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The advantages of attending Birth Preparation (Antenatal) Classes

Updated: Feb 19


The journey into parenthood can be an incredibly exciting experience for expectant parents, however, it can also be challenging and sometimes pretty overwhelming! There is so much to experience and learn about, from the physical changes happening to the body, the various stages of labour and delivery, to the emotional and psychological aspects of becoming a parent. This is where antenatal classes come in. They play a crucial role in preparing parents for childbirth and early parenthood. In this blog post, we will discuss the importance of antenatal classes and why they can be beneficial for every expectant parent.


Some antenatal classes will also prepare parents for parenthood by providing them with information on breastfeeding, baby care, and postnatal recovery. These classes help parents to understand what to expect after the baby is born, how to take care of their newborn, and how to recover from childbirth.



Key benefits of antenatal classes


1. Preparation for Childbirth


Antenatal classes essentially help prepare parents for childbirth by providing them with information to make an informed decision on birth place choices, pain management options, potential interventions, as well as learn about the different stages of labour, how hormones are involved, and learn relaxation and breathing exercises that can be used during labour, and much more. Antenatal classes also teach parents about different childbirth options such as vaginal birth, cesarean sections, and inductions, which helps them to make informed decisions about their birthing preferences.


2. Preparation for Parenthood


Antenatal classes can also prepare parents for parenthood by providing them with information on feeding options, newborn care, sleep and postnatal recovery. Classes help parents to understand what to expect after the baby is born, how to take care of their newborn, and tips to help with postnatal recovery. Antenatal classes also provide emotional support to parents, which helps them to deal with the ups and downs of adjusting to new parenthood.


3. Building a Support Network


Antenatal classes provide a great opportunity for expectant parents to meet and connect with other parents-to-be who are going through the same experience at the same time. These classes build a support network and a sense of community, which is essential for new parents. The connections made at antenatal classes can last a lifetime, and parents can lean on each other for support throughout their parenting journey.


4. Improving Birth Outcomes


Studies have shown that attending antenatal classes has a positive outcome on birth experiences for new parents. Those who attend antenatal classes are more likely to have an uncomplicated vaginal delivery and less likely to need interventions such as forceps or vacuum delivery. Antenatal classes also reduce the likelihood of having a cesarean section, which is a major surgical procedure that carries more risks than a vaginal delivery.


5. Empowering Parents


Antenatal classes empower parents by giving them the knowledge and skills they need to make informed decisions about their pregnancy, childbirth, and parenting journey. By attending antenatal classes, parents can take an active role in their healthcare and make decisions that are right for them and their baby.


6. Improved Mental Health


Antenatal classes can also play a significant role in improving mental health during pregnancy and early parenthood. Parenting can be a challenging and stressful experience at times, and it is not uncommon for new parents to feel overwhelmed, anxious, and some may experience postnatal depression. Antenatal classes provide parents with the tools and support they need to cope with these emotions and build resilience.


7. Birth Partner Preparation


Antenatal classes are not only for expectant parents but also for their partners. These classes provide birth partners with valuable information on how to support their partners during childbirth and new parenthood. Partners learn about pain management techniques, breathing exercises, and ways to provide emotional support during labour and delivery. Partners also learn about their role in breastfeeding and baby care, which helps them to bond with their newborn and support their partners in the early days of parenthood.







How to find antenatal classes


There are different ways to find antenatal classes in your area. You can start by asking your healthcare provider for recommendations. They can provide you with a list of available classes so you can choose the one that best suits your needs. You can also search online for antenatal classes in your area. Websites like the NHS, BabyCentre and Netmums provide information on local classes, and you can read reviews and comments from other parents who have attended these classes.


When to attend classes


It is recommended to attend antenatal classes in the second or third trimester of pregnancy. This allows enough time for parents to learn and practice the skills taught in the classes before the baby arrives. However, it is never too late to attend antenatal classes, and even if you are in the late stages of pregnancy, you can still benefit from attending them.



Types of classes available

There are different types of antenatal classes available, and you can choose the one that best suits your needs. Some of the popular types of antenatal classes include:

  • NHS antenatal classes: These classes are free and provided by the National Health Service (NHS) in the UK. They cover topics such as healthy eating during pregnancy, preparing for childbirth, and breastfeeding. They are usually spread over a couple of sessions, and not all areas are able to provide classes.

  • Private antenatal classes: These classes are provided by private companies and are usually more comprehensive than NHS classes. They cover a wide range of topics, including pain management techniques, hypnobirthing, and baby care. They vary from 10-17 hours long.

  • Hypnobirthing classes: These are sometimes included within antenatal classes, or provided as a standalone course. Learning hypnobirthing techniques enable parents-to-be to enter deep relaxation and manage the discomfort of childbirth with breathing, movement and visualisations. Hypnobirthing can be used during any birth, including a cesarean.

  • Online antenatal classes: These classes are becoming increasingly popular, especially since the COVID-19 pandemic. They are convenient and can be taken from the comfort of your own home, but you won’t get to meet other local parents and build a network of new parent friends.








What to expect from antenatal classes

Antenatal classes are usually held once a week for several weeks, or some are over a whole weekend or a couple of weekend days. The classes can be held in a hospital, clinic, village hall or private room. Each class typically lasts for a few hours (or a full day if it is a weekend course) and covers a range of topics related to pregnancy, childbirth, and parenthood.

Some of the topics covered in antenatal classes include:


  • Stages of labour and delivery

  • Importance of hormones in labour

  • Pain management techniques

  • Breathing exercises

  • Birth place options

  • Childbirth and delivery of placenta

  • Newborn care

  • Breastfeeding

  • Postnatal recovery

  • Emotional aspects of becoming a parent

Antenatal classes are an essential part of pregnancy, and help prepare parents-to-be for childbirth and early parenthood. These classes provide parents with valuable information, skills, and support, which help them to make informed decisions about their pregnancy, childbirth, and parenting journey. Antenatal classes not only prepare parents for the physical aspects of childbirth but also provide emotional support and build a sense of community and support among expectant parents. All parents-to-be and their birth partners can benefit from attending antenatal classes to prepare and build their confidence ready for the exciting journey of parenthood.


If you would like to find out more about the Hypnobirthing classes and antenatal support I can offer you, please visit my website www.everythingbirthbabysleep.co.uk for more information, or get in touch at emily@everythingbirthbabysleep.co.uk to arrange a no obligation chat!




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