Parents Centres Antenatal (Childbirth) Education Course Outline

This is the standard course offered by Parents Centre & taught by one of our qualified Childbirth Educators.

 Course duration

Minimum of 12 hours (but preferably 14 hours or more), usually over 6 to 9 weeks, depending on whether an Early Pregnancy Course has been run.
Weekend, block or ‘intensive’ courses may also be run according to the expressed needs of pregnant women.

Some topics will be excluded if these have been covered in an early pregnancy course. 

Contact a Centre near you to enrol for classes in your area



Foetal Development

  • Developmental stages of the foetus

  • Description and role of the placenta

  • Effects on foetus of drugs, alcohol and smoking

  • Information on available smoking cessation courses

Prenatal Care

  • “Routine” tests and their significance

  • Options in childbirth, caregiver, and place of birth

  • Visits to caregiver, including birth plans, communication, seeking second opinion, issues surrounding informed choice and consent

  • Special tests, including ultrasound scanning, electronic foetal monitoring

  • Possible pregnancy problems, including signs and symptoms



  • Relevance and importance of nutrition in pregnancy

  • Increased nutritional needs in pregnancy and ways of ensuring these are met

  • Nutritional means of reducing pregnancy complications/discomforts

  • Dental care in pregnancy


Physical and Psychological Needs

  • Changes in the mother's physiology/pregnancy discomforts

  • Psychological/emotional changes arising out of physical changes, changes in lifestyle and circumstances, changing sexuality, relationship changes


Pelvic Awareness

  • Description of the pelvis.  Demonstration on how the pelvis moves and positions useful for increasing the size of the outlet for labour

  • Description of the pelvic floor: the muscles, their shape and the significance of this shape

  • Pelvic floor exercises and perineal massage

  • Optimal foetal positioning


Relaxation - interwoven

  • Demonstrate breathing awareness as a relaxation technique. May include visualisation, progressive relaxation - optional

  • Discuss relaxation as a life skill and it’s use in labour

  • Enhancing relaxation during Labour by modifying the environment; role of support people; positions for labour and birth

  • Use of massage and touch; water and heat


Stretching and Exercise

  • Benefits and cautions of stretching in pregnancy

  • Posture and back care

  • Stretching to include the way the out breath is used in labour

  • General exercise options available in the community


Coping with Contractions

  • The physiological and psychological aspects of pain in labour

  • The role of pain in labour

  • Ways of making labour contractions manageable

  • The interplay of hormones during labour


Description of Labour

  • An overview of the complete labour/birth process.
  • A more detailed description of normal labour and its variations to include:
    • Signs of impending labour
    • Onset of labour
    • First stage patterns
    • Birthing behaviour and emotional responses
    • Admission procedures if appropriate
    • Monitoring of mother and baby
    • Second stage and birth
    • Third stage
    • Initial contact with baby
  • Many of these topics maybe integrated and taught together


Drugs, Obstetric Procedures and their Alternatives

  • Informed decision making and consents

  • Alternative methods and self help techniques

  • Common obstetric procedures: risks/benefits/alternatives

  • Description of drugs used for pain relief: risks/benefits/alternatives



  • Importance of breastfeeding (not pros & cons)

  • First contact with baby – the importance of skin to skin

  • Positioning the baby at the breast

  • Physiology of lactation. Supply = demand, let-down reflex

  • Possible early challenges: sore nipples, engorgement etc

  • Supplementary feeds, conflicting advice

  • Mother’s nutritional needs while breastfeeding

  • Local breastfeeding resources and support available

  • BFHI & the 10 Steps to successful breastfeeding

  • Contraception for the breastfeeding mother


Postnatal Issues

  • Lochia, third day blues, ‘after pains’, rooming-in, demand feeding, early discharge, care during the immediate postpartum period, conflicting advice

  • Newborn appearance, care of the newborn

  • Vitamin K, jaundice, Guthrie test, neonatal intensive care, vaccinations, baby with special needs

  • Safe Sleeping – 6 principles of safe-sleeping, co sleeping, head shape, sleep positions


Early Days at Home

  • Responsive parenting and the transition for baby from womb to world

  • Ideas for coping in the first few weeks, including self-care, coping with tiredness, priorities

  • Relationship changes, Communication

  • Sexuality and Contraception - variation in needs and desires, importance of communication


Unplanned Experiences

  • There are many aspects to this topic and it should be woven into the classes wherever possible. Outcomes that should be included are:

    • Unexpected obstetric complications Postnatal Depression/PTSD

    • Sick or premature infant high/special needs babies

    • Stillbirth Any experience that does not match

    • SUDI circumstances

    • Discussion on grieving and ways of coping in these circumstances

Well Child Care

  • Entitlement to universal well child care

  • Options in well child providers


Optional topics

  • Infant CPR –using a qualified tutor
  • Infant car seats – in brief or using a qualified tutor to demonstrate
  • Signs and symptoms of Illness, when to call the doctor
  • Postnatal Exercises
  • Community Support
  • Practical Parenting
    • Infant equipment & products
    • Nappies
    • Infant clothing
    • Baby bathing
    • Infant massage
    • Bedding – SUDI & safe sleeping must only be taught by a CBE
    • Breastfeeding related matters – these can only be included when a CBE facilitator is used

Teaching Resources

To enable the Childbirth Educator to vary their teaching and presentation techniques, a range of resources will be necessary. The extent of these resources will vary from Centre to Centre according to circumstances may include most of the following:

  • DVDs - about Parents Centres New Zealand, childbirth, breastfeeding, the first few days after birth, CPR, child safety  
  • Mats, pillows, chairs
  • Pelvis and doll, knitted uterus, placenta
  • Whiteboard, blackboard, OHP
  • Charts showing foetal development, presentation, labour, the newborn, breastfeeding
  • Pamphlets on a variety of topics such as caesarean section, infant feeding, resource personnel, community groups recommended by Parents Centres
  • Books and texts: Preparing for Birth
  • A well stocked library about birth and parenting

 Contact a Centre near you to enrol for classes in your area