Antenatal classes, prenatal classes, birth classes, childbirth classes: what to expect
Antenatal classes give you detailed information about labour, birth and pain relief choices. You can also learn how partners or support people can help during labour and birth.
Many antenatal classes also include information about parenting in the first few months, including settling and feeding your baby.
Even if you’ve done research online or talked to other parents-to-be, at antenatal classes you can:
- discuss information, clear up conflicting advice and ask questions
- learn about the place where your baby will be born
- meet other people who are having a baby at the same time as you.
You might hear these classes called birth classes, childbirth classes, prenatal classes, antenatal classes, antenatal education and preparation for parenting classes.
If you’re looking at information online, keep in mind that international websites might not reflect how Australian systems work. At raisingchildren.net.au, we have reliable and up-to-date information on pregnancy, birth and parenting in Australia.
Why antenatal classes are good
Antenatal classes are a good idea whether you’re pregnant, your partner is pregnant, or you’ve been asked to be a birth support person.
That’s because antenatal classes give you a clear idea of what to expect during pregnancy, labour and birth. This can help you feel more confident as you prepare for birth and early parenting.
Also, antenatal classes can be a great way to start a conversation with your partner about your goals and plans for birth and parenting.
And antenatal classes are a chance to meet and share experiences with other parents-to-be. Some parents find that the people they meet in birth classes turn into friends later on.
Antenatal class options
There are many different types and styles of antenatal classes. Here are some things to consider when you’re looking into them:
- Size – for example, some classes are offered in small groups and others are one on one.
- Format – for example, you might prefer face-to-face classes or find online classes more convenient.
- Audience – for example, you might want classes that are only for women, men, LGBTQ+ families, families whose first language isn’t English and so on.
- Timing – for example, you might prefer classes on weeknights or find it easier to attend classes on the weekend.
- Content – for example, you might be interested in extra classes that cover active birth, water birth, hypnobirthing, Calmbirth and so on.
- Host organisation – for example, most hospitals and birth centres offer basic classes, as do some community centres. Many private businesses offer classes too.
It’s a good idea for you and your partner to talk about the classes that will suit you both best.
Some classes can book out well in advance, so you might need to book early or be flexible. Most classes are offered as a series of sessions over several weeks.
To find antenatal class options in your area, you could phone your hospital, ask your GP or midwife or ask at antenatal appointments. Other parents you know might be able to recommend a class.