What do online NCT Antenatal courses involve? 

Your NCT Antenatal 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. 

Your antenatal course sessions will be live and interactive online using Zoom and WhatsApp. and now we're able to bring you together as a group in-person for your postnatal reunion session, after the birth of your baby. Plus we're giving you the information and support to help your group to meet up socially in-person alongside you online sessions - download it here.

NCT online antenatal course sessions are 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 only difference is that, instead of meeting in-person, you’ll be meeting and interacting online using Zoom and WhatsApp for your antenatal course sessions. 

  • 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. 
  • 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 online deliver the same experience as an in-person courses? 

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

  • Exactly the same number of antenatal course hours online, live and face-to-face with your highly-skilled course leader and local group of parents to physically and emotionally prepare you for the arrival of your new baby and life as a parent.  
  • The fullest live and interactive course experience possible*, packed with local insight, evidence-based information, practical skills, and expert support. The only difference is that instead of meeting in-person you’ll be meeting and interacting online using Zoom and WhatsApp.
  • NEWLY LAUNCEDH we're giving you the support and information to help you get together in-person as safely as possible with your antenatal course group during your course, outside of your online antenatal course sessions, and after your baby is born - download it here.

Since March 2020 over 84,000 parents have attended their antenatal course online, with 91% currently rating them good or excellent. You can be confident your online NCT Antenatal course sessions 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 sessions online but found the experience really positive – here’s some real parent testimonials about our online course sessions: 

“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. We make our decisions, as the UK’s largest parenting charity and the leader in the field of antenatal education, 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.  

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.  We make our decisions about courses moving online as early as practically possible – at present we aim to provide parents with at least 6-10 weeks notice – as well as providing as much useful information as we can to explain the reasons for the move.

When deciding to continue to deliver antenatal course sessions online for June 2021, the factors we are giving particular consideration to are:

  • phase 2 of the coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccination programme for 49-18 year olds (which now includes all pregnant women, who will be offered the vaccine by age group) which aims to offer first vaccine doses by the end of July 2021, meaning the majority of people in these age groups will not yet have had the option of receiving both vaccine doses.
  • official government and NHS advice for pregnant women, who remain in the clinically vulnerable group and the majority of whom will not yet had the option of receiving a vaccine due to the age groups they fall into plus specific advice from from RCOG and RCM advising greatest caution be taken by those in the third trimester of pregnancy (28-40 weeks).
  • the duty of care we have to our course leaders while advice is to work from home wherever possible until into June 2021 when it will be reviewed as part of the UK Government’s review of social distancing measures. We still don't have confirmation as to when this is going to be reviewed or relaxed.
  • The findings of the UK Governments’ reviews of social distancing measures, event research and Covid-status certification due to be published in June, that will decide the specifics of measures needed from the end of June onwards, and we hope will offer a clearer idea of how antenatal courses will be able to return to in-person sessions safely without compromising the quality of experience. These are currently delayed and in question due to the spread of the D variant of Covid-19 in the UK.
  • Findings and learnings from the NCT indoor and outdoor services and groups we’re currently unlocking for parents and babies across the UK, which we will not have until nearer the end of June, when our these will have been running for a couple of months.

Our decision to deliver antental course sessions online in June and July is 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

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 NCT antenatal course sessions are online in June and July 2021, including information on timings of phase 2 of the coronavirus vaccination programme, official guidance for pregnant women, particularly in the third trimester of pregnancy, and waiting for UK Government review findings.

Your safety and wellbeing as well as that of your babies and our course leaders is always central to the decisions we make. NCT Directors have closely reviewed all currently available government unlock and vaccine delivery plans and timelines for the four nations of the UK and the Channel Islands.  We have also consulted our colleagues who are responsible for official guidance and standards of care for pregnant women and their babies in the UK, The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) and The Royal College of Midwives (RCM). 

The factors which influenced our decision to move June 2021 antenatal course sessions online, rather than holding them in-person, are:

  • Phase 2 of the coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccination programme* for 49-18 year olds which aims to offer first vaccine doses by the end of July 2021, meaning the majority of people in these age groups may not yet have had the option of receiving both vaccination doses. 
  • The recent announcement from the UK Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI)* advising all pregnant women should now be offered the COVID-19 vaccine based on their age and clinical risk group, giving them personal choice. However, despite the rapid progress of the vaccine delivery programme, it is unlikely all age groups in the second phase of the vaccine programme – 49-18 years - will have had the option of receiving both doses by the end of July 2021.
  • Pregnant women remain advised by the NHS to stay at home as much as possible and follow social distancing rules**. In addition, RCOG***and RCM specifically advise pregnant women in their third trimester (weeks 28-40) – the time when most parents attend our antenatal courses – to be particularly attentive to social distancing due to evidence that pregnant women who contract Covid-19 are at increased risk of becoming severely unwell and pre-term birth.
  • The duty of care we have to our NCT course leaders whilst national guidance requiring people to work from home wherever possible remains in place until at least the 21st of June when it will be reviewed as part of the UK Government’s social distancing review.****
  • The findings of the UK Governments’ reviews of social distancing measures, event research and Covid-status certification**** due to be published in June, that will decide the specifics of measures needed from the end of June onwards, and we hope will offer a clearer idea of how antenatal courses will be able to return to in-person sessions safely without compromising the quality of experience. This is currently under review by the Government due to the rise in Covid-19 variant D and so may be delayed.
  • We are returning NCT services and courses to be held in-person where safe and feasible for us to do so, beginning last Autumn with our outdoor NCT Walk and Talks and are now moving now to offer NCT Bumps and Babies groups and antenatal course postnatal reunion sessions in-person under Covid-secure guidance. We want to learn from these experiences before we bring all our NCT antenatal course sessions back in-person.
  • NCT Antenatal courses need 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 NCT Antenatal course sessions online during June and July 2021, 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.

*JCVI final statement on phase 2 of the COVID-19 vaccination programme – UK Government. Click here and JCVI issues new advice on COVID-19 vaccination for pregnant women – UK Government. Click here 

**Pregnancy and coronavirus - NHS website click here

***Coronavirus infection and pregnancy – RCOG: Click here

****Roadmap Reviews: Update – UK Government. Click here

 

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 84,000 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.

Can I meet up with those on my NCT Antenatal course in-person if our antenatal course sessions are online? How can we do this safely and in a way everyone feels comfortable with?

In-person NCT Antenatal group meet ups

Here’s some pointers to help you meet together safely in-person with your NCT Antenatal course group, as an informal addition to your course sessions. You can download a pdf of this information here.

We’re recommending outdoor, public locations, rather than any indoor or hospitality venues, as these are currently considered safer and larger numbers of people and/or households are able to meet (see table overleaf for legally allowed numbers). NB: these meet ups will be informal, get togethers organised by your group, not by NCT.

Check who'd like to meet

You could start the conversation on your group’s WhatsApp chat, or, if you’re attending a course session, mention it in the chat on Zoom or in conversation at the start or end or breaktime of an online session, when all the group is present. Meeting up in-person with your course group should be a choice for everyone in your group, with no one feeling excluded or pressured to join in if they’re not comfortable.

Find dates and times

We suggest 1-2 hours duration and lining up a few different times and days to accommodate everyone’s availability. It’s often easier to get a few dates in the diary in one go. If schedules are busy you could create a quick doodle poll (or similar) outlining the options, vote and agree on the most popular.

Choose locations

Gather suggestions on suitable places to meet. We suggest a local, open public space such as a park or nature reserve, which everyone can access easily – consider travel distance, safe transport options and available facilities e.g. parking, toilets and refreshments.

Agree how you'll meet

Choose a meet-up format that will suit the needs of the group – there may be reasons why walking for a long distance or sitting on the ground won’t work for all parents. We suggest choosing one or combining both of the following formats:

Sit and natter: A seated social gathering in an outdoor space where there’s enough room for each household to lay out their own rug/picnic blanket or camping/portable chairs in a wide circle – we suggest 2 metres spacing.

Walk and chat: A short walk along an agreed, easy-walking route on public paths or similar easy-walking terrain where you can walk socially distanced with another person or household group and swap over after an agreed time.

All meet-ups must comply with current Governments guidance on meeting others socially outdoors – it isn’t possible for these meet-ups to operate under guidance for support groups, baby groups or education etc. Please check that your meet-up falls within the maximum numbers allowed to meet together outdoors at different times in different nations and Islands of the UK – and how your chosen space for your meet up has the space available for social distancing requirements by clicking here now and viewing the pdf of this information.

Table showing social meet ups outdoors across UK nations

Safety guidance and points to consider:
1.Be as inclusive as possible to everyone in the group by ensuring invitations are open to all members of the group and considering all needs and circumstances when suggesting and deciding  timing and location of meet-ups i.e. schedules, distance, accessibility, transport, facility, refreshments options et.
2.Respect the decisions of others in the group – doodle poll can be used.
3.Be aware of current social distancing rules and maintain these all the time (it is ok to ask some one to move back!).
4.Bring individual hand sanitiser but don’t share.
5.Please bring your own snacks and refreshments but don’t share.
6.Only use on-site facilities if you feel they are Covid-safe.
7.Avoid sharing cars with those outside your household bubble.
8.Do not attend f you have tested positive for Covid or have symptoms.
9.If the location has government Covid tracing check-in, please use this.
10.If you are walking make regular swaps of who you are walking with either formally or informally.

 

 

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 84,000 parents have attended their antenatal course online, with 91% 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. 

Why online antenatal sessions currently offer a better quality of experience

We believe that currently online antenatal sessions give you the fullest, best quality experience available. They are packed with social and interactive opportunities for you to make and grow friendships with the other parents in the group. We use the benefits of you being in your home spaces and the technology of Zoom breakout rooms to do all the engaging and interactive group activities that mix different individuals and groups together to help you learn and bond. There’s also lots of built-in social time - face to face discussions, refreshments and lunch breaks together that wouldn’t currently be possible if we held sessions indoor in a Covid-secure way. 

 

How parents rate NCT Antenatal courses 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 78,000 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.

 

**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 can’t an NCT antenatal course take place outside? Why are some course able to take place in-person whilst others remain online?

It isn’t possible to run antenatal course sessions outdoors due to both the unpredictability of the British weather outdoors not being suitable for presentations or many of the activities as well as access to suitable outdoor, private spaces.  Having adapted from online to in-person we know that we can do all the types of learning and group activities online and mix people together safely in pairs and groups using the Zoom.

At NCT, we are taking a safety-first approach to re-starting our support services and activities in-person. As part of this, we are looking at a gradual return to running antenatal course sessions in person over the Summer.

All NCT Antenatal courses and the activities they involve will all be subject to NCT risk assessments and safe operating procedures, compiled to comply with government guidance and in consultation with an independent Health & Safety consultant and signed off by NCT Directors. They may go further in some cases due to pregnant women being a large portion of our audience.

We have selected approximately 15% of our July 2021 NCT Antenatal courses to be held in person. These early adopter courses are those which can be delivered in short sessions, over a number of weeks in ventilated, Covid-safe venues and with the necessary Covid-secure protocols in place to minimise risk to the expectant parents and NCT course leaders during the sessions (these may include mandatory mask wearing and 2 metre social distancing at all times).

For July 2021 we are not yet in a position to deliver all NCT Antenatal courses in-person, especially those with longer day sessions, and where Covid-secure venues are not available.

 

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