There are so many things to budget for when a new baby is on the way. Expectant parents have different priorities for investment and budgeting at this time. The pregnancy, birth and baby market for products and services is HUGE. With the value of hindsight so many parents are deeply grateful that they invested in preparing themselves physically and emotionally for the life changing experience of giving birth and early parenthood. With the value of hindsight, I regularly hear new parents say – ‘it was the best thing we did’.  
 
What new parents have to say with the benefit of hindsight 
Some parents have invested jointly in antenatal classes like NCT as well as private 121 birth preparation. They attribute the benefit of NCT classes was connection with other expectant parents. But that the course itself often didn’t really prepare them for what was ahead. 121 birth preparation on the other hand, was about them as a couple and realistically prepared them for their birth experience, regardless of what that looked like. To be clear, when I talk about 121 birth preparation I’m talking about a full workshop, not a 2 hour session with an antenatal teacher or midwife. So, here is what new parents say are the top 5 benefits of 121 private birth preparation with the value of hindsight. 

1. A 121 birth preparation programme tailored for you 

new born baby birth preparation
A private 121 birth preparation is completely focused on you, your experiences, worries and fears. Six hours of immersion in preparing for your baby’s birth is about just that – you, your baby and your family unit. Lots of teachers offer private 121 but as a two or three hour session and not a full day.  
 
Real value for money 
Group antenatal classes are often structured as 2 hour sessions weekly over the course of six to eight weeks– adding up to approximately twelve hours of antenatal education and a two hour postnatal reunion. In theory, this sounds like better value for money BUT it doesn’t take into account the amount of time spent settling into the class, the chat and the time focused on stuff that may not be relevant to where you and your birth partner are at.  
 
Antenatal preparation that is an experience and not just a tick box exercise 
Most expectant parents are working, so a two hour session in the evening can be tiring and somewhat difficult to focus on or enjoy. When its just you and your antenatal teacher – you can look forward to a very special day. You can make this day special one to remember with photographs, snacks, switching off the phone etc – a bit like the real deal. It can be something to look forward to - a space and time dedicated to you, your relationship and your baby. Lots of parents report that they felt so much closer and connected with each other about the birth and becoming parents after a 121 workshop. They often describe a greater sense of connection with their baby, greater confidence and that they actually look forward to their babys birth following their 121 antenatal birth preparation. 
 

2. Access to greater quality and quantity of information and support 

new born baby birth preparation
Deciphering what to expect from a private antenatal course 
There is a lot of information out there when it comes to pregnancy, birth and beyond. Its imperative to check the credentials, training and experience of the antenatal teacher as well as the course content of any private birth preparation class.  
 
Robust, quality up to date information  
Information should be factual with up to date evidence to inform your choices. Your investment should return a depth of knowledge you can understand and that gives you confidence to birth your baby. A depth of practical knowledge will inform decisions and choices you may face before, during and after birth. Lots of information can be delivered in an antenatal class but very often this is an overview or a whistle stop tour. With hindsight, parents recognise the level of knowledge and understanding they gained about the birth process was directly proportional to their confidence and ability to have a positive experience. They describe feeling quietly empowered 
 
Active birth information and support doesn't end with a workshop 
Antenatal preparation is about getting the womans body and mind in an optimal condition for birth. Simple exercises and understanding for the mind and body can make all the difference in the weeks before labour. Learning specific active birth principles enables you to work with your body as opposed to against it in labour. With Big Steps Little Feet the journey of education and support does not have to end after an antenatal workshop. Parents can complete a newborn baby workshop as a standalone workshop or a bolt on to the active birth workshop. Telephone and email support is offered within reason until after your baby is born. Postnatally, I offer telephone support sessions, individually or as a package of care. 

3. Birth partners prefer and LOVE this antenatal preparation 

new born baby birth preparation
Turning a sense of uselessness into confidence and real support in birth 
It is my experience that the majority of birth partners who attend a 121 birth preparation workshop with me have done so with lets say a visible low level of enthusiasm! Often they are there to please and support their pregnant partner. Most of those partners have been men who have little faith in how this workshop can help them much – after all they’re not the ones having the baby!  
 
A partner who views birth from a whole new perspective 
It is also my experience that by the end of a 121 workshop that birth partners have loved it… without exception! Their initial reservations and hesitation about spending a ‘WHOLE day on birth’, ‘there can’t be that much to it’ cries dissipate into a tangible enthusiasm, a real awe and fascination at being part of something so phenomenal and a real sense of how important they are in the birth room. 
 
Birth partners learn all they need to know to be the best support possibe 
They get all the knowledge and confidence they need to be an active birth partner. Partners describe a sense and recognition of their very real value during labour and birth. They have been able to speak as an advocate for the birthing womans wishes. They have known how to give real and physical and emotional support with accupressure, massage and breathing techniques. I talk about men here but it’s worth saying, I have facilitated birth preparation workshops with same sex couples, expectant parents through surrogacy and doulas and the feedback is the same 'the midwives were very impressed with me as a birth partner..' Mark 
 

4. A safe space to lose all your fears 

new born baby birth preparation
Get all your questions answered 
Its true that you can really hide in a room of people – even more so on zoom. Your bum is on the seat and you stay for the entirety then you have completed the course – right? This is true but what have you gained? Some patience and tolerance? An overview? A friend? Have your questions been answered? Lots of questions posed in these forums are based on others stories and fears of the ‘what if’s’ and how’s. 
 
In a room or zoom with others its not always easy to have the courage it takes to express those fears. This is especially the case if you and your partner have had a journey of loss or assisted conception. Because 121 birth preparation is private and confidential it is unique to you. Working in a safe space with just your worries, fears and concerns allows all of the shadows of the ‘what if’s’ and ‘hows’ to be expressed and lifted. When the fear is removed an exquisite space is created to fill with solutions and techniques for a positive labour and birth. From fear full to fear less. 
 

5. The big benefit of practicing skills and techniques for birth 

new born baby birth preparation
This is a huge benefit of 121 birth preparation. Whilst we now agree that knowledge is really important – it needs to be recognised that it’s not just the nuts and blots of the how to’s but the action and practice of the how to. I’ll be honest, in reality there is a two minute cringe factor before actually practicing some of the techniques during a workshop. But that’s all it is, two minutes and sooo worth it. These, you will most definitely use during birth. The benefit of private 121 session is that you get to really try it our together. A two minute cringe factor is bearable when its jut the two of you together with the teacher as opposed to a zoom/room of 10 couples!  
 
The practical skills of active birth and hypnobirthing 
The types of techniques and skills you will learn include those under the umbrella of hypnobirthing and active birth principles. This is the stuff you’re making the investment in – the breathing techniques for different stages of labour and birth, experiencing relaxation and positive affirmations – getting into the ‘zone’. These techniques are recognised as actually reducing the discomfort and duration of labour – find out more about hypnobirthing on the which website This is why learning and practicing them is a significant part of a timely successful antenatal preparation.  
 
Learning and remembering with the mind & with the body - the body 'remembers' 
Learning through actual practice during a 121 workshop triggers body memory when labour starts. Retaining what was learned is enhanced when there is little or no embarrassment or awkwardness to overcome in the absence of many others. Equally, the fundamental principles of an active birth mindset are imprinted on the subconcious mind for both you and your birth partner. Again, the value of this is often not realised until during and after the birth process. 
 
In Summary 
When it comes to your birth preparation its about what is important to you and your partner. It’s about making an investment that very often makes more sense afterwards than before. A positive birth experience very often combines knowledge, understanding choices and being heard. A cornerstone for success is connection with a supportive and prepared partner. Ultimately, preparation for birth is key - There is an antenatal preparation experience out there to suit everyone. Sometimes, it’s wise to listen to those who have walked the path before you and can offer the value of hindsight from experience. You might like to add an antenatal birth preparation workshop to your gift wish list. Grandparents might like to gift this workshop as an investment in their grandchilds journey earthside. Whatever you decide - Blessings to you on your journey.  
 
If you would like to know more or ask any questions on hypnobirthing, 121 birth preparation or your needs please don’t hesitate to contact Melanie  
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