There are many types of Antenatal Classes around now – from the Midwife led free classes, to Hypnobirthing, and NCT to name a few. But how do you go about deciding which will be the best classes for you to attend or spend your hard-earned cash on?
The answer of course will be very individual and will depend on what your end goal is. You may be drawn to a particular style or brand name as you research your options. My first piece of advice is to speak to a few of the teachers beforehand – you can discuss how you currently feel about birth and parenthood, what your plans are and what you would like to get from the course. You will get a feel from the teacher about the content of the course and whether you ’click’ with her.
Make sure to ask:
1. Are you able to teach me and my partner practical and effective coping strategies for labour and
birth? What techniques will we cover and what feedback have you had about these in the past?
2. How much do you cover about after baby is born? Is my
partner able to attend the baby feeding class with me?
3. How much do you know about facilitating groups, and different learning styles? Are the classes taught in an interactive style, where we can discuss things together and with the other couples or will we be sitting and listening?
Whichever style of Antenatal Preparation you choose it is absolutely vital that your teacher has training in how different people learn. You could be a visual, auditory, or kinaesthetic learner, and you may be more reflective or more of an activist! You can read more about those on Wikipedia. A great teacher will be able to vary her teaching style to make sure every type of learner is accommodated.
Much of the information about birth is available online, and in books but to get the most out of a class your facilitator should not only be up to date in her knowledge, but be able to skilfully steer the conversations, and have a fun, interactive, exciting class plan to stimulate discussion, questions, even debate! Varying the speed and the ways the information is delivered. Here’s why:
1. You will only retain 5% of verbal information given.
I hear, I forget
I see, I remember
I do, I understand
2 hours is a long time to sit and listen and absorb information – maybe if you are an auditory learner it could be a little easier, but most people can’t take in so much especially after a full day at work. Giving you time to work in pairs and SEE the information, plus DISCUSS, and TRY OUT the ideas – whether its birthing positions, massage techniques, or playing with dolls, nappies and baby equipment!! The additional learning that takes place when you are able to move about in this way is vital to staying engaged with the content and having half a chance of remembering the important bits!!
2. Protected time for you and your partner to discuss and make
If you are anything like most couples rushing around juggling work, hobbies, practical preparations, decorating, maybe even moving house, and the multitude of other important daily tasks and baby nesting activities – you may be finding the time you spend together actually talking about how life will be with a baby, or how you plan to cope with labour and birth is nearly non-existent! You may drive to and from the class together, but time to ACTUALLY TALK on topic about the issues, may prove difficult.
A skilled Antenatal Teacher knows that how a person was parented themselves has the biggest impact on their own parenting style, and there are usually a multitude of unconscious presumptions about how you will care for your baby, that won’t come up until they have already arrived. So time away from your regular routine during your antenatal class is such a rich and valuable opportunity to explore this with each other – of course you won’t go too deep – but just enough to get you started on some of the issues important to you.
Giving you ample time to discuss the decisions you are making in respect of labour and birth is important too – as you discuss the topics, your teacher is on hand to share the latest evidence, guidelines, and how these relate to local hospital policies.
3. Making baby friends and creating support networks for after
As human beings we are innately social, we rely on good strong support networks for our mental wellbeing and with 1 in 4 of us suffering with mental health problems at one time or another it is even more poignant a time to consider this. A group of friends who are going through the same experience at the same time as you are the most valuable gift you can have.
An antenatal class is the perfect time for these relationships to begin and grow and an experienced Antenatal Teacher is trained to carry the conversation when it needs carrying, step back at the right time, and allow the group to gel and bond, encouraging you to set up your own meet ups outside of class for social time.
Plus the quicker you feel comfortable with this new group of friends, the easier it is to relax during a session and enjoy this special time out from life, planning and preparing for your new addition.
So whichever type of antenatal preparation you are drawn to, and what you have available in your area – researching and booking early on in pregnancy means you’ll get the dates your want, and will have plenty of time to spread the cost if needed (very low when compared to your buggy!)
Attending a weekly pregnancy yoga class is highly recommended alongside any type of preparation you do as a couple. Check out my Signature Antenatal Course, and weekly Pregnancy Yoga classes now x