Antenatal Classes for Labour, Birth and Parenting

We ended up going to quite a few antenatal classes. We signed up for the hospital one early on because we didn’t have time to research alternatives before it got booked out but the other classes we went to in between booking and attending the hospital one were the most helpful. We were also very lucky that one of my aunts happens to be a midwife and she flew down from Brisbane to Melbourne specially to give us a private session of her own class!

We didn’t set out to do quite so many classes but I liked it because it gave us refreshers on things we’d forgotten, the opportunity to ask questions that hadn’t occurred to us earlier, and different perspectives on various aspects which enabled us to form a well rounded picture. I also preferred classes over reading books: I think hearing the information is more helpful than reading it because the tone with which it’s delivered makes a difference and it’s really great being able to discuss questions live.

Antenatal classes

birthwell birthright Lamaze: Weekend Intensive Course

This was our main labour & birthing class. Apparently Lamaze used to be a big thing in the US and was all about a particular type of breathing, but it’s moved on since then. I found it really helpful because it was the first time I’d really heard about the different stages of labour (especially reassuring to find out the worst part is the shortest!) and it gave us practical things to do when the time came, from taking our mind off it in the early stages to hands-on physical strategies for when things got serious. After the class I felt like I was much more mentally prepared for what was to come. It wasn’t heavy on any candles/music/visualisation stuff, which just didn’t appeal very much to me personally.

Other options are Rhea Dempsey’s Embracing the Intensity workshop which I’ve heard a lot of good things about, Calmbirth and HypnoBirthing. I recommend finding out what is available in your area and reading up on their approach to see what appeals the most to you.

Parent Prep: Full Parenting Preparation Group Class (Intensive)

This is a fantastic class! It’s all very well going to classes to help you through the day or two of labour, but this class focuses on the first 3 months of you newborn’s life. We learnt lots of different settling techniques, practised swaddling and bathing, and discussed all different kinds of baby stuff. We got to try on different wraps and carriers and look at different brands of nappies and bottles, as well as all sorts of other things. Doing this class meant I never had that feeling of coming home from the hospital and wondering, “Ummm, so what happens now?” Highly recommended!

Royal Women’s Hospital: Fundamental Childbirth Education (Group Sessions)

The hospital class was split into two parts which kind of summarised the two areas above: labour/birth and early parenting. It was okay as a refresher of what we’d already covered in other classes but fairly rushed and it didn’t feel like they covered things in enough detail. If we’d only done the hospital classes I don’t think I would have been filled with the same level of confidence we got from the others. What was good was just casually chatting with the midwives that led our sessions about their experiences, finding out the hospital’s policy on things that we’d heard about during the other classes and taking a tour of the hospital’s birthing suites and maternity wards.

Disclaimer: I’m not any kind of birthing/parenting expert, these are just my opinions based on personal experience and research. It’s all Melbourne-centric too, since that’s where I live!

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