Leap in NCT course bookings as NHS antenatal classes threatened

Released on: 28 April 2011

Bookings and enquiries about NCT antenatal classes have soared, as latest reports on the Government’s spending cuts claim hospitals in some areas are axing classes.

Increasing overheads mean cash-strapped NHS trusts are trying to reduce outgoing costs, and free antenatal classes for expectant parents are often one of the first things to go. Other factors include a shortage of midwives and lack of resources.

If you’re expecting an addition to the family and are concerned that your NHS class has been cut, help is at hand from NCT, the UK’s largest parenting charity. An NCT antenatal class is a great way to improve your confidence about the forthcoming birth and better prepare you for parenthood.

NCT antenatal classes for mums and dads-to-be are available throughout the UK, with costs starting from £90. Expectant parents aged under 18 or with a yearly household income of less than £15,000 pay 10% of the course price. Those with a yearly household income of £15,000 - £25,000, students and those on government supports are also eligible for reductions of up to 90%, while payment by installments is available to all.

Belinda Phipps, Chief Executive, NCT, said: “We know that unfortunately in some areas there are gaps in the provision of NHS antenatal classes, and this could explain the recent leap we have seen in bookings.

“We believe all expectant parents should have the opportunity to attend antenatal classes to prepare them both practically and emotionally for the life-changing experience of childbirth and parenthood. Some mums and dads-to-be might have preconceptions that NCT classes are not for them, but with reduced price options available there is no reason why they cannot be for everyone.”

NCT charges for courses in order to develop better resources for parents, improve training and cover the costs to the charity for providing the course. Any profit from the course is invested back into the charity’s vital campaigns and services.

In a survey of 931 parents, up to 99% said they felt their NCT course was a good opportunity to meet other parents, 95% said the course provided evidence-based information and met their needs (94%), and 89% said they received good preparation for becoming a parent.

Over 70,000 parents sign up to NCT antenatal courses each year. They are ideal for building up confidence and reducing anxiety surrounding the birth and becoming a parent. They also provide new parents with a support network in the run up to birth as everyone is expecting a baby around the same time, and many people find they make good friends through the course and the reunions.

Topics covered generally include:-
• Practical skills for labour, including breathing, movement and birth positions
• Your pain relief options
• Realistic information on what happens during birth
• Early days with your baby

NCT, the UK’s largest parenting charity, has been supporting parents for over 50 years. Unlike many other courses, NCT’s antenatal courses are run by teachers who are fully qualified to diploma level and are required to renew their license to practice annually; ensuring they are highly skilled before taking their class.