Diary of a first-time dad: starting NCT classes

Last month we introduced our new pregnancy blogger, John, a first-time dad-to-be whose baby is due in the next few months. Here's his next update:

As I write this I'm nearing cruising altitude on a flight across the Atlantic and the thing that I think to say previously I've been rather unsympathetic towards - babies crying on takeoff - is something that I find myself thinking about very differently. Yes I have some noise cancelling headphones that I'm about to put on to drown the sound out, but now instead of thinking, please, no more crying, I was left thinking, the poor baby I hope it's ears stop popping soon and that it's not too stressful on the parents.

This change in thinking isn't just because that parent comforting its baby on take-off could well be me in the not too distant future, but because Lydia and I had our first NCT class last night. So how did we get on?

My expectations of NCT classes
I went into the class with an open mind. I've heard all the stories about how you get to practise the breathing techniques, ask lots of questions and meet some new people that you can relate to because they are at the same stage of pregnancy as you and hopefully make some new friends, all of which I think will be great.

Getting started with our first NCT class
The first part of the class was a meet and greet of the other couples who all seemed really nice - so far so good - before splitting into groups to pull lists together of all the questions that we had. I've been fairly laid back about the birth side of things so far and my main concern has been 'what happens when we get the baby home and it's just the three of us?'. I'm sure that no matter how much reading and preparation we've done, it's going to be a slight shock, albeit a great one that I can't wait for. But talking with the other couples in our group it served as a good reminder that actually there is a fair bit to get through (mainly for Lydia) before we get to that stage, specifically around the type of birth we want.

What are our birthing options?
Lydia and I have talked about what kind or birth she wants, she has been keen on a water birth up until this point, but I've been adamant that we shouldn't decide until we've heard more about all the options and after the second part of our class last night, I feel far better informed. Now this may not be exhaustive, but the here are the options we went through last night and some of the pros and cons of each:

Different options for childbirth



Main labour ward in a hospital

You can have an epidural if you want it

Not very private

Your partner can't stay if you’re kept in overnight (in most hospitals)

Birthing centre

You have your own midwife


A much less sterile environment than the ward

Partner can stay the whole time

As they tend to be smaller than the main ward, there might not be room when you arrive

You can't have an epidural


If this takes place in a birthing centre, same points as above

It's more private as the birth takes place under a metre of water

As birth centres are smaller than the main ward, and there are only limited pools available on the labour ward, there might not be one when you need it

You can't have an epidural or be in the water if you're on the monitor

Apparently you have to take your own 'sieve' (if you need to ask what for, then don't worry about it)


A lot of people who've done it recommend it (even if they've had a difficult labour and birth)

It costs extra

There isn't scientific proof it makes a difference


A nice atmosphere in your own house

If there are complications you'll still need to go to the hospital

For me, I finished the class thinking if Lydia wants the water birth (sieve and all) then I'm game for it too. But regardless of what we plan I can see that it's really important that we both remain flexible, after all if the birth centre is full and we can't go in there, then we still need to have the baby somewhere!

Did you have a waterbirth? If so, leave a comment and let us know if you have any advice for John.

If you're curious about childbirth, make sure you read all the stories from our birth month.

Photo courtesy of the NCT.

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