Developing Effective Antenatal Educational Programs

Date Posted:6 September 2016 

The birth of a child is one of the most significant events in the life of the mother. While many women prefer to prepare for the experience by consulting friends and family members, others choose to attend antenatal education programs.

The quality and delivery method of the education can vary, but the majority of these courses concern the bulk of their teaching time with preparation for childbirth and the stages of pregnancy.[1] This myopic focus can and has left mothers feeling unprepared for the challenges of post-natal childcare.[2] This article will explore how antenatal education could potentially be improved in Australia and redirected to better serve the needs of expectant mothers and women trying to conceive.

Understanding the needs of expectant mothers

As a painful and potentially traumatic experience for mothers, childbirth is the focus of much of antenatal education. Educators have reported that previous students have expressed disinterest in education not directly relating to childbirth and pregnancy – one reporting that fewer than half of the women attending their class were interested in education relating to the postnatal period, and that the majority of those questions pertained to the skills needed immediately after birth.[3]

However, other studies have refuted this, noting that many women have reported feelings of dissatisfaction with antenatal education programmes. These women say they are insufficiently prepared for caring for a new child, and were relying on the antenatal education programme to cover this.[4]

A holistic approach to motherhood at all stages

Even if educators do perceive a resistance to education about the postnatal period, it is incumbent on them to find an approach that does deliver the necessary information. Antenatal education is now relied upon as the primary source of information for many mothers on childbirth and parenting skills – replacing informal consultation with other women[5]. Under this new system, many women report losing access to the emotional insights and practical experience of childcare that informal education provided[6].

Antenatal educators must find a way to better educate women on the early stages of parenting if they want to claim to provide a comprehensive education for new mothers.



[1] O'Meara, C. M. (1993). An evaluation of consumer perspectives of childbirth and parenting education. Midwifery, 9(4), 210-219.

[2] Ibid

[3] Renkert, S., & Nutbeam, D. (2001). Opportunities to improve maternal health literacy through antenatal education: an exploratory study. Health Promotion International, 16(4), 381-388.

[4] O’Meara. Consumer perspectives of childbirth.

[5] Nolan, M. L. (1997). Antenatal education–Where next?. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 25(6), 1198-1204.

[6] Ibid

Comments (2)

That adredsses sever

4 February 2017
That adredsses several of my concerns actually.


14 January 2017
It is with these limitations in mind that further research on the acceptability of group B strep immunisation in pregnant women in the UK is being conducted using focus groups, interviews and questionnaires to specifically obtain the views of pregnant women and maternity healthcare professionals. If these findings support the data presented here, then, depending on the development of an effective and safe vaccine, immunisation of pregnant women against group B strep could be the next major breakthrough in the prevention of neonatal sepsis and meningitis.

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