Janine Smith

What’s the point of antenatal classes…

I work with a lot of parents – antenatally as well as postnatally – so there is always a lot of discussion around birth and preparation for it. A common themes is the assumption that all antenatal classes are the same – they’re not. There can be a lot of well-meaning antenatal classes out there but that doesn’t mean it’s effective birth preparation.

Good antenatal classes can make a huge difference to confidence which means that expectant parents can have more understanding of the process, a greater belief in their ability and the confidence to ask questions, to put themselves at the centre of their care – this is so important because maternity units can be busy and even the most brilliant of midwives are juggling.

Labour can be straight-forward, or it can be tough going – I am passionate about preparing you as best I can for the changes that can happen so you feel better able to go with it, to stay calm and to keep gathering the information.

My antenatal classes focus on…

knowledge about the physiology of labour and birth, what helps labour happen and what can get it the way

practical ideas and strategies for working with your contractions, for managing tiredness and to stay as calm as possible so you know more about your options and what you can do to be as comfortable and as calm as possible

empowerment so you can focus on what feels right for you and saying what you need – this is your show, you need to be able to say what you are doing, what feels comfortable for you and to go into this with more confidence

what labour and birth can look and feel like – there’s a whole range of experiences out there

birth partners – I have worked as a birth doula and there is so much you can do to look after the birth space and to speak up so that wishes are listened to and so you know more about options and what’s going on.

more than just straight-forward labour and birth – medical procedures can become necessary so I want you to be better prepared with knowledge in-case that happens. We’ll talk through pain relief, induction, caesareans and the use of forceps and ventouse – so you know more about what these involve but also what some of your options are.

Beyond Birth – your recovery, your body, what’s normal within those early hours and days as new parents with your new baby, along with practical information for looking after you and your baby.

Providing an individual service, so you can ask questions and work out what is right for you. I also encourage you to keep in touch and to ask questions after your antenatal sessions because you may need more information, plans and reassurance.

My role as a birth practitioner is never to tell you what to do or to tell you exactly how it will be because labour is far too unique for that. No antenatal class will ever get it 100% right but I aim to make a difference as much as I can.

The point of my antenatal classes is for you to be better able to:
work with your body
stay calm
be involved with decisions
think about what you want and what you might need
ask for information and support
put yourself at the centre of your care rather than just be told what to do

My antenatal class model is about small groups and 1:1 sessions – I moved to this a few years ago after I became unhappy with the big group way of doing things. This just didn’t feel individual enough. I’m trying hard to change expectations and to encourage you to really think about what feels right for you.

I run antenatal classes each month as well as 1:1 sessions to focus on labour & birth, relaxation & breathing techniques and beyond birth. And I truly love what I do.

Janine Smith – a specialist in pregnancy, birth and early parenting

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An experienced specialist in pregnancy, birth & early parenting, I have worked with parents since 2002. I am based in the North East so I regularly work with parents from Newcastle, Northumberland, Gateshead and across North Tyneside. Face-to-face sessions will continue with North East parents but digital courses and online sessions means I can work with parents everywhere.