Today it seems as soon as you get pregnant there suddenly becomes a hundred things you need to do, buy or attend and antenatal classes are among the many things on the list. For first-time mums, it can be a daunting time, and being unprepared for motherhood was something that often worried me. So antenatal classes seemed like the solution to fully prepare me for pregnancy, birth, and motherhood.
However, there are so many classes available now that it can be hard to choose one. There are a number of options ranging from free NHS classes to NCT classes which you have to pay for. However, NCT classes seemed expensive, which left me wondering if antenatal classes were worth the money.
NCT antenatal classes
The most popular antenatal classes in the UK are classes run by the National Childbirth Trust (NCT). It is a nationally recognised series of group classes available for women and their partners and encourages group bonding through activities. NCT classes cover topics including birth, baby care, feeding, and parent wellbeing. The cost of the classes can range depending on your area, and prices can start at £269 for 17 hours, spread over 4- 5 sessions.
I personally chose not to attend NCT classes as I found them quite expensive and buying pregnancy items, baby cots, and car seats was expensive enough. However, talking to friends who attended the classes they said that the classes were fun and informative, and they made friends who they are still in touch with years later.
NHS antenatal classes
The NHS offers a selection of antenatal classes that are free to attend. These classes are delivered to groups of expectant parents and cover the basics of pregnancy well-being, making a birth plan, childbirth, and caring for your baby. I attended all three classes and found them to be really beneficial to me, providing me with valuable information about pregnancy, and the stages of labour to expect.
Although the classes were free there were only a total of three sessions in my area and I didn't always see the same group of people attending. However, I did meet another mum who I connected with and who I am still good friends with now. So it is possible to meet other parents at NHS classes.
There are also many other antenatal classes that offer a group environment that is cheaper than NCT and offer flexible attendance. Some of the most popular alternatives are:
- Bump and Baby Club - Nationwide
- Happy Parents Happy Baby - South East England
- The Honest Midwife - Online classes
Whether you choose to join an antenatal class depends on what you want to get from the class and your budget. If you live in a rural area an antenatal class like NCT might help you connect with other parents. Whereas if you live in a busy city with plenty of opportunities for baby classes near you, you will likely meet lots of parents easily.
If joining an NCT class or similar is within your budget and gives you peace of mind I would recommend trying them. However, if you are unsure of the costs, often there are free parenting support groups you can join, usually based at children's centres or libraries.
Once your baby is born you can also join parent-baby classes such as baby sensory, or just popping out for a coffee after a sleep-deprived night can present you with the opportunity to meet other parents.