Like most first time pregnant women, you’re probably feeling slightly clueless about what you are embarking on in preparation for the labour and birth. Friends, family members, colleagues and the lady in the supermarket will all be telling you their horror birth stories just to get you feeling really relaxed and stressed free about the pain. And by the time you’re showing, every hand will be touching your bump telling you what you should and shouldn’t be doing. Not so helpful.
Antenatal classes are aimed at any pregnant woman and her partner from around 34 weeks. This is the optimum time in pregnancy as it gives you enough time to focus and remember the keys bits, but not too far away for you to forget everything the minute you feel your first contraction. There are a rang of classes you can sign up to, both free on the NHS and private. Some are broken up in 4-6 sessions and some are held over a weekend. The most popular are the NCT classes which you attend in your local area usually at the teachers home or near by church hall. On average between 4 and 8 couples attend the classes and they are held in the evenings to allow couples to fit it in their work schedules.
There are however, many other private antenatal classes so it’s worth finding out about all your options in your area. Speak to friends who have had babies and get an idea of what to expect and how they found them useful. Your midwife will be able to tell you about the free classes your local hospital offer which are usually held in the hospital setting. These are sometimes bigger than the the private classes and less intimate but you will still receive the same up to date information.
Here are my top tips for preparing for your classes.
- Try to remember that these classes are aimed at parents-to-be to find out about labour and birth. You can’t possibly learn everything in 6 sessions so doing some evening reading will go a long way
- Don’t be nervous or shy about asking a question in the group. For all you know the girl sitting next to you may also have no idea what ‘cervical dilation’ means but is too embarrassed to ask. Your teacher will be approachable and be able to answer all your questions
- Find out all your options and just don’t just accept that what a doctor recommends you do may be the best option for you and your baby
- Get your birth partner on board. Make him or her swot up too. When you’re in labour you need them to be your advocate, contractions don’t allow for clear thinking and being expected to answer lots of questions.
- Remember it doesn’t all stop when the labour is over. Life with a new-born is pretty full on and getting those ‘survival’ tips are essential to feeling prepared
- Being pregnant and having a baby isn’t a test. Everyone will approach things differently, do things their way and you shouldn’t feel judged by what decisions you and your partner make. This is your experience so enjoy it!