Antenatal classes 

Find out why antenatal classes are important, what to do on labour day and more.

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Transcript of Antenatal classes

I'm Gwyneth Lewis.

I'm the National Clinical Leader for Maternity Services,

which means I work in the Department of Health with doctors,

with midwives...

..and women, to help design the best services

the NHS can give all pregnant women, partners and new families.

It's really important to go and see your doctor or your midwife

as soon as you find out you're pregnant.

A lot of people do, but, you know, up to a third of women don't.

It's easy, perhaps, when you don't show and you think it's a long way away,

to put off going to see your midwife or your GP

because you think there's nothing much to be done in the early stages.

Actually, that's the most crucial time to go.

That's when your doctors and midwives want to see you.

It's in early pregnancy that you can have the tests

to see that you and your baby are getting along just fine,

or to find out whether you or your baby

might need more specialist care during pregnancy.

It's in early pregnancy when you make contact with your midwife,

you develop a relationship with your midwife, who will support you.

She'll give you information about going to your antenatal classes,

and other support particular to your needs that you might want.

So I would really encourage everybody not to wait until the bump's showing

or two or three months down the line.

Go and see your doctor or midwife as soon as you know,

because it's really the best thing for you and your baby.

Well, for me, going to an antenatal class was really important.

Even though I'm a doctor, there are lots of things I didn't know

and perhaps I was a bit scared to ask the professionals about.

The things they covered in my antenatal class

were really good, because they said, "You're going to get really tired,"

and told my husband,

"Make sure you look after your wives or partners, because they get tired."

And it was great they told him, because I'd been telling him.

Antenatal classes are classes held usually in the community

by different groups for different sorts of women and women with their partners.

And they're classes we really encourage everybody to go to if they can.

Those provided by the National Health Service are free.

Others you may have to pay a little for.

But antenatal classes are really important

because they teach you about preparing for your pregnancy.

They teach you about a healthy diet.

What to eat, what not to eat, how much exercise to take.

The sorts of things you might not want to ask your doctor

because you think they're too busy. All those little homely things, you can ask.

They also teach you about childbirth: what to expect, how it's going to be.

The choices that you've got for childbirth, you and your partner.

Where you can go locally to have your baby.

And you'll probably meet some of the midwives

who will be working in those centres.

Antenatal classes might even arrange for you to visit all the various places

you might want to choose locally and to ask questions there.

Antenatal classes are available throughout pregnancy,

and they should link up with the classes in the community afterwards

for new parents too.

So when you go to see your midwife or your doctor early in pregnancy,

you'll be told about all the options available to you.

Some sorts of antenatal classes you may not want to go to

until further on in your pregnancy.

The sorts of classes to do with getting ready for birth,

breathing techniques, relaxation techniques.

Other classes you might want to go to throughout,

to learn more about becoming a new parent and how to care for your baby.

I thought they were really good, because you could ask all these questions

and not just the obvious ones.

People asked questions about, "Is it safe to have sex in later pregnancy?"

Or, "What do I tell my husband when I don't fancy him on a Friday night?"

You could discuss all these things.

"What is safe food?"

"What do I do about having piles all the time?"

"What cream do I use for things like that?" And indigestion.

All the little questions you wouldn't want to bother somebody with

whose time is really important, looking after you in the antenatal clinic.

So you can ask anything you like.

You know, antenatal classes change.

They change as services available locally change.

And we sometimes see women who have had one or two babies before,

perhaps some years ago, who think it really isn't going to help them.

But what I really want to say is, you'll never know unless you go,

because things are always changing and updating.

So they're really good even if you're a second, third or fourth-time mum.

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