In a perfect world every pregnant woman would be on maternity leave from about 30 weeks, with lots of disposable income and a partner who works a short commute away.
But I’m pretty sure that’s not the case for many of us, making antenatal classes another awkward and potentially expensive thing to add to the list of “Things We’re Supposed To Do Before The Baby Arrives”.
We were given two options:
- Take the hospital-run classes (2 x three-hour sessions inconveniently timed smack bang in the middle of the day, and only one choice of location)
- Privately arrange NCT classes (these can be at slightly more convenient times but are a big ol’ chunk of change at a time when money is tight).
These were my motivators when hitting Google deciding there must be a better way to learn about birthing babies via the internet.
And there is.
Antenatal online takes the entire experience of antenatal classes, turns them into a series of online videos with optional 1-2-1 phone access to a midwife, and provides them for a modest subscription fee.
Sounds perfect for the cash-conscious time-poor parent-to-be right?
Prenatal ‘how-to’ videos
We were given access to the Class 1 ‘Active Birth’ videos (£55), which are “11 videos covering all aspects of labour and birth including the mechanics of giving birth, relaxation and pain relief options.”
They were brilliant. I suppose most people would just watch them on a laptop but we faffed about with an iPad HDMI converter to stream them through the telly because we’re just fancy that way.
The format is about 90% of a midwife talking to camera, with some first-hand anecdotes from parents and handy graphics: a great balance.
The detail was incredible and the tone was perfect, covering absolutely every aspect of birth and (the more controversial one) pain relief options factually and in a balanced way.
The advice is absolutely bang up to date with current NHS approaches to midwifery and labour.
How do virtual, online birthing classes compare to real classes?
After completing the antenatal classes online I was convinced I didn’t need any more info. But in the interest of reviewing properly, I extracted myself from the office to attend the NHS hospital classes to compare.
While the in-person classes were good (they seem to be, ahem, “inspired” by presentation content from other sites like www.babycentre.co.uk) with an extremely knowledgeable midwife who was able to answer any question on the fly, we probably learned more overall through the antenatal online videos.
We also had the chance to go back and watch the videos again for anything we missed.
While some people may want the interaction of sitting with and meeting other people at an in-person class, I personally prefer independent learning at home with just myself and my partner. The class was a mixed bag of people I wouldn’t necessarily hang with – and we were moving out of the area anyway.
For those who are worried that they still might have questions after watching the course online there is an option to purchase a 30-minute telephone consultation with a midwife for only £30.
What antenatal online could improve
Maybe it’s just me, but I’m stunned at the lack of written information provided around the labour and birth bit. In what is probably going to be a stressful, intense and exhausting moment of our lives, my partner and I will have to rely on memory to recall stuff like “three contractions, in a 10-minute period, lasting for a period of 60-90 seconds” before we’re supposed to call the hospital and tell them we’re on our way.
And I can’t even remember what stage of labour that would put us in. Or what comes next.
Antenatal online used lovely graphics throughout the videos to bookmark stages of labour and what would be happening at each phase. I automatically assumed they would be available as resources on the site to print out. They weren’t – and it seemed like an obvious value-add which should be there.
They would also double as marketing collateral (I’m pretty sure any pregnant woman who saw those graphics would quickly be lured away from the poorly done NHS PowerPoint presentations).
Summary of the service
My partner and I would recommend antenatal online to anyone who could afford the subscription. If you can’t maybe you could ask for one of the packages as a gift. They are a private option outside of what you get for free from the NHS but significantly less cost (and from some feedback I’ve heard, less biased) than attending NCT classes.
The level of detail and the presentation style has left me feeling as relaxed and prepared as I think anyone could be around something so mind-blowingly epic as what I’m about to put my body through. And even someone as cost-conscious as me can’t put a value on that.
Antenatal online Class 1 ‘Active Birth’ videos (£55)