NCT Essentials Antenatal Course – Week Two

Just as Tuesdays are currently dressmaking nights, Mondays are NCT Essentials night. This week was our second session out of five before Pickle arrives, but it was LPD’s first as he missed last week due to his skiing holiday. You can read about our first session here. I was so excited to see how he found the session, and was looking forward to seeing how he’d fit in with the other Mums and Dads. Bless him, it was quite easy for him to chat with the other Dads as his arm strapped up in a sling was an easy conversation starter!

This week’s class mainly focused on the birth. The bit we’re all dreading. We did quite a bit on breathing techniques, allowing us to try and figure out what might work best for us and help us get through contractions the easiest. We tried:

  • Just taking deep breathes
  • Counting each deep breath to see how many are within a contraction
  • Counting down during the contraction from a high number e.g. 125 or counting back in threes from 333

Our course leader shook a rattle to give us an idea of how a contraction might build which was quite distracting but did make me think about how the pain would be distracting in a similar way – it’s going to be difficult to focus on the techniques when pain is in the mix! I found counting down from a high number made the minute-long contraction go much quicker than the other techniques so definitely one to try when the time comes.

New Parents pregnancy birth labour

The Dads had to think about what qualities make for the ideal birth partner.

This week, the Dads were tasked with writing a ‘job description’ for the ideal birth partner. LPD took this task quite literally and most of his suggestions sounded like they came straight off a corporate job description, including:

  • Good team player
  • Ability to work well under pressure
  • Punctual
  • and my favourite… Target driven

I think he was pretty pleased with himself! He was fairly overwhelmed when we discussed the various stages of labour and how he could be a support in different stages. Whilst I’m very envious of Dads because they don’t have to endure the physical pain of childbirth, I do feel for them. It can’t be easy watching someone you love in so much pain and discomfort and feeling powerless to help. I especially know LPD will struggle with this.

NCT Essentials stages of birth

We mapped out the various stages of labour and how our birth partners might support during each different stage.

We tried out a few different labouring positions – some we couldn’t quite do properly with LPD’s arm in his sling but I found kneeling in front of a birthing ball ESPECIALLY comfortable. I hadn’t really considered a birthing ball before, but now it’s definitely on my to-buy list. I’d really recommend other mums-to-be testing out a few different positions beforehand to see what feels comfortable as everyone’s different – get your partner involved so they can practice giving you a back rub too!

NCT Essentials labour positions

We were given a hand-out with some of the positions on to try. I’m definitely going to be kneeling labour-er I reckon!

Next week we’re going to start looking at feeding options and we’ve all been asked to think about how we were fed as a baby and how that might influence our decisions. I can’t say I really know how I was fed… all I ever get told about being a newborn was how tiny I was! Time to get chatting to my own Mum I think. Another NCT Essentials session under our belts – another three to go hopefully before Pickle arrives!



  1. March 2, 2016 / 11:27 am

    That’s one thing I regret actually, I never went to my antenatal class! But I’ve read so much on how it has helped so many pregnant women, hence the regret. Next time perhaps? 😉

    • March 2, 2016 / 11:35 am

      Hi Dean! I’d DEFINITELY recommend it – I think even for a subsequent pregnancy, it’s just quite useful to have some time set aside to think through birth/labour/newborn parenting and I’m really hoping we’ll make lots of new friends through it! NCT do a Signature course that’s longer and much more expensive, but the Essentials course suits us and our budget brilliantly! LPMx

  2. March 2, 2016 / 11:45 am

    My top tip for a comfortable labour is definitely breathing. Imagine you are blowing the pain away. I like to keep moving through contractions, I can’t sit or lay down. And a positive mind set and affirmations, actually I think that’s my top tip, tell yourself you CAN and you WILL do it and try and stay in control. Gosh I have so much to say on this subject I think I’m going to have to write a blog post! haha

    • March 2, 2016 / 12:07 pm

      Ha ha, well if you do write a blog post – I’ll definitely be reading it!! I’m a big believer in mind over matter and how much a positive mental attitude can help your body do amazing things. It’s what got me through running a couple of marathons so it’s going to help me through labour too, I’m sure!

      • March 2, 2016 / 12:25 pm

        Oh definitely! I started running after I had my second (only 10 miles, not anything as amazing as a marathon) and that’s what I used to think to keep me going ‘I’ve got through 2 labours, if my body can do that it can do this’. It’s exactly the same as long distance running (well, it’s better because you get a baby at the end instead of a medal, they really should give you a medal too though) if you keep a positive mental attitude you’ll be fine.
        Louise (Squished Blueberries) recently posted…I bought my own Mother’s Day presentMy Profile

  3. March 2, 2016 / 12:43 pm

    I wish I had gone to an NCT class with Blake the free class we went to didn’t really give us much info. Even though In the end I had an emergency c-section I still was in labour for 23 hours so I wish I had learnt more on breathing.

  4. March 2, 2016 / 10:40 pm

    I like that you are preparing for the pregnancy with your partner that is a great idea. looking forward to reading how feeding goes.

  5. March 3, 2016 / 10:24 am

    Antenatal classes seem to be a bit hit and miss. Some people rave about theres but mine was a waste of time. They made us watch a Monty Python sketch (I hate Monty Python!) and the scene from Only Fools when Del and Racquel have a baby. Funny enough but not really useful. Wish I’d had your class!

  6. March 3, 2016 / 1:04 pm

    my birthing ball was my friend – i think i bounced up and down for hours on mine!

  7. March 3, 2016 / 2:05 pm

    I did’t go to any NCT courses. I do regret that a lot as I can see now how these courses have helped a lot to other people and also how you can fin new friends that are going through the same stage than you. I think it is a fantastic idea. I’m glad to hear that you are enjoying it and that hubby is too. Good luck with the rest of the course and of course with the birth, 🙂 xx

  8. March 3, 2016 / 6:55 pm

    I have never had a baby so have never been to an NCT course or know anything about them, so posts like this I always find fascinating x
    Rachel recently posted…Mothers Day with L’OccitaneMy Profile

  9. March 4, 2016 / 3:27 pm

    We went to NCT classes with our first and they were invaluable, not only for the things you learn but also the friends. I’m still in touch with most of the ladies I met there and we had a joint first birthday party for the kids last summer xx

  10. March 5, 2016 / 8:13 pm

    I’m glad you are getting something out of the classes. Ours were rubbish and a waste of time, very inexperienced talkers and unorganised x
    Jenni recently posted…What Lucas Wore #19My Profile

  11. March 8, 2016 / 3:13 am

    I never went to antenatal classes with either of my pregnancies. Being high risk, I knew from the start I’d have C sections. They only thing I regret is I didn’t meet other parents to be which made lonely times after giving birth. Sadly slog of baby groups j was shunned as I hadn’t been part of the clique

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