Being pregnant can be one of the most turbulent times of life. With a great deal of information to remember and new skills to learn, this can be made harder by the changes your body is going through. It is important to remember that when pregnant you deserve as much support and help as possible, and a great way to build confidence, learn skills and find support can be through antenatal classes!
The fact that you can also find a class for free through the NHS is another reason to try one! Many will also be reopening in person soon in mid-May, so check around your area and see if you can find one. But if you would rather stay at home, remember there are a great range of classes available online!
Amongst other things, you can learn how to:
- Look after and feed your baby
- Stay healthy and informed during pregnancy
- Make a birth plan that will help you to understand the different arrangements and choices for the birth, labour and pregnancy.
Antenatal classes are also an excellent way to meet other parents who are expecting, and make friends who can help you through the first few months with your baby! You'll be able to discuss your decisions, concerns and plans with other parents, as well as experienced professionals, including some of the people who might look after you during labour and after the birth.
How to choose an Antenatal Class
Think about what you want from an antenatal class, so you can find a class that suits you best. If you need to though, you can always attend more than one class.
Remember that places in antenatal classes can get booked up early, so it's a good idea to start searching for one early in pregnancy so you can find a place in the type of class that you want.
If you are struggling to find out about classes near you, you can always ask your midwife, health visitor or your GP. If money is a concern, then also remember that NHS antenatal classes are free. If you are struggling to go to your classes for any reason, then try and speak to your community midwife about this.
When to have antenatal classes
Introductory classes on baby care early can be attended early on in pregnancy, but most antenatal classes will begin around when you’re around 30 to 32 weeks pregnant, or 8 to 10 weeks before your baby is due. But if you're expecting twins this changes things, and you should start your classes when you're around 24 weeks pregnant. This is because your babies are more likely to be born early. Some units will offer special antenatal classes if you’re expecting multiple little ones – ask your midwife about this if you need to!
What to expect in antenatal classes
Most classes are normally held once a week for around 2 hours. Some classes are for just for you, and some welcome partners, family and friends to sessions.
The kinds of topics covered by antenatal classes are:
- Your health during pregnancy, including diet and habits.
- Exercises to keep you fit and active while pregnant
- What will happen during the labour and birth
- Coping with labour, and information about different types of pain relief
- How you can help yourself during labour and birth
- Information about different kinds of birth and interventions
- Caring for your baby, including feeding them and cleaning them.
- Your health after giving birth
- Refresher classes after you have already had your baby
- Your emotions, feelings and mental health during pregnancy, birth and after
We hope that you’ve found this guide to antenatal classes useful! They are a great way to get to grips with pregnancy and parenthood, and we highly recommend you look around for one, especially now lockdown is lifting.