Mellow Mummy: NCT : An Expensive Introductions Agency? : Taking life as it comes...

Tuesday 23 February 2010

NCT : An Expensive Introductions Agency?

Last week I had a very enjoyable lunch with the mummies from my NCT antenatal classes. All of our babies are now between 7 and 9 months old and it was great to get back together to compare stories, share tips and to calm each other's motherhood worries. While we ate, another group of brand new NCT mummies (and daddies) arrived in the restaurant. It was wonderful to see a new set of people starting out on their parenthood journey and comparing, sharing and worrying together. It got me thinking about the NCT (National Childbirth Trust) and what I had got out of my antenatal lessons. Were the NCT classes I took more effective as a means of meeting other mums, than as a preparation for birth?

Now, I don't want to get involved in the NCT brainwashing/preaching argument, the likes of which featured on Mumsnet not too far back, but I will make this statement... I don't feel that my NCT antenatal lessons greatly shaped my birth choices but I do feel that with my NHS antenatal classes alone, I would have been shockingly unprepared for the birth of my daughter. After the very thorough NCT lessons, both myself and my husband were equipped with all of the information we needed to help us make the right decisions for us (for me, and for baby) during the chaotic hell-hole that is childbirth.

Mother And Baby by Anna Cervova

I took a lot of convincing before I forked out the cash for my NCT antenatal classes. It is a large amount of money to hand over when (a) you can theoretically get the same guidance for free from your local NHS services and (b) you consider the enormous financial burden that a new born child will put on you. The thing that finally convinced me to pay for the NCT classes was the fact that almost all of the daddies who I work with recommended them to me, not only for the fact that they felt they had learned useful stuff from them, but because they all felt that they had made at least one good friend for life from the group of people with whom they shared their classes.

For me, with very few female friends, it seemed like an ideal way to meet some local mums. The mummies I have met through the NCT are a wonderful mix of people of different ages and backgrounds whose paths I would never have otherwise crossed. We have at least one thing in common, a baby born between May and July last year. We have met up on a number of occasions since the birth for baby massage, coffees, walks, and extreme alcohol consumption. Online, we share our thoughts on mummy-related topics, seek advice from one another and share photos and videos of our little ones.

When I look back on my NCT lessons, I mustn't forget that I learned a great deal about the drugs options available during childbirth (about what they really do to you, not just their availability). I learned how long to realistically expect labour to take and some very useful tips on how and when to get to hospital. I learned some great methods for dealing with the pain, how to step back and evaluate my choices during labour and whether or not I should tick the 'Do you want us to give your baby the vitamin K injection' box in my hospital birth notes. I learned (to the extent that you can without your own baby at hand) how to latch a baby to my breast. I learned to ask my family for help in those first few bonkers days after the birth, and not to expect parenthood to be a breeze. But most of the 'personal' stuff I learned was just common sense, and all of the birthing lessons were only relevant for the 36 hours of labour. My post-natal lessons did offer some useful material on weaning, but I think by the time that you get there, your mummy instincts have kicked in and you no longer need lessons to teach you parenthood.

I can't help feeling a bit foolish if the only thing I feel I gained from my NCT classes was a new group of peers! That would make the NCT nothing more than a very expensive introductions agency! I know that's not the case, but sometimes I feel friends are the most valuable thing I have taken away from my NCT lessons.

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