informing others. I am fully aware of how boring learning can be and the different styles of learners that exist. I have to say that our NCT course really didn’t cater for anyone apart from those happy listening in a large group or talking in a small group. The lack of teaching styles, resources, technology and what came across sometimes as old fashioned views led the course to lose its enjoyment factor for me personally anyway.
So here’s the best and worst that NCT brought to the table for me as a Dad.
- Incredible networking
- A teacher on hand with many years of experience to answer any questions
- Meeting a lovely bunch of people
- Lots of information learnt about the impending big day
- Slightly judgmental teacher towards some relaxations methods (although this is a massively subjective view)
- Lack of technology
- Lack of activities
- Too much being talked to
Overall I’d absolutely recommend NCT to anyone who is currently sitting on the fence. It is massively useful and you come out with more friends than before. Win.