Looking for the best antenatal class Malaysia has to offer? The journey to parenthood can be one of life's most profound and transformative experiences. As an expectant parent in Malaysia, one of the most significant steps you can take to prepare for the arrival of your little one is enrolling in an antenatal class to prepare yourselves mentally and physically.
While there are various options available, if you aspire to have a natural birth, selecting the right natural birth antenatal class is paramount. This article is a comprehensive guide on how to choose the natural birth antenatal class in Malaysia that is right for you.
Understanding the Significance of Natural Birth
Natural birth, also known as physiological or unmedicated birth, focuses on allowing labour and birth to progress as naturally as possible with no unnecessary medical intervention. The philosophy is that women’s bodies are designed to conceive, grow and birth a human. And because there are billions of human beings on the planet and women have been birthing for thousands of years, the process of birth, just like all other physiological processes in our bodies, is designed perfectly. If any complications do occur it is because the mother or baby are not healthy to begin with. Many parents in Malaysia are embracing this approach to childbirth due to its potential benefits for both the mother and baby.
The following are just a few advantages of natural childbirth:
1. Feelings of Empowerment: Natural birth encourages mothers to follow and trust their own bodily instincts, fostering a sense of autonomy, accomplishment and self-confidence. Birth is not simply something that happens to mothers, but it is something we do and take pride in.
2. Shorter Recovery: With fewer medical interventions, the recovery period after a natural birth is often shorter and less uncomfortable. The mother is also energized because naturally occuring hormones such as oxytocin and prolactin flood her body that enable her to mother her baby with confidence and compassion.
3. Reduced Risks: Natural birth is associated with lower risks of certain complications and interventions, such as cesarean sections which carry risks such as higher risk of infant and maternal mortality, hysterectomy and complications in future pregnancies.
4. Bonding: The absence of medical interventions can enhance the bonding process between the mother and her newborn. This leads to higher breastfeeding rates, faster recovery for the mother and the stabilization of baby’s vital signs, such as blood pressure & body temperature, in its new environment.
Choosing the right natural birth antenatal class can equip you with the knowledge and skills needed to embrace this approach confidently.
1. Determine Your Birth Goals
Before you begin your search for a natural birth antenatal class, take the time to clarify your birth preferences. Reflect on the following questions:
- Do you want a medication-free birth, or are you open to limited medical interventions?
- Are you interested in alternative pain management techniques like hypnobirthing, water birth, or massage?
- Are you planning a homebirth, birthing center birth, or hospital birth?
Understanding your birth plan and preferences will help you choose a class that aligns with your goals.
2. Research Antenatal Class Providers
Begin your search by researching antenatal class providers in Malaysia that specialize in natural birth. You can explore the following options:
- Healthcare Providers: Consult with your healthcare provider, such as your obstetrician or midwife, for recommendations on reputable natural birth antenatal classes in your area. Do note however, that hospital antenatal classes focus on medical birth, rather than natural birth. You will learn about what drugs are available rather than how to work with your body.
- Online Resources: Use online resources, such as search engines and parenting forums to identify antenatal class providers. Reading reviews and experiences from other expectant parents can be insightful.
- Social Media Groups: Join local social media groups or forums dedicated to natural childbirth discussions. These platforms can be excellent sources of recommendations and firsthand experiences. The Gentle Birthing Group on facebook is one such group which was created about thirteen years ago by me and a few other mothers. It has a wealth of information of personal experiences, stories and recommendations shared by other mothers.
3. Evaluate Class Curriculum
Once you've identified potential natural birth antenatal classes, it's important to evaluate their syllabus. A comprehensive syllabus should cover main topics such as:
- Physiology of Birth: Understand the anatomy of the birthing body, the different stages of labour and what changes are happening in our bodies during each stage, birthing positions to enhance our physiology.
- Natural Pain Management Techniques: Learn and practice various natural pain relief methods, such as deep breathing, relaxation, visualization, massage, hypnosis and affirmations.
- Nutrition and Exercise: Explore the importance of maintaining a healthy lifestyle during pregnancy to improve your chances of a natural birth.
- The Role of the Birth Companion - Discover the different important ways your spouse / partner / birth companion can support you mentally, physically and emotionally during the birthing of your child.
- Birthing Environment: Gain insights into creating a calm and comfortable birthing environment, whether you plan to give birth at home, in a birthing center, or a hospital.
- Shopping for the Right Birth Team: Learn how to communicate your birth preferences and shop for the right healthcare provider for you. This is one of the key aspects of increasing your chances of a natural birth, as the healthcare provider can either make or break your birth.
Ensure that the class you choose places a significant emphasis on the aspects of natural birth that matter most to you.
The expertise and experience of the instructor are vital factors in the effectiveness of a natural birth antenatal class. Look for an instructor who is:
- Certified: Ensure that the instructor is certified in natural childbirth education. You can check this by checking to see if they are listed on the accrediting institute’s website, for example, the HypnoBirthing Institute.
- Experienced: Inquire about the instructor's background and experience in assisting natural births or teaching natural birth classes. As an example, someone who has experienced birth herself, has been conducting antenatal classes for a considerable amount of time and attending other births would have more experience than one who has never given birth before or does not work with pregnant mothers. As a practicing HypnoBirthing antenatal class instructor in Malaysia for over twelve years and having worked with different doctors over the years, I would say this is an important aspect to consider.
- Supportive: Choose an instructor who is supportive of your chosen birthing approach, whether it's home birth, birthing center, or a hospital birth with minimal interventions.
Don't hesitate to ask for references or testimonials from previous participants.
5. Class Format and Schedule
Consider the format and schedule of the antenatal class. Antenatal classes can be conducted in various formats, including:
- Group Classes: Typically held in-person or online, these classes involve multiple couples and offer the opportunity to connect with other expectant parents. Group classes often provide a sense of community and shared experience. As a general rule, in-person classes would be ideal as there is maximum interaction and opportunity for learning, especially if movement and other pain-management techniques are taught. However, more providers are offering antenatal classes online for the convenience it provides. If this interests you, click here for some of my class options.
- Private Classes: Private sessions allow for personalized attention and flexibility in terms of scheduling and content. This option is ideal for those who prefer one-on-one guidance or have unique scheduling constraints.
- Weekend Workshops: Weekend workshops are intensive sessions that cover a condensed curriculum over a short period, often a weekend. Although they may be more convenient for mothers who have a busy schedule, please note they will likely not be adequate to understand or practice or consider everything about natural birth in Malaysia.
- Pregnancy Retreats: The focus of pregnancy retreats is for expectant mothers to take time out of their busy schedules and connect with nature, their bodies and their babies in-utero - usually over a weekend. They are a good opportunity to reflect on your impending role as a new mother with other mothers in the same boat. They complement rather than take the place of formal birth education. I host the Artful Pregnancy Retreat with my Gentle Birthing Group co-founder, Joanna Cheryan, and during the retreat, mothers can expect an immersive experience where they can explore their creative side through art, mindfulness and movement during the transformative period of pregnancy.
Choose the format that aligns with your lifestyle and preferences.
6. Attend an Orientation or Trial Class
Many natural birth antenatal class providers offer free antenatal classes that serve as trial or introductory classes. Participating in one of these sessions can provide you with firsthand experience of what to expect from the full course. During the trial class, consider the teaching style, atmosphere, and the instructor's approach. This will help you determine if the class resonates with your learning style and natural birth objectives. If you would like to learn from someone who has been teaching HypnoBirthing for over twelve years, I host a free antenatal class (introductory session online) every month. We learn about the science behind HypnoBirthing and how it can be a powerful way to prepare for your birth. If you are interested, sign up here.
7. Consider Cost and Location
As with any investment, consider the cost of the natural birth antenatal class and ensure that it fits within your budget. Additionally, assess the class's location to determine if it is convenient for you, especially if it's an in-person class. Take into account any additional costs, such as course materials or resources required for the class.
8. Seek Recommendations
Finally, seek recommendations from fellow parents or friends who have attended natural birth antenatal classes in Malaysia. Their firsthand experiences can provide valuable insights and help you make an informed decision. Personal recommendations often provide a sense of trust and reliability.
Conclusion: Antenatal Class Malaysia
Choosing the right natural birth antenatal class in Malaysia is a pivotal step in your journey towards becoming a parent. By working through the steps listed above, you can make an informed decision that aligns with your vision of a safe, empowering, and fulfilling childbirth experience. Remember that education and preparation are key to achieving the natural birth experience you desire, and the right antenatal class can be an invaluable resource on this transformative path to parenthood. A great place to start to get a taste for what to expect is to attend a free antenatal class as an introductory trial. Sign up here for a free introductory HypnoBirthing antenatal class.