If you’ve been wondering about whether to go to antenatal classes before bub arrives, there are plenty of very good reasons to give a class or two a try. Apart from informing and equipping you with the knowledge and skills that will get you off to the best start on your parenting journey, they can also offer you a chance to connect with other people in similar situations.
Antenatal classes can be short workshops or programs run over several weeks, and can cover preparation for birth, breastfeeding and parenting. It will be up to you and your partner to decide on which class will suit you best, but whatever you choose, you can be sure of some significant perks:
1. It can prepare you for birth
A birth class will help you understand the process of birth and the different stages of labour, as well as how to prepare yourself for the big day. Some birthing classes focus on a specific birthing strategy, such as Calmbirth or Hypnobirthing. If you’re not sure which way to go, start with a general birthing class, which is probably available at your local hospital. This should cover all the basics and will likely include a tour of the birthing suite so you can familiarise yourself with the birthing environment at your local hospital.
2. It can help you get your head around breastfeeding
A breastfeeding class is a great way to prepare for breastfeeding so you know the basics before baby arrives. This sort of class will help you understand the mechanics of lactation and how latch and positioning works. Although practicing with a doll won’t be the same as holding your own baby across your chest, you’ll have a lactation consultant there to help guide your through the basics so you’re more prepared for the real thing.
3. It can prepare you for parenting
A parenting class will fill you in on what to expect in the early weeks of parenting, starting from the first hour after baby arrives. It can be all too easy to overlook this part when you’re so focussed on getting through the pregnancy and birth. But the realities of bringing a baby home can be massive, so preparation is key. This sort of program will run you through the basics of newborn care as well as how to cope as a new mum and work as a team with your partner. It should also help you identify the different support available in the community so you know where to turn if you need help as a new mum.
4. It can be a date night
When you’re pregnant, your social life can take a bit of a hit because you’re tired and lacking energy, and getting out and about for a date night might not be a top priority. But attending a class with your partner can be a social thing for you to do together that isn’t too intensive, but will allow you to connect in a different environment. It will also give the two of you ample time to talk about how you’re going to support each other through the birth and what your parenting philosophies will be when you have your baby.
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5. It can be a social opportunity
An antenatal class will also give you the chance to connect with other expecting couples, and because you’re all in the same boat, it will be easy to get the conversations going. Particularly if you attend a class that runs over several weeks, you’ll get to know other like-minded mums-to-be that you can stay connected with longer after the classes finish. And because your babies are due around the same time, you’ll also be able to hook up playdates and compare parenting notes in the near future.
6. It’s a chance to get your questions answered
Going to an antenatal class gives you the chance to ask a trained health professional any questions you have about pregnancy, birth and parenting, which means no confusing googling late at night trying to get the answers yourself. And don’t hold back, either. Whatever you ask, you can be sure that someone else in the room has the same question as you, so anything you ask will be good for the whole group.
7. It gives you the latest information
Provided the class you’re attending is run by trained professionals, you can rely on the information provided to be up-to-date and reliable. When it comes to birthing and parenting, there is always new research and findings that replace the old, and you can rely on the educator running your class to be offering the very latest to you. Again, when it comes to finding information on the internet or running with what friends and family are telling you, there is always the risk that their information will be out-of-date and no longer applicable.