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What Really Happens at Antenatal Classes?

Pregnant and wondering what’s next? Antenatal classes are recommended for first time Mums and we’re explaining what you can expect to happen when you’re there.

Antenatal classes are like a rite of passage into the world of having kids. Both partners are encouraged to attend approximately weekly classes a few months before bub’s due date. There you’ll learn all sorts of skills, from changing nappies through to creating a birth plan. Then there’s those things which aren’t on the lesson plan and we thought it was time to share those with you too.

What to Expect When Attending Antenatal Classes 

You’ve got around 12 hours to learn everything you need to learn about giving birth and being a new parent. Sounds simple enough. The truth is. When you are a parent, the learning never ends. Antenatal classes are a great introduction to understanding more about the impending birth and what you need to find out more about.

Depending on the organisation running your classes, the content delivered will vary slightly, though you can expect classes to focus on:

  • Caring for yourself
  • Pregnancy scans and screenings
  • Preparing your home for a baby
  • Preparing for labour and birth
  • Options for birthing
  • Stages of labour
  • Labour coping skills
  • Complications in labour and warning signs
  • Immediately after birth
  • Breastfeeding
  • Dressing and changing baby
  • Safe sleeping
  • Newborn screening
  • Afterbirth support

But wait, there’s more. The list above details what the instructor will cover, which is only some of what happens at antenatal classes. We’ll cover that next.

What Else Happens at Antenatal Classes? 

Antenatal classes are usually held in person in a location close to where you live. They contain expecting Mums and their partners or birth supporters. There are usually one or two instructors and occasionally a visiting speaker. There are dolls to swaddle and put nappies on, birthing stool and balls to test out and a heap of brochures to read.

Then comes the things that are not on the lesson plans: lifelong connections with other parents, people to meet up with after baby arrives in baby groups, new ideas and ways of looking at things, support from others who truly understand where you are and what you are feeling, and a sense of belonging. In other words, you get to meet and hang out with people just like you, which is so important as pregnancy and after birth can seem very lonely and isolating.

To find a provider of antenatal classes near you, ask your midwife, check with your local Plunket office, local Parent’s Centre, Home Birth Aotearoa or your local antenatal ward at the hospital. For other pregnancy and birth help, take a look at our articles Caring for Your Mental Health During Pregnancy, How Different Would it Be if Men Gave Birth and other great blogs.

I was at the Baby Expo last weekend and got chatting with some mums to be. As a mum of 2 myself, we discussed how good it would have been to discuss at your classes taking care of yourself 'down there' post partum. This came about as we were selling the ever-so-popular Viva La Vulva range at the expo. 

I honestly had no idea, as no one prepared me for THAT!  Thank goodness things are more widely talked about these days. We also had a wonderful man buy some products for his pregnant wife for her impending labour. How thoughtful. You can check out all their amazing post partum products right here.


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