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Pregnancy care - Antenatal classes

NHS Choices Medical Reference

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Antenatal classes are sessions that can help you to prepare for the arrival of your baby. They are a good chance to meet some of the professionals involved in your care, talk about things that are worrying you and ask any questions.

Antenatal classes give you information about labour and birth and the choices available to you and can help you to plan your own birth. As well as being informative, classes are often informal and fun and a chance to make friends with other expectant mothers.

In some areas there are antenatal classes for women whose first language is not english, for single mums and for younger mums.

The following topics are covered:

  • health in pregnancy,
  • what happens during labour and birth,
  • coping with labour and pain relief,
  • exercises to keep you fit during pregnancy and help you in labour,
  • relaxation,
  • caring for your baby, including feeding,
  • your health after birth,
  • your emotions during pregnancy and after birth, and
  • refresher classes for second-time mums.

When classes start

Classes are available from early on in your pregnancy, but most women start going to classes about eight to ten weeks before their baby is due. Classes are once a week for one or two hours. Some classes are for expectant mothers only and others welcome partners or friends as well.

Classes available

Classes vary depending on the area you live in. They may be run by your local hospital, community midwife or health visitor, your GP or your health centre. The National Childbirth Trust (NCT) also runs classes across the country. Some antenatal classes are free and others charge a small fee.

Go to the NCT website for more information on the antenatal classes they offer.

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