Expectant and new parents

Looking for antenatal classes? Looking for courses about parenting?

Congratulations on becoming pregnant or a new parent!  It is an exciting time with so many issues to think about!  Your first step as an expectant mother is to  visit your own GP for a referral to your local public Maternity Antenatal Service, perhaps an obstetrician, or consider other antenatal care options.  If you are considering private midwifery care, it is still a good idea to develop a good relationship with your GP for ongoing care of your growing family.

Would you like …

  • More time to think of and ask all your questions about labour and birth?
  • More time to consider everything related to bringing home your baby?
  • To clarify what you have read on websites, in books, seen on TV and heard from other people?
  • To meet others becoming new parents?

 

Actively participating in Childbirth and Parenting Education Groups enhances the information gained at your antenatal appointments with your midwife or doctor.

After participating in the Birth & Parenting program, almost all parents report that they:

  • have greater confidence to deal with labour, birth and becoming parents 
  • will use the relaxation skills practised during the course
  • are amazed and excited to learn about newborn baby behaviour
  • found being in a group of similar parents helped them ask questions and consider different perspectives they did not think about before.

Knowledge usually reduces fear. Knowledge usually promotes confidence.

Early Pregnancy programs

Birth and Parenting programs

Birth and Parenting course timeframe

Fees for Birth and Parenting courses

Finding a Birth and Parenting course

Online Birth and Parenting courses

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander parents 

Culturally And Linguistically Diverse (CALD) parents

Expecting more than one baby

Anticipating an elective Caesarean birth?

Next birth after a Caesarean?

Breastfeeding

Especially for Dads

Parenting programs

More links

Early Pregnancy programs

There are short courses conducted during early pregnancy that focus particularly on how the pregnant woman's body is changing, safe exercising, and tips about what is normal and when you should consult your midwife or doctor.  

These courses may be provided by a nearby public or private Maternity Service, or privately, eg: pregnancy yoga or aquarobic groups.

Birth and Parenting programs

This is the course that most people know about, provoking a range of interesting comments from people who have attended childbirth classes over the past 50 years!  As with all education programs, these have evolved greatly over the years, and do vary between maternity services and other private providers.  

Start your enquiries about a course that best suits you with your local public and/or private Maternity Service and with other new mothers who live near you.

Areas covered typically include:                                                                          

  • body's preparation for labour and signs of labour; 
  • when to come to hospital or call your midwife; 
  • what happens during labour and birth; 
  • understanding the role of your hormones on labour; 
  • creating your own emotionally safe birth environment; 
  • self-help strategies for labour including positions for active labour; 
  • breath awareness practice and affirmations; 
  • how your support person can best help you; 
  • medical pain relief options; 
  • dealing with unexpected events before, during and after labour and birth; 
  • early skin-to-skin with baby; 
  • early days in hospital and at home.

As you are 'becoming a parent' and not just 'having a baby', most good-quality antenatal courses also include education about:  

  • newborn behaviour; 
  • recognizing when your baby is hungry, tired or ready for play; 
  • breastfeeding; 
  • strategies to develop and strengthen the 'parenting partnership' (the mother and the other significant person who will co-parent the child)
  • helpful ideas concerning the impact of a new baby on the couple's relationship. 

Birth & Parenting Course time frame

Birth and Parenting courses average about 12 hours in length, being held in various formats to suit busy expectant parents and their support people.  They are usually held over several weeks on a weeknight evening, or over 1-3 weekends on Saturdays or Sundays.

It is best if the course can be completed before about 36 weeks gestation, particularly for the mother's comfort.  Those expecting more than one baby should aim to complete the course even earlier.

Fees for Birth & Parenting courses

It is usual for all providers to charge a fee for this course, to enable the best learning environment for an ideal group of 6-8 couples.

Finding a Birth and Parenting program 

Find out about the antenatal Birth & Parenting programs conducted by the Maternity Service at which you are considering birthing (public or private hospital or private midwifery service).

Ask friends, relatives and new parents about maternity services and antenatal courses in your area.  Google search for 'antenatal classes in …(your area)' and a range of, though not all, providers pop up.

Some people prefer to seek skills and knowledge from private providers.  These include:

Remember that one of the greatest benefits of going to a group in your area is to meet other expectant or new parents in a similar situation.  Some life-long friendships start at antenatal courses!  

The providers listed above are for you to investigate and for you to choose yourself.

CAPEA, Inc. does NOT endorse any particular program, business or organisation and suggests that you check the professional, knowledge and group facilitation backgrounds of the provider before committing your time and money to any course.

    

Online Birth and Parenting courses

Those living in isolated areas, working FIFO or shift work, or otherwise unable to local groups may prefer online courses.  Try googling "online antenatal courses in Australia".

However the benefits of face-to-face groups would be lost, that is the networking opportunities to share experiences and ideas with other expectant parents, practise breath awareness, relaxation and active birthing strategies. It is also a good idea to visit the birth unit where you may be having your baby so that you know where to park, how to enter the building after-hours and imagine having your baby there.

CAPEA, Inc. suggests that you check the professional, knowledge and group facilitation backgrounds of the provider before committing your time and money to any course, and does not endorse any particular course, business or organisation.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander parents

Large and regional public Maternity Services also provide programs especially for women who identify themselves as an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander, and who find mainstream programs too challenging, along with their support people.

CALD parents

Expectant parents who come from Cultural And Linguistic Diverse (CALD) backgrounds may find courses facilitated with help from accredited health interpreters through their local public Maternity Service.

Expecting more than one baby

If these babies are your first, it is still a good idea to participate in the regular Birth and Parenting and Breastfeeding courses. 

Some maternity centres offer a special session for parents expecting more than one baby, in collaboration with local Multiple Birth Groups, so ask your midwife or doctor.

The Australian Multiple Birth Association may provide ideas, practical help and support, as well as links to connect with a group in your local area.

Anticipating an elective Caesarean birth?

Occasionally women know that they will definitely have an elective Caesarean birth; this may be a relief for some, or a source of great disappointment for others.  There are still benefits for participating in antenatal courses related to parenting and breastfeeding.  Some maternity centres also offer a special session just for these women and their support person/s.

Considering the next birth after a Caesarean birth (NBAC)?

Women who have had a previous Caesarean birth may be considering options for their next birth, and whether a vaginal birth is possible.  Discussion should include your significant support people.  Contact your local Maternity Service or online to enquire about NBAC discussion / education groups. 

Breastfeeding programs

Many public and private Maternity Services provide a stand-alone Breastfeeding course for expectant mothers and their support person/s who may also include the influential new grandmother/s and aunt/s. 

New parents report greater confidence in starting breastfeeding after gaining knowledge and skills for breastfeeding before their baby arrives.

The Australian Breastfeeding Association also provides Breastfeeding courses in some areas.  

Especially for Dads

Many Maternity Services also offer a separate session just for expectant dads.  This session provides an opportunity for men to talk with other men about practical ways they can provide the best for their family.  This includes developing their own unique relationship with their child, role and relationship changes during the transition to parenthood and co-parenting with the other parent.

Parenting programs

Your (Maternity) Child and Family Health Nurse is your link to resources in your area when you go home with your baby.  You would have the contact number for this free state health service with all your discharge papers from your midwife.

Services that your (Maternity) Child and Family Health Nurse can link you with include:

  • Australian Breastfeeding Association group in your area. 
  • Playgroups may be essential for the parent more than for the newborn child during early weeks, as they provide another source of networking between new parents in your area.  
  • Triple –P™ programs, for parents with toddlers, pre-school and primary-school aged children.  
  • Circle of security™ programs.  Google 'Circle of Security Australia' for state-based courses
  • Bringing Baby Home™ programs, based on over 20 years' work by John & Julie Gottmann, especially for expectant and new parents.  Google 'Bringing baby home Australia' to find a course for parents in Australia.
  • Relationships Australia facilitates Family Parenting programs.
  • Infant massage courses for parents - enhance your connection with your baby through massage; check that the teacher is qualified through a recognised Infant Massage Training Provider

CAPEA, Inc. suggests that you check the professional, knowledge and group facilitation backgrounds of the provider before committing your time and money to any course, and does not endorse any particular course, business or organisation.

More links

See the links on this website to find other websites that could be helpful to you.

Best wishes for your journey to parenthood!