A: Antenatal parenting classes help you prepare for the birth. These classes are run by midwives and by other organisations that support people in being parents and giving birth. The classes will help you understand what will happen in labour and may help you to feel less anxious.
At antenatal classes, the midwife will tell you what is available to reduce labour pain. If you need more information about epidurals (an injection into your back to numb the lower half of your body), the midwife can arrange for you to meet an anaesthetist to talk about this. If you cannot go to antenatal classes, you should still ask your midwife about what is available to help you manage the pain. You can then discuss this with the midwife who cares for you while you are in labour.
Where you choose to give birth can affect how painful it is. If you feel at ease in the place you give birth, you may be more relaxed and less anxious about labour.2 For some women this means giving birth at home, but other women feel reassured by the support offered at a hospital or birth centre. Many hospitals try to make the labour rooms look homely and encourage you to play music you like to help you feel more relaxed.
If you are planning to give birth in a hospital or birth centre, it may be helpful to look round to find out what facilities they have.
Having a friend or birth partner with you while you are in labour can be helpful for you.3 It is important to talk to your birth partner about your concerns and what you want, and they can help you to focus during the birth.
2. Waldenstrom U, Nilsson CA. Experience of childbirth in birth center care. A randomised controlled study. Acta Obstetricia et Gynecologica Scandinavica 1994; 73: 547-554.
3. Hodnett ED, Gates S, Hofmeyr GJ, Sakala C. Continuous support for women during childbirth. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2003, Issue 3. Article number: CD003766. Date of issue: 10.1002/14651858.CD003766.