More than just a great place to meet other parents-to-be
Antenatal classes aren't just about breathing exercises and learning how to change a nappy – they are also a great opportunity to make life long friendships with other families going through exactly the same mum-to-be (and then new mum) hurdles as you.
At a glance
- Antenatal classes are a great way to meet new friends
- You'll learn loads from important breathing exercises to changing that first nappy
Where can I find antenatal classes locally?
Your midwife or doctors' surgery should have information on the classes local to you, or you could check out the National Childbirth Trust, The Daisy Foundation or Parentskool for a nearby course. You can check out the NHS location finder for antenatal classes.
Alternatively ask your midwife or GP about NHS antenatal classes locally, which are free of charge as other organisations may charge a fee. You can go to more than one class provider if you wish to. There may be specialist classes on specific types of birth preparation you may be interested in such as hypnobirthing.
Book a place in your antenatal class as soon as you can – they often fill very quickly, and spaces can be limited. You usually start your classes at around 30 weeks into your pregnancy – earlier if you are expecting twins or multiples.
Just like joining any group, it can be a bit intimating at first, going into a new environment with strangers, possibly at a time you are feeling your most vulnerable. But keep in mind that you are all in the same boat and all there for the same reason!
Who can attend antenatal classes?
Some antenatal groups are just for mums, others are for couples (or you and your birth partner) – do some local research to find the type of group which would most suit you. Some areas will offer classes just for single mums, or those who do not have English as a first language.
What can you expect to learn?
Well, some of the topics might seem like 'stating the obvious' or stuff you already know, but the group setting will mean a fresh perspective, and maybe the answers to questions or scenarios you hadn't thought of.
You will learn about keeping healthy throughout pregnancy, including healthy eating, exercise and relaxation ideas for pregnancy and birth, (including those all important breathing techniques!) and also information to help you make your birth plan, such what pain relief is available, and your options in labour. You will also get advice on caring for your newborn, and if your class is being run by your local hospital, a tour of the labour ward and facilities.
And there will most probably be tea and biscuits too – so what's not to like?