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.
  • You’ll cover all aspects of labour, birth and caring for your new baby, catering to both your emotional wellbeing and the practical side of things, from nappy changing, washing, clothing, crying to safe sleeping and feeding. You’ll also focus on what’s happening on the ground with your local maternity and community health services.
  • Every session will be well-paced and structured, with any longer sessions broken up into manageable chunks, with well-timed breaks. Sessions will be packed with practical skills, relaxation exercises, presentations, group and pair work and Q&A’s to keep you feeling engaged, supported and connected as you learn. 
  • 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.
  • We’re also giving you access to NCT Parent Hub, a digital resource of objective, trusted information and expert support. This will complement what you learn on your antenatal course and support your journey into parenthood. 
  • 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 session time to address your specific questions and concerns, and in addition your interactive chat groups (e.g. WhatsApp) will give further opportunities for you to ask questions. 

 

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

List of the five NCT Antenatal Course themes: Planning for a positive birth experience; Understanding and caring for your baby; Feeding your baby; Taking care of physical and mental health; Your family, relationships and finding support. These are displayed next to the four NCT Antenatal course focus' - Support to make informed decisions; Evidence based and trusted information; Practical skills; Interactive and social sessions.

Benefits of an online antenatal course:

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 2020, 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? 

With an online NCT Antenatal course we guarantee you’ll receive:

  • The same supportive, interactive course experience, packed with local insight, evidence-based information and practical skills.
  • Exactly the same number of hours of learning and support, live and face-to-face with your course leader and local group of parents. The only difference is that instead of meeting in-person you’ll be meeting and interacting online using Zoom and WhatsApp.

Since March 2020 over 72,000 parents have attended their antenatal course online, with 92% currently rating them good or excellent. You can be confident your online NCT Antenatal course will physically and emotionally prepare you for the arrival of your new baby and life as a parent. You’ll make new friends and grow your support network whilst learning everything you need to know about pregnancy, birth and caring for your new baby.

The below graphic outlines the common features of NCT Antenatal course both online and in-person showing how similar they are - the only difference being the Zoom delivery of the sessions.

Image showing the features of in-person and online courses

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

 

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 you, your babies and our NCT course leaders.   

As the UK’s largest parenting charity and the leader in the field of antenatal education we make our decisions 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 to make it either more practical or less of a risk to deliver antenatal courses in-person before the end of May 2021 - a decision endorsed by the 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 online for May 2021, the factors we are giving particular consideration to are: 

  • Government road maps and frameworks for unlocking the 4 nations of the UK and Channel Islands.  
  • Official guidance for pregnant women, in general, and in the third trimester of pregnancy, specifically
  • JCVI decisions regarding the Covid-19 vaccine and pregnant women
  • 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 government timeframes for unlock, official guidance for pregnant women, particularly in the third trimester of pregnancy, and the current Covid-19 vaccination options for pregnant women means an online course is safer.

Right now, all available government roadmaps and frameworks for unlocking UK nations are engaged in the same direction of travel – one that gradually opens up society as Covid-19 infection rates fall and vaccination uptake increases, aiming for much greater freedoms for May 2021. However, work from home wherever necessary guidance is remaining in place until at least 21st June 2021 (for England - the roadmap which currently sets out the most detailed, longer-term timeframes) when a full review of social distancing and all other measures needed going forward to contain and control the spread of Covid-19 will be published. This sits alongside the UK governments' aims to offer first dose of the vaccine to age groups below fifty by the end of July 2021. Therefore, in consideration of your safety and that of our course leaders, May is too early to bring you together in-person. 

Additionally, pregnant women remain included in the list of those 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. In place since the start of the pandemic, this is precautionary and based on evidence that viral infections, such as flu, can be more severe in pregnancy.  There are also specific groups of pregnant women listed as 'high risk’ (clinically extremely vulnerable), who are currently advised to take extra steps to protect themselves – i.e. shielding. This group are now being offered the Covid-19 vaccine, the uptake of which is a matter of personal choice.**

The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) and The Royal College of Midwives (RCM) specifically advises pregnant women in their third trimester (weeks 29-40) - the time when most parents attend our antenatal courses - to be particularly attentive to hand hygiene and stringently adhere to social distancing. This is based on findings of the UKOSS study, which tracks all pregnant women admitted to hospital with Covid-19 in the UK, highlighting that the majority were in their third trimester.This advice, is based on UK studies indicating pregnant women who contract Covid-19 are at an increased risk of becoming severely unwell, particularly in their third trimester.*

Currently, pregnant women are not being routinely offered the Covid-19 vaccination. In December 2020, the UK Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) stated that as no vaccines having been tested during pregnancy, whilst there are no concerns about safety in pregnancy from non-clinical data, those who are pregnant should not routinely have the vaccine until more information on it is available.

In January the JCVI stated that pregnant women at very high risk of catching Covid-19 or with clinical conditions that put them at high risk of suffering serious complications from it, could chose to have the vaccine if they and their doctor or nurse feel the benefits outweigh the risks.** However, with age groups below fifty starting to be offered the vaccine at the end of April, there is currently no vaccination timeline for all pregnant women to be routinely offered it.  With data available from the US and Israel, where pregnant women have received the vaccine, this may change in the next few months but it is unclear and uncertain when this will be.

Additionally, as leaders in the field of antenatal education, we also need to make sure the way we are delivering our antenatal courses aligns with how your antenatal care is delivered – reducing in-person contact and using video and telephone appointments, to minimise the risks of infection to you and those caring for you - rather than increasing the risks of exposure by bringing you together in person.

We also need our antenatal courses to be fully inclusive to all parents – those who are pregnant and their partners – so, that regardless of their level of risk, all can attend in the same way. 

Taken together, the above factors informed our decision to hold all May 2020 NCT Antenatal courses online, where we can ensure the safety of all groups and individuals and provide a fun and social learning experience with a group of other local parents.

How parents rate NCT Antenatal online:

The Covid-19 pandemic hasn’t stopped parents-to-be preparing for the arrival of their baby and new lives as parents with NCT.  Since March 2020 over 72,000 parents have attended their antenatal course online with us and the feedback is excellent - currently**:

8 out of 10 parents say they will keep in touch with the parents they met on their NCT Antenatal course.

9 out of 10 of parents…
- rate the online delivery of their NCT Antenatal course good or excellent
- rate their NCT Antenatal course experience good or excellent
- say their NCT Antenatal course helped them prepare for feeding their baby
- say they came away from their NCT Antenatal course with realistic expectations

and 10 out of 10 parents say their NCT Antenatal course increased their knowledge of labour and birth, caring for and feeding their new baby and becoming a parent.

*Information on the Covid-19 vaccine and pregnancy - RCOG: Click here

**Tried, tested and refined for 12 months by our expert course leaders, to bring you the best and most comprehensive antenatal course on the market, the above statistics come from parents attending online NCT Antenatal courses that started in January 2021.

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 session dates, times and lengths change?

Zoom sessions - content and how you’ll learn

Our online NCT Antenatal courses cover exactly the same topics (see What you’ll learn) and offer exactly the same types of learning an our in-person courses. Your course leader will:

•    plan the content and pace each of your course sessions using a variety of learning activities, including presentations, practical skills sessions, relaxation exercises, group and pair work and question and answer sessions to make your learning interactive and keep you feeling engaged.

•    design each session with the specific needs of your group in mind, making sure the pace and mix of learning activities maximises learning your outcomes and delivers built-in opportunities for you to bond with the other parents in your group to help ensure you form friendships and mutual support networks.
 

Session times and dates:

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.  With your online NCT Antenatal courses you should see no change to your session times and dates or start and end times* in the details you receive.

*the only circumstances in which this may differ is if you have moved or been transferred to a different course which has different sessions – please contact your course organiser or our enquiries team on enquiries@nct.org.uk / tel: 0300 330 0700

Session lengths:

Course sessions delivered by Zoom will last no more than 90 to 120 minutes in duration without a scheduled 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 2020.  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.

Session breaks:

•    Your course leader will build in regular breaks, timed to help you maintain concentration, keep you comfortable and minimise fatigue during sessions, especially those which last longer than a few hours.

We promise you won’t miss out with an online NCT antenatal course:

This pandemic hasn’t stopped parents-to-be meeting, learning together and building life-long friendships – it’s just happening online. You won’t miss out. With an online NCT Antenatal course we guarantee you’ll receive:

•    The same supportive, interactive course experience, packed with local insight, evidence-based information and practical skills.

•    Exactly the same number of hours of learning and support, live and face-to-face with your course leader and local group of parents. The only difference is that instead of meeting in-person you’ll be meeting and interacting online using Zoom and WhatsApp.

Since March 2020 over 71,000 parents have attended their antenatal course online, with 93% currently rating them good or excellent. You can be confident your online NCT Antenatal course will physically and emotionally prepare you for the arrival of your new baby and life as a parent. You’ll make new friends and grow your support network whilst learning everything you need to know about pregnancy, birth and caring for your new baby.  

Here’s what some parents whose courses changed from in-person to online have said about their experiences:

“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

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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