Having a baby is an incredibly rewarding experience, but pregnancy is also a time that comes with plenty of changes. To help manage the changes to your body, health and lifestyle, many new parents turn to antenatal classes.
Antenatal classes are dedicated to expecting parents. Led by doctors, nurses, midwives or other healthcare professionals, antenatal classes help you navigate the pregnancy experience. Many parents choose to attend antenatal classes at their local hospital or clinic. Alternatively, options are available online so you can review the material whenever you like. The content of each course varies slightly, but most instructors will cover a range of common topics. In this article we’ll provide a comprehensive guide to antenatal classes and what you can expect to learn.
What are antenatal classes?
Antenatal classes – also known as prenatal classes or childbirth education – are designed to prepare you for your upcoming labour, birth and the first few weeks with your newborn baby. They include advice, medical information, practical exercises and support for the changes that are happening to your body and what you can expect, all in a baby sleep guide.
Do I need to go to antenatal classes?
There is no requirement to attend antenatal classes. But, antenatal classes provide hands-on skills and give you a chance to plan your next move. If you want to minimise your stress during pregnancy, birth and early childhood, antenatal classes can provide the support you and your partner need.
What is taught in antenatal classes?
- Pregnancy health, fitness and changes to your body
Finding accurate, up to date information on pregnancy can be challenging, so this is the first topic covered in antenatal classes. To make sure your pregnancy experience is a positive one, your instructor will focus on facts and prepare you for what happens at each stage of the journey. They’ll provide the information you need to make informed decisions and take care of yourself and your developing baby. You can expect an antenatal class to cover a range of topics:
- The stages of pregnancy
- How your body will change
- Dietary and nutrition requirements
- Potential pregnancy complications
- Exercises you can do during pregnancy
Antenatal classes are open to pregnant mothers and their partners. Partners are encouraged to take part so that they’re prepared for everything that lies ahead. Most antenatal classes include topics just for partners, so encouraging them to get involved is a great idea.
- Options for labour and birth
Antenatal classes cover the labour and childbirth process in depth. The information provided is intended to help you plan for what comes next. Antenatal classes dive into all the details, so you’ll have time to think through your options. Labour comes with several major decisions about childbirth methods, pain management and your newborn’s care. Antenatal classes will prepare you for what’s ahead and help you decide how you’d like to manage your own experience. Classes cover a range of labour and delivery topics, such as:
- How to prepare for labour
- The signs of labour
- When to contact your hospital
- The stages of labour
- Birthing positions
- Pain management options
- Information about caesarean births
- Newborn care, breastfeeding and sleep
Parenthood begins as soon as your baby is in your arms. That might sound daunting, but antenatal classes cover everything you need to know about looking after your newborn. Feeding is a major part of caring for your baby, so it’s also a central topic for antenatal classes. Beyond that, your instructor will provide information about:
- How to care for your newborn
- Breastfeeding guides
- Formula feeding options
- Mixed feeding
- Partner’s guide to feeding
- Introducing your baby to solid foods
- Safe sleep and settling
- Understanding your baby’s cries
- Postpartum recovery and emotional health
Antenatal classes cover the pregnancy, labour and birth experience as a whole. While much of the content is focused on caring for your baby, the final component includes postpartum support on caring for your baby, the final component includes postpartum support for mothers. Recovering from pregnancy isn’t always straightforward, and it’s important to look after your mind and body as you adjust to your new lifestyle. The postpartum material covered by antenatal classes includes information about:
- The recovery process and what to expect
- Pelvic floor recovery exercises
- Postpartum exercises
- Adjusting to parenthood
- Monitoring your emotional health and needs
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:
The maternity hospital where you plan to have your baby may offer antenatal classes. Class costs are inconsistent across Australia, but you can expect to pay about $200-$300 for hospital-based antenatal classes.
The increasingly popular hypno-birthing technique uses deep relaxation, self-hypnosis and specific breathing exercises to help manage pain during labour. Classes cost around $500.
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, it uses relaxation, breathing and visualisation exercises. Classes cost about $500.
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 $250-$400.
If none of the above options work for you, an online antenatal class is something you should consider. Online education provides classes you can watch in your own time and at your own pace, as many times as you need. Online antenatal classes are also perfect for 2nd or 3rd time mums who are looking for a refresher. Classes start from about $55 as well as our antenatal bundles from $149.
What other preparation should I do during my pregnancy?
- Breastfeeding Classes
While some antenatal classes cover breastfeeding basics, it’s worth thinking about taking a specific breastfeeding class. Breastfeeding doesn’t always come naturally, and understanding the intricacies of breastfeeding will help give you the confidence you need to achieve your breastfeeding goals.
- Pregnancy Diet
Nutrition during pregnancy is known to have a significant effect on your baby’s growth and development. Good nutrition not only promotes overall health, it gives you adequate stores of essential nutrients, vitamins and minerals to support 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, increase energy and promote quality sleep. More importantly, it prepares your body for the demands of labour and birth and can decrease labour duration and intensity! As your fitness builds, you may like to participate in the instructor-led pregnancy exercise video found in our labour and birthing 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 will help you manage and optimise your psychological health, potentially 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. If you are looking to attend 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 as your baby gets closer. Complementing your hospital class with an online antenatal class is also a great option as you can continue to replay the videos throughout your pregnancy and after your baby is born.
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