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When to start antenatal classes

white background with a picture of Jilly, antenatal teacher with CubCare antenatal classes. Caption reads "When to start antenatal classes?"

12 Dec, 2023

Congratulations! You’re here because you are wondering when to attend antenatal classes?

I imagine you are expecting a baby and looking for an antenatal class, Bump and Baby Club, or an NCT course in Welwyn, Hatfield or even Potters Bar?

There are a host of options you could choose from. How do you know what’s best? When to you start going to antenatal classes? What do you need to learn?

It’s a brand new world for you, so let me guide you through it.

Firstly, antenatal education is so important and you need to do your homework. I have written a blog about this that you can check out here.

 

Trust me that the birth of your baby will have an impact on you for a long, long time and you deserve to be as prepared as you can be.

Secondly, it really pays to do your research rather than just opting for the first antenatal classes on Google. Every class offers something different but you need as much education and support as you possibly can for this life-changing event.

You want to look for the absolute best education you can get. Not all antenatal classes are created equally.

In this blog we’ll discuss when it is best to start antenatal classes, why it is best to do your research, what you need to make sure is covered, and the main antenatal classes run in the Welwyn Hatfield area in Hertfordshire.

NCT Course Welwyn, Bump and Baby club Welwyn

Six couples at a CubCare antenatal course standing in a line looking at the camera. There are 6 pregnant women and their birth partners beside them. Bump and Baby Club
Image of a pregnancy text lying on a baby scan photo. Caption reads CubCare Pregnancy and Birth Guide for Welwyn Hatfield

NCT Course Welwyn, Bump and Baby club Welwyn 

When to start antenatal classes?

If you Google “When to start antenatal classes” the main answer will be from the NHS website and states “most antenatal classes start around 8 to 10 weeks before your baby is due, when you’re around 30 to 32 weeks pregnant.”

This is a traditional answer, and one that is outdated, and doesn’t allow you to fully prepare for birth and looking after baby.

It doesn’t give you a lot of time to practice and get familiar with techniques that can truely support you. It doesn’t give you a lot of time to figure out what you really want from birth. 

And it doesn’t give you a lot of time to discuss things with care providers – because a lot of the time you are put on a particular care pathway before this point with often a lot of red tape and appointments to “agree” and change things.

That is why I recommend attending my CubCare Antenatal classes from as early as you can. From when you are ready to start thinking about birth.

 

When is the best time to go to antenatal classes?

I recommend starting to look for antenatal classes from your first scan. This gives you time to get to know the local options and to make an educated decision.

I might recommend attending antenatal classes, or at least starting to research the birth you want, from 20-25 weeks. This gives you a chance to learn, to digest, to further research, to practice and to get confident.

But, you might not be ready until 30 weeks – it IS ok to wait until then. But the more time you leave yourself to learn, practice and understand – honestly, the better.

NCT Course Welwyn, Bump and Baby club Welwyn

When should I book my place for an antenatal class?

I find the best time to start researching antenatal classes is after your dating scan (11-14 weeks) and aiming to make a decision on which classes you are going to attend by 20 weeks.

I get messages all the time from people worrying that it is too late for them to book on to antenatal classes.

When you don’t consider antenatal education until your third trimester, you do run the risk of quality antenatal providers being fully booked. But you also leave yourself short on time to learn and make the most of the techniques and education taught.

What do you learn in an antenatal class?

There is a variety of topics that could be covered in antenatal classes. The best classes will cover all aspects of birth, techniques to help you cope, advice on helping you to have the best birth possible as well as recovery and caring for baby.

Baby first aid is a popular addition to some antenatal classes – but – there is only so much information that people can digest so I’d argue that whilst baby first aid is really important, it should be a separate learning experience.

Topics taught in antenatal classes might cover:

  • Mental and physical health in pregnancy
  • exercises to keep you fit and active during pregnancy, whilst preparing for birth
  • what happens during labour and birth – and how to take control in different situations
  • The way the medical system works – and how to help yourself
  • Labour coping strategies and information about different types of pain relief – risks, benefits and ways it can work with your birth plan
  • Techniques to use during labour and birth
  • Advice and support for birth partners
  • Education on baby development, and caring for baby
  • Education on feeding, safe sleep, babywearing, bonding and parenting
  • Support and guidance on postnatal recovery – how the system works and how to help yourself

What do I need to look for when researching antenatal classes?

The main things you need to know when researching are:

  • What you’ll learn – what techniques do they teach, what does the course cover?
  • Who is teaching – do you know who will be your teacher and can you get a feel for them before the classes?
  • What are local reviews like for those classes?
  • Where are the classes –  location and convenience is important but environment matters too. How will you feel in a busy pub, how will you feel if your birth partner is drinking during important education?

NCT Course Welwyn, Bump and Baby club Welwyn

What is a CubCare antenatal class?

A CubCare class, course or workshop is an entirely independent antenatal education company. In fact, we are a completely independent business and there is only one employee!

CubCare is the definition of a sole trader. All communication, emails, telephone calls, Whatsapp messages, classes, follow-up, meet ups, reunions will have Jilly behind them.

The wonderful thing about this is that you will be able to get a feel for me before attending class. My face will hopefully be familiar, making for less nerves when you walk in the room!

My qualifications make me a very well rounded teacher, and I can fully support you on your own journey without having to be mindful of head office.

I have close connections with the local NHS trusts at Lister and Barnet hospitals and can give you a truely local approach.

 What does CubCare teach?

There are three different options for antenatal education when it comes to a CubCare Antenatal class.

Our flagship Antenatal and Hypnobirthing course is designed to be done in conjunction with Pregnancy Yoga but can be done alone as well.

This is a huge, groundbreaking week, 22 hour antenatal course for mum-to-be or birthing person plus birth partner/s and is the most comprehensive course you will find.

If you are looking for the best way to prepare for labour, birth, the postnatal period and the first few months with baby.

Classes focus on how the process of labour works and how you can help move things along, and cope really well at the same time.

Time is spent getting familiar with techniques, and how you, your baby, your body, and birth partner can work together to make birth positive.

We discuss things like induction, water birth, caesarean deliveries, recovery, the stages of labour, 4th trimester, feeding, caring for baby and much more.

We cover hypnobirthing, active birth, boimechanics and advocating for yourself in a difficult maternity system.

If you have already have a baby, then our Refresher Antenatal Course will offer the special elements of our Antenatal Course, but in a condenced version. There is also a 1:1 coaching call to get to the heart of your individual situation.

Pregnancy yoga is our weekly mum-to-be or birthing person only movement-based class designed to be done throughout pregnancy.

We combine elements of pregnancy yoga, hypnobirthing and antenatal education to provide a unique class. Classes focus on how to prepare your body for birth and how your body moves, adapts and changes ahead of, and during birth.

Or we have our private Antenatal Course option. This can be done in conjunction with Pregnancy Yoga but can be done alone as well. We’ll work with you and your birth team to prepare fully for birth and/or looking after yourself and baby afterwards.

NCT Course Welwyn, Bump and Baby club Welwyn

Couple sitting on a sofa, a pregnant woman front at her partner massaging her back using techniques learnt at a CubCare antenatal class
CubCare Antenatal Refresher Course advert. Caption reads CubCare Antenatal Refresher Course. Image is of a girl cuddling her pregnant mum's belly.
Pregnant woman doing a side bend on a yoga mat, facing the camera, at a CubCare Pregnancy Yoga class

Free antenatal classes

Quality antenatal classes do cost money, because you are paying for knowledge, experience and super tailored support (with my antenatal classes anyway)

I will always recommend trying to attend NHS antenatal classes too, if you can. They can give you an insight into local policies, attitudes and offerings. Some also offer tours of birth rooms.

Are free antenatal classes any good? If you are wondering where to access quality free antenatal education then head to my Free Antenatal Classes page and see what there is on offer in there. I’d say that my free offerings are full of good stuff. I save my best support for clients – but everybody needs to be fully prepared for birth.

Let’s chat

Jilly Clarke, CubCare owner, smiling to the camera with her daughter beside her

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