What are Antenatal Classes?

Antenatal classes can help you and your partner to prepare for labour, birth and early parenthood.

Some antenatal classes will focus mostly on labour and birth, while others will guide you through late pregnancy, and on what life with a newborn baby may be like.

Your midwife will recommend that you go along to antenatal classes and breastfeeding workshops if you can. They may help you have a better birth experience, as well as prepare you for coping in the early weeks after the birth. It's ideal if the class size is small (less than 20 participants), so you and your partner can take an active part in them.

Classes that are either run by NHS midwives, or are paid for by the NHS, usually take place at hospitals or children's centres. They tend to be large groups, so they may focus on providing information rather than encouraging participation. It may help to ask your midwife what the class size is, so you know what to expect.

Why do I need to go to Antenatal Classes

Though they aren't compulsory, antenatal classes can help you and your partner to focus on your pregnancy, and prepare for labour and birth. If your classes address early parenthood, you'll also be better prepared for the practicalities, and the highs and lows, of parenthood.

You'll also meet other parents-to-be during the sessions. Some classes are booked according to your due date, so you'll meet women or couples whose babies will be born at a similar time.