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Antenatal Courses – just an expensive way to make friends?

Antenatal Courses – just an expensive way to make friends? Why I developed All about Antenatal to be more than that.

I recently posted a question on a very popular baby forum: “Is there anything you wish your antenatal course had covered?”. The response from parents was overwhelming, and sadly of no surprise to me – “mine was just an expensive way to make friends” was a common response. The majority of parents who responded also felt their antenatal courses were lacking in postnatal topics, such as newborn baby care. There was a general feeling of “unrealistic expectations” about birth, including a lack of knowledge of C-sections, postnatal maternal care and many claimed disappointment they had not gained any information on bottle-feeding. In addition, I received private messages from male partners who felt disengaged from the topics, and, on reflection, wished there had been more opportunity to discuss relationship changes and their role as new dads.

Now, of course, this was only a very small survey amongst a quite select group of people on a baby forum. However, it was also my own experience on an antenatal course which has led me to change my career and start up my own alternative course.

My first few months as a new mum were tough – like many, I didn’t know what I was doing, and I found everywhere I turned I was given conflicting advice. None of the professionals I met when pregnant talked about, or prepared me for, life with my baby, and I didn’t know which way to turn or who to believe. Even the common things weren’t discussed – baby girls mini-periods, contractions when breastfeeding, the various colours of poo!

So, how is my antenatal course seeking to do more than buddy up expectant parents?

Postnatal topics

I felt, and still feel strongly, that postnatal topics should have equal place on antenatal courses as information about labour. Yes of course we want to ensure that parents are knowledgeable and prepared for labour, but, at the end of that process, they will have a baby and exploring topics such as sleep, crying solutions, baby bathing, safe sleep and even nappy changing can help bring confidence in those early days. That’s why on our antenatal course you will have a 50/50 split between birth preparation and practical newborn care.

Dani Diosi – qualified antenatal educator and doula

I am fortunate to have teamed up with not only a qualified antenatal educator, but in Dani Diosi, who teaches the course with me, I also have an experienced doula. Having someone educate about labour who spends time almost every week supporting mums through their birth experiences means Dani is able to talk from a place of great knowledge and substantial experience. In addition, I felt from my own experience that more time spent on the “what if’s” was important – Dani talks about the various forms of interventions,  C-sections, and helps to empower parents to ask the right questions to their health care professionals during their time in labour.

Informed choice for expectant parents

Now, to that all-important topic of feeding. I am very aware that some antenatal teachers aren’t permitted to discuss formula-feeding in any great detail. I specifically made the decision not to affiliate with any organisations that would limit me in this way as I do feel it’s important to teach parents how to make up formula to the specified guidelines – this is an area where there is a lot of misinformation. Teaching parents about formula does not mean I am discouraging them from breastfeeding – I am giving them the tools to make an informed choice. Yes, of course, breastmilk is best for babies, and I will always educate and support parents to breastfeed, however, alternatives exist and it’s not up to me to decide how a parent feeds their baby.

Why I am telling you all of this? The chances are, if you are reading this, you have already had your baby. I hope that by knowing that there are alternative antenatal courses out there (not just mine) you can encourage your friends to choose a course – not just for the friends they will make, but for the helpful information they will gain.

For further information on Allaboutbabies antenatal course click here.

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