bristol • north somerset • south gloucestershire

Birth and parenting preparation

Preparation for birth and parenthood comes in many different forms. Antenatal classes can give you an idea of what to expect, suggest ways to cope with labour and life as a new parent, and are a great way to meet others expecting a baby around the same time.

Participating in some form of antenatal preparation for birth and parenthood can help you to have a better birth experience and to adopt healthy habits which will benefit you during pregnancy, birth and as a parent. The research evidence which found this also suggests that it can help improve your mood if you suffer from anxiety or depression.

The NHS provides free classes and there is a range of non-NHS classes, some of which offer a discount if you have a low income. The NCT discounts are explained here, and with other providers it is always worth asking.


NHS Antenatal Classes

NHS Midwives, and sometimes physiotherapists and health visitors, provide antenatal classes free of charge, usually from when you are around 30 to 36 weeks pregnant.

The number of sessions provided, the format, content and time of day they are offered varies by Hospital Trust. Partners are encouraged to attend, but if your partner cannot make it, you are welcome to bring along someone else.


Weston Area Health NHS Trust (Ashcombe Birth Centre)

Please book by telephoning on 01934 647189 for any of the sessions listed below:

  • 1st Wednesday of the month, 6-9 pm, Academy, Weston Area Health NHS Trust. Includes a tour of Ashcombe Birth Centre
  • 2nd Tuesday of the month, 2.30-5 pm, The Campus, Highlands Lane, Weston-super-Mare
  • 2nd Wednesday of the month, 6.30 pm, tour of Ashcombe Birth Centre
  • 3rd Wednesday of the month, 6.30-9 pm, Yeo Valley Childrens Centre, St Andrews Primary School, Station Rd, Congresbury
  • 4th Wednesday of the month, 6.45-9.15 pm, Ashcombe Children's Centre, Stepping Stone Walk, Off Earlham Grove, Weston-super-Mare
  • 5th Wednesday of the month, 6-9 pm, Academy, Weston Area Health NHS Trust. Includes a tour of Ashcombe Birth Centre


University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust (St Michael's Hospital)

At UHBristol, you can expect to be given information about dates, times and venues by the time you are 28 weeks pregnant. The classes tend to run for 3 weeks, with the Health Visiting team coming in for one session to talk about life with your new baby after the first few weeks, including feeding. All classes are held during the day, some in the morning, some in the afternoon. 


North Bristol NHS Trust (Southmead Hospital, Cossham Birth Centre)

Your named midwife will advise you of local antenatal groups - NBT offers sessions around active birth and infant feeding. Classes are held in the day. Your midwife will also be able to provide you with details of how to visit your chosen place of birth.



All hospitals and birth centres offer tours of their facilities, which you are welcome to attend before you have your baby.  Telephone to book your place.

  • Ashcombe Birth Centre - on Sundays and every 2nd Wednesday; call 01934 647082 on the day at about 2.30pm to check availability
  • Cossham Birth Centre - 0117 3408460
  • Southmead Hospital - 0117 4146894 (Mendip Birth Centre and Central Delivery Suite)
  • St Michael’s Hospital - 0117 3425241


Other birth preparation classes (non-NHS)

Below in alphabetical order some popular non-NHS groups and classes that are available. Those listed have a recognised training or supervision programme, or are member of an association with a code of ethics. Many of the class providers are registered with the Federation of Antenatal Teachers and you can find more independent providers of antenatal support and education on their website.


Aquanatal Classes

Gentle exercise, breathing techniques and relaxation in water.

UK Aquanatal Register
Aquatic Harmony 


Daisy Birthing

Weekly group sessions and one-off couples workshops to prepare the mind and body for childbirth using active birth techniques.



Group or Private classes teaching breathing, self-hypnosis and relaxation techniques, together with a comprehensive education about the birth process for a calmer, more comfortable birth (research references).


National Childbirth Trust (NCT)

Personalised and flexible antenatal courses and workshops for couples, singles and family members with a strong emphasis on friendship building, discussion, developing practical skills and provision of evidence-based information. Waterbirth, Twins & Multiples and Refresher Workshops are also available.                                    

NCT Relax Stretch and Breathe. Sessions comprise gentle yoga-based exercise for pregnancy, breathing techniques, positions for labour and relaxation. Weekly sessions available (booked in blocks of 5).


New Life Classes

Evidence-based antenatal classes run by practising midwives, aiming to empower parents to make positive decisions that best suit them and their baby.


Relaxed Birth and Parenting

Regular antenatal classes including pregnancy yoga and birth preparation exercises designed to support relaxation and wellbeing.


Yoga for Pregnancy

Yoga classes can help relax the mind and tone the body in preparation for birth.
The Yoga Alliance UK has a directory of teachers qualified in pregnancy yoga.


Parenting preparation courses (non-NHS)



Helping new parents prepare for the arrival of their baby, so they have a calmer baby and more peaceful nights.  3-hour workshops antenatally, and 4-week classes postnatally.  



3-hour Practical Baby Care group workshops teaching expectant parents how to care for their newborn, choices to consider and what to expect