Education for pregnancy and parenting
Despite popular belief, with no thanks to Hollywood movies, antenatal classes do not simply involve a group of people sitting on yoga mats breathing, moaning and counting. In reality, structured classes are designed to provide expectant parents with a thorough understanding of the journey ahead, by providing evidence based education and resources. Antenatal classes include education on areas such as physiology of pregnancy, labour, birth and the postnatal period – but are not limited to being just ‘about birth’. While yes, topics such as physiological changes, hormone release and natural coping mechanisms will be discussed, classes also include information such as birthing options, natural and medicated pain relief, and clinical indications for intervention. Further, there is invaluable information about being a parent, newborn babies, normal behaviours and changes, feeding, and access resources for community supports that are an essential asset once you take your baby home.
More than ever before, women are now seeking information and wanting to make informed choices. The trouble that comes with that is that the content and delivery of that information varies significantly in both its evidence basis and relevance to a woman’s situation. The outcome of having 24hour access to internet-based ‘information’ is that there is now two strong movements in relation to options, decision-making and childbirth; and these fall at opposite ends of the spectrum. Unfortunately a large majority of content found on the internet, whether it be via news articles or social media, is negative, and consequently instills fear in women and families in relation to pregnancy and childbirth, again, at both ends of the spectrum.
At one end there is an overarching sense of pregnancy and childbirth being a very dangerous thing, ripe with risks and complications. Alternately there is trepidation regarding the over-medicalisation of pregnancy and childbirth and an idea that unnecessary interventions will be performed without consent, and take away from the natural aspect of having a baby. Both of these ideations result in fear, misunderstanding, and thus poor experiences.
Antenatal classes should be considered a fundamental part of pregnancy, as there is overwhelming evidence to support prenatal education improving birthing experience and outcomes. Well-structured antenatal classes should aim to break down these barriers by providing balanced evidenced-based education delivered by qualified professionals with both experience founded knowledge and recent clinical practice. Educators will discuss both the natural aspects of having a baby and similarly discuss the specific clinical situations where intervention may be required. Our priority is the same as yours, delivering a healthy baby to a happy and healthy mother and family.
A common element of scrutiny of antenatal education is that the class will be tailored too heavily toward a natural, no intervention approach. However, while midwives do aim to normalize childbirth, information should not be bias, as it is not up to midwives to decide what is best for you. Our job is to educate you about the physiology of pregnancy, labour and birth and to allow you to seek information that is relevant to your situation. Antenatal classes can help you get the information to help you make choices and decisions that are right for your around the type of birth you want as well as helping you make choices in the evolving nature of pregnancy and birth. Whether it’s an cesarean section or aiming for a birth with no pharmacological pain relief, if you have received adequate education about these things, then it is up to you to make informed decisions about what is right for you.
For this reason, Kindred’s education sessions are delivered a little differently. We have structured the sessions into topical modules, so that it is up to you to be able to attend topics that you are interested in, and that you feel will make your experience more positive. You can see more about this in our ‘education’ tab and via the ‘whats on’ section.
Nobody can anticipate the exact path your pregnancy, labour, birth and journey into parenthood will take. But to be as best informed as you can be is the most advantageous way to start you family.