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Find out how antenatal classes prepare you for your baby's birth and details of how to find and choose a class.
Antenatal classes can help you to prepare for your baby's birth and give you confidence and information.
They're usually informative and fun, and they're free on the NHS.
You can learn how to:
You may also meet some of the people who will look after you during labour and after the birth. You'll be able to discuss your plans and any worries with professionals and other parents.
Antenatal classes are also a good way to make friends with other parents who are expecting babies around the same time as you. These friendships can help you through the first few months with your baby.
Think about what you hope to gain from antenatal classes so you can find the sort of class that suits you best.
Places in antenatal classes can get booked up early. It's a good idea to start making enquiries early in pregnancy so you can secure a place in the class that you choose. You can attend more than 1 class.
To find out about classes near you, ask your midwife, health visitor or GP. NHS antenatal classes are free.
Speak to your community midwife if you cannot go to classes.
You might be able to attend introductory classes on baby care early in pregnancy, but most antenatal classes start around 8 to 10 weeks before your baby is due, when you're around 30 to 32 weeks pregnant.
If you're expecting twins, start your classes when you're around 24 weeks pregnant because your babies are more likely to be born early. Some units offer special antenatal classes if you're expecting multiples – ask your midwife about this.
Classes are normally held once a week, either during the day or in the evening, for around 2 hours. Some classes are just for you, others welcome partners or friends to some or all of the sessions. In some areas, there are set classes for if you're single, a teenager or if English is not your first language.
Find out more about teenage pregnancy support
The kinds of topics covered by antenatal classes are:
Some classes cover all these topics. Others focus on certain aspects, such as exercises and relaxation, or caring for your baby.
The number of different antenatal classes available varies from place to place.
Find antenatal classes in your area
Children's Centres also support families with children under the age of 5. They can provide:
Find a Sure Start Children's Centre in your area (GOV.UK)
It's important to continue taking any medication prescribed unless your GP/specialist specifically tells you to stop. Please visit our Existing Health Conditions page for more information, or visit 'Bumps' ('Best Use of Medicines in Pregnancy').
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