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Parents-to-be concerned as face-to-face antenatal classes replaced by online videos

PUBLISHED: 11:50 30 January 2020 | UPDATED: 11:50 30 January 2020

Hypnobirthing coach Jackie Heffer-Cooke, director of ZenMuma, ZenKids and The Orange Grove Clinic. Picture: Jackie Heffer-Cooke

Hypnobirthing coach Jackie Heffer-Cooke, director of ZenMuma, ZenKids and The Orange Grove Clinic. Picture: Jackie Heffer-Cooke

Jackie Heffer-Cooke

Fears have been raised that free group NHS antenatal classes in Norfolk are being reduced in favour of getting people to watch online videos.

Parents-to-be in a private hypnobirthing class. Picture: Jackie Heffer-CookeParents-to-be in a private hypnobirthing class. Picture: Jackie Heffer-Cooke

The face-to-face Pathway to Parenting sessions, which cover topics from birthing techniques and safe sleeping, are available to parents who are 'most likely to benefit from group classes', according to the NHS.

Amber Ferguson, from Old Catton, with her two-year-old daughter Felicity. Picture: Amber FergusonAmber Ferguson, from Old Catton, with her two-year-old daughter Felicity. Picture: Amber Ferguson

However, many parents are now being offered online sessions "in response to feedback from parents" instead of group classes.

Wymondham-based hypnobirthing teacher Jackie Heffer-Cooke, director of Orange Grove Clinic and ZenMuma, beieves this means parents are missing out on key support during a potentially very hard time in their lives.

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She said: "We need better antenatal classes and need these NHS classes. We should be providing inspirational and interactive sessions. It is fundamental. When people feel more prepared for something they feel calmer and more confident. Learning birth techniques is invaluable."

Mrs Heffer-Cooke, 47, who sits on Norfolk's Maternity Voice Partnership, said there was high demand for private face-to-face antenatal classes and group sessions helped reduce postnatal depression.

Amber Ferguson, 33, from Old Catton, who has a two-year-old girl, said: "There should be something available to everyone that is more than online. Being able to speak to somebody and meet people was good. My husband and I wanted to be prepared and the Pathway to Parenting classes helped us."

She added everyone should have access to group face-to-face sessions as not everyone could afford private classes.

Amanda Price-Davey, consultant midwife for the Norfolk and Waveney Local Maternity System, said: "We heard from parents-to-be that there had been a disparity in the information being provided and attendance at groups was low because some people could not get to the venue or at the time antenatal classes were being held. Face-to-face antenatal sessions are still available and that decision is made following a discussion between the family and midwifery staff."

NHS group sessions will still be rolled out from January to March in Swaffham, Dereham, Long Stratton, Diss, Gorleston, Great Yarmouth, Norwich, Earlham, Drayton, North Walsham, Acle, Fakenham, King's Lynn and Downham Market. You can find out more at NHS.uk.

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