Are Antenatal classes really worth it?

Are antenatal classes really worth it?

Perhaps one of the most highly debated topics of pregnancy, should you spend the extra money attending antenatal classes? Most of us studied Biology and have googled enough information, surely a women’s body knows how to “Give birth”?

Here’s some of what I remember about my antenatal classes – I remember watching a video, filmed somewhere in the 80’s, showing a range of women breastfeeding. Seeing another woman’s enlarged nipple with milk coming out if it whilst you are 8 months pregnant really didn’t appeal to me. I remember watching birthing videos, seeing a baby entering the world through another women’s private paths did nothing to calm my already shattered nerves.

So would I recommend you attend them? Abso-freaking-lootley !

Here’s why:

Birth is the most natural process on earth and yet studies have shown that one in every four women describes giving birth as traumatic and up to 20% meet the criteria for post-traumatic stress disorder. It has also been shown that women who fear childbirth experience longer labours and were more likely to need an emergency caesarean.

That word, FEAR. FEAR of the unknown, FEAR of what your body can and can’t do. FEAR of horror stories from women around you.

Birth is completely unpredictable. It throws everything off course and everything you think you knew out of the window. Antenatal courses can never fully prepare you for the all-encompassing experience that is birth, nor will it ever prepare you for POST NATAL reality. Bringing your tiny baby home and experiencing the rollercoaster of emotions.

What attending a course WILL do however, is help eliminate that FEAR.

It gives you a chance to think about all your options. Taking you through all the possible scenarios and educating you on your possible choices.

I learnt that it is absolutely OK if your “birth plan” doesn’t go according to “plan”. I learnt about all of the possibilities I had when it came to drugs, as well as the side effects. I learnt that when baby feeds their lip should always form a C-shape, with the bottom lip visible and you should hear a gentle “csssshh” sound as they drink. I learnt that it’s not ok if you get cracked or broken nipples (despite the horrific video). It taught me about the different stages of the labour process and I knew that I didn’t necessarily have to “run” to the hospital the second my labour started.

More than that, It helped me realise that every mom to be in that room had different fears or worries. That all of the women there were in the same boat, uncertain of what might happen but confident in the love for their unborn child. I also learnt that it is invaluable for your partner to attend these classes. My husband did not read a single page of the books I had lovingly sourced for him, thanks to the antenatal classes he knew how to best support me (and when to shut up) during the labour processes.

Which leads me to the importance of Pregnancy Education Month.

A collaboration between The Childbirth Educators’ Professional Forum, Bio-Oil and various hospitals nationally, February’s Pregnancy Education Month, highlights how childbirth education empowers parents for a better birth experience. With the help of antenatal classes and the experience of one birth behind me, when my second child was born I was 1000 times more confident in what my body could handle.

Over 300 private hospitals and clinics around South Africa are running “Pregnancy Education Month” activities in February. For details, or to find a childbirth educator in your area, visit

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