You might wonder what I’m wittering on about NCT, why I constantly talk about NCT friends and our NCT classes. Well for a start NCT classes are antenatal classes run by the National Childbirth Trust, however many others similar classes also exist. In Gloucestershire I know of The Baby Journey and the Bump to Baby Chapter which are run by local midwives. Why do antenatal classes or NCT classes? Friends and preparation for birth and post-birth, in my opinion.
We did NCT antenatal classes before Toddler H was born and they were brilliant. They taught us so much.
- How to prepare for birth
- What to expect during labour, all the stages of labour
- What to expect if labour doesn’t go to plan
- The days following the birth
- The ins and outs of your local hospital
- The weeks following birth
- Breastfeeding – though to be honest it was a bit pro-breastfeeding brigade for us all, even with 7/8 of us then breastfeeding!
However, I have to say having gained all that knowledge to prepare us, the biggest advantage of our class was meeting a fantastic bunch of friends. Friends who are going through the same things at exactly the same time. Bar one baby, who was 6 weeks early, born just after our first class, all of ours were born with 2 weeks of each other. We all experienced every growth spurt, every wonder week, every clingy phase together. We could wonder something loud and aomeone would be having the same experience. More recently we’ve experienced tantrum phases, stomping feet, shouting phases, roaring like a dinosaur phase together as well as crazy developments together. These children are Toddler H’s best friends and their mums’ mine.
We all do keep up with each other, however it’s four of us that see each other weekly.
At first we all met for coffee once a week, then walks, then a few did baby massage classes off each other’s recommendations. As maternity leaves ended, we met more for dinner every so often and kept up to date on Facebook. Four of us have attended the same classes, music classes and Tatty Bumpkin classes, the same playgroup and play dates. Yes, we do things separately too, like swimming and so we have swimming friends. We also have friends from my pregnancy yoga class, all of whom are close in age too – so if you don’t do NCT/antenatal classes you might find similar friendships through pregnancy yoga or pilates classes, or classes you start shortly after birth.
It’s these four NCT friends I see weekly, and several times a week, who I call on for everything. They’re there, at the end of messenger. Now almost three ears later our toddlers are the best of friends. They play together, care for each other, chat. They look after each other if one is hurt, they cry if another is upset, they ask for each other every single day. Toddler H is always saying “but I want to see my friends.”
It works both ways though, those ladies are my sanity, on days I’m tearing my hair out, they say “us too!” and we agree it must be a phase. We hear how we are each coping, our strategies for dealing with this phase and that tantrum. Yes, sometimes one of them goes through a stage or phase the others don’t, like Toddler H’s months of screaming for half an hour when I attempted to put her in a car seat. But that’s life, we’re all different. That’s what Google is for!
I think NCT classes were a huge help with our experience of labour, of learning about the stages of birth and their lengths, of when to actually call the hospital. Hubby often says the most useful thing was being told the number of people who would be in the room for an assisted delivery (which I actually didn’t have, but was threatened with!) and the number that would be there for a c-section as well as what would happen in a planned one vs an emergency.
I thought knowing that the third night is the worst was the best piece of advice. It was true. Oh so true.
So yes, in my experience I thoroughly recommend NCT classes or similar antenatal classes. I think my life would be very different without those ladies in it, much much harder, and I can’t imagine Toddler H’s without her friends.
To be honest, the classes and the friendships are what you make them, maybe I just got a good bunch!
Did you do any antenatal classes? Would you recommend them?