You should be about to start parentcraft classes. You may choose one or more of these . Parentcraft classes show you practical techniques such as relaxation, breathing, and postures for labour and birth. The teacher can answer any questions you may have during the last few months of your pregnancy and will be able to give you information on the birth. Your partner will be welcome at some classes and you will find that they are a good way of meeting other pregnant women and sharing mutual anxieties. The hospital and locally run classes are free, but classes such as National Childbirth Trust and Active Birth charge a fee.
Hospital Classes. These are run by the hospital where you plan to give the birth and usually take place over six to eight week. You need to attend the course that is nearest to your expected that of delivery. Some hospital have a parentcraft teacher, who co-ordinates ante-natal education . You will be taken on a hospital tour so that you can see the labour ward, post-natal ward, and the special care baby unit.
Local Classes. These are usually run by a midwife or a health visitor attached to your doctor’s surgery or health center and take place over six to eight weeks.
National Childbirth Trust (NCT). NCT classes are privately run, usually by mothers who have been trained by the NCT. They need to be booked early because they are deliberately kept small and they become fully booked very quickly. Although everything covered on the hospital and local parentcraft courses is included on the NCT course, the classes are more discussion-based and there are no rigid relaxation and breathing techniques. You are taught a variety of skill for dealing with labour and the birth, from which you can choose when the time comes.
Active Birth Classes. These are privately run weekly classes that concentrate on the physical preparation for labour and birth. You are taught a range of yoga-based stretching exercises as well as breathing and relaxation techniques. These classes are mainly for women, with a special session for father, and you can join them at any time during your pregnancy.
Controlled breathing is important during labour and you need to practise the breathing exercises you will be taught at your classes. Breathing needs to be slow and smooth with deep breaths, inhaled through your nose and exhaled through your mouth. A long slow breath at the beginning of each contraction will help oxygenate your blood and this may help relieve any pain caused by lack of oxygen to the muscles of your uterus. Oxygen is also carried in the blood flowing through the placenta into the umbilical cord, so if you do not get enough, your baby will suffer a shortage too.
During contractions you will be concentrating on each outward breath as this will help you to relax your muscles. It will be important not to over-breathe during the second stage of labour, because this may make you feel dizzy and light-headed. If you do find yourself needing to breathe more quickly then you should concentrate on making each breath as light as possible.