Here’s Why Soon-to-be Parents Need to Attend Antenatal Classes
Pregnancy is a time of new experiences. Giving birth to a new life is a joyful occasion, but the bodily and emotional changes a woman undergoes can be daunting.
Doctors should encourage expecting women to enroll in antenatal classes to learn more about their pregnancy. Led by consultant obstetrician, gynecologist and women health educators, these classes address doubts every to-be parent has about their child’s well-being.
Here are some ways you can benefit by joining an antenatal class which would help you have a positive pregnancy and birth experience.
1. Acquiring Authentic Knowledge From Experts
It is natural to ask for advice from all kinds of sources during pregnancy - your family, friends, or even the internet! After all, it takes a village to raise a baby. This, however, does not mean everything you are told is reliable.
By enrolling in classes conducted by consultants, you receive authentic information straight from experts in their fields. The classes focus on the bodily changes expecting-mothers undergo in the initial months of gestation. These classes provide a bird’s eye view on your complete pregnancy experience, as you are walked through basics like general diet, fitness and lifestyle women need to follow.
Pregnant couples confused by misconceptions and myths are encouraged to attend this workshop and put forth their doubts.
2. Recognising Changes in Mental Health
Depression during pregnancy and postpartum depression are topics that are often dismissed in most Indian families. Once you move past the miracle and joyous act of having a baby, the exhaustion sets in. The physical or emotional changes may take a toll and become overwhelming for some mothers.
Women attending the antenatal classes create a bond with the consultants and women health educators over the course of their pregnancy. Often, doctors themselves recognise the warning signs or changes in behaviour in the women they have worked with for a long time. A lot of the times, they reach out to the couple and refer them to the psychiatrist within the hospital, if needed.
Couples come to realise that what they’re going through is normal as they hear more people talk about mental health during the workshops. They understand there is nothing wrong with them and feel more inclined to share their own feelings.
3. Gaining Confidence Over Your Capabilities
It is important women gain confidence in their own selves and believe in their body’s strength and natural capabilities. In these classes, expecting mothers are helped to realise that their bodies are designed to give birth and breastfeed.
Antenatal classes provide the professional support that they might need and help dispel any concerns or fears which reduces anxiety regarding labour to a great extent.
4. Learning from Shared Experiences
It is said that no two pregnancies are alike and yet, listening to others’ perspective on their pregnancy journey can be a great source of strength. Everyone has some fears when it comes to the labour process, so it helps to know everything and be better prepared beforehand. An antenatal class on labour and delivery covers the various stages of labour.
In these classes, second-time mothers are encouraged to discuss their stories with new mothers.
Women in their third trimester should attend these classes to get useful tips on pain management and breathing techniques that help deal with the pain. Birthing partners - who could be either husbands or mothers/friends- should accompany expecting women to learn how they can provide support through back massages and exercises.
5. Creating and Engaging a Support System
A birthing partner gives the expecting woman much-needed confidence as well as physical and emotional support to carry her through labour. Husbands are often unsure of their role during labour and delivery. At antenatal classes husbands are advised how to be of support to their partners. They are taught that simple tasks such as making sure the mother is comfortable, keeping her hydrated and physically active during labour, and providing a loving support system contributes towards a healthy delivery!”
Taking care of a new born baby may seem challenging for new parents. The final antenatal classes lay down the groundwork of baby-care and breastfeeding for new parents.
In these various antenatal classes, to-be mothers are encouraged to see themselves the
way they should, instead of through someone else’s eyes. Husbands understand the value of partner support and sharing responsibilities in the workshops
(Dr Rinku Sengupta is a Consultant Obstetrics and Gynaecology at Sitaram Bhartia Institute of Science and Research.)