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Antenatal classes?

(21 Posts)
OdaBear Mon 29-Aug-11 13:14:28

Hello all

I am wondering if there are mums out there who did not attend any antenatal classes and if they felt that they should have?

I have made the decision to not attend them for several reasons: I am well-read on pain-relief, labour, c-sections, positions etc. I also have work-restraints and essentially do not wish to take time off work if it is not necessary.

I know that this may sound shocking or blasé to some people, but I would like views from any ladies that made the same decisions as me.

I know that I will be missing out on some details, but it is just getting a feel for what those details are so that I can fill in the gaps myself.

Thanks in advance

P.S. I have a few friends who are expecting and who have children, so I feel that my social support is already in place.

spudulika Mon 29-Aug-11 13:30:04

What about your partner? For a lot of couples antenatal classes are a sort of rite. Of passage - a special time out for you to talk about the birth and the changes to your life afterwards. Also a chance to practice some physical skills for labour.

I did NHS ones . Enjoyed every minute of them even though I didn't learn anything I didn't know!

OdaBear Mon 29-Aug-11 13:39:35

My hubby has come to the same conclusions as me, without me persuading him either way. He has his own mind, and if he was desperate to go, I would re-consider.

To be honest, we're both a little put off by the thought of antenatal classes, and I would only consider going if there were really vital things that people felt that they missed out on from not going.

This is my last chance to change my mind, as I have not got much time left, and am certainly unlikely to fit into an NHS class at this late stage!

What would you say are the physical skills that you learned/practiced when you attended your classes Spudulika?

Earwiggy Mon 29-Aug-11 13:46:53

I think there is a benefit to having a group all going through the new first baby thing together. It keeps ypur existing friendships in tact whikst you have an outlet for all the new baby talk.

You also don't know what you don't know so although you may be well read it is likely one or two things will come as a suprise whether you do antenatal classes or not. At least if you do them you will have done all ypu can to prepare.

NigellaLawless Mon 29-Aug-11 13:51:00

Hi, I almost didn't bother with the antenatal class offered by my local maternity unit. When we first went along I was ill and had to leave early and as I had planned a home birth and have really supportive community midwives I felt I was fully prepared so wasn't planning to reschedule. However, a couple of months ago I stopped being low risk and the homebirth is now out of the window, so I decided to attend the class.

As far as i can tell, each NHS trust offers different types of class. In my area there is a 3 hour 'class' which specifically states that it does not cover breathing or relaxation techniques. The class was pretty basic and didn't cover anything I did not already know about from reading. But what it did do was give me the chance to meet some of the delivery suite midwives and have a tour of the delivery suite, theatre where c-sections are carried out and post natal ward. The hospital was far nicer than I expected and a lot of questions I had about hospital stays were answered.

So for me the class ended up being invaluable as it really put my mind at ease about having a hospital rather than a home birth grin

On the other hand we considered paying for NCT classes, which I understand do cover relaxation techniques etc. But we don't have a lot of spare cash so we decided that we could research such techniques ourselves and use the money for extending my maternity leave. I still think this was the right decision - but I guess I can tell you for certain after I give birth (hopefully in just a few days now wink)

spudulika Mon 29-Aug-11 13:56:08

Breathing mainly. You could do this in an antenatal yoga class.

I also think that it's important to read something about normal newborn behaviour - ie, not a Gina Ford type book which is almost entirely focused on adults.

Definitely think that browsing the baby feeding board here is worthwhile if you're not going to do classes.

Are you planning on breastfeeding? What have you read on this?

Zipitydooda Mon 29-Aug-11 14:01:05

More helpful to me than the antenatal classes were excellent antenatal yoga classes. Went every week from about 20 weeks with all 3 pregnancies, it was an hours yoga which included positions to ease discomfort that we were experiencing, relaxation techniques which could be used in labour to help with pain, pelvic floor exersizes. Followed by half an hours discussion time when the yoga teacher would invite speakers in e.g. Osteopath, person who runs baby yoga classes or mums from the class with their new babies to talk about their labour experience and new motherhood or just discuss topics that people in the group had questions about.
It was also good for meeting local mums at the same stage of pregnancy, these can be very supportive friends more so than people who already have kids as they can sometimes seem so know-it-all (even unintentionally) and it's supportive to be going through the same things together first time round.
The yoga teacher also ran a couples evening for first time parents, I didn't go as I did do antenatal classes with my DH first time, but it was to show fathers how to support mums in labour and also discuss the change in family dynamics having a child brings among other things.
I would say some sort of class for both parents together is invaluable, many places do weekend courses now which are just 1 weekend or day together.

OdaBear Mon 29-Aug-11 14:03:06

Thanks Earwiggy and NigellaLawless. When I said I was well-read, what I meant was that I am a senior registered nurse with years of experience in acute settings, so am familiar with pain-relief options, administration of drugs, how hospitals work in general. (I am actually very anti having our baby in hospital, and would like to avoid the vast majority of the analgesia available if I can cope. I would also like to avoid doctors).

My perception of the information you get from antenatal classes is that it is pretty basic. And although I realise I will be meeting women who are due at around the same time as me, these things aren't vitally necessary to me, as I feel well supported by my existing family and friends. (Yes, I may come back to this in a few months wishing that I knew people going through the same thing as me).

As for tours of our local hospital, they don't offer them under any circumstances, but they have an online video. I also have a friend who works in the hospital I plan to give birth in.

I really don't want to sound like I have the answer to everything (which my mother would tell me!), but I guess I'm just double-checking that there isn't some vital aspect of antenetal classes that I need which I am discarding! smile

Zipitydooda Mon 29-Aug-11 14:07:02

Meant to add, the yoga was in the evening and I always slept amazingly well after, that on it's own makes it worth it!

bagelmonkey Mon 29-Aug-11 14:09:38

We missed our antenatal classes because DD was early.
In retrospect I wish I'd read about sleep and routine early on, but maybe she'd still be a bad sleeper. Don't think there's been anything else I needed to know.
DD was EBF (just starting BLW now) and lack of prior info wasn't a problem at all.

OdaBear Mon 29-Aug-11 14:09:42

Currently have a couple of books on the go about pre and post natal issues, covering newborns etc. My mother is also down the road, and she looked after two newborns brilliantly (probably without the aid of books and antenatal classes).

As for breastfeeding. Yes, I plan to breastfeed. In short, I have read literature and spoken to breastfeeding friends, and mum. They've had mixed experiences, and managed to achieve different lengths of time breastfeeding. I am aware that some find it easy, some find it difficult, and there are support groups I can attend if I find this struggle. I shall browse the baby feeding board!

sancerrre Mon 29-Aug-11 14:14:56

I didn't attend any, mainly because they aren't available where I live. I read a lot and there were no surprises so guess I covered most things. I searched and read threads on the subject on here too and it seemed that the main thing people get out of it is new friends.

I did do hypnobirthing classes though which I found very helpful.

NigellaLawless Mon 29-Aug-11 14:17:25

Sounds like you have it all covered OdaBear! Certainly if the class they offer you are like the one I had (without the maternity unit tour) you may be v bored indeed!

There was certainly no opportunity to really chat or bond with other parents to be so i wouldn't rely on the classes to give you that either. Without the hospital stay I don't think I would have gained anything from my NHS class.

You seem to be a person who knows their own mind so I'm sure you will be happy with whatever you decide to do smile

OdaBear Mon 29-Aug-11 14:24:14

Thanks NigellaLawless, and thanks to everyone else. I am pretty sure that I have it covered, but just wanted to test the water out there for any snippets I may have neglected to consider. If there is anything that anyone else thinks of, I would be most grateful.

Much love xx

spudulika Mon 29-Aug-11 15:23:59

OdaBear - not all antenatal classes are about disseminating information. Some of them are more focused on exploring anxieties and expectations of the birth and the changes you'll go through in the next few months. In other words, it's about emotional preparation for becoming a parent.

Don't assume that your professional knowledge will make you more confident as a new mum. It doesn't always.

notcitrus Mon 29-Aug-11 15:27:14

Just for reference, not trying to persuade you:
I didn't get any NHS classes as they were full when I booked in.

I signed up for the NCT course as friends told me to, and for me it was fantastically useful. The five friends were a bonus, but what I learnt despite lots of reading etc:
Lots of pictures, anecdotes and getting to practice 'breastfeeding' dolls, in a way that really normalised it for me and I could picture myself being in a cafe and feeding my baby - I'd seen it done once and only knew one woman who had breastfed.
Lots of details about the hospital you didn't get from them, such as the huge shock to me that my partner/interpreter wouldn't be allowed to stay with me after birth - so I had time to raise that with the hospital and make arrangements. It would never have occurred to me otherwise.
Pictures and roleplay of what theatre and a CS look like. I had some clue but meant when I ended up in theatre (no CS in the end), I remained calm.
Talking through emotions in groups of just women and just partners, and sharing the worries across groups. Once we realised that all our menfolk were terrified about money and supporting the family, we could communicate better - and they could look after us better.
How to change a nappy - I'd never done that. Lots on how to cope with a baby and yourself in the first 3 months, which was really useful, and a demo with a tape of a baby crying for 15-20 minutes so we could experience how we reacted and think of things to do and ways to cope. The babycare bit was really useful for me but if you've done lots with babies, then less so.

Tbh, looking up support groups and baby groups in advance would be even more useful - an unpleasant surprise when ds was about 10 days old was that all 3 breastfeeding helplines generally go straight to answerphone, you're lucky if they call back that day, and of the bf counsellors you can go visit, two had moved without telling them. The nearest one was 2 bus rides and over an hour away and I live in London!

Best wishes.

OdaBear Mon 29-Aug-11 15:58:27

Spudulika, please don't assume that because I have professional knowledge, I assume that I am going to be a confident mum. I don't. I have no emotional concerns or anxieties which are out of the ordinary for a new mum-to-be.

My main concerns for not attending antenatal classes were purely for information-gathering. So if there were any of those aspects that I had neglected to look into, I was curious to find out what they were.

Saffra Mon 29-Aug-11 19:17:13

I found antenatal classes really good for getting DH and I 'into the zone'. NCT classes more so than our local NHS ones.

I am, by nature, big on information gathering. But, for me, I felt it really useful to put all the pieces of info together in another context and reflect on this through discussion with other couples going through the same experiences, which I didn't really get from internet research or reading books. Sorry - longwinded sentence there!

But, ultimately it's up to you. It's not essential for everyone, however, I think it's good for the mental preparation side of things.

Saffra Mon 29-Aug-11 19:22:18

Oh, agree about antenatal yoga too.

drcrab Mon 29-Aug-11 19:37:31

We did the NCT classes and we found them v useful in the 'getting into the zone' sense of the word. I'm big on information gathering (am an academic) so very happy to read anyway. But the classes often on opportunity to talk baby stuff with other women who were going through them at the same time as me and it allowed DH to go along with the men too.
3 years on we still keep in touch with them and if anything have a v wide circle of friends with babies (from this group of 6 women we now know others through them, birthday parties, swim classes, gym, nursery etc) and I work ft!
I bf till 23 months and it was reassuring to see other women bf before me, having similar problems etc. We talked 'poo' and crying and sleep (reassuringly not having to bore my other friends with that).
I can see where you're coming from so it's up to you at the end of the day but fwiw even though I didn't do antenatal classes with DD (11 months old) I did go along to antenatal swim classes and visited hospitals (as I was going for a vbac). I still had many questions for hv and mw and I think with every baby it's a different experience.

QTPie Mon 29-Aug-11 21:10:20

Prenatal yoga was really fab. I did it from 15 weeks until a few days before delivery. My teacher also did a 1/2 day "with partners" workshop on a Saturday (breathing techniques, massage, relaxation etc) which was excellent. I ended up with an ELCS, but I actually used the relaxation/breathing techniques during that it it helped a lot.

We also did NCT classes and would recommend them to all first timers. I wouldn't say that I learnt anything new (although husband sure did!!!), but the bonding with other couples EXACTLY in the same position was invaluable: husband was meeting other "expectant first time fathers" for the first time and all of us still get on really well (well 7 out of 8 couples - we hold "tea and cakes" once every two weeks and try different baby/toddler classes together etc).

I think that a lot has changed - in childcare - since our parents had newborns (my Mum is very out of date, but my MIL is quite a lot better - she has fostered babies more recently). I also find that even new parents "forget" things quite quickly: your view changes an awful lot from when you had a newborn, to a one year old, to a toddler. Someone who had a newborn a year or two ago - or who is on a second child - probably wont identify with the same anxieties that a new, first time parent will have... When you have a newborn, you tend to live very much in the immediate "here and now" and having other people there with you (and completely understanding) makes things a lot easier.

From a "knowledge gathering" point of view, I found "What to Expect when you are Expecting" and "What to Expect during the First Year" were the best books. "Secrets of a Baby Whisperer" was really excellent for working out "what an earth to do" and "The Contented Little Baby Book" also provided some inspiration (although I don't agree with quite a lot of GF's idea/methods, my LO has consistently naturally gravitated towards the routines that GF has documented... so there must be something in it!).

Intellectually tackling birth and newborn care is very effective (I found), but books don't tell you everything and babies don't always align themselves with conventional intellectual reason (I think that I was very lucky). At times like that, people in the same boat are pretty useful.

Good Luck

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