NCT Courses and Covid-19

Until the end of March 2021 our courses are online. Currently, due to rising Covid-19 infection rates and official guidance for pregnant women, online is the only way we can safely and practically deliver local, fully interactive and inclusive courses – a decision supported by the Royal College of Midwives.

We know how much you value our in-person courses so we’re keeping our options open for courses from April 2021 onwards. Currently you can still book these as in-person classes but we’ll only bring people back together in venues once it is safe to do so. We’ll never put you, your baby or your family at risk.

To understand more about why we're delivering our courses online please read our course FAQs. Our website also has an up-to-date section on Covid-19 pregnancy and birth information.

Here you will find answers to the questions we get asked the most about our courses - including our new live online antenatal course, content, attendance, cancellation, fees and how to book.

Woman reading with baby

NCT live and online antenatal courses

What does an NCT live and online antenatal course involve?

Your live and online antenatal courses will grow your knowledge, your confidence and your network to fully prepare you for labour, birth and the early days with your new baby.   

Designed to be fun, engaging and interactive you’ll receive exactly the same in-depth, impartial information, invaluable skills and support from your friendly expert NCT course leader, as you would on an in-person course.  The difference is that, instead of meeting in-person, you’ll be meeting and interacting online using Zoom and WhatsApp. 

You’ll be live, online and face-to-face in every session - from first introductions, interactive presentations, lively discussions through quizzes, practical skills sessions to tea break chats, reunion reflections and beyond – you’ll meet, learn and bond with other local parents having babies at the same time as you to make vital connections and life-long friends in your community 

Now, more than ever, we want you to feel confident and empowered about becoming a parent. With health and social services scaled-back and other community support unavailable, your expert course leader will use enhanced support time to address your specific questions and concerns in interactive chat groups (e.g. WhatsApp), as well as making one-to-one time for you, depending upon your needs. 

Then there’s the truly memorable postnatal reunion where your group, babies and course leader reunite to talk and reflect – we are hoping to hold these in-person, as long as it’s safe to do so when the time comes. We’ll also make sure you receive a little goody bag of special gifts and offers from our carefully chosen partners. 

Find out about the topics and information your NCT live and online antenatal course will cover.

See how a live and online and in-person course compare:

Comparison of features

An online course is fully inclusive for all parents, and so all pregnant mums and partners can attend as there is no additional risk of Covid-19 transmission to you, your partner, your baby, the NCT course leader or any of the other parents attending. Also, since we’ve been delivering them since the middle of March, we’ve noticed a number of specific benefits as well.  Watch this video with Val Willcox, expert antenatal teacher and Head of NCT Practice, to understand why parents are finding our online courses an amazing experience:

Find out more about our live, online NCT Antenatal course.

Will I still be able to make friends and have the same experiences if it’s online and not in-person?

Our tried and tested live and online NCT antenatal courses are designed to be fun, engaging and interactive. We promise you’ll receive exactly the same information, skills and support as an in-person course. You’ll still be able to form connections, make new friends and establish a support network. The difference is that, instead of meeting in-person, you’ll be meeting and interacting online using Zoom and WhatsApp.

You’ll be live, online and face-to-face in every session - from first introductions, interactive presentations, lively discussions through quizzes, practical skills sessions to tea break chats, reunion reflections and beyond – you’ll meet, learn and bond with other local parents having babies at the same time as you to make vital connections and life-long friends in your community

We’ve heard from lots of parents-to-be who felt unsure about attending their antenatal course online but found the experience really positive – here’s some real parent testimonials about our online courses:

“You would have thought the course had been done over Zoom for years as the leader was so confident using it and the additional resources shared were spot on. Highly recommend.”

- Helen

“When our NCT course moved to zoom my husband and I were a little disappointed especially as a key reason to joining the course was to connect with other local parents. However, the course instructor made it feel very personal and engaging. The regular use of breakout rooms made it easy to chat to other parents and as a group we have quickly established our own WhatsApp chats and have been able to meet in person in small groups… Overall a fantastic experience and one I would recommend wholeheartedly.”

- Rose

“Our NCT course was amazing. Our course leader … was an amazing source of knowledge and comfort. I left the course feeling like a better informed, more confident birth partner. And even over zoom it was amazing to connect with other parents in the local area. I look forward to meeting everyone in person at some point!”

- Stephen

Since March 2020 over 40,000 parents have attended their antenatal course online with 85% of them rating them good or excellent. We’re really confident a live and online antenatal course will grow your knowledge, your confidence and your network to fully prepare you for labour, birth and the early days with your new baby and you’ll find it fun, engaging and interactive.

Why is my NCT antenatal course not in-person?

NCT antenatal courses are not currently being delivered in-person and continue to be delivered online, as the only way we can be certain of providing a full course experience that is safe, inclusive and interactive for all pregnant women and their partners. 

When deciding to deliver our antenatal courses online, two factors have been of particular consideration:

  1. Pregnant women are included in the group of people at 'moderate risk' (clinically vulnerable) from Covid-19. Whilst this is a precautionary measure, it is based on evidence that viral infections such as flu can be more severe in pregnancy. Guidance from The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) and Royal College of Midwifery (RCM) advises that pregnant women in their third trimester - the time when most parents will be attending our antenatal courses – pay particular attention to social distancing. This is based on research showing a greater risk of severe illness in pregnant women with Covid-19 who were in their third trimester. 
  2. We have thoroughly explored holding socially distanced in person antenatal courses in Covid-19 secure indoor venues. However, the necessary protocols would greatly impact on how parents experience our courses, preventing the fun and interaction that enable our groups to learn and bond so well together. The current outlook of rising infection rates, tightened national restrictions, local lockdowns and periods of self-isolation makes running in-person antenatal courses impractical and unsafe.

We will therefore continue to provide our antenatal courses live and online for the foreseeable future, ensuring the safety of everyone involved while providing a fun, social and interactive learning experience that fully prepares them for the arrival of their babies - a decision supported by Royal College of Midwives (RCM):

"Antenatal classes can be incredibly helpful in preparing for childbirth and parenthood - and for meeting and sharing experiences with other parents-to-be. Online classes, like those offered by NCT, are the safest and most practical option currently and still offer those opportunities, even if the experience is different to getting together in person."

- Royal College of Midwives

To understand how NCT live and online antenatal courses will grow your knowledge, your confidence and your network to fully prepare you for labour, birth and the early days with your new baby, see frequently asked questions 'What does an NCT live and online antenatal course involve?' and 'Will I still be able to make friends and have the same experiences if it's online and not in-person?'

What is Zoom? I’ve never tried it before

Zoom is a cloud-based video service we use to virtually hold your antenatal class. It’s accessible from all devices connected to the Internet via a browser and/or an App (Windows, Mac, Android and iOS). Zoom enables the course leader and group to all log in to the same virtual room where they can all see the same information and talk to and with each other in real-time. It means that presentations, discussions, Q&A’s can take place and you can practice learning the relaxation exercises and baby care skills together just as you would on an in-person course. Each Zoom antenatal course session is 100% live and our NCT course leaders are experts at using the potential of Zoom technology to break you into small groups in separate rooms to learn and practice new skills together as well as giving you plenty of opportunity to talk as a group and grow supportive friendships.

Course bookings and fees

Do I need to be a member to attend the course?

NCT Membership is optional and is an additional cost on top of your course fee.  We do ask where possible, that people consider joining, as this helps us to raise vital funds to continue our work supporting and campaigning for parents to be and new parents, both nationally and locally.

You can join us at the same time as booking your course or at any stage online

For full information on the benefits of being a member, please see NCT Membership.

I have not received my bookings email

The bookings email is sent at the same time as we send through the information pack.  Please do check your spam box, as it may have gone there. If you have still not received it, please contact your local Course Administrator for a further copy.

Can I attend an earlier course that has been suggested to me?

We suggest that you complete a course with others who are due around the same time as you so that you are all going through the same experiences at the same time. 

I work, do you have classes that don’t run during office hours?

We try to offer a variety of formats and timings, evenings, weekends and daytime sessions and hope one of them will suit you.  Women are now legally entitled to take time off work to attend antenatal sessions and a weekday session can give you the time and space to concentrate on your pregnancy.

Find out more about Maternity pay and leave.

How much is the course?

The cost of our courses vary depending on the type, length and location of your course. Find out more about our pricing structure.

What discounts are available on your courses?

We offer discounted rates for those who are on certain means tested benefits or have a joint household income of less than £28,190. For information on our discounted rate scheme, please see our course pricing page. If you fall within one of these categories, please call your local NCT Course Administrator and they can discuss with you further how you can apply for one of these.

Can I pay for my course in instalments?

Yes, you can pay in instalments by direct debit – assuming there is enough time left before your course begins.  We do require full payment 30 days before the course begins or within 10 days of reserving a place – whichever is the sooner. 

Can I pay over the phone?

Unfortunately, we are unable to take payment over the phone and you do need to use the link we have sent through to you and pay on-line. For a further copy of your bookings link, please contact your local Course Bookings Administrator.

Why have I been sent details of a postnatal course I didn’t enquire about?

As standard whenever anyone enquires about one of our antenatal courses, we also send you details of our most relevant postnatal course. This could either be our NCT Early Days course or our NCT Baby Massage course. This is just in case it is of interest to you and you are not aware that we run them.  These are optional courses and if you do not wish to attend, your place will be released automatically when your provisional place lapses.

Course content

Antenatal courses

I am having a c-section and wondered if the courses will still be relevant to me?

Our courses are small and informal and our teachers adapt classes to suit the needs of individual groups. The courses are about empowering and supporting parents to make decisions about birth and parenting which are the right for them and their babies and enabling them to approach birth and parenting with confidence regardless of how they chose to birth their babies.

We would like to reassure you that evidence from our anonymous post course online feedback indicates that almost 9 out of 10 parents felt that enough time was spent on Caesarean birth. More than 9 out of 10 parents felt that the time spent discussing the pros and cons of medical procedures was about right, with more than 8 out of 10 reporting that this discussion included evidence-based information on the benefits and side effects of those procedures.

People who attend NCT classes make all sorts of different decisions about birth and parenting but have one thing in common – that they are all new parents. In the long term, group members often become key supporters to one another going through this great experience at the same time with many people forging new life long friendships.

Courses cover information about the late stages of pregnancy; how the baby is born (incl. caesarean birth), decision-making around birth and parenting (incl. medical procedures and pain relief); a range of pain and stress management techniques (body awareness, relaxation, breathing and massage) which can be helpful for a range of different types of labour and birth as well as early parenting experiences; the experiences and roles of partners in birth and parenting; looking after a newborn baby, breastfeeding, and early parenting and lifestyle changes.

I'm having twins, is the course still suitable for me?

We do have many couples attend our courses who are having twins.  Please do let us know in advance that you are expecting twins and this will be taking into account when setting the course agenda.  Information that will still be relevant includes, relaxation, breathing, breastfeeding, postnatal issues, how to know you are in labour, changes to your baby, baby(ies) development, what happens during a twins labour and it also gives you a chance to meet others who are local to you for support and friendship after your babies have been born.

I’m having twins, should I attend an earlier course?

We do suggest that where possible you complete your course by 33-34 weeks, if you are expecting twins. This is just in case they come early and ensures that you do not miss any of your course.

What’s the difference between the NCT Signature Antenatal course and the NCT Essentials Antenatal course?

For full details, see:

In summary, here is the difference between the two:

NCT Essentials antenatal course

Our NCT Essentials antenatal courses are for 10 hours antenatal and 2 hours postnatal (or 7.5 hours of live, interactive sessions plus additional personalised support hours and a 1.5 hour postnatal reunion session for our online Essentials courses).  An NCT Essentials antenatal course offers you information and emotional support for pregnancy, birth and caring for your baby. Every NCT Essentials antenatal course covers:

  • The development of your unborn baby
  • Changes for you and your partner
  • Your health and well being
  • Giving birth
  • Caring for your baby
  • Which people and services are there for you.

NCT Essentials antenatal courses are based on the latest maternity framework, developed in partnership with the Department of Health. As part of the Giving Birth theme you will receive information on positions, pain relief and pushing. The course, as well as preparing you for the arrival of your baby, will also aim to guide you through the transition and challenges of becoming a new mum or dad.

NCT Signature antenatal course

Our NCT Signature antenatal courses have the time to go into preparing for labour and birth in more depth. Each NCT Signature antenatal course is unique, as the agenda of the course is set by the group attending, to ensure individual needs are met where possible. As these courses are responsive to the needs of each group, there is not a set topic, as such, for each session but you can expect an NCT Signature antenatal course to cover:

  • Pregnancy and birth choices
  • Body awareness, relaxation, breathing and massage
  • What happens in labour and how your baby is born
  • Pain relief - natural and medical methods
  • Your labour and the role of the partner in labour
  • More complex pregnancies and medical procedures, including caesarean birth
  • Home births and water births options
  • Looking after a new-born and feeding your baby
  • Early parenting and lifestyle changes.

40% of our NCT Essentials antenatal course and 60% of our NCT Signature antenatal course covers preparation for birth, including signs and stages of labour, breathing, relaxation techniques, positions for labour, pain management and possible interventions.  60% of our NCT Essentials antenatal course and 40% of our NCT Signature antenatal course covers preparation for parenting.

There is also a dedicated session on breastfeeding on a NCT Signature antenatal course, whereas information about feeding your baby is integrated into the different themes of our NCT Essentials antenatal course.

Will there be other couples my age?

We don’t ask for couples’ ages or indeed any information about their background, race, employment, sexuality etc.  What you will have in common with the group is that you are all expecting a baby at a similar time.

I will not be breastfeeding therefore will this session still be relevant for me?

The breastfeeding session isn't centred solely on breastfeeding but will include information which should still be useful to you. The breastfeeding counsellor will tailor the session to the needs of the group, but this will typically include:

  • The importance of having your baby skin-to-skin after the birth 
  • Babies early feeding cues and responding to them
  • What babies can do in their first half hour after birth, their instincts and how these can help with feeding
  • How to know if your baby is receiving enough milk and the signs of a baby who is thriving
  • Sleeping patterns
  • Postnatal scenarios – coping with a new baby when you and your partner have both had a tiring day, coping with advice from well-meaning family and friends
  • General discussion led by clients which included bottles, types of teats, mixed feeding, how a baby feeds from a bottle
  • Signposting to further support, including the NCT website for formula feeding info, postnatal support in the community and your midwife for one-to-one guidance on how to make up a bottle of formula.

It is also another chance to meet the rest of the couples in your group.

Early Days

Can I bring my baby to the Early Days Course?

Yes, you are more than welcome to bring your baby to the Early Days course with you.  We do suggest that you bring a small blanket for them to lie on

Baby Massage

What age should my baby be to attend the Baby Massage Course?

Our Baby Massage courses are aimed at babies from 8 weeks to crawling.  We do however advise that your baby has had their 6-8 week health check before attending the course.

Baby First Aid

Does the course cover First Aid?

No, we do not cover first aid in our courses, but many of the local branch volunteers run these sessions. For further information on your local branch please see Local activities and meet-ups.

I have booked an NCT First Aid session and want to speak to someone about this booking

NCT First Aid sessions are organised and run by our network of local branches. Therefore, you will need to contact them directly regarding any queries you have on these sessions.  Our branches are only contactable via email and you can find details of your local branch by searching for them on our Local activities and meet-ups page.

Introducing Solid Foods workshop

Can I bring my baby to the Introducing solid foods workshop?

Yes, you are more than welcome to bring your baby with you to the session.  We do suggest that you bring a small blanket for them to lie on.

Is the cost of the Introducing solid foods workshop for both me and my partner?

The cost of attending this workshop is based on one adult/baby per booking. If your partner would like to attend with you, please let us know and make a separate booking for them.

Attending a course

What if my partner can’t make one of the sessions?

If your partner is unable to attend one of the sessions, then you are more than welcome to attend on your own or bring a friend or relative with you for support.

Please do speak to your NCT Practitioner at the start of the course and she will be able to advise you what will be discussed during that session.  Where possible, she may be able to cover important issues that are relevant to you both at another session.

I'm unable to attend a session on my course or I missed a session.  Can I attend the same session on another course or receive a pro-rata refund?

No, it is not normally possible to attend a missed session on an alternative course.  Even though our courses cover the same information, each course is tailored to the individual needs of those who attend.  Therefore, it would not be possible to find a session on an alternative course that would cover exactly the same information.

We are also restricted on the maximum number of attendees on each of our courses, therefore we are unable to hold a place for you on an alternative course, just to attend one session.

We do not offer a discount off the course fee, if you know in advance that you will miss one of the sessions.  To ensure that you get the most out of your course, we do suggest that you select a course where you can attend all of the sessions.

Please do speak to your NCT course Practitioner and she will be able to let you know what was discussed on the session that you were unable to attend.

Am I able to bring my other child/ren to the refresher course with me?

Our refresher courses are for parents only and are designed to give you some time away from your other child/children so that you can concentrate on your forthcoming pregnancy. We have set the courses up in this way based on experience and feedback from past course attendees. As a result we are unable to accommodate other siblings attending the sessions and there are no childcare facilities at our venues.

How many couples normally attend a course?

The number of couples on a course can vary from course to course and is dependent on the size of the venue.  This can range from 3-9  couples, but is commonly between 6 - 8 couples.

Does my partner need to attend the breastfeeding session with me?

Unless otherwise stated, our breastfeeding sessions are for both you and your partner.  There are a few courses which run women only follow up sessions, but these will be indicated accordingly on the course information.

Can I get a discount if my partner is unable to attend with me?

Our courses are a set price for you to attend with a birth partner. We are unable to offer a discount if you choose to come on your own.

What are the arrangements for lunch on a full day?

Unless otherwise advised on your confirmation email or by your NCT Practitioner, please bring a packed lunch with you for full day sessions.

Do I need to bring anything with me - e.g. medical records, notepad, etc.?

You do not need to bring anything with you for the course, unless you wish to make notes during it. 

Are the NCT Practitioners medically trained?

No.  All our practitioners complete a university-accredited course before delivering NCT courses. They are fully licensed, quality assured and experienced in preparing you and your partner - both physically and emotionally - for the arrival of your baby.  If you have any specific medical questions about your baby or your pregnancy, then we advise that you contact your GP or midwife directly.  Find out more about NCT Practitioner training and CPD.

Cancellation

What if my baby arrives early?

If your baby arrives before or during the course, we offer a pro-rata refund.  Please contact your local Course Booking Administrator as soon as you can to let them know. Find out more about our refund policy.

What happens if I get bad news about my baby and I have already booked or started my course?

Please contact your local NCT Course Administrator so that she can make all necessary arrangements and support you.

I have booked and paid for my course, but now can’t attend. Can I cancel my place?

You can cancel your place on the course at any time, by advising your local NCT Course Administrator.  Please refer to the NCT Cancellation and Refund policy for details.

I have booked my course, but now can’t make the dates. Can I transfer to another course?

Yes, as long as there is availability.  A £25 transfer fee will be charged and if the new course is more expensive we’ll ask you to pay the balance in fees, too.  We do refund if the new course is cheaper.  Please contact your NCT Course Administrator for details.

I have moved out of the area. Can I transfer my course to my new location?

Yes, as long as there is availability.  A £25 transfer fee will be charged and if the new course is more expensive we’ll ask you to pay the balance in fees, too.  We do refund if the new course is cheaper.  Please contact your NCT Course Administrator for details.

 

NCT Membership

NCT Membership

Become an NCT member and join a community of new parents, all experiencing pregnancy, birth and early parenthood together.