Antenatal classes are booked according to your due date and designed to bring you up to speed on your rapidly growing bump and prepare you for birth and all those exciting milestones beyond!
Whilst these classes are not compulsory, lots of parents, both mum and dad, end up building their social circle with friends they’ve met at their antenatal class. After all you are all going through one of the biggest milestones in your lives, and you’ll undoubtedly be sharing the highs and lows of raising a small human together. This is the kind of support which is likely to be invaluable when you have a burning question at 3am, you need a coffee partner, or a playdate pal.
As well as racking-up your parent friend army, these sessions will cover all aspects of labour and birth, as well as those crucial early days and weeks of parenthood, with tips and advice on how to care for your newborn. It’s about preparing you for every eventuality in labour and to help you to feel positive and prepared for your impending arrival. Some courses also offer first aid which we believe is one of the most important things you can learn as an expectant parent.
Classes tend to run for about two hours a week, for around six weeks, from about week 30. Everyone’s due dates are usually within four weeks of each other.
There are many different organisations that run antenatal classes, such as Bump and Baby Club and the National Childbirth Trust (NCT). It is worth doing your research online or speaking to your midwife about what is available in your area. The NHS also run free classes in hospitals and children’s centres which can be booked through your midwife.
If you are working, you have a legal right to take reasonable paid time-off to attend your antenatal classes and this applies as long as the classes are during working hours and have been suggested by your health visitor, doctor or midwife. The baby’s father and/or the mother’s spouse, civil partner or long-term partner are also entitled to leave to accompany the mother to antenatal appointments.
There are also evening classes or one day courses available if these work better for you and your partner. Maternity Action has lots more information on your rights at work during and after pregnancy.
As well as conventional antenatal classes there are a host of other options you might also like to try such as hypnobirthing. The focus here is on reducing fear and building confidence surrounding birth, alongside massage, breathing and visualisation techniques; all designed to maximise your chances of having a calm, comfortable labour and birth.
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