For many women in the early stages of their pregnancy, thoughts automatically turn to birth classes.
A fantastic way to help you prepare for your impending arrival, birthing classes, also known as antenatal classes, offers moms-to-be both information and confidence.
However, if this is your first time giving birth, you may be wondering exactly when is the best time to take such classes?
Consequently, this may not be your first time experiencing childbirth. But you may have decided to forgo such birthing classes in previous pregnancies and now want to take them.
Here we offer some practical guidance as to the best time to begin these vital sessions.
When Do Most Antenatal Classes Typically Start?
Though you may be keen to get started with your birthing classes, you may well find that some are run from specific stages of your pregnancy.
Some sessions are classed as baby introductory classes. These can start from as early on as a few weeks to a few months into your pregnancy.
However, the majority of birthing classes will tend to begin around 8 to 12 weeks before childbirth.
This means you can likely expect to find antenatal classes offered to you at around the 30th to 32nd week of your pregnancy.
Taking Antenatal Classes Earlier Than Usual
There may be some circumstances whereby you’ll want to get onto a designated birthing class earlier than the standard 30 to 32 weeks of your pregnancy.
A great example of such a time is if you find yourself pregnant with twins or more!
For these such pregnancies, your midwife should be able to inform you of possible antenatal classes that cater to women who are expecting multiple pregnancies.
Because of the very nature of multiple pregnancies and the possibility you’ll deliver earlier than usual here, these classes start at around the 24th week of pregnancy.
It’s therefore essential to ensure that you enquire early on in your pregnancy about antenatal classes if you find yourself carrying more than one baby. This is especially important as there will be many processes and, indeed, information that will relate mainly to your birth type as opposed to a single baby pregnancy.
For these such reasons, time is of the essence when selecting that best birthing class.
What to Consider Before Choosing Your Birthing Class
As you begin to search for baby classes near me, you may want to take some time to ensure that you’re fully prepared for such sessions.
Most importantly, you’ll want to have made a note in your birth plan of what types of cases you’re not just keen to attend but what you want to get out of these classes specifically.
Having a baby is an experience that varies greatly from each expectant mother. Therefore, the best antenatal class will be one that’s tailored to the result of your impending birth.
You may have already decided that you want a particular type of birth, such as a water birth or hypnobirthing, for example.
So, it’s good practice to find out ahead of time whether your potential antenatal class will cover such birth types during your sessions.
If you know beforehand that this isn’t to be the case, you’ll give yourself plenty of time to look for a class that does factor them in.
What to Look Out for in Potential Antenatal Classes
Regardless of the time you start your antenatal lessons, the more important issues about such birthing classes that concern mothers-to-be usually range from:
- The specific type of antenatal class on offer
- Where the classes are to be held
- Whether a partner can attend these classes
- Whether a doula or birthing coach can attend
- What information the classes are willing to part with
- How many other mothers/parents will be in each lesson?
- What times and dates are available to fit into your schedule?
- Whether the classes are held during the day or at night
- What birth types do the classes cover?
- If you’ve already attended a birthing class with previous pregnancies, you may want to seek out those offering refresher classes (these aren’t as detailed but equally important in providing the most updated and vital information this time around)
The Basics Covered in Most Birthing Classes
Similarly, before you begin your search for potential birth classes, you may want to draw up a sort of tick list of what you’re keen on learning about during such antenatal sessions.
As a guide, the very basics a standard birthing class should cover includes:
- The health of the mother-to-be during pregnancy
- What you can to do to keep yourself healthy and active during your pregnancy
- Information, both written and visual on what can happen during labor
- What types of pain relief can help you through labor and delivery?
- Techniques to cope with the first stages of labor naturally – including how you can help yourself with breathing exercises and relaxation techniques
- Information on the various types of births available to you and of any potential interventions
- What to expect after the birth?
- How to care for and feed your baby
- The emotions and feelings of both the mother-to-be before, during, and after childbirth – as well as that of your partners.
How Can I Find Out More About Starting Birthing Classes?
For the most informative and relevant information about when to begin birthing classes, your midwife will be your go-to expert here.
All pregnant women should be offered first-class information regarding potential antenatal classes in their local area during a routine midwife visit.
Such information here is vital as it will usually offer free classes in a local area to suit and at the most appropriate time throughout your pregnancy. Some such courses may even have a booking procedure that you’ll need to confirm at a specific stage during your pregnancy to be guaranteed a place on them.
With many of these taking place at the potential hospitals or birthing centers you plan to deliver at, your midwife can be a valuable source of information.
Also, should you have any special requirements regarding such classes, it’s your midwife who can suggest alternative class types.