Antenatal or prenatal classes may come in various forms, but all have the same aim to help prepare you for labour, birth, and early parenthood. Your doctor may be able to recommend a class or your hospital may offer them as part of the pregnancy care package.
Though they aren't compulsory, antenatal classes can help you and your partner to focus on your pregnancy, and help you to be prepared for labour and birth. If your classes address early parenthood, you'll also be better prepared for the practicalities, and the highs and lows, of parenthood. You'll also meet other parents-to-be during the sessions. Some classes are booked according to your due date, so you'll meet women or couples whose babies will be born at a similar time.
The content of the classes varies. Some concentrate purely on physical and emotional preparation for labour and birth. Others provide a more rounded course for pregnant women and their birth partners. The Department of Health recommends that antenatal courses cover the following topics:
1. your developing baby
2. changes for you
3. giving birth and meeting your baby
4. caring for your baby
5. your health and wellbeing
6. helpful groups, organisations and people who can offer help, if you need it.