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Antenatal Classes - What they are and when to attend them

Antenatal classes help you prepare to welcome your little bundle of joy into the world. These classes include everything ranging from labour, delivery, and taking care of the infant. Many couples say that as they attended these child birth preparation classes, they felt more familiar and confident about the process. These classes are also a great way of making friends with new parents-to- they felt more familiar and confident about the process. These classes are also a great way of making friends with new parents-to-be couples who become a source of support to each other.

Antenatal Classes Include:

Breastfeeding and its benefits
How to change nappies
Massage techniques for your baby
Preparing body and mental health for pregnancy
Healthy communication between you and your partner
How to bond with your unborn baby
Preparing for labour and birth
Maintaining symptoms associated with pregnancy
Prenatal yoga and asanas
Breathing techniques for managing pain in labour. These techniques not only help you cope with the pain of contractions but also maximises the amount of oxygen
Importance of nutrition during pregnancy and beyond.

These classes are devised in a manner that suits busy parents and is over after several weeks. The mother must be done with the course by the time they are 36 weeks pregnant.

Antenatal classes assist parents in understanding and curating a personalised birth plan. The health professionals and instructors help parents in making these plans. Any doubts that cannot be surfed on the internet can be asked directly as most of these courses have one-on-one doubt sessions.

Importance of Antenatal Classes:

As technology improves and families become more modern, these classes are gaining popularity as well as becoming a necessity. Antenatal classes are crucial because pregnancy can become just as fun and memorable as it is hard and exhausting, couples often bond more with these sessions. Many times, fathers feel helpless in easing the pain of the birthing mothers, antenatal classes present them with a variety of ways to help.

The birthing mothers who take up these courses are more likely to be better informed on various vital information like contraception, breastfeeding and baby care than the ones who only visited doctors. Such women also found their childbirth procedure satisfactory.

Research has shown that these women are also at lower risk of opting for C-section delivery, a surgical procedure involving an incision in the mother's abdomen.

Find Antenatal Classes:

Often, doctors can recommend the best antenatal classes according to the parents' needs. Many maternity services also provide birth and preparation classes but these classes can be expensive as they are private. Specialists in birthing techniques, physiotherapists, midwives, lactation consultant or yoga practitioners conduct these private sessions. Before registering, it is wise to know about the qualifications and experience of the trainer.

Sometimes due to complications, other reasons, and responsibilities, parents cannot be physically present in these classes. Many private maternity services now offer online classes for mothers and fathers to be. However, they cannot guarantee the same results. It is recommended that parents attend classes curated specifically for their ethnicity and nationality as multiple factors play a role in what the instructor advises you.

Types of Antenatal Classes:

Depending on your need, you should find your classes. Going to more than one type of class can help you understand the procedure better.

Early Pregnancy classes.
Active Birth classes teach the parents about various birthing positions and what suits them the best.
Classes involving breathing techniques and relaxation called Lamaze Classes.
Calm Birth classes take care of your mental and emotional wellbeing throughout and after the pregnancy.
Hypnobirthing classes help prepare the birthing parent in combating the fear and pain during labour through self-hypnosis.
Pilates classes help in boosting flexibility and strengthen the pelvic floor.
Aquanatal classes are exercises curated for pregnant women. They help in gaining core stability and improves sleep quality.
There are classes for normal delivery tips and more health advice.
There also classes available for fathers to be.
Specialised classes for parents expecting more than one baby.
Many private institutions also provide classes for parents who have opted for caesarean, a surgical procedure for birthing.

Best Time for Antenatal Classes:

Even though most of the parents start attending when they are 8-10 weeks pregnant, it is beneficial to start taking the introductory classes and follow up for the best results. You should be able to complete your course by the time you are 36 weeks pregnant.

These courses are not just for the first time parents, they can be taken by every parent to be. Parents who are seeking a different way to give birth can benefit from personalised sessions.

After the birth, parents are expected to continue with the courses as it helps in understanding post birth journey and what to expect. Many antenatal classes are for parents who are new at parenting, they are taught the how to's of the baby, feeding cues, stress signs, states of consciousness, and more. Such post-birth classes go beyond mother and father and are available for everyone who is constantly with the baby. These include grandparents, guardians, and more.

Dr. Pranathi Reddy

Clinical Director – Obstetrics & Gynecology.

Rainbow Children's Hospital, Banjara Hills