Antenatal classes

Antenatal classes (parent education classes) help you prepare for being a parent and give you the chance to meet other mums and partners. They're a great opportunity for dads and partners to get involved too.

What happens at antenatal classes

Couple at antenatal class
Antenatal classes are a great way for you and your partner to meet other mums and partners NHS Health Scotland

At your antenatal class you'll learn about:

  • your health in pregnancy, with advice on diet and how to cope with minor health problems
  • preparing a birth plan
  • what to expect in later pregnancy, such as the early signs of labour
  • exercises for before, during and after labour
  • what to expect during labour and birth and your choice of pain relief
  • relaxation and breathing exercises to help you cope with labour and birth
  • possible problems during labour and procedures such as caesarean section
  • the impact of pregnancy on relationships
  • feeding and caring for your baby
  • bonding with your baby

Special classes

Some classes are for women only, others are for couples. Some are designed for different groups, such as:

  • young parents
  • mums from the same ethnic groups
  • partners and dads

If you’re in a same-sex relationship and are the non-birth mother, you have a right to go to antenatal classes for fathers and partners.

Your midwife can tell you about classes in your area.

Where these classes are held

NHS classes are free and are usually run by midwives or obstetric physiotherapists.

These can include:

  • hypnobirthing
  • relaxation
  • physiotherapy

Non-NHS classes are available too, but you may need to pay for these. Ask your midwife what's available in your area and for help to decide what's best for you.

How often they're held

NHS antenatal classes usually run in 2 to 6 sessions towards the end of your pregnancy.

Some areas run early classes where you can find out more about:

Book early so that you get a place in a class that suits you.

Why you should attend

Classes can give you and your partner or birth partner a chance to ask questions and prepare for things that may happen during labour, birth and afterwards. You can practice some techniques together too, such as breathing exercises.

If your partner can’t get to all the classes, they may like to go to one or two.

If you don’t have a partner, you can go with whoever will be supporting you at the birth. This could be a friend, your sister or your mum, or you can go on your own.


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