Cross-sectional survey of antenatal educators' views about current antenatal education provision

Tamarin Russell-Webster, Anna Davies, Miriam F G Toolan, Mary B Lynch, Rachel Plachcinski, Michael Larkin, Abigail Fraser, Sonia Barnfield, Margaret Smith, Christy Burden, Abi Merriel*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review


Antenatal education (ANE) is part of National Health Service (NHS) care and is recommended by The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) to increase birth preparedness and help pregnant women/birthing people develop coping strategies for labour and birth. We aimed to understand antenatal educator views about how current ANE supports preparedness for childbirth, including coping strategy development with the aim of identifying targets for
A United Kingdom wide, cross-sectional online survey was conducted between October 2019 and May 2020. Antenatal educators including NHS midwives and private providers were purposively sampled. Counts and percentages were calculated for closed responses and thematic analysis used for open text responses.
Ninety-nine participants responded, 62% of these did not believe that ANE prepared women for labour and birth. They identifed practical barriers to accessing ANE, particularly for marginalised groups, including fnancial and language barriers. Educators believe class content is medically focused, and teaching is of variable quality with some midwives being
ill-prepared to deliver antenatal education. 55% of antenatal educators believe the opportunity to develop coping strategies varies between location and educators and only those women who can pay for non-NHS classes are able to access all the coping strategies that can support them with labour and birth.
Conclusions for Practice
Antenatal educators believe current NHS ANE does not adequately prepare women for labour and birth, leading to disparities in birth preparedness for those who cannot access non-NHS classes. To reduce this healthcare inequality, NHS classes need to be standardised, with training for midwives in delivering ANE enhanced.
Original languageEnglish
JournalMaternal and Child Health Journal
Early online date31 May 2024
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 31 May 2024

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© The Author(s) 2024.


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