Pregnancy and baby

Antenatal classes

What can I do during pregnancy to make birth easier?

Media last reviewed: 20/03/2014

Next review due: 20/03/2016

Antenatal classes (sometimes called parentcraft classes) can help you to prepare for your baby’s birth and learn to look after and feed your baby. They can help you to stay healthy during pregnancy, and give you confidence and information. You can learn about the different arrangements for labour and birth, and the choices available to you. This can help you to make your own birth plan. You may also meet some of the people who will look after you during labour.

You'll be able to discuss your plans and any worries with professionals and with other parents. Classes are also a good way to make friends with other parents who are expecting babies around the same time as you. These friendships often help parents through the first few months with a baby. Classes are usually informal and fun. 

Choosing an antenatal class

Think about what you hope to gain from antenatal classes so that you can find the sort of class that suits you best. Places in antenatal classes can get booked up early, so it's a good idea to start making enquiries early in pregnancy so that you can secure a place in the class that you choose. You can attend more than one class. Ask your midwife, health visitor or GP, or contact the NCT, formerly known as the National Childbirth Trust. The NCT may charge for antenatal classes. 

Speak to your community midwife if you can't go to classes. The midwife may be able to lend you a video or DVD about antenatal care, or you may be able to rent or buy one. You can see if there are any available in your local library.

What happens in antenatal classes

You might be able to attend introductory classes on baby care early in pregnancy, but most antenatal classes start around 8-10 weeks before your baby is due, when you are around 30-32 weeks pregnant. If you're expecting twins, start your classes when you're around 24 weeks pregnant because your babies are more likely to be born early. Some units offer antenatal classes for women expecting multiples – ask your midwife about this.

You and your baby could benefit from a regular routine. It's easy to join a group near you or find online support on baby routines and more. Visit the CANparent website or phone 0808 800 1102

Classes are normally held once a week, either during the day or in the evening, for around two hours. Some classes are for pregnant women only. Others welcome partners or friends to some or all of the sessions. In some areas, there are classes for single mothers, teenagers or women whose first language is not English.

The kinds of topics covered by antenatal classes are:

Some classes cover all these topics. Others focus on certain aspects, such as exercises and relaxation, or caring for your baby.

The number of different antenatal classes available varies from place to place. 

Children's Centres

Children's Centres also support families with children under the age of five. They can provide:

  • easy access to antenatal care
  • health services
  • parenting and family support
  • drop-in sessions
  • outreach services (information and advice to remote areas)
  • early education and childcare
  • links to training and employment opportunities

Find a Children's Centre in your area.

Page last reviewed: 12/01/2015

Next review due: 12/01/2017


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The 45 comments posted are personal views. Any information they give has not been checked and may not be accurate.

Peas84 said on 20 November 2014

Frankly, I would just like to say that I am completely mind boggled by this whole experience. I am 24 weeks pregnant and don't have a clue who I am supposed to see or what I am supposed to do. I have so far had 3 failed pregnancies, the last one being at 5 months so I had to endure going through the birth knowing that I was not taking my baby home at the end of it. This time, I was told that the care I would receive would be specialist care because I was 'high risk'. I have yet to even meet my midwife. When I went to the midwife at my GP's surgery she filled out my booking notes etc but told me that my care would all be through the local hospital. So far I have had multiple scans but absolutely no information, and when I try to speak to any of the staff at the scans I feel fobbed off. I have also been told I am at high risk of pre eclampsia, but to keep a look out for the signs myself. -Considering I have made all of the staff I have spoken to aware that I suffer from severe headaches and seizures generally because of health issues even when I'm not pregnant, I'm not even sure what I'm supposed to consider looking out for??
Last time I was in Hospital I asked if I could see the midwife that the hospital has assigned to me, and the nurse looked at me as if what I was asking was a completely foreign concept!!
-I still haven't met them!! The only thing I find even remotely comforting in this situation is that in reading all of the other posts I'm not the only person in this boat!! -hardly a comforting thought though, I'm up the creek without a paddle, but at least there's a load of other pregnant ladies with me!!
I feel like all of the useful information I have found has been as a result of searching the internet. The best help I've had so far has been the response from mothers. If in doubt, hassle the doctors, nurses and midwives until you get a response. -They may think I'm a pain in the arse or a nuisance, but this is something fundamentally important.

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BaxterFreddie said on 17 October 2014

Reading some of the comments below I felt like I had to speak up.
I guess it depends on where you live but my experience has been wholly positive. My designated midwives share their mobile numbers with mums-to-be so you can call them if you are worried about anything. If it is out of hours you can ring the 24hour antenatal unit at the local hospital who are lovely and helpful.
I spoke to my midwife about antenatal classes and she gave me the contact details, within minutes I was booked onto the courses with no fuss.
The NHS website is for general information, it is not an exact match of what can or will happen in your area- if you want hospital specific information then give them a call and arrange a tour of the ward when it is convenient for both them and you- they will be happy to do so.
Negativity gets you nowhere, I think the hospitals and staff are working extremely hard on a tight budget and should be praised for what they accomplish.
Happy Pregnancy ladies.

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Lovebeingamummy said on 27 June 2014

BabyNatal do fantastic antenatal classes - really practical & hands on, teaching you all the skills and giving you all the information you need to take care of your new baby. Highly recommend and found all over the country (and really reasonably priced) x

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Mantaray said on 24 March 2014

Like many other posters here, I have found that the availability of NHS ante natal classes way too late.
My first available class I will be 35 +3, my final class being 38+3. At nearly 39 weeks pregnant I am not sure what use I will be able to make of information on keeping healthy during pregnancy.
More importantly all this talk of making birthing plans is totally irrelevant if you don't know what facilities the hospital has to offer.
To note I tried to register at 26 weeks exactly as advised by the hospital.
There is plenty of information on the internet that can fill in most of the gaps but none of this is hospital specific, so much of it can be irrelevant depending on where you live/what hospital you give birth in.

All the NHS seems to do is preach a lifestyle to already largely paranoid and sometimes unprepared mothers, who are made to feel like demons if they haven't lived out their pregnancy lifestyle in a certain way.
Clearly the information and resources are out there but the willingness to share this in a timely manner is not.

If the NHS is unable to provide the service then please do not provide smug unhelpful pages as to the service that should be being provided. It actually just makes perfectly capable would be mothers feel unnecessarily worried about what's to come.

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sooo_phia said on 22 December 2013

I came to this page to have more info about the classes and reading the othe comments below is not really reassuring! It seems that all mums to be all have the same opinion about the lack of information received by midwife or nhs in General.
I am 23 weeks pregnant and havent seen any midwife yet. The midwife coming once a week at my gp was always fully booked and starting from January, they actually do not allocate midwifes anymore. They had the audicity to tell me that seeing a GP is as good as a midwife. Sorry but I def do not agee. Midwifes are specialised in childbirth and my GP checks on Google for symptoms when I come in with a flu (and end up with paracetamols!!!)
Poor Service! Very disapointed! With all the taxes I paid in the last 12 years I ve been working non stop!!

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elseybee said on 08 January 2013

I find this web page quite annoying since NHS ante natal classes are not available in my area until I am 37 weeks pregnant so if the baby decides to come early I am of course concerned that I will not be properly prepared.
Before lecturing mothers to be that they should attend there should at least be some acknowledgement that this is not always possible. I would be willing to pay a reasonable amount but neither NCT nor Lazy Daisy classes are available in my area either (not within 50 miles anyway) so info above that they are available all over the country is incorrect - unless by country they mean England (I live in Scotland, south of Inverness). I am very disappointed and worried as this is my first child. All I can do is read what I can off the internet and hope for the best!

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spudcarrier said on 04 January 2013

There are some cheaper online classes available if you are not too fussed about meeting people..we did antenatal online classes. Husband really liked not having to go to a group - not for everyone I suppose but we found them useful and cheaper than other private classes in our area.

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busybusymummy said on 28 June 2012

Also, BabyCalm run antenatal classes around the country

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CherylBennett77 said on 21 June 2012

I'm 29 weeks and my question is this should I have been offered antenatal classes by my midwife or should I of arranged it myself. I did say at my initial 12 week booking in appointment that I would like to attend but nothing has been mentioned since, Now I'm thinking I won't get on an NHS one. I don't need a massive amount of info as I have had two children before (although they are teenagers now) it is more for my husbands benefit as this will be his first child.


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cate56 said on 17 June 2012

gemminx You could have a look at what else is available for you. Have a look at netmums or mumsnet. They have local listings of all antenatal classes including private ones. I have heard of Lazy Daisy and they are good for breathing and relaxation. Not sure whether they are for mums only.

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gemminx said on 11 June 2012

I have signed up for NCT classes on the recommendation from a few friends, however now am wondering if I've done the right thing. Our course is 2 Saturdays (9.30-4pm!!) one Tues (7pm-10pm) and one reunion class after baby is born...all for the tidy sum of £250!! The husband isn't impressed at all and now I'm wondering about cancelling and just going to either NHS (although they sound rubbish) or Lazy Anyone have any advice?

P.S. I don't think you should have shared care between GP and midwives as midwives are experienced, trained and helpful (in my opinion/experince) and GPs just know general health info so not as helpful if you have questions and just tell you to 'ask the midwife when you next see them'.
Also, I think you should see a midwife on a monthly basis, the gap between each visit is too long initially, especially when your a first time parent. (I'm 27 weeks tomorrow)

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BeadyBee said on 01 May 2012

I am 28 + 5 and have only today booked a one off antenatal class that runs on the weekend. The reason I have left it so late to book is more to do with a lack of information that I was given by the midwives, despite enquiring. Thankfully at my 28 week appointment one midwife asked what my plans were regarding classes and advised me that I might still find a space should I wish to do them, I had previously been under the impression that it was too late, so was pleased to find I still had the opportunity to partake.
Despite the more negative experiences and claims for these classes to be a waste of time, I have decided to go anyway as the way I see it is, its a one off class that I shall be attending, I am a new mum so I haven't got much to lose by at least giving it a try... Besides if it doesn't do much for me, my partner may well find the experience helpful!

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Babyonboard said on 19 April 2012

I found my NHS antenatal classes OK for learning about babycare and pain relief options during labour, but that was all. I also couldn't attend until 35 weeks pregnant because of demand and I couldn't afford NCT classes as they are over £200 in my area.
I attended Lazy Daisy classes instead which I highly recommend. My teacher was fab and we learnt labour techniques, how to ease pregnancy complaints like heartburn (such a lifesaver!) and loads of lovely relaxation as well as the anteanatal information. It was so reassuring to meet other pregnant ladies as well and I've made some lovely friends.
I would go to NHS classes if you have the option but don't expect too much from them, you might have to look into other options as well.

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User662075 said on 02 April 2012

I attended antenatal classes when with my 1st child. It was a waste of time.

1.They show you a video of a woman having a baby- the same one you watch at school.
2. They talk you through the process in the same way as you can read on the birth to 5 book, given at your first midwife appointment.
3. They take you round the hospital ward.

The only useful part of it was going onto the ward, as I didn't feel uncomfortable by my surroundings on the day of the birth.It is not helpful to hear other women on the ward giving birth- I walked around with my fingers jammed in my ears.

4. On the day of the birth, a Trainee midwife told me that if I didn't want gas and air, I had to focus on my breathing - she told me to breathe all the way in - then all the way out - and stay completely calm. My body found the timings and matched them to the contractions.

I have had 3 children and I have not taken gas and air -breathing like that was almost meditative - I feel like I had slept through each of the births. Even when the pain started to become unbearable i always felt in control.

Thanks to God I had no complications through the birth and I had a supportive, patient and obedient birthing partner, who stayed pressing my forehead and massaging my legs as I needed through all those hours. It all really helps.

5. Oh, and you as the new Mum must be completely honest about how you feel emotionally afterwards. More knowledge needs to be given to women and their partners about post natal depression and that was another annoying lack in the antenatal course as I was completely unprepared for it and it ate an entire year of my life. Don't rely on the midwife or doctors to diagnose it for you- if you think you are feeling more upset than usual and for longer than 3 days, you must please confide in a healthcare professional and say that you think it might be PND.

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razzibripple said on 24 January 2012

Wow I've not received a bad experience yet with any aspect of my pregnancy. I'm 24 weeks pregnant and got given a full range of information on classes and a large stage by stage book on pregnancy at a pre-scan appointment at 8 weeks. I've got an appointment next week and then another at the end of february then 2 in march, then one every fortnight until i give birth. I would have thought the NHS would keep it's services the same across the UK, but according to what I've read, Scotland gets a better one.
Although I'm not bothering with ante-natal classes, there is a wide selection available to me should I choose to take them.
I feel sorry for all the women who want them but aren't been given the choice.

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nineteeneightytwo said on 20 January 2012

My midwife insinuted that I do not deserve to have the free NHS classes. Despite telling her we have no plans to do the NCT version she lectured me about how the NHS course is "for people who can't afford NCT" and the spaces are limited.

Well actually, despite not being on the breadline, we don't have a few hundred quid to spare and furthermore as I have paid into this system for the past 12 years working full time I think I will take the free classes as I am well entitled to.

How incredibly rude some of these medical professionals are.

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Loren1982 said on 13 January 2012

I'm currently on jobseekers after being made redundant and I don't consider myself as being lazy. I have been actively looking for work. There is just nothing out there and the jobs that are out there at least one hundred other people are going for.
I am pregnant and about to start showing, which will make it 10 times harder for me to get work. This is a very stressful time and I would like to point out I think you have just been unlucky your midwife left. I would get in touch with your new one to ask for information on your nearest classes.
I will be doing the same as we can't afford to pay for the NCT classes at about £200.

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killercheeto said on 31 December 2011

Why are people saying that 'lazy' people on benefits must get everything and those that work don't? Surely if it's a bad service then it's all round bad. They don't sit and go well this ones on benefits lets roll out the red carpet for them. I am 19 weeks pregnant and also have not been advised on antenatal care yet. These are things you could ask at your appointments though if you are thinking about it!..

I have worked all my life until about a year ago when i was made redundent and let me tell you it isn't pretty out there for anyone right now looking for work. I am now employed thankfully, and god forbid anything should happen to you and you end up on benefits and have to deal with the small minded opinions of people such as yourself. After all you'd then be lazy too wouldn't you?..

The system is the way it is because it is badly funded and ran by paper pushers. It's also squeezed dry in an effort to make things more efficient. Personally i don't see how having less staff, bad funding and huge amounts of pressure on individual workers makes anything better, do you?.. Midwives get into the field for the most part because they want to help people and i am sure they would love to be able to do the jobs the way they thought they would be able to when they were training for it.

Maybe we should start looking at the government and putting more pressure on them to stop messing things up. Instead of following their lead and pitting people against each other.. Or just wait till they turn everything private and noone can afford decent health care apart from the wealthy.. It's about time this we all stood up against the ones who make things the way they are instead of picking the easy and btw blameless targets..

Sorry rant over, but come on!.. I do however agree folkes that we should all have better level of care than is currently offered!

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dmm said on 19 December 2011

I am 26 + 3 and I too have had a terrible time with the NHS. I found out I was pregant and the up until the first scan everything went fine - I met my midwife and things seemed alright. Then I received a letter telling me that my midwife had left and the details of my new one. Despite phoning the new one and leaving messages, no one ever got back to me. I had my 20 week scan and then found out that I should have had an appointment at 16 weeks but that I somehow 'must have slipped through the net'. Following a complain I made, I then received an appointment to see another midwife so thought everything was back on track. At the appointment, she answered her mobile phone and the landline phone every 5 or so minutes and we were thrown out of the room and the appoinbtment finished early because someone else needed it!

Now I am unable to get into antenatal classes ( I received no information about this either) so may have to go private.

Seriouly, I feel so disappointed in the system - this is my first child and I have no idea what is meant to be happenning, whether the baby is the right size or anything. I have paid so much tax into the system and get nothing in return.

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MTBsarah said on 06 December 2011

I'm currently 25 +3 and expecting my first baby. From the sounds of things, Coventry looks like the best place to be for NHS pregnancy services!
I was booked at 7 weeks and was clearly given info of antenatal classes and when my midwife appointments would be and a big purple book with lots of great info on every stage of development.
I was seen at 16weeks then today for 25 weeks and will be seen also at 28,31,34,37, 39 and 41. although appointments are quick...
I've managed to get myself onto 2 different local nhs antenatal class programmes- a one off 3hour session at the hospital and 3 x weekly sessions at the local health centre from 33weeks- and that was booking them when I was about 15-16 weeks along
I hope this can bring some optimism to others that its not awful everywhere - so sorry some of you seem to be getting no help- I would be really upset at being so ignored- especially when its your first pregnancy and every twinge matters!
if you have a nice GP they can be a good source of info and reassurance in between widely spaced appointments - a few of my friends did this in other parts of the country.
Good luck and happy motherhood to all!

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Baby Brain said on 15 November 2011

I'm 26wks +1 pregnant and this is my first pregnancy. Whilst I think antenatal/parentcraft classes are probably not essential it does give new mums peace of mind to know they've found out as much as they can before their little one arrives. I'm not a sickly person so I'm hardly ever at the Drs but pregnancy puts me in close contact with the NHS and what a sore disappointment I have found the NHS to be. It's clearly a result of endless cutbacks which leaves the midwifery service no option but to have an arms length approach. I found out I was pregnant when I was just 4.5wks. I told the Drs at 7wks who referred me to the midwife for booking in at 10wks. At 10wks the midwife happily told me that I wouldn't see her until 24wks. Then at 24wks I net my new midwife who told me I've been booked in early as they don't usually see people until 28wks!! And at my appt today it seems you don't have regular contact with them until this rate I expect that for future pregnancies they'll tell me at my booking in appt that they'll see my at the birth! Thing is out don't have chance to build up a bond with your midwife and so feel very distant and to be honest they don't seem to be interested...its the case of "it happens to women everyday" which makes you want to shout "yes but it doesn't happen to me everyday"!! when I see my midwife I take a list of questions as nothing much is offered. today I asked about antenatal classes so she booked me in though I got the impression that if I hadn't have asked she wouldn't have mentioned it...I just hope someone will be there for the birth but I half expect to do that all by myself too! lol!

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ravenluna said on 11 November 2011

After reading the comments, it looks like people feel that antenatal classes are important. I found them completely useless. I didn't learn anything new from them. Please don't stress yourselves out about not having classes. The information available on-line was much more useful to me. I hope this puts people's minds at rest. Good luck everyone!

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Jkeys78 said on 12 October 2011

There is a company called lazy daisy which provide antenatal classes throughout the country which only charge £54 for a 6 week block of classes which seems to be an awful lot less than the nct charges. I took ones in Glasgow and they were really helpful. They have been approved by federation of antenatal educators who regulate they uk and are a great alternative to the nct classes

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wiltedrose said on 22 August 2011

i have only seen my midwife once and that was when i was 8 weeks pregnant and it seemed like she didnt even want to be there. i am now 18 weeks and 3 days pregnant and i havent seen her !? i will be 19 weeks and 4 days by the time i see my new midwife because i had enough of the current ones incompetence, she never answers her phone and lied about me to the obstetrician is there any point in me having a midwife if she wont do her job. Grrrr and messed up my records because she doesnt listen , ! because a week after that i have my anomaly scan! this is my first child and when phone for advice and i get told i will have to wait to see my midwife What planet are they from!, This is my first pregnancy and i am scared because i dont know if what i am doing is wrong or right, or if this is normal or if that is normal and i dont expect to be told to look it up on the internet if i ask questions! I wouldnt be asking if i could find the answers on the internet, and i would prefer to talk to a human not read some stuff off a computer!

I just hope my new midwife is better and that i just had a bad match with the current one.

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lalaaboutdogs said on 16 August 2011

I am 20wks and i was told my area midwife don't hold antenatal classes so i will need to go to my hospital (which is where I will have my baby) to access the care they offer. They have told me today that they are fully booked and can't offer anything. That I will have to access NCT classes. I too work and have a very large Mortgage which I worked hard to get so dont qualify for their discounts and £170 is something I can not afford to pay. This is my first baby and I dont have any siblings so dont know who to care for a child.

Very scary place.

Seems to me that the NHS are punishing hard working citizens who strive to work and own their homes, pay their pay in life etc but will help all the benefit lazy people who have baby after baby to ensure they get their state benefits paid and get free care.

UK has got it all wrong. Why do I pay any NIC from my wages?

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kerrylou28 said on 06 August 2011

I am now 26+4 weeks pregnant with my first child and haven't received any information about antenatal classes from my midwife! I'm now searching off my own back and can't find any information about NHS classes in my area (Lincoln) and from looking at other comments on this page I'm not hopeful that I'll be able to get any and I can't afford the NCT ones and don't qualify for any of their discounts.
I feel totally disgusted that no-one thus far has provided me with any information, especially as its my first baby :(

Has anyone got any advice on how to find out about the NHS classes?

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Elhawk29 said on 02 August 2011

I am 17+4 weeks pregnant. Having been warned about classes getting booked up we decided to book NCT classes. Our have cost £157 for 16 hours plus a post-natal session, and we could have paid flexibly, the lady from the NCT was very friendly and answered all my questions. This is our first baby and I wanted to get plenty of advice. I agree they are expensive but I feel happy we've got plans made.

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cbrownlie said on 19 April 2011

In line with everyone else, i have just moved area and cannot get a place on an NHS antenatal class and cannot afford NCT classes. Does anyone know if i can go stay at my mums or my in-laws in another part of the country and do NHS ante-natal clases there if they have spaces. I am currently 29 weeks pregnant with my first baby.

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sliverpoolmum said on 19 April 2011

NHS resources are very limited, and it is real shame that women dnt recieve the same level of support across the country.

Some of the information here about NCT classes is misleading. Class do not alway cost over £200 (certainly not in the north of the country were I live). and they are avalible at a discount for households with limited income.

They also book up quickly, but the NCT has some flexibilty to add extra classes if there is high demand

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User548698 said on 18 April 2011

As someone involved with providing NCT classes I would hope that parents are aware that they can often get a discount on the course fees and or pay by instalments to make these courses more affordable. The NCT is one of the few charities offering courses to the public and as such across the country these courses are not making profits out of new parents.
I would advise parents to ask about payment options when enquiring. You may find them more affordable than seemed at first.
I agree that there should also be good nhs provision too offering parents information and support as they approach the birth of their baby.

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cate56 said on 12 April 2011

The NCT are not the only providers of private antenatal classes. They are unaffordable for many people and I don't know why they are always recommended on sites like this.

There are many experienced Midwives now providing affordable private antenatal classes in various forms including one-to-one sessions in your own home. You can find them by searching antenatal classes in your region on the internet.

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gemzcd83 said on 25 March 2011

I am 27+5 weeks pregnant, and was told that I couldn't book antenantal classes until 27 weeks pregnant. I have managed to get a class but these don;t start until I'm 35 +4 weeks pregnant and only last for 3 weeks. The other one they offered me was in 2 weeks time and because of the bank holiday they said I would only receive 2 sessions instead of 3. I know that I am lucky to get a place on a class - I really didn't think that I would be able to, but I feel that it late in the pregnancy, I will be classed as full term before the last one happens, and also my husband cannot come with me as they are in the middle of the day. I'm also facing some resistance from work as I finish the day after the 2nd session and they are asking if I could not find a session that was out of school hours.

I don't feel supported by the doctors and midwives I have seen, apparantly the information should have been given to me at my booking in appointment so that I could start to make decisions. After they lost my booking in notes and didn't bother to tell me until my 16 week appointment when they told me that I must already have my notes.

Sometimes it is a lack of communication, but I would urge people to book antenatal classes as soon as you can, the NCT ones are very expensive, and if I had had more support maybe I wouldn't be as anxious as I am now.

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Koonk said on 15 February 2011

I am 36 weeks now. The class I was booked in to is cancelled due to the midwife being sick. The initial advice I was given is to go and pay for NCT class. I found it offensive as I have paid enough NI contributions and have never abused NHS services. I consider myself entiteled for a well deserved service from the organization that has regular contributions from our salaries. At the end of the day NHS is not Free, it is expensive looking at our payslips. Good luck to all mums to be. I am very scared and worried about labour and first days with the baby as they don't keep you in the hospital for even 24 hours now. Having no classes makes it all worse. All the best.

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MIka Narumi said on 11 February 2011

I am nearly 29 weeks pregnant and I have been in the exactly same situation as User212611, commented on 17 December 2010.
It is very disappointing to find out that my place is not available for Antenatal classes unless I have booked it straight after finding out that I was pregnant.

Since there has been no mentioning about the classes nor enough support I expected, I am still working out how to resolve this issue at the moment.

I wonder it is because of my area has poor service or the level of service in general has dropped down...

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User212611 said on 17 December 2010

i am so dissapointed by this system. I am 22 weeks gone and have found out today that the antinatal classes in my area are FULL this is my first baby and i am now worried an axious about what to expect i cannot afford to spend the £200 on the nct classes as i miss the £190 grant thingy by one day being 25 weeks on the 2nd jan!!
is there anything else that can go against me through this pregnancy.
I agree with MrsNB that their is not nearly enough guidance or support i have seen my midwife twice so far booking in and 16 weeks during which times nothing was mentioned about these classes or them being booked up so quickly and if they jnow that this happens why cant they offer more dates for more people to attend i thinkit is discusting.
more and more needless expense when i pay my national insurance etc to have these services provided for my wellbeing if it is not avaliable then what is the point the system sucks

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MissC said on 20 September 2010

I am currently 31 weeks pregnant with my first child and live in Cambridgeshire. Following the comments that I read on the website, I was extremely concerned that I wouldn't be able to book onto antenatal classes but was advised that I wouldn't be able to book until I was at least 25 weeks pregnant.

Following my midwife appointment at 25 weeks I was given the information by my midwife on how to book these and did it straight away. Fortunately I have been able to book onto three classes around the time that it is recommended you have antenatal classes - I feel for those of you who aren't able to, as for me, with this being my first pregnancy I have been worried throughout and I think that the antenatal classes should be a good way to face some of the concerns that I have about labour and childbirth and get some real answers from a health professional.

Unfortunately with NHS resources being finite and the birth rates rising is is inevitable that at some point there will be people who won't be able to access these services - hopefully someone will see a niche in the market and make private antenatal classes more accessible to everyone!

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Maddy Fraser said on 29 August 2010

I live in Liverpool and to be fair my midwifery team have been really good. I'm 29 weeks now and booked my ante natal classes about 6 weeks ago which start a week tomorrow.
I've also been able to get a place on a breast feeding workshop at the end of September.
My midwife has given me their mobile number to call them anytime in an emergency.
This is my first pregnancy but I do feel quite reassured & sypported by the staff who are looking after me.
I feel really sad for those people who don't seem to have had the same level of support.

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Butterfly_Fred said on 23 July 2010

I'm currently 13 weeks pregnant with my first - like so many others I've discovered the only way I can get access to antenatal classes is via the NCT.

We've contacted them, and there are still places available since we aren't due until January, but at £190 for 1 evening session and 2 half days (and you have to provide your OWN lunch!), this is ridiculous. That amount of money should be going towards the baby, not on antenatal classes that should be offered for FREE. Exactly what are our taxes paying for?

I'm seriously considering not bothering at all, but as it's our first & my husband is nervous, we feel obliged to. Support from the NHS so far has been poor, aside from my first (rushed) scan last week, my midwife is apparently on holiday for 3 weeks. Total shambles.

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lynnby said on 07 July 2010

I am an antenatal teacher in Oxford. I left the NHS before having my own children & then started my antenatal classes after hearing comments such as those here. I strongly believe that good, professional antenatal preparation can make a huge difference to how a birth is anticipated and how it is viewed afterwards. My main comment is to seek out alternatives for your antenatal classes and ask if the class teacher would consider concessions if they are too expensive for you. I do charge for my classes but I would welcome requests from those who could not afford my prices. Over the internet I would even consider a minimal cost for just my handouts & e-mail support. I do this because I strongly feel that excellent preparation for labour, birth and the first few days with your baby should be available to everybody, not just the well off!!

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canjosh75 said on 18 June 2010

i tried to book anti natal classes early on in my pregnancy and was told they are booked up right up til I'm 37 weeks which really isn't alot of good considering baby could arrive any time, this is my 3rd baby but my partners 1st so for him these classes are crucial, i really think that when you have your booking in appointment with your midwife you should be asked then if you would like to attend classes or not, im now 38 weeks and still no class my poor partner is petrified of what to exspect, the poor thing was with me at the anti-natal assessment unit recently where i had a blood transfusion other than being told id be recieving blood we were told nothing my partner looked like a rabbit in headlights for the whole 12hours we ended up being there. so come on doctors midwives etc please make sure you explain more to your patience, side effects things to look out for etc, when i trained as a nurse the most important thing we were taught was always explain everything you are doing to your patient every step of the way the more informed they are the less frightening the proceedure, dont assume someone else has told them

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MikeStan said on 19 May 2010

It's an absolute disgrace, my wife is pregnant with our first child and we have been told we are not going to get these classes because they are filled!!!

We can't afford private classes so now are left ignorant and neglected. Christ only knows what we'll do when the baby gets here, if any one of the three of us makes it to her first birthday it'll be a miracle.

Doesn anyone know if i can find recordings of these classes anywhere? It should be easy enough to smuggle in recording equipment with all those bumps about...

In closing my dear NHS, I'm very dissapointed in you and woried for the health of my new family. thanks a million, i'm glad my taxes are wirth it.

One parting piece of advice to anyone else considering getting pregnant; book the classes first and work the baby around them!!!


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dani2708 said on 16 May 2010

Well, I have managed to book my antinatal classes but was massivley suprised when I enquired about them. I was told that due to restructuring of the midwifery service in my area they only offered 1 x 2hr class at 34 weeks and 1 x 2 hr breastfeeding class. I have always been under the impresion that we would be offered at least 10 hrs of classes!!
This is my first child and I feel I am just being left to get on with it. I tend to gain confidence through information so we will see in the next couple of weeks when I have my classes just how much they can cram into 2 hours but I fear it will not be enough to make me feel confident about what is to come.
I have looked into NCT classes and they are too expensive and like the lady before would take away vital money from the care of my new baby.
I know I should be thankful that I even have a class to go to and I honestly am but I did expect more and am very disappointed with the lack of support for new Mums.

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Karishma10 said on 05 May 2010

Im trying to book a class however Ive only been giving the option for the NCT , I m not sure how to book it on the NHS and have had no support. Im 22 weeks pregnant with my first child.

Can anyone help?

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jessicalondon said on 27 April 2010

I have to agree. I'm 19 weeks pregnant and at my booking visit I was told to book my classes as soon as possible. However, when I phoned the hospital a couple of weeks ago, they told me that I can't book until I am 25 weeks??

It is also my first baby (and was unplanned, so I really am very unprepared!) and my experience has been that the NHS don't see you much at all.

My last appt was at 13 weeks, and the next one isn't until 21 weeks. That seems a very long time to be completely ignored by the medical profession.

I have made an appt to see my GP next week in the hope that I will be able to hear the baby's heartbeat, as well as check my blood pressure and iron levels, but I don't know if they even have the right equipment.

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MrsNB said on 23 November 2009

I am 18 weeks pregnant and live in the North Manchester area and have just tried to book Antenatal classes for myself and my partner but have been told that they are completely booked up and there is nothing that can be done to find us a place.

I think this is disgusting and it has made me very very anxious now as this is my first child.

If these classes get booked up so far in advance surely the NHS has a responsibility to offer more dates! We could of course go private but at £200-£300 private classes are very expensive and take money away that could be used to provide for our new baby.

My experience so far has been that new mothers are not offered nearly enough support or guidance by the NHS during this critical time. I really did have higher hopes. If you are expecting and reading this I urge you to book your classes ASAP.

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