We signed up for the NCT antenatal sessions for personal reasons but were also offered the NHS antenatal sessions. Obviously, we decided to go to both. More information, the chance to go over things again, meet more people and it has finally given me the chance to experience what it’s like to be top of the class as I knew the answers already. 

I guess some people have the NCT vs NHS debate with their partners. That conversation probably revolves around whether you think paying for something that you can get for free is worth it or not. So, to help you with that conversation and decision, I’ve used our position of experiencing both to compile a list of things to think about. All the comments down the left are about the NCT and all the comments down the right are about NHS. All you need to do is read through and decide which side you fall on. 

*I must stress at this point that these are purely my thoughts and mere observations about my experience. This is not necessarily what all NCT and NHS classes are like and it certainly isn’t supposed to be list of good and bad points; just observations. 

Comfort of a hotel VS local sure start centre / play group classroom

Cushioned chairs with chair covers VS plastic chairs

Selection of different teas VS builders tea

Small group of 16 VS larger group of 22

Shirts, chinos & boat shoes (guilty) VS T-shirt, jeans & trainers

City professionals VS all sorts 

£270 VS £00.00

8 sessions VS 3 sessions

Topics covered in detail VS topics rushed somewhat 
(I know the ins and outs of the female anatomy, but at NHS we didn’t even cover it!)

Calm, relaxed attitude VS gotta get through this

Word processed laminate resources VS hand written pieces of card

Working model pelvis VS pelvis with no coxis 
(Without a coxis it seems remarkably easy to squeeze a baby through) 

Pro hospital birth VS pro birthing clinic / home birth

Relaxation techniques VS “you’ll be fine” mentality

Actual resources VS a homemade ‘knitted’ cervix

Diagrams, handouts & pictures VS hand drawn on flip chart paper
(I’m sure she would agree that she is not an artist! Her version of a ‘bumhole’ was something quite special.) 

30+ average age VS 25+ average age

Information emailed round between sessions VS no emails

Interactive, group work & informative ‘games’ VS a lot of listening

Active encouragement of creating a social support network for each other VS a photocopied list of emails

Really, it does boil down to money. In life it’s more often the case that you pay for what you get. If you pay for antenatal classes you should expect good resources, more sessions, more time and more detail. 

We preferred the NCT classes. For the sole reason that it covered things in more detail. There really isn’t anything wrong with the NHS sessions and it’s amazing that they are offered to everyone and so valuable. My recommendation is this: make sure you do 1 of them. If you can afford it, the NCT is great.