Mutterings of a Fool

Man, Dad, Runner, Chief dog walker

Biscuits, baby’s and buying friends

Another task on the pregnancy to do list completed; we’ve officially finished the NCT ante natal classes. 18 hours and £120 later I started to ask myself was it really worth it? I missed 3 rugby matches on TV including England beating France in the six nations and consumed my own body weight in biscuits which really can’t be good for the six pack. Some pretty big sacrifices, but did we actually learn things we couldn’t read in a book and were there other benefits? Well to help here is my top 5 things I learned over the 18 hours, in no particular order…..

  1. Put 8 pregnant women around a table full of biscuits and cake and they will eat the equivalent of another baby.
  2. Getting in the way of a pregnant woman heading for the toilet after being shut in a room for 2 hours is like facing a charging elephant.
  3. Learning people’s names is easy, learning which woman is with which man is much much harder and can lead to some very embarrassing conversations
  4. When asked what you think of when you hear the word Labour you shouldn’t say Tony Blair in response
  5. Every conversation with other expectant parents turns into a game of Top Trumps – we spent £500 on our push chair, we haven’t even packed our hospital bag yet, we’re going to breast feed and use re-useable nappies etc etc 

I consider myself relatively well educated in all things baby having had friends and family with babies who I’ve helped with. The lady of the manor is a children’s nurse and looks after mainly sick babies so can change a nappy in her sleep. So a whole lot of what we covered wasn’t really that useful if I’m being honest. However the labour process clearly isn’t something we have any experience of and I think for me to better understand this and how I can help is really valuable. It turns out my job is to tell the mid wife to bugger off whenever she comes around with her epidural’s or tells us she has a bad back so can’t deliver a baby with the lady of the manor standing.

So some good stuff, was it worth 18 hours in a village hall while the sun was shining? I’m not so sure. But we now have 7 other couples who all live locally and are in exactly the same position as us as first time parents. The ladies are now all meeting weekly for coffee, cake (notice a pattern?) and gossiping. We now are also Monday night pub quiz regulars with a couple who live just down the road from us. Clearly we aren’t going to be life long friends with all 7 couples, but £120 to gain 3 or 4 couples who we will stay in touch with? That’s pretty good value in my view.

So now we play the waiting game, less than 2 weeks to the due date and we are now officially in what I like to call ‘the red zone’. It really could come any day now, I like to tell the lady of the manor that regularly, she likes it, it’s exciting. The car seat is permanently in the car along with the hospital bag. The nursery is even going to have a carpet soon. One day soon we’ll have an answer to all our questions; boy or girl? Like mum or dad? What weight? Good or bad sleeper? Will the dog like him/her? 

I. Can’t. Wait.


  1. Deary, you’re having a baby – it’s time to abandon the six pack and embrace the family pack!

  2. One of the reasons we went to NCT antenatal was for the friends. So imagine my dismay when I was offered two classes BOTH the opposite side of the city.

    Then… I gave birth before the 2nd class.

    But we’re still in touch with two couples, one mummy in particular. So I still say it was worth it. (plus I got a partial refund for being premature!!!)

    • Ours were in a village about 4 miles away but catchment area is our town and surrounding area so everyone there lives within a 10 min drive. Which is perfect I think, in fact one of the couples are literally 200m down the road!
      I think even having jsut 2 extra couples as friends its probably worth it.

  3. Yanno what? It’s a shame you don’t see the value in the teaching bit. I RTd your tweet because I really hope someone high up in NCT reads it. People think they only have to do antenatal classes to meet other new parents but they frequently don’t go to other groups. I wouldn’t like anyone to think that the only way they can access NCT services is via attending classes and pay a lot of money. (Tho worth noting that class fees can be paid in instalments and many people qualify for discounted fees – always worth asking if you are on a lowish income.)

    There are many free groups – or one where only a donation is requested – where there will be plenty of like minded parents. True, their children won’t always be the same age as yours but that’s good because those parents will have been there and done and can offer a perspective of someone who has come through the stuff you’re experiencing – because a lot of it is fairly normal and most people go through the same things at certain stages.

    • Interestingly when asked at the start of the classes the number 1 objective of the couples was to meet people. But I don’t remember seeing either then or now much publicising of the other groups you mention. Maybe my wife has but to me at least it has been invisible.
      Also I did take some value from the teaching and our instructor was clearly knowledgeable and able to answer our questions etc. But what did surprise me was the lack of a clear agenda for the sessions and what we would learn. If you think of the combined revenue from 8 couples you do kind of expect a little bit more. Could just be the style of the instructor but that means you get a difference service in each location which really isn’t a good situation.

  4. Well, the problem is that groups are run by branches. The classes are arranged by part-time employees who work from home (and earn very little) and the teachers are paid by them. The branches and the employees are supposed to liaise and information about the local branch is *supposed* to be sent to all enquiring about courses in that area but this doesn’t always happen – either because the branch (run solely by volunteers -they may be the same people as arranging or teaching classes but they won’t be paid for this) has not provided the information or for some reason, the adminstrator doesn’t send them out.

    And you’re right, there is not enough standardisation of format across the different teachers. I also think people don’t feel as if they can provide feedback on the course and I’m sure if everyone did, someone somewhere in the NCT would get overwhelmed. That’s not to say they shouldn’t listen to the feedback or ask for it – I personally think it should be easier for people to provide feedback; perhaps online and semi-anonymously, taken away from the teachers – because people are often loathe to be critical on evaluation forms that they have to hand back, as it sounds personal. It takes a long time to deal with poor performance because of it. And believe me, I’ve heard some things that have allegedly happened that horrify me.

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