The Complete Guide to Antenatal Classes: Everything You Need to Know


Pregnancy lasts nine months but can feel like a million years.

All you can think about is meeting your bundle of joy and bringing them home. Which parent will they look like? What will their personality be? 

But motherhood doesn’t only start once your baby is born.

Pregnancy is a long journey as you nurture your growing baby for nine months. You will have to care for your mind and your body as it expands and goes through dynamic changes.

At the same time, you have to deal with all the planning for your little one’s arrival and think about postnatal care. You need to decorate the nursery and make sure you have everything you need to welcome a newborn

There is also a lot to learn about the adventure that awaits.

Having a newborn does not need to be overwhelming. The best way to prepare is to take an antenatal class to learn everything you need to know during pregnancy, labour, and after birth.

This article will look at antenatal class benefits and other methods of preparing for your baby’s birth.

What Is an Antenatal Class?

Did you know that around 60,000 women give birth per year in New Zealand?

There is nothing rare about pregnancy. Those who already have babies know what to expect. But for thousands of women experiencing it for the first time, it is momentous.

Nothing you may have heard or seen can replace living through it. You may feel a mixture of joy and apprehension.

There is so much to deal with. Your body will undergo mind-bending changes. You have to go through the process of giving birth and then parent a whole new being.

Antenatal classes are there to guide you towards motherhood. They will teach you everything you need to know about being pregnant and how to care for a newborn. They will boost your confidence as you prepare for this new adventure.

Another key benefit of antenatal classes is that they will connect you with other women who are going through the same thing. It is an excellent opportunity to make new friends with which to share your journey and who can offer you support.

In New Zealand, the government provides free antenatal classes from 28 weeks of pregnancy that are run by midwives. However, there are numerous private classes which could be run by a doula, yoga teacher, physiotherapist, or lactation expert.

Here are some examples of antenatal class topics.

1) Pregnancy Care

Pregnancy will do a variety of weird and wonderful things to your body. Your heart will grow bigger to pump more blood around your body, and your feet will grow. Your organs will shift around, your joints will loosen, and you can end up with an aching, swollen body.

During antenatal classes, you will learn how to take care of your body and mind. This can include important information on how to follow a healthy diet. You could also get tips on staying fit during your pregnancy.

You will also learn about pregnancy-related products that could ease the journey. A belly band could help support your lower back and abdomen, especially in the later stages of pregnancy. 

There are also ways to ease morning sickness and special pillows you can buy to keep you more comfortable.

Pregnancy massage can also be highly beneficial to help with body pains and swelling. You can find such natural therapies at a luxury spa in Auckland or a special pregnancy spa in NZ.

2) Labour

The most prominent thought on any pregnant women’s mind is how they will survive labour. You may have heard horror stories from your friends and seen images that can stoke your anxiety.

Studies have shown that women who attend antenatal classes experience a lower level of fear about the pain of giving birth. 

In an antenatal class, you will learn what to expect during labour and delivery. This will include pain relief options. You will also learn how to formulate a birth plan. 

If you choose to give birth in a hospital, you will understand how this will go and what medications and procedures you will be offered. However, you may select another option, such as a gentle water birth, which you can do at home or at a special centre.

Active birth is another technique that has grown in popularity and that your midwife might discuss in an antenatal class. 

Other things you might learn are specific exercises to strengthen your body for the labour process.

3) Parenting

During an antenatal class, you will receive tips and advice to help you take care of a newborn. This can include how to handle your baby. You will need to learn specific things about how to hold a newborn, such as supporting the head and neck.

You will learn how to bathe a baby, which can seem intimidating. You will also get tips on changing a nappy and know what supplies you need to do so. You will need to learn different techniques depending on whether the baby is a girl or a boy.

Swaddling and soothing a baby are other things on which you can receive advice.

Antenatal classes can also include information on how to feed your baby, whether you choose formula feeding or breastfeeding. In-depth classes on breastfeeding are also an option.

Some classes might go take a more in-depth look at the changes you can expect in your life and relationship once the baby arrives.

Role of Dads and Partners

As a father-to-be or a partner to a pregnant woman, you might wonder where you fit in during the antenatal period.

Many men feel unprepared for the arrival of a new baby, and antenatal classes can be a great time to get more involved. You can get insight into what the mother is going through and learn how you can assist her during the birth.

Many of the valuable tips about caring for a baby will also apply to you. This can create a more equitable balance of care for the baby and strengthen your relationship. 

During antenatal classes, you will learn to coach and support your partner and also develop skills to be a good father.

Meeting other dads will also provide you with a support group and new friends who are going through the same challenges.

Types of Antenatal Classes

When you are choosing an antenatal class, you will find there are several different types. You might find everything from a classic program lasting several weeks to a mothering workshop focusing on one specific topic.

Here are some of the options you may come across:

  • Antenatal yoga or exercise classes
  • Antenatal swimming classes
  • Lamaze classes to learn breathing techniques
  • Breastfeeding workshops
  • Hypnobirthing classes to manage pain
  • Refresher class if you already have children
  • Water birth classes
  • Active birth classes
  • Same-sex workshops

If you are welcoming twins or even more babies at once, you should be able to find classes geared towards managing these pregnancies. It is a good idea to take a specific class as multiple births can be more complex. You will also need advice on managing more than one baby.

Further Pregnancy and Postnatal Care

Antenatal classes are vital but don’t forget to take time to pamper yourself. Pregnancy can be magical but challenging, and there are various ways to make it more comfortable. 

A luxury spa will offer pregnancy massage but also beauty treatments such as facials and pedicures. These will use products that are formulated for pregnant women.

Once your baby arrives, the next stage begins. Antenatal classes will prepare you as much as possible. However, you will still have to recover from the physical aspects of giving birth. 

If you had a natural birth, you might still be suffering from joint pain and back aches. Meanwhile, if you had a caesarean section, you will be taking care of a newborn while recovering from major surgery.

In both cases, a postnatal massage can have enormous benefits. This has become popular for helping a mother recover from the physical process of giving birth. It can also pamper you and help you relax, which is crucial in the challenging first months after your baby arrives.

It also promotes lymphatic drainage and can aid in breastfeeding.  

Fully Prepared for Baby

If you are a first-time parent or need a refresher, there are many options to prepare for your baby’s arrival. There is no need to feel overwhelmed by all the changes coming your way. 

Various antenatal classes will answer any questions you may have. This will allow you to relax and enjoy your pregnancy while confidently preparing for motherhood.

Bella Mama offers a pregnancy spa in Auckland that will pamper your changing body, and several classes to get you ready for your newborn.

Contact us for your antenatal and postnatal needs.

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