With so many different types of antenatal classes (sometimes called parent education) how do you know which one to choose? Here we give you some food for thought when picking the course that's right for you.
Antenatal classes can be a great way to prepare for the birth of your baby as well as giving you some top tips on caring for a new born. They are often a great way to meet other expectant parents due around the same time as you.
General topics covered in an antenatal class include: what happens in labour, coping with labour, alternatives to spontaneous labour and vaginal births, your feelings about birth, becoming a new parent, caring for your baby and feeding your baby.
Choosing an antenatal class can be a bit of a mine field to negotiate when you are pregnant though. There are so many to choose from: - Midwifery led, not midwifery led, NCT, hypnobirthing and many more.
How do you know which one is right for you?
To help, we have put together our top tips to think about when choosing:
· What do you want to get out of the sessions?
o Do you want to try and connect with other parents during the online sessions or do you just purely want the information or perhaps you want to be able to ask questions while the information is being given and interact with the person facilitating the session?
· The Timing of your course(s) is important.
o Whichever course(s) you choose, bearing in mind babies can arrive between 37 and 42 weeks, ideally your classes should be done and dusted by 36 weeks. If you do the courses too early you might forget some of the information you have learnt. The ideal time to start is around 28 - 32 weeks depending on what type of course you are doing and how many weeks it runs for. Start thinking about booking onto the course you want after your 20-week scan.
o Many classes run of an evening, which can be tiring when you are in your third trimester if they run late, so consider when the best time of day for you and your partner would be. Others run at the weekend and some couples find this more convenient.
· What is your budget?
o There are lots of free sessions online and if you want to jump in and out of lots of different taster sessions, run by different companies, to get your topics all ticked off you could probably do that with a bit of searching and groundwork.
o Courses can be priced from £15 for a one-off class on a specific topic all the way up to £300 for a course of 6.
· Do you want to learn hypnobirthing?
o This is a skill that can be useful in labour and birth and it is advised that you practice so it becomes second nature when the ‘day’ comes. These sessions often involve some antenatal topics too. Your birth partner is encouraged to support you in hypnobirthing to help keep you calm and focused.
· Do you want the class to include exercises?
o Specific exercise classes for pregnancy often include some antenatal education on preparing for labour and birth, just make sure the facilitator has the correct training for pregnancy.
· Do you want sessions from midwives that work clinically?
o Midwives who work clinically can give you the most up to date research-based information, as well as their experience. The sessions are often described as informative and more realistic and down to earth.
· What size group appeals to you?
o Some sessions can be quite large especially if they are free, so can feel less personal. Consider if you want a smaller local session so you can get the chance to chat to other parents from your area, or do you just want the info without the interaction and chatting?
o Some sessions are run as a course, so you are with the same group for all of your sessions, a chance to get to know them and build your support network, while others are split into modules so that you can pick out the topics that you want to cover and attend just those sessions. Both have advantages and disadvantages.
When you have answered all of the above it is then time to look at what is available.
Facebook and google are good places to search for available courses.
· Consider how well they fit into your preferences.
o When do the courses run? Over a weekend or a few evenings?
o What does the feedback say from parents that have been on the course? It is so important to read this. It can give you a good feel about the course and the people that run it.
o How easy is it to book the course?
o If you have contacted the people running the course how quickly did they respond? Were they friendly and professional with their response?
o Finally, what does your instinct tell you? Do you have a good feeling about the course you are looking at and the people running it?
Antenatal Courses are a bit like everything else in life – one size does not fit all. As we said there are LOTS of options now especially everything moving online. So, it is important to have a look around, ask your friends, read the feedback and choose one that is right for you.
Without doubt some classes are large and all about getting the information over, some are pre-recorded, some are smaller allowing group work and chats. Most are live, some are pink and fluffy in their content and delivery and some are more factual and interactive. It all depends what floats your boat.
In our sessions we have couples/women from all over the UK but predominately women living in Hertfordshire. Online sessions mean they can be accessed from all over the world and often are!
The information we cover is research based, and as baby’s arrive the same way no matter where you are from, we are relevant to women having baby’s all over the UK and in fact the World!
If you would like more information about antenatal classes, please contact us. If you have attended some classes that you would recommend, we would love you to comment below to help other parents out in their decision making.