A Guide to Pre-Natal Classes

Having a baby –
particularly for the first time – can be a stressful time. Your body
is undergoing a range of changes, your moods are subject to
significant swings and the prospect of giving birth may be worrying
you. Antenatal classes – sometimes referred to as parent craft or
pre-natal classes – are designed to prepare you for the rigours of
labour, as well as for the first few months of your child’s life. If
you’ve recently discovered that you’re pregnant, it may be time to
choose an antenatal class in your area. But how should you go about
choosing a suitable course? And what benefits can a programme of
antenatal classes deliver?
Choosing a Suitable
Antenatal Class
As soon as you discover
you’re pregnant, you should be looking around for the best classes in
your area. The most popular
are those which put you in control of your
own pregnancy, and those which have a proven track record in helping
expectant mothers prepare for the arrival of their baby. These
classes will fill up very quickly, so it’s important to book your
place before it’s too late.
A great way to start
your search is by asking friends and family for recommendations.
Perhaps they have some fantastic experiences of a local antenatal
class, or maybe your doctor can recommend a reputable service
provider. Your midwife or health visitors will also be able to point
you in the direction of a local Maternity Services Advisor, who will
talk you through their services before you make a decision.
Emmy’s 12 week scan pic
What Happens at an
Antenatal Class?
The majority of
antenatal programmes start from between eight and ten weeks before
your due date. However, if you’re expecting twins, you should be
looking to start your classes around 16 weeks before your baby is
due, as there is a significantly increased chance of an early labour.
Not all women are
comfortable with men being present in antenatal classes, so there are
some that are for expectant mums only. However, the majority welcome
the presence of a partner, close friend or relative. If you have a
particular health condition, or you’re expecting more than one baby,
there may be specialist classes available to you, which your local
clinic’s Maternity Services Advisor will be able to talk you through.
The range of issues
covered during an antenatal programme is comprehensive, and
everything taught in classes is aimed at making the early days of
motherhood as rewarding as possible. You will learn about staying
healthy during your pregnancy, which involves advice on your diet and
exercise regime.
A large proportion of
any antenatal programme is devoted to your labour, so you should
expect to learn about exactly what will happen during the process.
You may also be given the chance to develop your own birth plan with
the help of healthcare experts. This will include details of where
you plan on having your child, what kind of pain relief you want and
any specific requests you may have. You will also be taught some
coping and relaxation strategies, as well as a few natural techniques
for managing pain.
The vast majority of
births in the UK are relatively uneventful. However, in the unlikely
event that your labour runs into problems, your doctor or midwifery
team may need to perform one of a number of interventions. These
include forceps deliveries, caesarean sections and ventouse
procedures. Healthcare professionals will explain all the main
interventions in advance, so you’ll have an idea of exactly what is
going on if one is required during your own labour.
The later stages of an
antenatal programme usually involve caring for your newborn. You will
receive tips on feeding, changing nappies, dealing with rashes and a
range of everyday tasks and scenarios that are part and parcel of
being a new mum. There will also be some guidance on looking after
your own health, including how to deal with depression or heightened
emotion after giving birth, and how to get your body back into shape.
Motherhood is not an
exact science; mothers generally work out a lifestyle and approach
that suits them through a process of trial and error. However,
antenatal classes
will prepare you for many of the
changes and experiences that await you – and that may allow you to
truly savour the joys of being a new mother.
Me – 6 week before Emmy was born
“Posted in collaboration with The Portland Hospital”


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