A review of the Happy Birth Club: an alternative to NCT
What is the Happy Birth Club?
Hosted by Beverly Turner, the Happy Birth Club is a ‘ collection of antenatal classes in Chiswick with a difference’, most notably on top of the classes there is ongoing support from a midwife including a home-visit after the baby arrives. Topics covered include well-being & place of birth, labour, hypnobirthing, birth, aromatherapy, breastfeeding, partners at birth and life with a newborn.
How did we find the Happy Birth Club?
Pre-The Girl, my husband was adamant about looking at alternative NCT courses that might be available. For those not in the UK, National Childbirth Trust (NCT) is about ‘labour, birth, being a new parent and looking after and feeding your baby’ and it’s what every new parents joins. My husband’s argument was that taking the time to think about how you want to be a parent should be informed by experts, not necessarily a national-based curriculum. I wasn’t convinced – I had heard great things about NCT and was keen to join a group. Nevertheless, I had a look at what other courses were available in our local area. The Happy Birth Club is the first thing that came up!
What caught my husband’s eye: expert led and discussion-based format, rather than lectures, whereas what was important to me: evidence-based classes, like-minded couples and ALL birth options covered. It really seemed to tick all of the boxes we didn’t even know we had!
What was it like?
True to its sales pitch, the classes were discussion-based, informal and evidence-based. Bev has an incredible relaxed presence about her that sets the tone for the sessions. Her facilitation of what can be an incredibly detailed, in-depth discussion made the evenings fly by. It was evident how much Bev and Pam work so closely together to pull off the Happy Birth Club. Pam’s decades of experience as a midwife is an invaluable asset throughout the sessions.
Each week an expert was brought in to discuss the topic for that week. For example, one week Gordana Petrovic from Acumedicare was brought in to discuss acupuncture during pregnancy and Labour, and how it can be used to help breach babies. At that time, The Girl was breach so I was able to make an appointment with Gordana and trust that she had the expertise to help me. Luckily The Girl did end up turning – I’m a big fan of acupuncture now!
What to expect if you join the Happy Birth Club?
- To be fully informed of what your options are throughout your pregnancy and labour.
- To be able to discuss your plans, hopes and fear openly in a safe, non-judgemental place (which really, at that stage in your life EVERYONE has an opinion about how you should be doing EVERYTHING, so it is refreshing to have a safe space).
- To have one-on-one support from a midwife. I can’t thank Pam enough for all of her support to me – she changed the course of my pregnancy and experience with the NHS, supporting me through talking about a bad experience I had, how to complain as well as telling me it’ll be alright after the 41 week check up showed I wasn’t progressing. (Thank you, Pam!)
- To make friends! Obviously everyone is different, but I did make lifelong friends! We were disappointed at first as our group consisted of three couples in total, which in comparison to our NCT friends who had 5+ couples in their group, this was a small group. It turned out though that quality over quantity is what’s important – our NCT friends hardly see their group, whereas our group meets nearly every week!
- With access to such experts throughout the course, it can prove a challenge when their advice contrasts with what your midwives/ doctors have said — but everyone has different opinions in the medical world!
- All advice given is evidenced-based but generally the approach in the Club and of experts we spoke to is to choose less intervention during birth whenever possible – for some this will work, for others it wont.