Mommying BabyT

Mommy T's adventures; bringing up Baby T

The importance of antenatal classes

Morning sickness may have finally cleared up and you’ve bought your copy of ‘What to Expect’, you’re already dreaming of pink or blue and you have a mental list of all the cute bowties and tutus you are going to dress your little bundle of joy in. But how ready do you feel you are for the birthing process and the aftermath of how to hold, feed, clean and care for your newborn?

If you are a first-time mom, then I can say with some degree of certainty that you feel a bit scared or overwhelmed of giving birth and whether you will be able to provide the basic care that a newborn requires. I was clueless. I was an expert when it came to knowing which fruit my foetus could be compared to in size, but I knew nothing about the process of labour, how to make it easy and effective.. or wait a minute, I didn’t even know what labour felt like.

While your ObGyn will be able to help you with all the doubts and questions you have about your pregnancy and childbirth, she may not have the liberty of spending extended time with you in OPD hours just because she usually has a line of pregnant moms waiting to keep her appointment.

In India, most of us have a strong support system of family and friends who swoop in the minute they get to know you are pregnant, with all sorts of advice about what to eat, how to sleep, some scary birth stories and terribly nightmarish tales about early newborn days. While this support system comes in handy to lend us new moms a helping hand with the baby, it does not guarantee that you will have a positive birthing experience. This is where antenatal classes can help.

What is an antenatal program?

A good antenatal class helps pregnant women and their partners to understand all about the delivery process. It is usually conducted in the 7th month or last trimester and covers diet, eating healthy, exercises for fitness and easy birthing. For the actual birthing process, it helps you understand labour and how to manage it and not be stressed about birthing. And it’s not just to do with birthing.  Good antenatal classes also help you know more about early baby care – right from swaddling, diaper changing, breastfeeding and more.

Which is why I highly recommend all my pregnant friends enrol themselves in antenatal classes. Here are my top 4 reasons why pregnant couples should choose to undergo the program:

  1. Helps you understand and prepare for birth –
    While pregnancy books and online tools will tell you all about the theory of giving birth, hearing it from a trained person makes all the difference. This person will most often use props and display dolls & videos to explain the process of natural birth and how you can sail through the process. Breathing techniques and antenatal exercises will be focused towards the final goal of a stress-free and happy delivery.

    Well begun is half done as they say and knowing what to anticipate and having the knowledge of the tools to deal with labour and delivery is a big step towards a positive birthing experience.
    While it is important to continue your fitness regime throughout your pregnancy, it is important to know that you are following the right exercises and doing the breathing exercises in the right manner. This can only happen in an environment where you are meeting a trained facilitator. You will also have access to props like a birthing ball, yoga mat etc. which you otherwise feel may not be a wise investment to make by yourself.
    The antenatal facilitator will also, of course, be able to respond to your queries on the spot and ensure that you have complete clarity in your mind about birthing.
  2. Familiarize yourself with the hospital and the team which will work on your delivery –
    It is always better to choose a hospital which conducts antenatal classes in-house. This means that the program should be conducted and managed by your team of doctors, nurses and other support staff. Enrolling in antenatal classes in your chosen hospital will ensure you know them well and build some sort of a camaraderie with them. It is a big relief to be amongst familiar faces and people on your big day in your moment of truth.
    And this holds true not just for you, but for your partner too. Most antenatal classes actually encourage your spouse or birthing partner, say your mom or sister to join the program too. This helps them understand the birthing process too and introduces them to the team who will be working on your delivery. This builds up trust and everyone can work together towards the common goal of making your birthing process a happy one.
  3. Meet other pregnant couples and learn from them too –
    It is rare that you will find a pregnant companion in your friends circle or at work. So comparing notes, learning new concepts and gaining information about pregnancy and babies from others in similar life stages as you are most often missing. However, this is allayed by your antenatal program. You will be in a room full of pregnant people and there is no place better than this for you to catch up and learn from each other’s experiences. From home remedies for acidity, to which shop has the best deal on baby clothes and diapers, you can learn it all here. I learnt all about modern cloth diapers at my antenatal classes and no they are not just langots.
    Being in a group of moms-to-be with delivery dates around the same time is also great motivation to keep up with your pregnancy exercises and yoga. It is not a competition but subtle rooting for each other to strive at being fit and ready for a natural birth. Being part of a group that believes that c section delivery is not required unless medically indicated, also builds confidence for your delivery.
    It’s also a great place for the daddy-to-be to bond and share stories about how the menfolk are handling the pregnancy hormones.
  4. You learn more than just about birthing – 
    No matter how much you read or hear from other moms, you cannot be prepared enough for handling and caring for a newborn. Antenatal programs also tell you about how tiny your newborn will be and how and why he needs to be swaddled, when to begin breastfeeding, when his diapers need to be changed. In all honesty, I had seen but never put on a diaper before I went to my antenatal classes.
    Many breastfeeding tips for the early days were also acquired during my antenatal classes. I also saw other pregnant ladies there who were clueless that upon birth the mother makes colostrum and milk only comes in by the third day or so. The antenatal classes are therefore highly informative sessions where you learn important skills about caring for your newborn.

Did you attend an antenatal class during your pregnancy? What was your biggest learning from it and do you recommend antenatal classes to your pregnant friends?

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61 Comments

  1. I can’t have kids but I do like to have resources to share out to friends having them for the first time because it seems like such a scary adventure. I think it’s great resources like this exist and I hope they become more accessible over time.

  2. I really wish I would have taken classes before I had my little one. I was terrified because I didn’t know what to expect, I’m sure I would have felt more prepared if I had taken some classes

  3. No I haven’t attended any classes. I read a lot, talked to friends. That helped me a lot. But these classes are very good I have heard. And the good part what I feel is your partner is also a part of the whole journey.

  4. This is an informative post. I have not gone through the child bearing process yet but I would want to know this information for sure. Knowing what to expect is always a good thing to ease you mind.

  5. I absolutely agree with this! We scheduled our antenatal classes too close to my due date with my oldest son, and even though I found the first one super helpful, I didn’t get chance to go to any more because I gave birth instead! I was SO unprepared for how labor would feel that I felt totally overwhelmed, and I know more classes could have helped. With my second, we took classes and felt much more in control on the big day.

  6. wow these classes really do sound beneficial and important. I love that you get to meet other couples and learn from them too. It’s always nice to be able to relate with other people going through the same thing. Ill keep this in mind when I have children one day

  7. Quite an informative post. I would have loved to join one actually. But I somehow didn’t while I was pregnant.

  8. I’ve never attended classes like this when I was pregnant with my kids. I think it’s something that parents-to-be should consider. Especially those who are having a baby for the first time.

  9. Have attended these classes and found it really useful during my journey of pregnancy..It made me prepared for the pregnancy with an open mind too

  10. A very informative post. I wanted to take the classes but unfortunately wasn’t aware of it much. It always good to know what to expect it will ease the mind.

  11. This is extremely important. We took one prior to the birth of my daughter and it was extremely helpful since we struggled a lot after the birth of our first.

  12. Amazing blog! Very informative

  13. Quite an informative post for moms to self prepare them in the journey of pregnancy. A beneficial and important blog !

  14. I have always loved the idea of attending a class, but I mostly gleaned my information from books, magazines, and online groups. I do agree that this would be helpful for a first-time parent, though!

  15. We did one of these classes before my daughter was born. I honestly wished I paid more attention in it as they provide great tips and info!

  16. Is it odd that I had never heard antenatal classes prior to reading this? Where can I find more information?

  17. I felt more confident that my husband was going to be a support and a partner during the delivery after we attended our class.

  18. Wow! This was really interesting. I have never heard of an antenatal program before! I don’t have any kids yet but this is certainly something to keep in mind for the future. I will be sure to pass along this information to any friends or family who are expecting!

  19. this is really informative-I didnt take a class, but who knows if it would have helped me

  20. Those sounds like some interesting classes! I can see how they could be a positive experience!

  21. I never knew about classes like these really when I was pregnant with my first. I wish I would have though! With my 2nd, I just kind of went with the flow even though his birth was completely different than I had experienced the 1st time.

  22. I know many new parents who have benefited from antenatal classes. They really do help you prepare for the end of your pregnancy, the birth and what to expect in as new parents.

  23. I believe if you are a first-time mom especially here in India, you should go to a class before baby arrives. It helps give you confidence as a new mother when you are bombarded with traditional myths. Had I not done the class I wouldn’t have thought to research more on baby massage, swaddling techniques and feeding practices. I would have followed traditional advice and though its nice to have our elders guiding us there are quite a few practices that are scientifically wrongly done here in India. So definitely every new mom in India needs to go to a class to introduce her self to proper baby care techniques.

  24. My first pregnancy resulted in a missed miscarriage then my rainbow baby was considered a high risk pregnancy due to that. We didn’t take any classes aside from a breast feeding course which I couldn’t breast feed in the end. From having a miscarriage the pregnancy book actually freaked me out even more so I had to stop reading it. If I could go back I sure wish I could’ve had that experience.

  25. This is such an helpful post for the moms to be. I feel this way you can get to make new friends who totally understand what you are going thru.

  26. Getting into a group like this is great. I love your tip about checking if the hospital has a class like this. That’s a perfect tip!

  27. i didnt know these classes 8.5 years ago when my son was born, i wish i had taken these then. i still remember how clueless i was, didnt even know how to hold a baby and it was some very tough days

  28. Dr. Pooja Kapoor

    February 2, 2018 at 10:57 pm

    I also really really wanted to attend one of these but didn’t have access to any such thing in the place I was at when I was pregnant. Sigh!! That is one regret I have. But I totally agree with each point. Thankfully being a doctor myself, I did have some idea about labor and what was to be done after that. Thank goodness for that!!

  29. When I was pregnant for the first time I was eager to sign up for classes because I was excited and wanted to know everything. With my second pregnancy, I was like meh. Such classes are really a must for the first time and high-risk pregnancies.

  30. I missed these during my 1st. Will definitely try to attend if at all I go for 2nd.

  31. Super informative and useful post for expecting moms. I so wanted to join antenatal classes but couldn’t as was suggested complete bed rest!

  32. I wish I had gone to something like this before the birth of my son. I was so anxious about the whole process especially because I decided to have a natural birth. I really didn’t know what to expect.

  33. I’m not planning on ever having kids, but I remember going with my mom to a few of these classes when she was pregnant with my baby sister! Such a great way to learn about the birthing process!

  34. Such wonderful advice for moms-to-be. Even 2nd time moms should give these classes a try since so much can change over the course of time.

  35. Salma Mehajabeen

    February 3, 2018 at 1:25 am

    Thanks for writing this. I so wanted toattend the sessions but i felt the online resources more helpful than the classes. It really depends on person to person. I was able to plan my pregnancy with the onlineresources i had. But it would benefit for the new moms for sure. I was in a position where i would have to dependon either my husband or inlaws. And didn wannadisturb them.

  36. Classes are so important, especially for anything regarding children and health! When my time comes, I’ll definitely add this to my list

  37. this is new to me. I love anything that can help you to have a positive experience. great post!

  38. I’ve never heard of antenatal classes. I had great experiences twice with prenatal classes.

  39. I missed joining something like this back then. But I do understand the importance of it now. I think because of the availability of so much information on the web, we ted to ignore how important physical one-to-one counselling or discussions are, specially during that stage. Wonderful points mentioned ..

  40. I know a couple of my friends who attended antenatal classes and really did find them helpful. Thanks for this informative post.

  41. Very true, Such antenatal classes are extremely helpful and informative. The whole connect with doctors, care givers and other pregnant ladies helps you prepare well.

  42. I had no access to proper pregnancy care hospital in my vicinity and I had to settle for something really average. I wish I was better prepared. Never late to be well equipped for when the next baby comes along.

  43. Great informative post. These classes are a great option for parents to be.

  44. So many new things since I gave birth over 35 years ago. I have to say, I’ve never heard of this topic – but it looks well enough important to do.

  45. This sounds like something I would have truly benefited from during my pregnancies. I am glad they have these options now.

  46. I would have loved to have done something like this with my first. I have gone through the delivery process three times and each time was unique.

  47. Antenatal classes are very important to make the mommy get rrady for birth.Loved the post

  48. Unfortunately I did not get a chance to take these classes but definitely suggest to friends and family to take these classes before delivery.

  49. I didn’t attend any such classes, probably because of lesser information available at that time. But with things slowly changing up for good, this is one thing which t-be parents should definitely invest in.

  50. I did prenatal classes when I was 17 and pregnant with my first. I have a feeling they’d have been more useful to me later on but at the time I didn’t find them to help much. I would love to go back and take again though, expecting #8 right now I think I am covered but you never know!

  51. This sounds like it would be so helpful in preparation of what to expect. So many have no idea what the delivery process is actually like before they are there.

  52. This post brought back many memories from the time when I was expecting my girls. Antenatal classes are really helpful especially the exercises. Good these are happening in India too now.

  53. This is so great for new parents. But to be completely honest, I was so stressed out by the idea of labor that this class actually made it worse for me. It should have relieved some stress but instead only made it worse. Turns out my labor was the easiest so it was really silly to be so worked up about it.

  54. sounds like sth reallyuseful. I think I will consider it if I will be in secod pregnancy

  55. I did not attend these classes because I had to deliver at my mum’s place. I was myself ready for the delivery by reading a lot of material. But I feel these classes are very helpful for the parents to be.

  56. How I wish I’d attended one during pregnancy! Although I did perform a lot of workout but nothing matches the lessons you learn there.

  57. Thank you for sharing – totally agree that the classes Helps you understand and prepare for birth!

  58. These is very helpful to prepare the mothers for labour, birth, and parenthood. It is also an important part of pregnancy and helps you make informed choices about your pregnancy and birthing options.

  59. Luckily I got a chance to attend ante-natal class during pregnancy. I learnt breathing techniques,labour symptoms, swaddling,massaging,correct way of latching,feeding positions and much more It was an amazing experience altogether. I want all would-be mothers to attend atleast one session of such classes

  60. I opted to do a similar class with both pregnancies and I especially liked learning more from other couples who were expecting. I agree with you and recommend these classes.
    Nailil
    http://www.thirtyminusone.com

  61. I didn’t know and never attended any ante natal class, but it really sounds helpful.. I will recommend my family and friends about this type of antenatal class..

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