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Ante-Natal Classes - Are they necessary?

Are ante-natal classes necessary?Congratulations! You are now pregnant and are about to be bombarded with information from everybody that hears your exciting news. Everyone will have some advice – some good and some not so – and everyone will have a horror story to share with you which should be ignored.

One of the topics that is bound to be raised is that of antenatal classes or child birth education groups as they are sometimes referred to. Your gynae may encourage you to join a group that he is familiar with but often it is left up to the mum–to–be and this is often where the indecision lies.

Most people, when envisaging antenatal classes, think of a lesson in breathing and pushing and encouraging a natural delivery only. You maybe told that if you are planning a Caesar, they are a complete waste of time as the Registered Nurses that run the courses are anti-Caesar and only promote natural delivery so don't bother going. Considering that South Africa has such a high Caesar rate, it would be a complete disservice if any of these classes did not discuss this birth option in detail.

A couple of clear benefits of antenatal classes can be:

  • To educate you on your birth choice as it can be a fearful experience due to the unknown
  • To inform you of all your labour choices whether it be a water birth, natural or Caesar as well as other options available to you such as the different pain control methods
Coming Home

One of the most important topics that should be covered antenatally is the home coming, but unfortunately most emphasis is on the actual birth but then what? The birth probably will be your main focus at the time (obviously!) but actually the first night home with your newborn can be even more frightening as the safe-haven of the hospital has been left behind and now it is just the two of you to deal with this tiny baby and its various needs.

Are you aware that :

  • When you get home you may be feeding your baby for up to 8 hours a day
  • That breastfeeding can hurt initially
  • That what you see in your baby's nappy if you are breast feeding is not diarrhoea but normal
  • That even if you have had a Caesar you may still have a bloody discharge for up to six weeks afterwards
Topics such as this should be discussed in antenatal classes as these are the things that are unexpected when you are at home and have no one to ask. The clinic that the antenatal classes are run through is also an important part of your newborn's life as well as yours.

It is advisable to make your antenatal choice based on the service you will receive post natally. The advice you are given should be accurate and the visits should be beneficial and not rushed. A new mother has lots of questions – is her clinic sister readily available to answer them? New mothers are not paranoid – they just don't know.

Before you make the decision NOT to do classes, do some research into what is available. Not only may you make some wonderful new friends but the whole birth and post natal experience should be a wonderful experience for you and your partner in order for you to enjoy the wonderful moments spent with your newborn.

Article supplied by Arlaine Oxenham
Babies on Beachway Ante & Post Natal care, 082 6519719