All about childbirth education classes

Why do we need to take childbirth education classes?
"The more prepared parents are for the birth of their child, the better the whole birth experience is for them," says Marinda Coetzee, Medi-Clinic national coordinator of the Medi-Twinkle programme.

Marinda explains that there are a lot of options available when it comes to childbirth and parents need to be able to make an informed decision. She says: "Most of our hospitals offer ante-natal classes, the course may vary from hospital to hospital, but includes a minimum of six classes. The classes cover topics such as birthing options (natural versus Caesarian birth), pain relief options, baby care, breastfeeding, preparing for parenthood, nutrition and breathing techniques."

Why is it important for dads and birth-partners to attend childbirth education classes as well?
"Nowadays the dads and birth-partners want to be involved and prepared too," says Marinda. She adds that dads and birth-partners are often scared about the birthing process and what will be expected of them during this time. "As soon as they know what to expect and understand the role they need to play during the stages of pregnancy, labour and parenting, they have more confidence to adapt to this new role," she says. "This has an amazingly positive effect on the bonding process with the new baby and aids in building a bond as a family."

Another reason for the inclusion of partners in childbirth education classes is that parenting roles are becoming less and less gender specific. Men aren't necessarily the chief breadwinners anymore and women the main caregivers. Many couples have adopted a more democratic approach to parenting, with fathers becoming involved earlier and more intimately in the responsibilities of child rearing.

How do I select the childbirth education class that is right for me?
Marinda suggests meeting the childbirth educator before you join and finding out the following:
  • Is she qualified? The minimum requirement is proper training in midwifery.
  • Does she attend regular education programme updates?
  • Is she a mother herself?
  • Does the educator support your ideals for labour?
  • Are there practical sessions on breathing techniques, labour positions, massage and relaxation?
  • What is the cost of the classes?
  • Are partners welcome?
  • Which birthing methods are discussed in the course?

Knowledge is power
The Medi-Clinic private hospital group introduced the Medi-Twinkle programme just over a year ago in order to help educate and support expectant moms and mothers of newborn babies, as well as their partners, right from the start of their pregnancy.

"We aim to empower moms right from the word go," says Marinda. She explains that the programme aims to guide expectant mothers and their birth partners through this very special time in their lives and to educate them on their responsibilities in terms of the health and well-being of themselves and their unborn babies.

The programme includes, amongst other things, an information pack; a pregnancy journal; a memory box filled with quality baby and personal care samples provided by selected suppliers; access to antenatal classes and assistance with the registering of newborn babies with the Department of Home Affairs at each of the participating Medi-Clinic hospitals.

For more information visit and contact your nearest hospital.

Have you ever been to one of these classes? Was it beneficial? Do you think its too expensive?
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