Antenatal Classes: A Guide to Options and Costs

Being pregnant, particularly for the first time can feel quite overwhelming. Morning sickness aside, there is so much planning and readying required that you could be left wondering whether it’s going to be all worth it! Well rest assured it is. If you can manage the information overload and all the associated pregnancy side effects, pregnancy truly is a beautiful time. And as long as you don’t leave your preparation until the last minute, it need not be stressful.

What are Antenatal Classes?

Antenatal classes, also known as prenatal classes or childbirth education, are designed to prepare you for your upcoming labour and birth and first few weeks with your newborn baby.

Do I need to go to Antenatal Classes?

Technically you don’t have to go to antenatal classes but I like to use the analogy of your wedding or other significant occasion in your life – how much planning went into that to ensure a stress-free experience for all parties involved?

What do you learn in Antenatal Classes?

A good antenatal class will provide you and your partner with all the essential information you need to go into your labour and birth feeling relaxed and capable. While the content may vary slightly from one antenatal class to the next, topics should include most of the following:

  • How to prepare for labour
  • Induction of labour: when and why this may occur
  • Labour signs and symptoms
  • The stages and process of labour, birth and delivery
  • When to call the hospital and what to expect when you arrive
  • Positions to try during labour
  • Breathing techniques to use during labour
  • Labour pains and pain relief options
  • Potential complications in labour
  • Early days with baby

How much do Antenatal Classes cost?

There are a number of options when it comes to antenatal classes, with the cost and availability varying depending on where you live. Some antenatal class costs may also be eligible for a rebate with your private health care provider.

Hospital Antenatal Classes

Depending on which state you live in, the maternity hospital where you plan to have your baby is always a good place to start you search for antenatal classes. Unfortunately class costs are incredibly inconsistent across hospitals in Australia ranging from free up to $500, with most sitting around the $200-$300 mark. 

Hypno-birthing Antenatal Classes

The increasingly popular hypno-birthing technique uses deep relaxation, self-hypnosis and specific breathing exercises to help manage pain during labour. Class costs are around $500.

Calmbirth Antenatal Classes

The Calmbirth approach is focused on reducing anxiety, promoting “calm” and the release of endorphins – then enhancing the effects of this pain relief hormone to your benefit. Similar to hypno-birthing, minus the hypnosis part, it uses relaxation, breathing and visualisation exercises. Class costs are about $500.

Active Birth Antenatal Classes

The foundation of Active Birth is putting you in “control” of your labour (and pain management) embracing the highs and lows and essentially “going with the flow”. If you’re hoping for a natural, unmedicated birth, this one’s for you. Class costs range from about a $250-$400.

Online Antenatal Classes

If none of the above options work for you, whether it’s because a group class isn’t your thing, you can’t get to a hospital antenatal class because you live rurally or work irregular hours, or you need a simple alternative to dragging your partner along to birthing classes under duress, an online antenatal class is something you should consider. A childbirth education class that you can watch in your own time and at your own pace, and as many times as you need. Online antenatal classes are also perfect for 2nd or 3rd time mums who are looking for an inexpensive refresher.

What other preparation should I do during my pregnancy?

Breastfeeding Classes

While some antenatal classes will cover breastfeeding basics, it’s worth thinking about taking a specific breastfeeding class. Breastfeeding although natural, doesn’t always come naturally and understanding the intricacies of breastfeeding, before baby arrives, will help give you the confidence you need to get off to the right start and ultimately achieve your breastfeeding goals.

Pregnancy Diet

We all know that what we eat is very important, however during pregnancy nutrition is known to have a significant effect on baby’s growth and development. It not only promotes overall general health but more importantly, it gives you adequate stores of essential nutrients, vitamins and minerals to support your pregnancy and your growing baby. It is also vital for normal organ development and function, growth and maintenance, energy and immunity.

Prenatal Exercise Classes

The benefits of moderate exercise during pregnancy are endless. It can help manage back pain and strain as your belly grows, increases energy and promotes good quality sleep. More importantly, it prepares your body for the demands of labour and birth and has even been shown to decrease labour duration and intensity! If you haven’t been previously active it’s not too late. Get the OK from your doctor first then start with something simple like walking. As your fitness builds, you may like to participate in our instructor-led pregnancy exercise video found in our labour and birth course. It includes a range of safe exercises adapted to each trimester of your pregnancy and is compatible with your smart device too.

Emotional Preparation

The transition to parenthood isn’t always easy and it’s often not what we expected! Understanding the emotional changes that may take place as a result of a new (and unpredictable) addition to the family, will help you manage and optimise your psychological health and potentially avoid debilitating conditions such as postnatal depression. Get your hands on a good parenting preparation book or find an expectant couple workshop in your local area. It’s well worth the investment.

When should I book my antenatal classes?

No bookings required if you choose the online antenatal class route, however if you are looking at attending an in-person class it’s best to book early so you don’t miss out. Towards the end of your second trimester (around 18-20 weeks) is recommended. In terms of actually attending the classes – you’ll want to do them in your third trimester (around 30 weeks) so it’s top of mind come D-day. Complementing your hospital class with an online antenatal class is also a great option as you can continue to replay the video right through until after baby is born.