Antenatal classes, particularly for first-time parents are essential.
Knowledge is power and more importantly, getting the correct, current and evidence-based information about your pregnancy and baby’s birth will ease your transition to parenthood and hopefully take away some of your concerns.
There are lots of different types of classes. It really helps if you do your homework, to make sure you find the right one for you.
If you are giving birth in a maternity hospital in Ireland, each hospital will have its own class schedule. These are mostly free. They are done either over 5-6 weeks, one evening a week or you can do a more intense one- or two-day class.
Make sure you ask about them at your first visit. Although you won’t attend until your third trimester, classes tend to book up very quickly. So, make sure you put your name down as soon as you’ve decided which class to attend!
In-hospital classes will cover subjects like when to contact the hospital, the mechanism of labour and more specifically will give you a tour of the hospital layout and the different protocols of that hospital.
Different hospitals have different guidelines with regard to labour and birth. For example, in some units, you won’t be induced until day 14 after your estimated due date, whereas other units (or consultants) will induce on day 12 or even day 10.
It’s important you are aware of different approaches as while you might have specific birth preferences or wishes, they might not align with what the hospital will allow.
It’s very important that you are able to ask and get answers to all of your questions to ensure you are able to make informed decisions and also understand how the specific maternity unit works. And also, that you are not disappointed by wanting something to happen at your birth, that the unit isn't able to accommodate.
In recent years, different sorts of antenatal classes have become more popular. So why would someone choose a private class? Well for some parents they wish to have a more personalised experience or wish to have a particular type of birth, and private classes can help them achieve this. It can be money extremely well spent.
You might be able to tell that am a passionate advocate for improving peoples experience of childbirth and the transition to parenthood. I am registered midwife, an antenatal educator and hypnobirthing practitioner.
As well as presenting the Motherboard podcast, I run my own business (www.avrilflynn.com) where I combine hypnobirthing techniques, my midwifery knowledge and evidence-based practice to provide a totally individual class and package to suit the client's specific needs.
I travel to you and give you the class in the comfort of your own home. Please do get in touch if you’d like to know more. I am not alone, there are a fantastic array of doulas, midwives and antenatal educators out there offering different sorts of classes
There are some fantastic approaches, using different techniques to improve parents birthing journey.
I’ve listed just a few different types here so do your research and find one that suits your needs:
Hypnobirthing involves using relaxation and breathing techniques and a very positive and active approach to birth preparation. While this can sound quite abstract, it isn’t.
During a hypnobirthing class, the practitioner will teach you and your birth partner tools and techniques to help you cope with the different parts of your labour journey.
It has been proven to not only improve parent’s perception of their birthing experience but reduces the rates of epidurals. It puts the birthing couple at the very centre of their own experience.
Before I became an instructor, I did a two-day course when I was pregnant with an amazing Midwife Aleanbh Cox ( www.aleanbh.ie/). I cannot speak more highly of how Aleanbh’s guidance gave me the confidence to have the birth I wanted and of course inspired me to become an instructor myself!
GentleBirthing classes also use different techniques from sports science, relaxation and brain science to give a positive birth perspective.
As Tracey mentions in her diary, there is an app which you can use which can be downloaded and used on its own or in combination with one of the classes.
The classes and programs can be done with a GentleBirth Instructor, or as an online course or you can use a combination of all of the above.
Cuidiú have branches and antenatal instructors all over the country. They provide very comprehensive antenatal classes, breastfeeding support and maternity service information.
They have a list of accredited instructors on their website and also have peer support mum and baby groups, which can be fantastic to join and can put you in touch with mums in your area.