Antenatal Classes During C-19

I could write at length about the issues currently being experienced by pregnant women in the face of the Covid-19 crisis. But I want to focus on those women and families who are early-mid pregnancy.

This group are not only anxious about their birth and how this will all unfold, but have also had their antenatal classes cancelled. They might be feeling confused, unsure about what steps to take, and fearful of the ever-changing health and economic landscape. I feel for the stress and anxiety these families must be experiencing – and I’m sure they have questions; How can we prepare ourselves? What antenatal preparation options do we have? Will things be ok again by the time we birth? Where can we birth safely, without fear? These I imagine, barely scratch the surface of the questions on their minds.

Women have the right to ensure their basic needs of support are met during labour, and a woman will remember for her entire life how she felt, or how she was made to feel, during her labour. It’s well documented that when women feel safe, calm, confident and supported they are more likely to have low intervention, safe births.

Antenatal classes are essential in preparing a birthing woman and her support person for birth, providing information about all the potential birth outcomes, information about their birth choices and how best to communicate them, information about navigating the maternal health system and advocating for themselves that they may have a positive experience.

However the birth unfolds, having access to resources, and ante and perinatal support to ensure they are having a positive birthing experience is essential. Hypnobirthing, in my view, has never been more crucial to the birth experience than it is now. There is so much going on in the macro world that birthing mums can’t control, but having the ability to release fear, to go inward, to trust their body, use breathing techniques and optimal positions, will help them to have the most positive experience possible under even more extreme circumstances than we’ve seen before.

Hypnobirthing provides you with a range of tools to approach birth without fear, and help you to feel confident, calm and positive. Not only are there the essential resources, there are tools to help work through fear, managing stress, keeping calm, positive and relaxed throughout pregnancy and the birth, despite outside factors and uncontrollable situations. And these techniques of self-hypnosis are valuable life skills, which will help in the challenging and sometimes isolating post-partum period.

Without antenatal classes, women may also experience a loss of village. While we have the benefit of our online communities, this assumes one a) already has a social community or b) knows how to find a new / relevant community if not already connected. The antenatal classes I attended not only prepared me for my births, they put me in touch with a number of other birthing families due around the same time. And in the isolating post-partum period the mothers became my social network and my support.

The good news is that Australia’s best Hypnobirthing program is available online and virtual support can be provided by Doulas and Childbirth Educators (like me). This means we are still able to help families navigate their way through their pregnancy and childbirth journey during this time of crisis. And while, under ‘normal’ circumstances I’d recommend the group classes for the added benefits of support, community and finding your village, during this time, online support is preferable over no support at all. And Hypnobirthing will provide you with what you need to deliver your baby positively and to ensure that you can make the best of the post-partum period under these circumstances.