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  • Antenatal classes – are they worth it?

    Antenatal classes are designed to prepare expecting parents for the journey into parenthood. They are also sometimes referred to as prenatal classes, pregnancy classes or birthing classes.

    What do you learn in antenatal classes?

    Antenatal classes are educational programs that focus on preparing expecting parents for labour and the early stages of parenthood. They can vary in format and style but are most commonly group-based, run over several weeks with each class being 2-3 hours long and will cover:

    • How to prepare for labour, what the signs and different stages are
    • Different birthing positions and breathing and relaxation techniques to use during labour
    • Breastfeeding
    • How to care for a newborn

    These days, there are also other antenatal education classes available such as physio classes for early stage pregnant women that teach how to:

    • Care for their back during pregnancy
    • Exercise the pelvic floor and core
    • Exercise safely during pregnancy
    • Relieve common physical discomforts of pregnancy

    Where can I take antenatal classes and how much do they cost?

    Antenatal classes are offered by most hospitals as well as some private women’s health organisations. The cost of antenatal classes can vary significantly depending on the provider – some hospitals may offer it for free to first time parents, while other programs average around $250.

    At Sunnybank Centre for Women, we offer bulk-billed one-on-one antenatal classes with a dedicated midwife.

    When you’re weighing up your options, I would recommend asking or researching the following questions:

    • What topics does the program cover?
    • How long do they spend on each topic?
    • How big are the class sizes?
    • Who is teaching or running the program?
    • How interactive or hands-on is the program?

    As a starting point, I would recommend checking out what your hospital offers first as the classes will likely be run by midwives or other experienced professionals employed by the hospital and may help you familiarise yourself with the hospital’s maternity ward and facilities. For example, all three of the hospitals I have admission rights to offer antenatal classes:

    • Sunnybank Private Hospital runs a 4-week childbirth education program as well as physio classes
    • Greenslopes Private Hospital run a full day childbirth education class, and a 3 hour C-section class

    Are they worth it?

    Whether or not antenatal classes are worthwhile for you is an entirely personal decision. Some of the common reasons parents choose to take antenatal classes are because they:

    • ..are first time parents

    First time parents often benefit from the process as it can be a less overwhelming way to learn new information or reinforce informations so that you feel more prepared.

    • ..want to familiarise themselves with the hospital

    Classes run by the hospital can be a good way for you to understand how the hospital works, what their processes are and the layout of the facilities.

    • ..want to meet other expecting parents

    Do you have a strong support network of friends or family who are also going through early stage parenthood?

    On the other hand, some parents may not need to take antenatal classes at all because they already feel adequately informed or already have access to plenty of other resources. For example, my patients can already access bulk-billed one-on-one classes with a dedicated midwife at Sunnybank Women’s Centre. Many of them can feel that this is more than enough, and will opt out of taking separate antenatal classes with their hospital.

    Antenatal classes can be a great way to prepare to welcome your first child, but there are also many other ways and resources you can access to get the information you need.

    Dr Joseph Jabbour Fertility SpecialistAs an experienced obstetrician, Dr Joseph Jabbour is your specialist support through the pregnancy journey – providing you with professional advice and compassionate care. He offers private consultations at the Sunnybank Centre for Women and The Wesley Hospital in Brisbane, and has admission rights to Sunnybank Private Hospital, Greenslopes Private Hospital, and the Mater Brisbane.