Antenatal Education – Starts from the moment you find out you are pregnant.
Guest Blog written by Emma Trollope from PBB Events.
Hi! My name is Emma Trollope, I am a midwife and have been working within the NHS for the past 13 years. With my mum (who is also a midwife) we run the Pregnancy Birth and Beyond Events Company – PBB Events. For the past 18 months we have drawn on our vast knowledge of antenatal education, from working, teaching parents, and mentoring students within the NHS. This vast experience over the years has enabled us to create events to help empower expectant and new parents, support them and provide them with information to be able to make informed choices to have a positive pregnancy and birth experience. It has also enabled us to provide courses for birth professionals to help keep them up to date on their knowledge and introduce interesting topics.
Antenatal education is a huge part of the pregnancy experience and we feel pregnant women and their partners are entitled to realistic and affordable classes. Antenatal education’s purpose is to prepare expectant parents for pregnancy, birth and the postpartum period.
Antenatal education is recommended by healthcare professionals around the world, and there are many different courses to choose from. The research around what the benefits of attending antenatal education is lacking. A Cochrane review in 2007 suggested antenatal education did not make a difference to the way a women birthed (vaginal delivery, instrumental or caesarean section) however from other studies and our experience it can make a big difference to a couple having a baby, helping to reduce the fear of childbirth, reducing the false labour admissions, and increasing partner involvement.
But actually, the antenatal education starts from the moment you find out your pregnant….
At your booking appointment (usually before 10 weeks of pregnancy) you will be given information about screening options for mum and baby, your diet in pregnancy, foods to avoid, foods to increase, vitamin D and ferrous sulphate, exercise, plan of care for your pregnancy, contact numbers and when to be concerned. As well as options around place of birth, dental care, safety at home, starting to think about feeding your baby and risk assessments at work to name a few. That sounds like a lot to cover in one appointment doesn’t it? Well, it is, and most women come out of that appointment feeling overloaded with information!
Some of this information you may have chosen to read up on beforehand, or you may know if you have been pregnant before. If it is all new, do not worry you will be given leaflets and there is more information and links in your handheld maternity notes that you will be asked to carry round with you and take to every appointment, and I have included some great websites at the end of this blog for further reading. Some hospitals may have gone completely paperless and in this circumstance you will be asked to download and app.
All this information is important though so you can make choices about the kind of care you will receive during your pregnancy, what kind of screening you would like, if any, and to ensure you have the healthiest pregnancy possible for you and baby.
Throughout your pregnancy approximately every 4 weeks or so you should have an appointment with a midwife or obstetrician to complete a check up on how you are doing physically and mentally as well as following the development of the baby.
Even if your pregnancy is classed as high risk and you need to see an obstetric consultant, we would recommend you make some of your appointments in between to see your midwife as well. Different information is given at different appointments as it is relevant to different weeks of pregnancy. Doctors appointments tend to focus on the medical issue that you may be at risk of or going through where as at a midwife appointment you can have discussions about things like further screening for you and baby as well as talking over your birth preferences and plans for postnatal care as well as an opportunity to discuss the plan the consultant has documented for you.
There are sooooo many types of formal antenatal education available that will go over preparation for labour, birth and the first few weeks with your new-born. You can even find your own sources of information via You Tube, websites, or books (just be careful that you make sure they are reputable, trustworthy places).
Some you pay for, and some are free, some are face to face while others virtual. You can book classes with other parents or if you prefer you can go for a one to one session. A few of them include some kind of exercise like Pilates or yoga as well as being packed full of information and others focus on techniques to help you in labour like hypnobirthing.
Then there are the more traditional classes, some taught by midwives, like ours, which can be a course of classes over several weeks or individual modules. Individual modules on caesarean section, induction of labour or feeding can be especially good if you are not a first-time mum and just want to remind yourself about different aspects of labour and birth or life with a new baby. Perhaps you have done another type of class and want to top it up with a specific subject which matches your circumstances or risk factors.
With so much choice you need to think about what you want. How you learn best. Do you want to form a support network by meeting other expectant parents. Do you want it to be interactive with a facilitator and to be able to ask questions live or do you prefer just to sit and listen to a pre-recorded video. Whatever your choice there is something out there for you, just ask.
What we do know is that when women and their partners who feel prepared for birth and know about the possible complications that can arise, they feel more equipped to be actively involved in the decision making during their pregnancy, labour and birth. This decreases the fear of childbirth and parents end up with a much more positive experience, so it is well worth preparing yourself in which ever way you feel right for you.
Thank you so much for reading.
Emma & Debbie Trollope owners of PBB Events
Events run by Midwives for Pregnancy, Birth & Beyond.
Please head to our website for more information and helpful blogs from us and the women we have supported during their pregnancy and parenting journeys www.pbbevents.com
As promised we have popped some other websites that we think you would find really useful for further information.