Antenatal education – where next?


Mary Nolan, 45 Bittell Road, Barnt Green, Birmingham B45 8LU


The history of antenatal education throws light on why contemporary class attenders represent only a particular section of the childbearing population. Since Victorian times, the non-availability of the women's network to middle class women has forced them to seek knowledge of their own bodies, confidence in their childbearing capacities and the support of other women through formal educational opportunities. Research suggests that antenatal classes often fail to provide women with a realistic account of birth and parenting to replace the lived experience of earlier decades and may not be facilitated in such a way as to create the support groups which class attenders critically need. Teaching approaches often promote dependency amongst clients rather than nurturing the decision-making skills required by a consumer-driven maternity service.