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Antenatal classes: A Complete Guide

Updated on April 15, 2015

I’ve always known, even prior to my confirmed pregnancy, that antenatal classes were not for me. The whole group thing coupled with public deep breathing exercises and little tasks with people that I, nor my partner knows, just sounded like the ultimate form of hell on earth. However, with so many opting to attend these classes as standard, and with many a midwife encouraging mum and dads to be to attend, parents who are less than keen on the idea can feel under pressure to conform.

For me, I must admit, that it had crossed my mind as to whether I should really be attending these classes and moreover, whether I’d miss some sort of vital piece of information that would otherwise affect the health of me or my baby. So in putting this article together I hope to run parents feeling the same through what anteal classes are and explain why, if you’re relatively resourceful, you really needn’t attend any antenatal classes at all.

Will you be attending antenatal classes?

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Antenatal classes: What to expect

Antenatal classes, which are also known as parentcraft classes, are provided for free via the NHS and generally take place once a week. If you’re expecting a single baby then you’ll likely start these classes at around 8-10 weeks before your due date. If, however, you’re expecting twins, you’ll probably start these earlier as an earlier than usual delivery is relatively standard when you’re expecting twins.

The size of the groups for such classes can change dramatically from area to area, as can the availability of such classes. The ultimate aim of antenatal classes remains the same however, and that is to empower parents through knowledge, both for the birth and beyond.

Antenatal Breathing and Relaxation for Labour

What is an antenatal class?

So, are antenatal classes worthwhile?

There’s no escaping the fact that for the more introverted of couples these classes may seem rather intimidating. You may have to work with others, speak publicly and undertake tasks such as the breathing exercise. that said however they are known to present useful pieces of information, particularly for first time parents who may be inexperienced with child care.

Source

Alternatives to antenatal classes

If, like me, you really would prefer not to attend any antenatal classes whatsoever then there are plenty of viable alternatives, particularly as the internet today is a richer source of information than ever. What’s more in undertaking your own research you may well find that you come across other topics and pregnancy/labour options, such as alternative pain relief methods (such as hypnobirthing) or alternative exercises throughout pregnancy, such as yoga.

If you do decide that internal classes aren’t for you then you may want to run through the following things, as these are the types of topics that would otherwise have been covered by antenatal classes.


  • General health throughout pregnancy (including topics such as what you should and shouldn’t be eating),

  • Exercises for managing fitness throughout pregnancy,

  • An overview of labour,

  • Options when it comes to pain relief throughout labour,

  • Ways to relax throughout pregnancy and throughout labour,

  • How to care for your baby (including bathing and feeding),

  • Health management throughout pregnancy and beyond,

  • Emotion management during pregnancy and beyond.

An overview of private antenatal classes

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    • ShelleyHeath profile image
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      Shelley Heath 2 years ago from Birmingham

      Hey There Peach, Yes well it is recommended over here, but I guess I'm just not that much of a people person :)

    • peachpurple profile image

      peachy 2 years ago from Home Sweet Home

      i have never attended this class because it is not recommended in our country. Otherwise, I would