Thursday, October 4, 2012

Antenatal education classes - what do antenatal classes cover?

Antenatal education classes: Antenatal education (sometimes called antenatal classes) can help to prepare you for your baby’s birth as well as for looking after and feeding your baby. It can help you to keep yourself fit and well during pregnancy and give you confidence as well as advices. You can find out about arrangements for labor and birth and the sorts of choices available to you. It’s useful to know more about birth plans.
You may also meet some of the people who will look after you during labor.
You will be able to talk over any worries and discuss your plans, not just with professionals but with other women and their partners as well. Classes are also a really good way to make friends with other parents expecting babies at around the same time as you.
These friendships often help you through the first few months with a baby. Classes are usually informal and fun.
Choosing antenatal class   
Think about what you hope to gain from antenatal classes so that you can find the sort of class that suits you best. You need to start making enquiries early in pregnancy so that you can be sure of getting a place in the class you choose.
You can go to more than one class. Ask your midwife, health visitor or GP about what is available in your area, or contact the NCT. Speak to your community midwife if you cannot go to classes. The midwife may have DVDs to lend you, or you may be able to hire or buy one.
What are antenatal classes for?
During pregnancy, you may be able to go to some introductory classes on baby care. Most start about eight to 10 weeks before your baby is due. If you are expecting a multiple pregnancy, try to start your classes at around 24 weeks, because your babies are more likely to be born earlier.
Classes are normally held once a week, either during the day or in the evening, for about two hours. Some classes are for pregnant women only. Others will welcome partners or friends, either to all the sessions or to some of them. In some areas there are classes for women whose first language is not English, classes for single mothers and classes for teenagers. The kinds of topics covered in antenatal education are:
Health in pregnancy
Exercises to keep you fit during pregnancy and help you in labor
What happens during labor and birth?
coping with labor and advices about different types of pain relief
How to help yourself during labor and birth
Relaxation techniques
How to give birth without any intervention, if that is what you want
Facts about different kinds of birth and intervention
caring for your baby, including feeding
Your health after the birth
‘refresher classes’ for those who have already had a baby
Emotions during pregnancy, birth and the early postnatal period.
Some classes will try to cover all of these topics. Others will concentrate on certain aspects, such as exercises and relaxation or caring for your baby.
The number of different antenatal classes available varies from place to place.
NCT antenatal classes
The NCT (also known as the National Childbirth Trust) runs a range of classes.
The groups tend to be smaller and may go into more depth, often allowing time for discussion and for practicing physical skills. Get more details of antenatal courses, along with details on local support groups.
Children’s Centers (sometimes called Sure Start Children’s Centers)  
Children’s Centers also support families with children under the age of five. They can provide:
Easy access to antenatal care
Health services
Parenting and family support
Drop-in sessions
outreach services
Early education and childcare, and
Links to training and employment opportunities.

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