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.

How can an online course deliver the same experience as an in-person course? 

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.  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 55,000 parents have attended their antenatal course online with 86% 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.   

Comparison of features

Why are we moving your antenatal course online now rather than waiting until nearer the time? 

With Covid-19 in our society, we will always make informed decisions about how we run our antenatal courses which protect parents to be, their babies and NCT course leaders.   

As the UK’s largest parenting charity and the leader in the field of antenatal education, our decision to deliver our antenatal courses online has been made with full consideration of current NHS and national Government guidelines, in close consultation with our colleagues at the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) and Royal College of Midwives (RCM) and with reference to the most reliable research findings and data regarding pregnancy and Covid-19.  This has given us clear insights that little will change in the next few months to make it either more practical or less of a risk to deliver antenatal courses in-person - a decision endorsed by Royal College of Midwives who support online antenatal classes as the safest and most practical option in the current climate.

"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

When deciding to continue to deliver our antenatal courses online until the end of March 2021, the factors we are giving particular consideration to are: 

  • guidance for pregnant women, in general, and in the third trimester of pregnancy, specifically
  • the practicalities of running in-person antenatal courses in line with social distancing and Covid-19 secure venue guidance and impacts on the antenatal course experience.

As an organisation whose mission it is to support all parents to have the most positive experiences of pregnancy, birth and the early days, we want to act promptly and with transparency; informing you about courses moving online as early as possible and giving you information explaining why. 

Why current guidance relating to pregnant women in general and in the third trimester of pregnancy, specifically, means an online course is safer

All pregnant women remain included in the list of people at ‘moderate risk’ (clinically vulnerable) from Covid-19, advised by the NHS to stay at home as much as possible and follow social distancing advice. This is based on evidence that viral infections can be more severe in pregnancy for some women and is also due to the additional challenges of caring for women and their babies during pregnancy and birth if they do contract Covid-19. There are also specific groups of pregnant women included in the ‘highly vulnerable group’, advised to be extremely careful about meeting others outside their household.

Additionally, there is guidance specific to pregnant women in their third trimester (weeks 29-40), which is when most parents will be attending our antenatal courses. The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) with Royal College of Midwifery (RCM) have noted the findings of the UKOSS study, tracking all pregnant women admitted to hospital with Covid-19 in the UK, which highlighted that the majority were in their third trimester, and are advising them to be particularly attentive to hand hygiene and to stringently adhere to social distancing. We, therefore, wouldn’t wish to expose parents-to-be – most of whom are in the third trimester of their pregnancy - to the additional risks of attending an in-person course with individuals from up to 9 other households. The decision to deliver our antenatal course online as the safest and most practical option in the current climate is supported by Royal College of Midwives:

"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

Additionally, as leaders in the field of antenatal education, the decisions we make need to sit hand-in-hand with those who deliver your antenatal care and are using video and telephone appointments, where practical, in order to reduce the Covid-19 transmission risks that come with travel to and attendance in-person. We also need our antenatal courses to be fully inclusive to all parents – pregnant mums and partners, both – so, that regardless of their level of risk, all can attend. Therefore, we are continuing to offer our courses online now and over the winter months, where we can ensure the safety of all groups and individuals whilst providing a fun and social learning experience with other local parents.

The below graphic illustrates how NCT live and online courses present no additional risk of Covid-19 transmission.

Comparison of benefits

Why isn’t it possible to hold an in-person antenatal course in a Covid-19 secure venue?

We’ve thoroughly explored holding socially distanced courses in Covid-19 secure venues – a possibility should guidance for pregnant women relax in the future. However, we’re concerned that the necessary protocols would greatly impact what you get from your course; allowing far fewer opportunities for interaction than our online courses can deliver. The principles that would need to be observed in order to minimise the spread of Covid-19 infection; strict social distancing, limits on the time spent with those from other households and the number of activities undertaken would prohibit the interactive tasks that enable our antenatal groups to learn and bond so well together and enjoy a fully fun and interactive experience. We can, however, do all this with our live and online courses which ensure your safety whilst providing a fun and social learning experience with other local parents. 

Our partners at Royal College of Midwifery support online antenatal courses as the current safest and most practical option in the current climate:

"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

Read on to understand more about how a Covid-19 secure venue would impact your antenatal course experience. In the following graphic we have used real examples from our partner venues to illustrate the impacts a Covid-19 secure venue setting could have on your course experience and also shown how our live and online antenatal courses can overcome these.

Covid secure venues - impact on your course

Impacts of a Covid-19 secure venue on course experience: We have used real examples from our partner venues to create the attached illustration of the impacts a Covid-19 secure venue setting could have on your course experience and also shown how our live and online antenatal courses can overcome these.

How will course sessions work on Zoom? Will the dates and times have changed?

Live and online antenatal course sessions on Zoom content – what and how you’ll learn

Our live and online courses cover exactly the same topics (see What you’ll learn) and offer exactly the same types of learning an our in-person courses.

The session and break lengths outlined above have been set to help to ensure you get the most out of the interactive learning sessions as they are the optimum lengths for helping you maintain concentration and learn in a variety of ways; group and pair tasks, practical skills, exercises, interactive presentations and discussions.

Our course leaders are skilled facilitators who plan each course session with the specific needs of every group in mind, making sure the pace and mix of learning and skills maximises learning outcomes and deliver opportunities for group bonding to help ensure you form friendships and mutual support networks (including enhanced support – see below).

Live and online course session dates and times:

In an in-person course all your sessions take place in a venue at set and scheduled times with your group and your course leader. You should see very little change to courses session dates or start and end times for your live and online antenatal course.

Course sessions delivered by Zoom will last no more than 90 to 120 minutes in duration without a substantial break, for the following reasons:

  • Having a maximum Zoom session length of 2 hours aligns with the advice and best practice from our partners in online education across the higher education and corporate training sectors. It is also backed up by feedback from parents-to-be who’ve attended our online courses since March this year. This has provided excellent insights into what expectant parents feel is an ideal session length is on Zoom, and also how many sessions work well in a longer day of teaching, in terms of maximising comfort and concentration to ensure the best course experience possible.
  • Keeping the session lengths to 2 hours or less, before having a break, should help you to best process, digest and retain the information and skills you’ve learned whilst minimising feelings of eye tiredness and zoom fatigue experienced from engaging on a screen for too long.
What is enhanced support?

Your course will include between one and a half and four up hours of enhanced support depending upon the structure of its sessions.

  • Enhanced support hours are for time spent as a group with your course leader and are usually delivered on WhatsApp. You’ll use enhanced support for group question and answer sessions, discussions and chats as well as the opportunity for one to one support from the course leader, depending upon your individual and group needs.
  • Your enhanced support time is also there to enable you to further explore, discuss and ask any questions or concerns you may have about the topics that matters to you, either in a group setting or one-to-one with your course leader.
  • The WhatsApp format is useful for enabling you to ask questions as soon as you think of them and becomes a staple part of how your group connects and supports each other. It’s a way we can really ensure your groups gets focused time and opportunities to bond and get to know each other and form the friendships NCT courses are famous for.

When will the enhanced support sessions be taking place?

  • There's flexibility as to when and how you and your group choose to use these hours – some groups use it to check in and catch up in a regular diary-slot between Zoom sessions, others choose, as a group, to take some extra discussion or support time after particular learning or practical sessions, others use it for a mixture of these as well as ongoing discussions, chat and support that continues right up until after the group’s babies are born.
  • Your course leader will work with your group to decide how you'll use your enhanced support time together and will either be in touch about this before your Zoom course sessions begin or will discuss this with you when you first get together as a group.
Why is my antenatal course now called NCT Antenatal rather than NCT Signature? What has changed?

From January 2021 all our antenatal courses are called ‘NCT Antenatal’, instead of NCT Signature and NCT Essentials.  If, when you booked your antenatal course, we talked about NCT Signature or Essentials (i.e. on our website, in our emails and phone calls, on the course booking and confirmation information we sent you) anything you now receive will mention ‘NCT Antenatal’.  No other practical details of your course have changed: the length of your course, your course leader and your session dates and times all remain the same. 

So, what has changed?

All our antenatal courses are now ‘NCT Antenatal’ because our course leaders are teaching you using one, fully refreshed antenatal course framework to support you and your group through pregnancy, birth and the early days with your new baby.  

We’ve worked really closely with our expert practitioners and acted on parent feedback to create a truly up-to-date and comprehensive framework of themes and topics that will ensure your NCT Antenatal course delivers you balanced and trusted information on the topics that matter to you most.  You can see all the themes and topics your NCT Antenatal course can cover. 

Your course leader will work with you and your group to identify and select the right topics for you all to cover and focus on, creating an expertly tailored NCT antenatal course experience that really will fulfil your needs; growing your knowledge, your confidence and your network. 

 

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