Pregnancy and giving birth (let alone babies and parenting!) unfortunately don’t come with a manual. However, attending antenatal classes can help provide expectant mothers and fathers with more support and knowledge around the birthing process and how to care for their newborn baby. Antenatal classes may assist mothers in developing their birthing preferences by offering them relevant and evidence based information, site tours of their hospital of choice, providing classes on how to feed and care for their newborn baby and providing the opportunity for pregnant couples to meet others in their same situation sparking potential friendships.
It is important to have a goal in mind when taking antenatal classes and key to find a program that will teach everything you’re hoping to learn. An expectant mother should start looking for an antenatal class once she is between 24 and 30 weeks pregnant. Depending on if you’re pregnant with multiples or a single child the timeline can be earlier at 24 weeks or later at 30 weeks.
Antenatal classes will often include information that informs couples when it’s time to go to the hospital, what you should bring to the hospital, what to expect when in labor, the difference between a normal and assisted delivery (and why assistance is sometimes required), what the role of the partner/ support person is and pain relief options in labour.
There should also be information in the antenatal classes about parenting which is designed to instill confidence and understanding in soon-to-be parent(s), including care for the mother and newborn after birth, what to expect in the first few days home, how breastfeeding works along with the benefits, how to breastfeed, understanding newborn baby hunger cues, suckling patterns and identifying issues with your baby early on, and how to store breastmilk or how to use a breast pump. They will also cover behavior cues for your newborn like how to settle the baby, how to regulate sleep, feeding, and quiet time. They provide support so couples understand how to adjust to a new baby as a couple, how relationships can change, how to deal with postnatal depression and other resources available to new mothers in their community.
A antenatal class may be just the confidence booster an expectant mother needs to better equip herself with the knowledge and skills needed to care for her newborn baby. If you are interested in taking a antenatal class inform your doctor so they can provide you with suitable recommendations in your area.
This article is written to be informative and does not substitute seeking a professional consultation from a medical professional.