All my friends seem to be doing at the moment is popping 'em out, so I set out their combined feedback:
Antenatal classes from your midwife team / local hospital are free but a bit of a lottery - one friend of mine in SE16 was classed as a "high risk" delivery, so she got offered classes at St. THomas' which were fab. Otherwise, SE1 is covered by the "Thames Team" of midwives and antenatal classes are run in the community.
The same friend tried the clinic at Surrey Docks on Tuesdays and said it was ok, but very busy and a bit rushed.
Private classes: everyone raves about the National Childbirth Trust classes - SE1 is covered by the South East London Antenatal Trust Teacher group at http://www.antenatalclass.co.uk/. You tell them where you are and they tell you what courses are in your area.
You pay for these classes but they are less busy and you have to book on the course, so get more individual attention. Don't know anyone in and around SE1 who's used them but a friend in New Cross went to classes in Lewisham and said she thought they were very good value - 2 hours a week in the evening.
i think a lot depends on your doctors as well-the falmouth rd and decima street groups used to do joint ones as part of the community mid wives scheme and they used to be at decima street one evening a week when you are 5-6 months onwards. As well as practical tips and preparing you for the awful/happy event they arrange visits to the hospital to look round so it is not such a shock at the time.
Therefore suggest your sister rings the docs and asks to speak to the midwife if a community one. If not her doctor should be able to help
The wierd thing about ante-natal classes is that they rarely tell you about what to do with the baby once you get it. Things like putting on nappies. But a key reason for going to them is to meet people who live near you and who are also shell shocked by having a baby come live with them.
So local classes are best. The trouble is that they are really hard to find. Midwives often keep quiet about the hospital ones as they were, at least in my day, hugely oversubscribed. Your sister needs to ask and as soon as possible. At minimum it is important to go on the hospital tour as you learning interesting things like the door to St Thomas's from the car park is locked at weekends. Not something you want to discover when in full labour.
NCT are the most popular, but a bit like Eton you need to put you name down on the day of conception. Your sister is probably between the Lambth and Southwark and the Greenwich NCT groups so could probably try both. You might also phone Caroline Flint directly. She gives NCT classes at her flat/office in Nine Elms Lane and is a former President of the Royal College of Midwives, adn now works as an independent midwife. (Since you are the champion Googler on this forum I will have no doubt that you will find her.)
The NCT also offers other one day courses on things like water births, which again present an opportunity to meet people.
The Active Birth Centre, somewhere in Camden also have teachers who give classes. There may be some in SE1 but they are probably not for someone who sees the epidural as a key part of the process. (I don't know your sister, but my husband claims that my first words on entering the hospital were "where's the .....anethiatist".
If all that fails I have an acquaintance who did give private classes and can phone her for further suggestions.
Just wondering about the double buggy part of your message. I'm expecting baby 2 in October. Which buggy is it? How much wear and tear? And how much ££?
Thanks very much - sorry to butt in! ;)
Sorry I'm new on this forum, so not sure if this is a jokey post or for real, but just to say, like Sarah, I had classes with Caroline Flint during my first pregnancy and she was fantastic. She's NCT - contact them to see if you could attend her classes or they could recommend someone else near you. And I'll be attending the St Thomas class in a few weeks. The breastfeeding class at Guys was really helpful last time (it'll be at Tommy's now the new maternity unit is completed)
Greetings all. Don't think I've ever posted before. At risk of a torrent of right-minded abuse, I must be quite a new man to save this first post for the subject of antenatal classes...
Anyway, I couldn't agree more with Sarah's comments, particularly the need for some advice on life post partum. And I wanted to add a massive endorsement for Caroline Flint (whose classes we attended). It's worth a hell of a lot of effort to get on her NCT course. Despite her formidable CV and experience, she manages to look at the whole thing from the new parents' point of view. She is always outspoken and often hilarious, but the advice is rock solid. Quite how the honours system has overlooked her (so far) is mystifying to me.
NCT can be a bit intimidating due to the overload of smug-parents-in-training, and the sheer combined earning power of those present (household names a possibility), but it is a networking godsend in our large conurbation.
Oh and we might be in the market for the double buggy, Sarah. What model? How much? I'm emailable on [email protected]