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Are antenatal classes important?

When we spoken to mums after having their baby, who didn’t do any birth prep, they say they felt completely out of control. One of THE most common phrases we hear is:

“I didn’t understand what’s happening to me”

They may have been to their hospital antenatal classes and went to all of their appointments and assumed if there was anything they needed to know, they would be told. BUT…they had no idea how birth worked, the physiology, the science or the hormones. They had no idea how things like their environment and language used could affect how they birthed. They definitely had no idea that they could have done SO many things to prevent that feeling.

 

Why is it important for YOU?

I know going to antenatal classes outside of the hospital is the last thing you want to do; you’re already preparing your home, nursery, going to work or looking after other children and then being absolutely exhausted after it all! Like a lot of expectant parents, you assume you’ll be ok and you’ll be told everything you need to know, so why do you need to prepare for birth?

I can’t stress enough how important understanding birth is when you’re in labour. The sensations won’t be a surprise because you’ll know how your body opens up for the baby to come out. The contractions won’t feel as painful because you’ll know how your muscles and hormones work. Not understanding it can make you feel scared because the feeling is different from anything you’ve felt before, so if you can understand what’s happening inside, it’s easier to process at the time.

Knowledge is power, and if you KNOW what’s happening to you, you will feel so much calmer and in control, this will increase your oxytocin, leading to less pain and a shorter labour!!

 

Why is it important for your BIRTH PARTNER?

A lot of husbands/partners want to be supportive during labour, he if they don’t know what to expect and how to help, it makes it very difficult for them. This is so common, and most partners deal with it the best way they can, by either cracking a joke to make you smile/laugh or withdrawing because they’re too afraid to get involved.  A good antenatal course teaches them what’s happening to your body, which helps them to stay calm. It also teaches them how to actually help you, so they can feel confident and be a part of it.  This allows you to feel supported and experience birth as a team, helping you to transition more positively after birth, together.

How do you find the RIGHT course for you?

There are so many antenatal and birth preparation courses out there; from in-person group to 1:1 online. Everyone is different so you need to think about how you like to learn – for some a pre-recorded class together might work but for others, going to a group class is more effective. Private 1:1 antenatal classes can be tailored to you, especially if you’re feeling very anxious, but many like the social aspect and prefer to be in a group setting. It’s important to think about what you want to get out of the course and how best you learn.

Here are 3 tips on how to find the right course for you:

Self-learning vs Live classes

There are so many courses online which you can do yourself, giving you the basic knowledge you need. If you’re already really busy and like to read, this is an option for you – but we do recommend you do this together with your birth partner to keep you on the same page.

On the other hand, there are courses that are taught live, whether they’re in a group setting or 1:1. These are great because they’re more engaging and you can ask questions specific to your situation, throughout. You can also get to know your teacher/s and visa-versa, and meet other like-minded parents – making it feel like a community as well. This is exactly what we do in the Complete Parenthood Preparation Programme, where you also have the option to book classes individually depending on what you need.

Group vs 1:1

This can depend very much on your needs and priorities. It’s common for many expectant parents to look for group courses because they’re more affordable and you also get to meet other parents-to-be. They’re also great if you’re looking for straightforward courses and an opportunity to build a community. Many mums stay friends with other mums they attended antenatal classes with, because they can talk about their journeys together. If you’re due in 2021, you can join our Free Facebook Community to get this support.

On the other hand,  1:1 classes are more expensive but they will be tailored to you and come with a more personalised approach. It’s an option if you don’t feel comfortable going to group class which can be for many reasons, such as having anxiety, had a traumatic birth before, or struggling emotionally. Most teachers will also tailor the course around your situation, so if you’re looking for this, get in touch and we can have a chat about what you need.

What kind of teacher/s do you want?

You might think that all teachers will teach you the same thing, in the same way, but that’s not the case (even if it’s a franchise). First of all, it’s important to know that they’re actually trained, and what experience they have. Then you want to find out a little bit about their views, background and if they specialise in anything in particular. You might find someone who’s very pro-homebirth or someone who knows more about VBACs. Think about your pregnancy and what kind of birth you want. Manisha specialises in emotional wellbeing, anxiety management, hypnobirthing and postpartum recovery. Anna knows all about birth, and focuses on birth physiology, birthrights and advocating. She’s also a breastfeeding specialist and trained with Spinning Babies, which helps you to prepare in pregnancy to get your baby in an optimal position and as well as effective birth positions.

Final Thoughts…

However your pregnancy is going, please consider doing an antenatal course and think about what’s important to you before deciding which one to do. Also, talk to your birth partner about what they would like to do. It will keep you on the same page. If they’re engaged in whatever course you choose, they’ll be more prepared – which means they’ll be able to support you better too.

We both understand the importance of evidence-based information and want to give parents as much knowledge as possible, which is why we created the Parenthood Preparation Programme. A programme of 6 classes from Pregnancy Care & Preparing for Birth to 4th Trimester & Breastfeeding & How To Start Weaning.