Ngā akoranga hapūtanga Antenatal classes

Many pregnant people, especially those expecting their first pēpi, go to classes to learn about pregnancy, giving birth and parenting.Find out about antenatal classes, who offers them, when to book, and what things the classes cover.

Childbirth education or antenatal classes

When you see your midwife or doctor, they will talk to you a lot about pregnancy, giving birth and afterwards.

Going to childbirth education or antenatal classes can also help you to learn more about pregnancy and how to prepare for labour, birth and the first few weeks after pēpi is born.

You will also meet other pregnant whānau. Many class groups become friends during these classes and go on to have regular catch-ups (also called ‘coffee groups’) after their babies are born.

Who offers the classes

Talk to your midwife or doctor about the classes that are available in your area. Most regions provide a limited number of free classes.

There are also privately run classes — you will have to pay for these. They may be held by Parents Centre or by other providers.

Parents Centre (external link)

How long the classes are

Classes are usually 12 to 14 hours long, split over 6 or 7 evening sessions. Some may be held on Saturday mornings, or over a weekend.

When to book

You do not need to attend classes until around 30 weeks into your pregnancy, but it is a good idea to book in early — before you are 16 weeks’ pregnant or even earlier.

Some people like to go to early pregnancy classes that are available in some places.

What the classes cover

Depending on the needs of the parents in the class, more or less time will be spent on these topics.


  • Your midwife’s or doctor’s role in late pregnancy, labour and birth and the first 4 to 6 weeks after baby is born.
  • Being healthy and well — avoiding smoking, alcohol and drugs, and getting some immunisations during pregnancy.
  • Eating well and being active.
  • Scans and screening during pregnancy.
  • Pregnancy discomforts — which ones are common and which are warning signs.
  • Preparing to be a parent.
  • Preparing your home for pēpi – what clothing, furniture and bedding you need for them.
  • Preparing for labour and birth — including healthy exercise and what to pack for the hospital or preparing for a home birth.

Labour and birth

  • Options for where to give birth.
  • The stages of labour – the signs and stages of labour.
  • Labour coping skills.
  • Role of your partner, whānau or support person during labour.
  • Managing pain.
  • Possible interventions or complications and how these might be managed.

The first few weeks after your pēpi is born

  • Skin-to-skin contact straight after the birth.
  • Your choices for the whenua (placenta).
  • Your body after the birth.
  • Vitamin K and newborn screening tests.
  • Caring for your pēpi — bonding with them, settling them to sleep, responding to their cries.
  • Safe sleep.
  • Postnatal depression.
  • Enrolling pēpi with a healthcare provider and a Well Child Tamariki Ora service.
  • Immunisation and the Aotearoa Immunisation Register.