What are prenatal classes?
Prenatal classes can also be called birth and parenting classes. Regardless of the name, they are a great choice to help you and your partner prepare for birth and care of your newborn.
In particular, they prepare expectant mothers for childbirth, breathing techniques, and natural pain management.
They are usually organized by the maternity hospital, centers for pregnant women, civil associations, or the municipality itself. The duration, price, and intensity differ from each other, and classes usually fill up quickly, so we suggest that you book yours in advance. You should plan to attend your class by approximately the 36th week of pregnancy.
What will you learn in prenatal classes?
First of all, the main subject of antenatal and prenatal classes is to prepare for childbirth and to learn about what to expect during the birth process. They are informative, inclusive, and interactive for all parents-to-be.
Most classes consist of learning about:
- Taking care of physical and mental health during pregnancy, during, and after childbirth, including a healthy diet
- exercises that will help you stay in shape
- preparing for childbirth
- signs of labor and when to call the hospital
- different stages of childbirth
- different birth positions
- relaxation and breathing skills to use during labor
- different types of delivery and interventions, such as forceps or vacuum delivery
- early parenthood
- taking care of your newborn
- newborn’s behavior and needs
When to start your prenatal classes?
They generally last 1 to 2 hours for 5 to 10 weeks. As we have already mentioned it’s recommended to finish the courses by the 36th week of pregnancy. Based on this, you should start with them very early. The ideal time to start is the 20th week of pregnancy because then you also have enough time to practice and develop all the skills you learned in the classes. In addition, you will reduce your risks and improve the safety of yourself and your baby during pregnancy.
Benefits of prenatal classes:
- The lecture is an excellent opportunity to learn about the course of childbirth and get answers to any questions or dilemmas directly from an expert in this field. This way, you and your partner will ease any worries you may have about the birth of your child.
- They can help moms-to-be feel confident about giving birth and make informed decisions about managing pain and other labor issues that may arise.
- The class offers a wonderful opportunity to connect with other couples who are going through a similar experience as you, providing a valuable support system through the sharing of experiences.
- They are also very useful for your partner, where they learn how they can best support you during labor and childbirth.
- If you attend them in the maternity hospital where you plan to give birth, you can also see the labor room.
What Prenatal class to choose?
When choosing a prenatal class, it makes sense to consider your preferences, as there are many types of them. For example, if medicine-free childbirth is important to you, you will want to look for classes suitable for this, such as hypnobirthing or a class on the Bradley Method. If you want general lectures where you get to know the basics of childbirth, pregnancy, and getting to know your newborn, a class offered by your maternity hospital or a basic online prenatal class should be enough. It may be helpful to choose more than one type of lecture.
You can also find information online or your best resource is your gynaecologist, they can help you in choosing the most suitable class in your area.
The lecture usually takes place once a week, for about 2 hours, and generally fits into the schedules of working parents. Some are intended only for mothers-to-be, and others are also recommended for partners. There are also classes for singles and teenagers, as well as anyone whose first language is not English. The number of prenatal class options varies from place to place. Some of them, as already mentioned, are also available online. This is a good option for parents who can not attend classes for various reasons, however online options usually don’t allow for meeting other parents.
In all of this, it is important to check whether the person leading the prenatal class is properly qualified. They are often run by a midwife, physiotherapist, or lactation consultant. While private classes are taught by a yoga practitioner, a doula (a person who provides non-medical support before, during, and after birth), or someone trained in specific birthing techniques.
Some types of prenatal classes include:
- Early pregnancy
- Lamaze prenatal classes (includes breathing techniques, relaxation, and support)
- Active childbirth (learning childbirth techniques and positions)
- Calm birth (childbirth educational program based on understanding the course of delivery)
- Hypnobirthing (a form of deep meditation and relaxation)
- Aqua prenatal classes
- Prenatal yoga or pilates
- Preparations for breastfeeding
There are also classes specifically for:
- Parents who come from different cultures or do not speak English well
- Parents expecting more than one child
- Parents who know they will have a caesarean section
- Parents who are considering the possibility of a caesarean section after the first birth of their child
How much do the classes cost?
Prices vary widely and depend on where you live and who runs them. Some hospitals offer free classes, while others offer paid ones. Private courses can cost up to hundreds of dollars, however, you can also find some budget-friendly options online, nearby or in neighbouring towns.
You may even be eligible for health insurance reimbursement, so we suggest you check with your private healthcare provider.
In any case, prenatal classes are a smart and highly recommended choice for every mother-to-be and their partner.