Choosing antental classes in Hackney: What’s the difference between my package and NCT?

Potential clients, pregnant women and their partners often ask me what my yoga birth and baby classes in Hackney offer and how it is different to traditional NCT. If you are pregnant for the first time, you may have been told about various types of antenatal and post natal courses on offer so I appreciate it can be confusing!

I think the best way to explain what I do is to ask my students, who benefit. So I asked one recent group how my yoga birth and baby classes differed from NCT. One class member had recently been to NCT and others knew details from friends.

They said:

Intimate and consistant

My classes are personal, homely and relaxed. NCT classes are held in institutions and you don’t get to know who is teaching beforehand.

Practice over theory

We practice breathing and birth positions each week in my classes. In many NCT classes the emphasis is on knowledge and choices, with birthing positions shown in diagrams rather than  practice.

Partners role

During the couples classes we put a focus on the role of the partner too. This is possible because we go through breathing techniques and active birth procedures in the yoga classes. With NCT there is less time for exploration and practice.

Learn from real people

I regularly invite new parents from previous courses to come to tell their stories and give a real life personal view of birth and baby. People in my classes find this heartening and useful.

Access to breastfeeding expert

I have a connection with a local experienced counsellor who runs a couples’ class for breastfeeding. We work together so she can give support in the early days.

Longer time span

My classes start with yoga and continue beyond birth, so over time and with structured support strong bonds build between everyone.  NCT classes start later and end at the birth.  

I trained with NCT and taught through NCT for many years so I incorporate many of these skills I learned on the job. But I left because I wanted more freedom in how I run my classes. I wanted to offer a more integrated and personal approach. 

NCT is a fantastic organisation, continuing to campaign and improve services for childbirth in the UK. Their classes are professionally monitored, but there is also a need for a more personal, intimate and flexible approach.

A word of warning – my package requires greater commitment of time and energy because of its holistic approach, whichI appreciate is not possible for everyone.I hope I can welcome you to my classes!

You can read more of my blogs here.

Quick fix NCT or hypnobirthing may leave you unprepared for real birth and parenting

I was saddened to read that the editor of Grazia blames her traumatic birth experience on NCT. But after reading more about her story, it’s clear that her negative experience stems from the sort of ‘quick-fix’ approach to pregnancy classes, that rarely work.

Her polemic rant focusses on how her NCT classes led her to fear medical intervention and to feel a sense of failure, that has taken her years to get over. 

I was sent the article by one of my recent class members (also picked up by other media outlets here). Luckily, she did not share the same negative experiences: “I did feel misled by my hypnobirthing course but found your classes much more balanced/honest and open to different birthing options. I did initially feel pretty traumatised by birth though (luckily it disappeared quickly).”

Editor of Grazia Magazine, Natasha Pearlman gave an interview about her traumatic birth 

I too sometimes worry about what I hear about NCT and also about hypnobirthing. Especially when people report learning that if you breath and get into a positive frame of mind, birth won’t be painful. This is too simplistic.

I bring up the subject of pain to think about its meaning in relation to birth. Rather than to be feared, its something to anticipate as an inevitable part of becoming a parent and helping babies with too. Hopefully birth isn’t a bland experience and pain is accompanied by joy, perhaps even extremes of agony and ecstasy.  As I understand it, birth becomes traumatic when we feel out of control. disempowered and lacking in understanding and sensitive care.

I hope to prepare pregnant women and partners to take an active part in their births, to do the best they can, but not to be fixed on a particular kind of birth, nor expectations that there are better or worse kinds.  Over many years of teaching I have come to the conclusion that all births have highs and lows, whether they involve drugs and medical interventions or not.

I responded to the woman who sent the article about the Grazia journalist, to say that it was probably her emotionally present partner who helped her stay focussed and be less passive/more active than the journalist in the article. Also, going to classes, which provided a context for sharing the ups and downs and acknowledging that it could be tough, traumatic and painful at times, would have helped eased her birthing experience.

My postnatal classes hopefully helped too. They are held with others whom you have been with from early pregnancy, in a context where no-one has to pretend everything is straightforward and ‘natural’.

Many NCT and Hypnobirthing courses are short weekend workshops that are convenient, perhaps  quick fixes for busy lives. Whilst inspirational at the time, they can’t provide regular opportunities over a longer time for practicing breathing, birth positions and building relationships in a trusting environment where experiences are shared.

I like to think people emerge less traumatised from their births having attended my full package of yoga, birth and baby classes.

Please leave your comments to let us know what you think. Or email me confidentially if you prefer.