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What exactly will I learn in antenatal classes?

Bella Heim

Bella Heim

Bella is a mummy of three, writer, and photographer. She's not afraid to admit that she relies on a little red wine to keep the chaos of motherhood at bay. When she's not dodging toys and dirty diapers, you'll find her documenting the wild and wonderful ride of parenthood, and adding a splash of inspiration, creativity, and a healthy dose of mum humour along the way.
Created on Oct 30, 2023 · 5 mins read
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Hello there, mums and dads to be! How’s the view from up there? I mean, really, is it getting hard to see your toes yet? No worries, I can assure you they are still there.

As you nestle into your third trimester, you’ve probably found yourself contemplating between a late-night pickle run and a rather pressing question – should you sign up for antenatal classes?

After all, if you’re already juggling midnight cravings, nursery decor dilemmas, and the rather disconcerting feeling of having a mini footballer practicing their best moves in your belly, why add another ball into the mix?

The ABCs of antenatal classes

So, you are probably wondering, what can you actually expect to learn in these antenatal classes? They’ll equip you with a comprehensive understanding of labour – from the first signs to the various stages and right through to delivery and immediate post-birth moments.

During these classes, you’ll also familiarise yourself with different birthing positions and methods, including the pros and cons of vaginal birth versus a C-section, and information about pain relief options.

On top of that, you’ll gain more insights into potential medical interventions or complications that could arise, so you’re well-prepared for different scenarios.

The baby care guide

And guess what? The learnings actually don’t stop at childbirth; these classes will also delve into baby care, providing useful tips on feeding (both breastfeeding and formula feeding), bathing, nappy-changing, and soothing a crying baby.

Trust me, these are golden nuggets of information that will really come in handy when you’re handling your little one for the first time.

To class or not to class?

But hey, do you really need antenatal classes, you might wonder?

Like everything else in parenthood, it all boils down to personal preference. Antenatal classes provide a roadmap, helping you navigate the complex, beautiful, sometimes overwhelming journey of pregnancy, childbirth, and parenthood.

It’s a safe space for you to learn, ask questions, and share your experiences with other parents. But rest assured, whether you choose to attend or not, you are still going to be a fantastic parent!

Prenatal vs Antenatal: A sibling rivalry

Now, you might’ve heard about prenatal classes and wonder if they are any different from antenatal classes. Well, it’s actually just a classic case of sibling rivalry. ‘Prenatal’ is the term commonly used in the U.S., while ‘antenatal’ is favoured in the U.K. and other Commonwealth countries. Despite the rivalry, they both refer to the same thing – care and education before birth.

Purpose of antenatal education

Antenatal care classes serve a purpose beyond imparting practical skills. They prepare you mentally, emotionally, and physically for the journey of childbirth.

These classes can help alleviate anxieties, especially for first-time parents, by explaining what to expect and providing strategies to handle different situations.

The Trilogy: Pregnancy, birthing, and postnatal classes

The antenatal period is usually divided into three phases, each with a specific focus. Pregnancy classes provide valuable information about maintaining a healthy pregnancy, including diet, exercise, and how to deal with common pregnancy symptoms.

Birthing classes, meanwhile, provide in-depth knowledge about the process of childbirth, and postnatal classes focus on caring for your newborn and adjusting to life post-birth. This three-pronged approach ensures that you’re well-prepared for every step of your journey.

Focus on parents: self-care and emotional wellbeing

What I personally love about these classes is that they don’t just focus on the baby; they also emphasise the importance of parental wellbeing. From teaching relaxation techniques and self-care practices for the gruelling postpartum period to offering emotional support and fostering a sense of community, these classes ensure that you’re cared for too (because you deserve it!).

The partner’s role

Antenatal classes don’t just focus on expectant mums, they also shine the spotlight on partners, transforming them from feeling like a benched player to a key player in this miraculous game. If your partner’s been feeling a tad out of the loop, these classes will turn that around, offering a goldmine of advice on supporting you through labour, assisting with infant care, and riding the emotional wave of fresh parenthood. The classes can strengthen your bond as a couple, helping you both gear up together for the life-changing innings ahead. This is teamwork at its best.

So, what about the community?

One of the less-discussed benefits of attending antenatal classes is the sense of community they foster. In these classes, you’ll meet other parents-to-be who are going through the same experiences. This shared journey can lead to lasting friendships and a valuable support network that continues long after the classes end. And who knows, your babies may even become best friends in the future!

The long-term impact: Empowerment and confidence

While the immediate benefits of antenatal classes are clear, these classes also have a long-lasting impact. The knowledge and skills you gain can empower you to make informed decisions about your body and your baby. They can boost your confidence, enabling you to trust your instincts and advocate for your needs and those of your baby.

So, it is really worth considering these classes if you feel like you want to be more informed and get a boost of confidence in your journey of becoming a parent.

Remember that every pregnancy, every birth, and every baby is unique – and so is every parenting journey. Equip yourself with knowledge, brace yourself for the adventure, and remember to enjoy the ride – you’re about to dive into one of the most extraordinary adventures of your life.

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