As you prepare to welcome your precious little one to the world, it’s totally normal to feel both thrilled and apprehensive about the transition to parenthood.
Fortunately, arming yourself with knowledge and practical skills can make a big difference in feeling ready for your new normal. That’s where finding the right prenatal classes is so important!
If you’re researching the best prenatal classes, you’ll quickly find there are a ton of options covering everything from childbirth preparation to breastfeeding basics. It can be tricky to determine which skills are need-to-know versus just nice-to-haves. Here are some of the key topics experts recommend prioritizing in your prenatal classes curriculum:
Labour and Birth 101
Giving birth is one of the most powerful events you’ll experience in your lifetime. Even if you’re planning an unmedicated birth, having techniques to work with your body’s natural labour process is so helpful. Look for prenatal classes that cover:
- The stages of labour so you know what to expect
- Relaxation and breathing exercises to stay calm and manage contractions
- Positions and movements that can ease pain and help labour progress
- Pain relief options – both medical (like epidurals) and natural
- Coaching a partner to be your birth support system
- When to go to the hospital, and what happens once you’re admitted
Knowing what’s “normal” during labour and birth helps you feel less anxious. And having coping methods up your sleeve builds confidence heading into the big day!
All About the “Fourth Trimester”
The first three months of your baby’s life outside the womb is considered the “fourth trimester.” It’s a period of huge transition that brings big physical and emotional changes. Excellent prenatal classes will walk you through the following:
- What newborns are like in those very first days and weeks
- How to care for a fragile infant, including techniques like diapering, bathing, soothing, etc.
- What physical and emotional changes to expect as your body recovers
- How your relationship with your partner may evolve
- How to cope with the many changes and potential “baby blues.”
- Establishing breastfeeding and tips for getting enough rest
The more you know about the fourth trimester, the less shocking you’ll find this new parenting frontier!
Infant Safety and First Aid Basics
Nothing is more important than keeping your precious babe safe. Prenatal classes should cover safety precautions like:
- Creating a protected sleep environment and avoiding SIDS risks
- Car seat installation and car safety best practices
- Baby-proofing your home as a crawling baby approaches
- Identifying and responding to medical issues like fever, vomiting, diarrhoea, etc.
- Infant first aid and CPR – what to do if your baby is choking or needs rescue breathing
- When to call your paediatrician versus seek emergency help
You’ll breathe easier knowing how to handle both minor issues and true emergencies. And you’ll never regret taking a thorough first aid course!
Adjusting Your Lifestyle and Relationship
Adding a tiny human being to your life is a magical, rewarding change – but make no mistake, it’s a massive lifestyle change too. Excellent prenatal classes address topics like:
- Sharing childcare duties with your partner and getting help when you need it
- Balancing self-care while also caring for a newborn
- Getting sleep in the early days
- Making time for your relationship when the baby is the new priority
- Managing visitors and time with family/friends
- Pacing yourself and lowering standards to avoid burnout
Remember, the transition to parenthood is very much a marathon, not a sprint! Adjusting expectations now makes it smoother sailing.
Postpartum Mental Health Awareness
Many women experience what’s known as “postpartum blues” within a few days of giving birth, thanks to the huge hormone shifts. It usually resolves in two weeks. But longer-lasting postpartum depression and anxiety affect up to 1 in 7 new mothers. Quality prenatal classes will help you:
- Recognize the signs & symptoms so you can get help promptly if needed
- Understand the many factors that influence perinatal mood disorders
- Learn coping skills to keep new mom stress under control
- Get informed on treatment options, from therapy to medication
- Destigmatize postpartum mental health struggles so ALL new moms feel supported
You’ll prepare both your mind and body for the demands of motherhood.
If you plan to breastfeed, having skilled guidance on getting started is so valuable. Your prenatal classes should offer the following:
- An overview of how milk supply is established and the science behind breastfeeding
- Proper positioning and latching techniques
- Tips for ensuring baby is effectively feeding
- Advice for pumping, storing, and bottle feeding breastmilk
- Troubleshooting challenges like soreness, low supply, and more
When you know what to expect with breastfeeding, you can navigate the learning curve with less stress and frustration.
Hands-On Practice Opportunities
Book learning will only get you so far. The best prenatal classes also provide the chance to practice essential skills through hands-on exercises like:
- Swaddling and diapering newborn dolls
- Using sample car seats to perfect installation
- Reviewing real hospital intake forms, you’ll encounter
- Relaxation and breathing techniques
- Positioning a partner for labour massage and hip squeezes
- Using breastfeeding pillows to find optimal latching positions
These experiential activities help cement what you’ve studied. You gain muscle memory and confidence that carries over beautifully after the baby arrives!
Surrounding yourself with other expecting couples provides camaraderie and allows you to learn from their questions too. Look for prenatal classes that help you:
- Bond with other parents-to-be
- Share resources, tips, and product recommendations
- Explore concerns in an open, judgment-free environment
- Develop your support network to call on after birth
- Reassure each other that every pre-parent feels nervous!
You’re all in this together – and connecting with fellow newbie moms and dads builds a community that can continue long after your prenatal education ends.
There are many excellent prenatal class options out there. But for the absolute best experience, consider prenatal classes led by midwives themselves. Midwives receive specialized training to guide women through pregnancy, birth, and the postpartum period. Their expertise and credentials set them apart.
For example, The Parents Class is the only antenatal course provider in the UK that offers sessions in their prenatal classes focusing on upright birthing positions and regenerative health – led by registered midwives. Their one-of-a-kind classes are grounded in midwifery experience.
Expecting moms want to feel fully supported, understood, and empowered. Who better to provide that than professionals who dedicate their careers to pregnancy, birth, and early parenting?
Investing in midwife-designed and led prenatal classes is truly priceless.
Prepare Your Mind, Body, and Life
Though it’s called “labour”, bringing a new life into the world is anything but work. It’s a life-altering, love-bursting miracle. The right education and support during your prenatal classes allow you to tune out fear and anxiety, so you can be fully present for each moment.