Q:Firstly, I’d like to congratulate you on a wonderful magazine! YP helped when we needed advice on falling pregnant and now at 23 weeks it’s still a great help. In the Pregnancy and Birth Book by Tina Otte, she lists various things you should consider when deciding on a specific antenatal class. I’m currently undecided on two classes. The contents of both are very similar, but the one offers physical exercise using a birth ball and aqua aerobics. The other one offers no physical activities. How important is the physical exercise aspect? Do you have any suggestions as to the better choice? I know that it should be a personal decision, but I want to have an idea of what should be covered in an antenatal class.
A:Tina answers: I believe that physical exercise is one of the best things you can do to prepare your body for the challenge of labour. There are many reasons why exercising is good for you as long as you are having an uncomplicated pregnancy. I’m also aware that there aren’t many places that offer both physical exercise as well as childbirth education. You should be working out at least three times a week, over and above your childbirth lectures. Not all midwives are trained in giving appropriate exercise, so perhaps you can seek out a qualified instructor in order to get fit and join a class that you feel is the right one for you. Small classes can be very intimate and couples get to know one another really well, yet large classes (15 couples or more) can be extremely dynamic with a lot of interaction as different personalities share their humour, experience and wisdom. Childbirth classes should cover all aspects of childbirth: from vaginal delivering; to pain relief; high-tech births and deviations from the norm. Early parenting issues are usually included (jaundice, circumcision, bathing baby, cord care, fever, safety and most important – breastfeeding and crying). Some educators run a separate breastfeeding course, which I encourage you to consider. Educators should give you information based on the best available evidence, so that you can make up your own mind on what is right for you. This can only be done once you have all the facts at your fingertips.
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