Mother and Baby

Wednesday Lunch Club Q+A With An Antenatal Class Instructor

Missed our Wednesday Lunch Club with antenatal class instructor Louisa Van den Bergh? Don’t worry, you can read all of the expert advice she shared here

Every week at Mother&Baby we bring you the Wednesday Lunch Club – a chance to get brilliant advice for your parenting questions from a top expert. This week, antenatal class instructor Louisa Van den Bergh on standby to answer questions.

The founder of Lulubaby, a go-to antenatal group in London, Louisa hopes to inspire and empower mums-to-be to ‘find a rhythm that will work for them and their baby.’

Louisa was inspired to set up Lulubaby after experiencing traumatic births with both of her children during her career in the fast-paced world on the trading floor at Goldman Sachs.  After her heart literally stopped for a minute during the birth of her second baby was born she decided to train as a breast feeding advisor and subsequently Lulubaby.

If you missed the chat, here’s what happened…

I already do a birthing class and am thinking about starting a breastfeeding one – is it worth the cost?

Louisa: Hello that is great you are already doing a class. If you are keen to try and breastfeed, it is definitely worth considering a class as having some knowledge will help you understand what is happening in those early days.

Breastfeeding is obviously very natural but it is not always that straightforward – I often say it is a bit like dancing – you both have to learn and practise your new skill. Your baby is born with reflexes to help him/her feed and understanding this and how your body is working to produce milk can help to get breastfeeding off to a good start. For example breastfeeding works on supply and demand and so it is important to understand that you need to stimulate your breasts regularly in those early days to ensure a good supply.

Breastfeeding is obviously very natural but it is not always that straightforward

If you can't attend a class, then do try and read up a little on the subject and look at some good quality videos of babies latching on to see how it is done. Also be sure to ask your midwife in hospital for some support if you are finding it tricky.

I’m trying for my first baby at the moment and don’t have a clue about what happens when I’m actually pregnant! How soon do I sign up for classes like this? Is there a waiting list or can I get booked in for a course straight away normally?

Louisa: Once your pregnancy is confirmed you can start to do your research. Have a look and see what is available in the area and what kind of set up they have, do call them and find out a bit more about what they do.

Then once you have had your 12-week scan, it can be a good idea to book your class then. We do find we get booked up quite early and I am sure that is the same with many other antenatal classes. Generally, the rule is the sooner you book, the more likely you will get a spot. If you wait too long you may have to be put on a waiting list. Good luck with the baby making!

Should my hubby attend antenatal classes with me? He doesn’t really want to but I think it would be a good way to get him more involved and connect with our baby. What do you think?

Louisa: Dads are encouraged to get involved but there is a balance. We have some with partners and some without. This is a great balance as it means you have the opportunity to ask some questions you may not ask if other people's partners are present (e.g. leaking breasts comes up quite often without partners there!) and also means partners are spared some details.

We often find some Dads are reluctant to come but then they actually quite enjoy the sessions and find they learn a lot and have the opportunity to really think about how life is going to change. Good snacks help too!

I am in the north east. Are these classes accessible all over the UK?

Louisa: Lulubaby is just in London at the moment, but NCT is all definitely all over.

A friend swears by meditation pregnancy classes, says it relaxes her. Do you do these classes? Are they any good? I’ve got quite high blood pressure and get stressed out so quickly so I reckon they might be good for me.

Louisa: It’s really important to look after yourself (and therefore your baby too) and keeping stress levels down is definitely a part of that.

Local magazines are also a good place to look as local antenatal courses may feature in them or advertise.

At Lulubaby we have a session which draws on the key aspects of hypnobirthing and meditation. We encourage all our mums to attend this as it is wonderfully relaxing and you go home with a CD which you can practise with. Not only useful during labour but also useful for general meditation and de-stressing.

How do I find out whereabouts in my area or how much it is, I'm currently 25 weeks.

Louisa: A good place to start your search locally is often the internet by putting in your postcode. It is also worth asking your GP or midwife for their recommendation. Local magazines are also a good place to look as local antenatal courses may feature in them or advertise.

The NCT website also has a function where you can put in your postcode and see which course is local to you.

Other things to consider when choosing an antenatal course are: location (it is really lovely to have a community of friends around you with babies the same age), partner involvement and what postnatal support is available and timings. Evenings are good for those who work, but don't write off the mornings – you are legally entitled to time off work to attend antenatal classes!

What topics would you like expert advice on? Share your ideas below.

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