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
At your antenatal class you'll learn about:
- your health in pregnancy, with advice on diet and how to cope with minor health issues
- 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 issues during labour and procedures such as caesarean section
- the impact of pregnancy on relationships
- feeding and caring for your baby
- bonding with your baby
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.
How to book antenatal classes
Ask your midwife what antenatal classes are available in your area and for help to decide which class is best for you. They will also be able to give you information on how to book. You can also look on the internet for websites with more information about classes in your area.
You should book your classes early so that you get a place in a class that suits you.
Where these classes are held
NHS classes are free and are usually run by midwives or obstetric physiotherapists.
These can include:
Non-NHS classes are available too, but you may need to pay for these.
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:
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 or relative, or you can go on your own.
Further information and other languages and formats
Translations and alternative formats of this information are available from Public Health Scotland.
Simplified Chinese (Mandarin)
25 January 2023
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