Why are antenatal classes useful?
A good antenatal class will tell you all you need to know about:
- How you can prepare for birth: You’ll probably find out about exercises you can do to help get in good shape for giving birth, get advice about breathing techniques and your partner may be shown some handy massage skills to help you stay relaxed both before and during labour.
- What you can expect during labour and birth: Your antenatal classes will give information about the whole process of labour and birth, including details of medical procedures and interventions. You’ll also be encouraged to think in advance about your emotional reactions, and the changes you could expect to happen to both you and your partner during pregnancy and after the birth.
- How to manage labour and birth: You’ll have the chance to learn about various birth positions you could use and experiment with them before the big day. You’ll also be given information about pain relief choices, look at various situations that could occur during labour and work out in advance what you would like to happen.
- Preparing for life with your new baby: Antenatal classes also help you to prepare for life with your new baby, both emotionally and practically. It’s a great opportunity to get advice from the midwife, not to mention other experienced mums who might be there too.
The key is to get ahead. Most classes run over six to eight weeks in the last months of your pregnancy. However, you can book your place from 12 weeks of pregnancy. Why not make a note in your diary and do some research during the early stages of your pregnancy?
Remember, you're entitled to time off work to attend antenatal classes.
What kind of antenatal classes are there?
- Online resources may also be available if your antenatal classes have been cancelled and can include videos about pregnancy, labour and caring for a newborn, along with online courses. Check with your maternity unit or hospital about online resources that may be available.
- Most mums can attend antenatal classes run by the HSE which are free. However, talk to your GP, midwife or your public health nurse about classes that are available in your area.
- Alternatively, you can attend private classes for which you will need to pay.
- There’s a surprisingly wide variety of different types of courses and the approach can vary from class to class, teacher to teacher. For instance, some antenatal classes welcome your partner; others are only for mums-to-be.
- There are also antenatal classes available to suit mums-to-be with different schedules – some are held in the afternoons, others in the evening. Some courses even take place over full weekends.
- Who’s in charge? There are a variety of antenatal classes available on a private basis so it’s important to make sure that you do a little research and find a class and teacher you’re comfortable with.
- Be a water baby: How about trying an aquanatal class? Being in water is great when you’re pregnant as the water supports you and your bump, allowing you to move and exercise freely. You can take these antenatal exercise classes from early pregnancy until your waters have broken. However, for more support and information it’s still a good idea to attend a regular antenatal class.
- Get active: Active birth classes focus on the use of yoga to strengthen your muscles and to help you feel more confident before you give birth. You’ll learn how you can use breathing and relaxation techniques to minimise stress. It’s important to find a well-qualified teacher.
Any more questions?
Our specialist baby advisors and experienced mums are here to talk and ready to help whenever you need them. You can call us or reach us on Live Chat 8.30am-5.30pm Monday-Friday.