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  2. Dads Guide to Pregnancy
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Birth classes: what they are and why they’re good

Birth, antenatal or prenatal classes – these terms all mean the same thing. They’re classes to help you and your partner get ready for labour, birth, breastfeeding and early parenting.

What to expect from birth classes

Birth classes give detailed information about labour, birth, pain relief choices and ways to support your partner during the birth.

Many classes include information about parenting in the first few months, settling your baby and breastfeeding.

Even if you’ve done research online or talked to other expectant dads, at birth classes you can ask questions, clear up conflicting advice, and get specific information about the place where your baby will be born.

If you’re looking at information online, keep in mind that overseas websites might not reflect how Australian systems work. At raisingchildren.net.au, we have lots of reliable and up-to-date information on pregnancy, birth, becoming a dad and parenting in Australia. Start with Birth Choices, our award-winning guide to pregnancy and birth care.

Why you should go to birth classes

Birth classes give you a clearer idea of what to expect during pregnancy, labour and birth. This can help you be a more confident advocate and support for your partner during each stage of labour. You and your partner can also work better as a team when the going gets tough.

And when you have some idea of what to expect when you get home with your new baby, you and your partner might feel more confident through the early days and weeks.

Birth classes can be a great starting point for later discussions with your partner. These discussions will help you and your partner understand each other as you get ready for birth and parenting.

Birth classes are also a great chance to meet other people in the same stage of life as you. Some parents find that the people they meet in birth classes turn into friends later on.
Go to some of those birthing education classes and know that birth isn’t always a fairy tale. It can be, but sometimes it isn’t. Sometimes it can be quite difficult. It’s a bloody, messy process. I was shocked by it.
– George, father of two

Birth class options

Most hospitals and birth centres offer basic birth classes.

Hospital birth classes are usually offered over several weeks on weeknights. Sometimes you might have the option of doing a weekend class. Decide with your partner on what will suit you both best.

Classes can book out well in advance, so you might need to be flexible.

Some birth settings, like private hospitals, offer online learning instead of face-to-face classes. If this is an option for you, it’s a good idea to do online learning with your partner. This way you can go through your questions, expectations and plans together.

There are also private classes that cover different approaches to birth, like active birth, water birth, calm birth and so on. You and your partner can explore options together if you’re interested. 

If there’s one in your area, you could also think about going to a birth class just for men. This is where you can learn more about being a dad, pregnancy, birth and babies – and compare experiences with other expectant dads.

Things you can do

  • Decide with your partner on what kind of birth classes will suit you as a couple, and what days or nights suit you both best.
  • Go along to go to birth classes together and keep the discussion going afterwards.
  • If you’re looking online for information about birth, keep in mind that overseas websites might not reflect how Australian systems work.

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Last updated or reviewed
09-08-2016

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Raising Children Network is supported by the Australian Government. Member organisations are the Parenting Research Centre and the Murdoch Childrens Research Institute with The Royal Children’s Hospital Centre for Community Child Health.

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