Antenatal Classes - how do you choose?
You may have thought that antenatal classes are not for you, or you may have been researching since the moment you found out you were pregnant! I have met many women (and partners) who have very strong feelings one way or the other.
I am a big advocate of antenatal classes, because I am a big advocate of having and processing all the information whilst you are pregnant. Doing this allows your 'thinking brain' to stay switched off during labour: vital because you primeval 'birthing brain' needs to operate to allow the hormones of birth to flow freely and uninterrupted. It's all about informed choice and too often we don't know about the importance of these things until after the event.
There are so many antenatal classes on the market, how do you decide which is the right one for you? Answer a few simple questions to help your focus when choosing antenatal classes...
What do you want to get out of the class?
Ways to cope in labour, such as hypnobirthing
Specific topics such as preparing for birth, caring for your baby, breastfeeding
Ongoing support from the class leader
Tools to help you make decisions
How and where do you want the class delivered?
In a group
In your home
Over a weekend
A block of evening sessions
Do you want to pay?
The NHS often offers free antenatal classes. In my experience as a midwife these are great for giving you condensed information and specific information about the local maternity unit set-up. However the time allocated to these antenatal classes is often too little to really actively involve the group or help you create a social network, plus spaces may be limited.
There is an abundance of paid antenatal classes available...I even offer one myself! Prices vary considerably so do investigate. You may even be entitled to discounts based on your income, or 'refer a friend' schemes.
Who will be teaching you?
Each individual will have something special to offer, and the person leading your antenatal classes really does make a difference to your experience. Only you will know who is right for you so my suggestion is to think about the following things:
What experience does the leader have?
What is the leader's background in pregnancy/birth/parenthood
What is the reputation of the company/organisation?
However you choose your antenatal classes, these will be an investment. You may not think twice about paying £300 for a pushchair - yes it will last you for 3-4 years and you can reuse it in the future. But an investment in antenatal classes is a lifetime investment - you will gain knowledge and skills that will shape your role as a parent for many years. You will gain skills that you can apply to other areas of your life. You will gain an insight that could be the difference between a positive birth experience and a traumatic birth experience.
So, if you are interested in antenatal classes start looking around. Ask your midwife what is available locally. Search on mum-to-be forums. Have a search on social media. Ask other parents for recommendations. Find central information points such as The Birthing Hub.
Of course, you would be welcome to ask me about antenatal classes! I offer one-to-one antenatal classes in the comfort of your own home. Why? Because not everyone is confident in a group setting, or you may have confidential circumstances that you do not wish to discuss with anyone but a midwife. You and/or your partner may struggle to commit to a dedicated time. I can accommodate additional people at your antenatal class who will be supporting you during your birth. But you still need to be convinced by my philosophy and my credibility to make sure you are picking the right antenatal class for you.
Photo credit to Sarah from Nostalgia Birth Photography www.nostalgiaphotoediting.co.uk