Are Antenatal Classes Worth It? Real Moms and Experts Weigh In

Antenatal classes empower parents to navigate the pregnancy journey, birth and beyond. The classes cover pregnancy, childbirth and certain child care elements (like how to bath a baby).  However, are antenatal classes  worth it?

February’s Pregnancy Education Month campaign highlights how childbirth education empowers parents for a better birth experience.

My husband I attended antenatal classes at our local hospital.

We learned:

  • Different ways of giving birth and pro’s and cons of each (natural, C- Section, etc.)
  • Pain Management during the labour process
  • How the clamping of the cord (which my dear husband was ecstatic about)
  • Breastfeeding tips
  • How to bathe a baby
  • Things that will happen immediately after the baby is born, such as:
    • Assessment of baby’s vital signs after birth. And my husband was tasked to not lose sight of our two little girls during this time (paranoid first-time parent).
    • Skin to skin if no issues are at hand
    • Breastfeeding etc.


Here are perspectives from mothers and experts on the question of antenatal classes.

[bctt tweet=”Attending antenatal classes gave us solid information from experts and trained professionals #PregnancyEducationMonth #EmpoweringBirth ” username=”cherralle_”]

Are Antenatal Classes Worth It? What Real Moms Have to Say

are antenatal classes worth it

Shanne, mom of two.

How did pregnancy education classes empower you for your birth experience?

My husband and I attended antenatal classes when I was pregnant with our first child. We were provided with information on the different birth options (natural vs. c-section). As well as all the options for pain management such as epidural, hypnobirthing, etc. It was good to be provided with objective information on both options so that an informed decision could be reached. It was also useful to be equipped with practical examples of what to expect during birth and after that (the 4th trimester). We also learned about how to handle your newborn baby safely.

 What is one thing you remember from your education class?

I was surprised by how scary a c-section looked on video. Which reaffirmed my decision to have a natural birth (which I did x 2). I also remember the Sister soaking a nappy in water and being surprised by how much water it could hold.
[bctt tweet=”Antenatal Classes play a key role in understanding different birth options and how to prepare, for mom and dad. #PregnancyEducationMonth #EmpoweringBirth ” username=”cherralle_”]

Cherralle, mom of two (this is me!)

How did antenatal classes empower you for your birth experience?

We attended antenatal classes when I was pregnant with our first child. The classes shed light on the various pain management techniques that are available from breathing techniques to medication. Pain management was a big issue for me as I did not believe I had any pain threshold (little did I know!).

We could also practice how to bathe a newborn (with a life like ‘baby doll’). It is astonishing how tiny babies are when you hold them. My husband loved these classes as well as gave him a sense of involvement and he is proud of his role as an equal parent.

You can also read here, how all hell broke lose when we came home with our second!

What is one thing you remember from your antenatal class?

I remember the breathing technique they taught us in class. I remember practicing it and using it during my labours (in between crushing my husband’s hand).  The breathing technique came in handy for my husband. It came in handy for me as well, as I could not get epidurals for both my births. And I realized I had a very high pain threshold after all.

Sarah, Mom of One.

How did antenatal classes empower you for your birth experience?

We attended antenatal classes, and I would highly recommend it to any mom who has the means. It taught me the different options I have for giving birth. I wanted to give natural birth, but the classes educated me on a c section as well. I ended up having a C-section unexpectedly, and so I knew what to expect!

What is one thing you remember from your antenatal class?

I remember the video they showed us of a woman giving birth, and it looked so scary!

Are Antenatal Classes Worth it? What Experts Have to Say

‘There is a link between a lack of knowledge, fear and the experience of childbirth,’ says Lynne Bluff. Lynne is the national co-ordinator for the Childbirth Educators’ Professional Forum (CBEPF), which is partnering with Bio-Oil and hospitals nationally for the ‘Empowering Birth’ Pregnancy Education Month campaign.

Good childbirth classes, says Bluff, will equip parents with the pros and cons of all the available childbirth options. As well as practical tips and techniques for the birth and afterward. Childbirth educators are usually nurses and midwives and parents who can share both professional expertise and personal experience. Classes are on offer at many hospitals, clinics, and private practices.

Pregnancy Education Month

Over 300 private hospitals and clinics around South Africa are running Pregnancy Education Month activities in February. For details, or to find a childbirth educator in your area, visit

Share this post to add your voice to the Pregnancy Education Week Campaign!

Disclaimer: Content developed in collaboration with Childbirth Educators’ Professional Forum. Opinions expressed here are my own.

A Guide to Planning Your Maternity Leave Like a Boss

Planning Your Maternity Leave Can Make a Difference

Navigating pregnancy and being a new mother is a challenge. Then add work, and it gets more complex.

Let’s face it, you may experience a shift in your career in the time that you are pregnant and once you have a new baby.

Picture this.

You announce you are pregnant at work and it is a very trying time for you, needing to figure out so much (plus morning sickness – hello!)

Firstly, research has shown that maternal bias kicks in the moment a woman announces her pregnancy. Maternal wall bias is when a woman’s proficiency is questioned, just because she is a mother, announces she is pregnant, and when she announces her engagement!

As a result, she is less likely to get promoted or allocated stretch assignments simply because she is a mother (or got engaged). I am not making this stuff up.

Vocalising your needs and aspirations is one way to counter maternal bias.

Would it not be amazing if you can take charge of your maternity leave. Plan what you can, and make yourself, colleagues and your manager comfortable.

If you can do this, you will be a rock star!

[bctt tweet=”Plan and close the loop. Create a maternity leave plan that helps you, your manager and colleagues” username=”cherralle_”]

Related Post: Why You Should Feel Proud of Being a Working Mom

 Why would you go about this journey without planning your maternity leave transition?

maternity leave planning to come back to work

For this very reason, I created the Maternity Leave Transition Guide. I have spoken to many young mothers who simply felt that they were ‘sidelined’ and that their contribution was not fully recognised in this time.

The Maternity Leave Transition Guide; contains a hand over template, check list, an excel to pull your work year together for this period. It also covers personal topics, such as; nanny vs day care; expressing at work – what you need to know and more.

Don’t let your manager wonder what your performance contribution was. Write it down.

Related Post: 7 Things A Working Mother Wants to Tell Her Boss

Plan as much as you can

Plan your maternity leave, with as much detail as you possibly can.  Document which projects you are closing off and which projects you are handing over.

That will not only give you comfort, but also your boss and colleagues.

Communicate your career aspiration

The reality is that unless a pregnant woman communicates her career goals, it will be assumed. It will be assumed that you want to take the ‘mommy track’ or ‘slow down‘. This is okay, if it is what you want.

It is not okay if you want to still drive your career goals. Ensure that part of your discussions with your manager includes a talking point around your career aspirations.

[bctt tweet=”When going on maternity leave, don’t let others make assumptions about your career. Speak up.” username=”cherralle_”]

Consolidate your performance and contribution. Be a rock star performer before you head off on maternity.

Proactively manage your maternity through documenting what you are closing off, what you handing over and to whom.

The Maternity Leave Guide will include an excel template to enable this.

Take what you need from these documents so that it make sense for your environment.

Download the Maternity Leave Transition Guide now

Download the Excel Hand Over template now

Share this post with a friend who is expecting, or share with a manager (who needs to get with the programme).






The Other Side of Maternity Leave: The Coworkers We Leave Behind

Do you know that us moms we LOVE talking about our maternity leave? The favourite is how it was not a holiday. Actually, it was not a holiday for our coworkers either. The other side of maternity leave is about our coworkers who had to step up at work. Society spends a lot of time focused on the individual going on maternity, her and baby, and then her return.  What we do not zone in on is the additional work our coworkers had to manage.

I had two maternity leaves, and I even have a whole section on my blog dedicated to the maternity leave so this was my internal reflection.

[bctt tweet=”Maternity Leave is not a holiday. But it is not a holiday for colleagues either. Lets be grateful” username=”cherralle_”]

I would like to challenge us all to reflect on our colleagues who had to step in at work while we were on maternity.

Related Post: 7 Things a Working Mother Wants To Tell her Boss

Here Are 4 Reasons Why Our Colleagues Who Supported Us Need a Thank You


maternity leave and coworkers


The load you had to carry

In many organisations, a company may not hire a temporary replacement for someone who goes on maternity leave. Simply put, work often gets shifted around and spread across the team. This means that those left behind have to carry an extra load during this time.

You do it with a smile

No complaints nothing, just purely supporting us who need the time to go off. Yes, we must go on maternity, but we are still grateful.

In many instances, our colleagues are impacted at work too when others are on maternity, and it is appreciated.

[bctt tweet=”we should show gratitude to our colleagues who picked up the extra load when we went on maternity leave” username=”cherralle_)”]

Related Post: 7 Reasons Why I am Pretty Certain We Are Only Having Two Kids

A warm, friendly welcome back

When I came back,  my colleagues were supportive and helpful. Helping me ease back into things and explaining patiently and slowly what is happening at work.  I forgot so many things while on maternity. Erm…how do I log on now again?  I have just been away for five months, and all they wanted to know was how I was doing and be genuinely helpful. That was selfless, and I was grateful for that.

You spoilt me

I was showered with presents for myself and the little one by my colleagues. People do not NEED to get anything for a new baby. It was done out of the goodness of their hearts and they were genuinely happy and supportive of my pregnancy.

Further Reading: Maternity Leave – 5 Practical Steps to Make Returning To Work Easier

So when you, are going on, or have returned from maternity leave:

  1. Be grateful. Do not take it for granted what our colleagues have done and are doing to support and keep things afloat. Remember in most cases they will need to carry an extra load.
  2. Be empathetic. Yes we know it’s tough going on and coming back from maternity, and you need your colleagues and boss to support you as you return to worl.  Just remember that your colleagues may also be going through tough times.
  3. Pay it forward. Know that your time will come when you need to support others going on maternity leave 🙂

[bctt tweet=”Although going on maternity is a must, I still feel grateful to my team for stepping in” username=”cherralle_”]

Related Post: Pumping Breast Milk at Work: The Law and What Moms Have To Say

Through this post, I want to share a different perspective of how our work community supports working mothers when we go off to have babies!

Share this  and tag a friend you believe supported you doing maternity!

Featured Image: istock


6 Tips for Surviving Morning Sickness At Work

More than 50% pregnant women suffer from morning sickness. But, it is a bit of a hush hush topic at work. Probably because, when they suffer their worst morning sickness (first trimester) women are still keeping their pregnancy under wraps. I have seen women fainting, lying in the bathroom, and they are like “no its just  terrible food poisoning’. Meanwhile….it is terrible morning sickness. During both my pregnancies I had morning sickness. The second one lasting for 5-6 months and I was diagnosed  with hyperemesis gravidarum (a severe form of nausea).

When dealing with morning sickness, you have to work too and keep it together.

Honestly, on many occasions I ran off to the bathroom and just sat on the floor hugging my knees. Waiting for the moment to pass. I guess that is not a helpful tip – right?

Related Post: Pumping Breast Milk at Work: The Law and What Moms Have To Say

Here are some ‘other’ tips which may help you to deal with morning sickness at work

Be open and honest about needing flexibility

At some point, something has got to give. If you are not able to cope then request the day off or leave early. Your body is growing a human being. An actual person. It is kind of a big deal and take the rest when you need it. During my second pregnancy on a few occasions I had to leave work early, or simply just could not get out of bed and had to take a day or two off. It happens.

Have sufficient fluids at hand

Staying hydrated is very important as you are losing your bodily fluids. Have water and drinks at hand. At one stage, I was so sick, I could not drink water.  Water disgusted me for a whole trimester (pregnancy is strange). I could drink fizzy cold drinks, and I had Fanta and Crème Sodas whole day every day.

Lemon and Ginger

Drinking Lemon and Ginger tea really helped as well as  Ginger Sweets. My dear husband, organised these for me to help me get through the nausea. I kept a stash with me at all times!

Manage your work load

We know you are awesome at what you do, but remember to rest.  During both my pregnancies I needed to rest a lot. I needed to actively manage my work load to get the best out of my days. Again, this was my experience. Some people have wonderful energetic pregnancies. So I hear.

Talk to your doctor

If you find that your nausea is extremely bad where you cannot keep down any fluids for hours on end, give your doctor a call. You may be given anti nausea medication if they deem fit. With my second pregnancy, I needed to go on anti nausea medication (which  I did not even know was a thing !). My nausea was debilitating in that I could not keep any fluids down for a 24 hours period and I had to take medication to help me. The medication helped me a lot to keep fluids down at that time. I read up on hyperemesis gravidium, it is a serious condition that women face, from what I can see I was lucky in that I responded well to the medication.

Sleep and sleep well

Having a baby is like running a marathon, it is extremely tiring. With both my pregnancies, I was completely exhausted. Going to bed as early as possible made a big difference. It helped me to stay rested so that I could manage to get through a work day.

Overall, let your manager and colleagues know as soon you are comfortable so that others can support you.

Do you have any tips for surviving morning sickness at work?

Further Reading:

Pumping Breast Milk at Work: The Law and What Moms Have To Say

5 Practical Steps to Make Returning to Work from Maternity Leave Easier

{Working Mom Hack} Asking For What You Want At Work…The Right Way

{Working Mom Hack} 7 Tips to Get More Time For Yourself and Your Family


Featured  Image: istock




Pumping Breast Milk at Work in South Africa: The Law and What Moms Have To Say

Before I became a mother, I had a limited understanding of breastfeeding women’s needs when they returned to work from maternity. Yes, conceptually I understood it.

However, I did not grasp the significance of needing to pump breast milk at work. After I had my first child, I then understood.

In this post I will share an update on the law in South Africa with regards to pumping breast milk at work, and share two real life accounts from moms.

Related Post: 10 Things a Working Mother Needs to Survive

Pumping Breast Milk at Work: The Law in South Africa

In South Africa, the Basic Conditions of Employment (BCEA) provides two 30 minute breaks a day for moms who are breastfeeding. This is outlined in the Code of Good Practice on Pregnancy.  The Code does not outline exactly what the space should look like.

However,  in general it should be accessible, lockable, clean, have a basin for hand washing and cleaning up. It should also have plug points and have refrigeration facilities.

Why is a breast pumping facility at work needed?

Very often, mothers return to work while they are still breastfeeding .

To maintain supply, moms need to pump at work and therefore need a space that is private, secure and hygienic.

In South Africa, it is estimated that only 36% of babies are breastfed exclusively up until 14 weeks, and this figure drops to 8% at 6 months.

Also, returning back to work is one of the reasons why women stop breastfeeding before their baby is at least 6 months old. Certain conditions as shared in this article Women Share Their Stories of Pumping at Work and It Is Not Pretty may also discourage moms from wanting to continue. The law that we have in South Africa around breast feeding at work is very encouraging.

What are the challenges facing women who want to pump breast milk at work?

It is not common knowledge that the BCEA provides this protection for women. And even if it is known, there is a reluctance to raise this as it is an ‘uncomfortable topic’.

Companies are also often not able to set aside funding to create the space. Although my belief is that even with no funds, some sort of accommodation should be possible in most cases.

Related PostA Guide to Planning Your Maternity Leave Like a Boss

Herewith two moms’ real stories about pumping breast milk at work


pumping expressing breast milk at work in south africa
Image Credit: istock

Names have been changed.

Lara, Mom of 2

We have no breast pumping facilities at work. When I had to breast pump at work, I had to use a little kitchenette. One of my colleagues came along with me, and she stood at the door keeping it closed while I pumped. This is the kitchenette being used by the whole team on the floor. Anyone could walk in at any time.”

Angela, Mom of 1

1. How long were you able to breastfeed your baby for?
My little guys is almost 8 months old, and I am exclusively breastfeeding him, he has never had any formula.

2. Does your company have a breast pumping facility? And do you use it?
Yes my head office does have a designated mothers room to express. However, I am a consultant so I work at client sites and at both of my clients. I have had to get special permission to use the First Aid rooms because they do not have mothers rooms facilities.

3. What impact does it make having access to a breast pumping facility vs not (on your experience)?
It increases productivity because you don’t have to waste time with the logistics of getting access to the room and navigating through the whole experience. E.g. washing hands, rinsing equipment as well as storing the milk after. It also more hygienic because companies tend to take more care in keeping mothers rooms clean versus having mangy dusty rooms. Having a mother’s room also impacts one psychologically; moms tend to feel more valued and cared for as an employee if your company has taken the time to and money to invest in a well-equipped mothers room facility.

[bctt tweet=”Having a mother’s room also impacts one psychologically; moms tend to feel more valued and cared for” says a young working mom” username=”cherralle_”]

4. Does having a breast pumping facility at work contribute to you extending the time you can breast feed your baby?
No. I have always looked forward to nurse my baby, it’s such an intimate bonding experience that I believe God made our bodies as moms for so I would never stop for any other reason than my son not wanting to nurse any more when he is a toddler. When I started to plan to go back to work I had already made my mind up that it was non-negotiable that my son is exclusively breastfed and that would mean that I must express at work even if it meant having to sit in my car and hand express.

5. What impact did/does work place culture (if any) have on you being able to breast pump at work?
Breastfeeding is becoming less and less common, so it’s a surprise to many when they find out that I still express. Men seem to be very startled by it and get uncomfortable. Those that have had wives that didn’t breastfeed don’t get it all why you would do it. I think the first thing that comes to anyone’s mind when they find out about me expressing is, “are you productive or how do you get work done”. Or that is what I read from them. Maybe that is me just being self-conscious about it. I think that we need to normalise expressing at work so that breastfeeding moms are discriminated or victimised in the workplace.

[bctt tweet=”Providing mothers with a space to pump breast milk at work, is a key element of inclusion.” username=”cherralle_”]

In closing, I firmly believe that providing mothers with a space to  pump breast milk at work, is a key element of inclusion. If a mom has decided to breast feed after returning to work, we must let common sense prevail. Due consideration should be given to a breastfeeding mom, even if there is no breast milk pumping facility. Some form of arrangement must be made. For those of us who see our colleagues and friends who are going through this, let’s also support them. Finally, as a mom, know your rights, MyWage has created a very informative  FAQ on Breastfeeding at Work containing additional information.

Do you have any experiences of pumping breast milk at work? Let me know in the comments.

Featured Image Credit: istock



Maternity Leave – 5 Practical Steps to Make Returning to Work Easier

Returning back to work after being on maternity leave is a daunting experience. I fully enjoyed both my maternity leaves and being a stay at home mom for that time. I must admit I was happy to join the world of work again.

However, there were challenges integrating back into work and the below steps helped me to ease back into things.

Further Reading: Pumping Breast Milk at Work: The Law and What Moms Have To Say

Here are 5 practical tips to make integrating back to work easier.

back to work from maternity leave

Have a 1:1 with your manager before your official return

It is useful to take a touch point before your return to work, in order to understand how the team and work allocations have evolved in your absence. Schedule a 30 minute coffee catch up a few weeks before your return to check in with your manager and/ or colleagues.

[bctt tweet=”Schedule a 30 minute coffee catch up a few weeks before your return to check in with your manager and/ or colleagues” username=”cherralle_”]

Do a few test runs before you actually return to work

During both my maternity leaves, I actively started spending short amounts of time away from home from about two to three weeks before returning to work. This allowed my helper and the babies space to bond without me mothering around. It also helped me and the babies get use to being away from each other. And… I got a whole lot of free time to relax and have some me time.

Take a lead role in planning your work life integration

Returning from maternity leave means that your life style has changed. This has a definitive impact on how you manage your time and energy between work and home.  If you don’t plan your life and work, it will be planned for you.

Be firm with boundaries, and be flexible when you are able to. What works for me is that on a daily basis I have a recurring block out in my diary between 16h00 – 17h00. This helps me to consolidate my last hour at work, and also limits me being pulled into last minute meetings that run over. I am flexible around it of course, but I have had zero issues in the last 3 years of doing this.

Further Reading: Bye Bye Mommy Guilt, Why You Should Feel Proud of Being a Working Mom

Don’t be so hard on yourself

Accept that it will be difficult to figure out your new lifestyle with work.

You are no longer the person you were before. There will be lots and lots of mommy guilt that you may feel around leaving your child, and lots of ‘career guilt’ as you feel you are just not as available anymore. No special formula exists, just figure out what works for you and be intentional about it.

[bctt tweet=”There will be lots of mommy guilt once you return to work from maternity, don’t be so hard on yourself” username=”cherralle_”]

Talk to other moms

We are all in trying to make this thing called ‘motherhood’ work.

Motherhood is the most beautiful thing in this world to me, but its also terrifying, and kids can be annoying.

I have come to realise that moms face similar challenges, we just need to talk to each other about it. [bctt tweet=”Parenting is not a science, it is about doing the best we can to love and protect our families.” username=”cherralle_”]

Did I miss anything? What made your integration back to work after maternity leave easier?

Further Reading: {Working Mom Hack} 7 Tips to Get More Time for Yourself and Your Family

All Hell Broke Loose When I Came Home With Baby Number 2

Becoming a mother is exhilarating, wonderful and terrifying at the same time. I know because I have two beautiful daughters. When I had my second baby Ava, it was as magical meeting her for the first time as it was with my eldest, Caitlyn.

Although…going home with a new baby the second time around was completely different. I was so unprepared.

Related Post: Are Antenatal Classes Worth it? Real Moms and Experts Weigh In


The Birth

I had quite a ‘smooth’ birth. So I hear! Apparently I am lucky that it was a short birth. It still hurt like hell though.

I had slight cramps during the day, and I went in for a scheduled induction that evening which never happened.

I was about 2 cm dilated when I arrived at the hospital at around 8pm. My second daughter Ava was born somewhere around 11pm that night. My husband took the most ghastly pictures of me (it ain’t pretty and will NEVER see the light of day) but a beautiful moment nonetheless.


At the hospital

I felt great after the birth and was eager to get home to Caitlyn. I had a sense of confidence (or cockiness) – like ‘I got this’. It was a false sense of confidence.

So I left the hospital as soon as possible. Although the hospital requested that I stay an extra day. Ever so confident, I respectfully declined,

After the first night home, I regretted not taking the extra day in hospital.

It was a big adjustment for everyone. Firstly, breastfeeding was not working out. I just did not understand how something so ‘natural’ felt so completely unnatural to me. I tried, I really tried.

There were a lot of tears, mine, Ava and Caitlyn’s.

I  hired a hospital grade breast pump and for two weeks solid (it felt much longer) I pumped day and night 6 to 8 times a day. Pumping consumed our lives. I was refrigerating milk, sterilizing bottles, I even acquired a hands free pumping kit. The production line was in full swing.

I spent a fortune on my breast feeding journey. I had a breast feeding nurse; pump (free from medical aid); then hired a hospital grade pump; hands free kit; nipple protectors; cream – the works!



Joy escaped me

I had limited time with Caitlyn, Ava and my husband. It was an unhappy time. There was no joy. After two weeks I decided to stop it and just focus on being present.

I gave up on pumping. Of course, I felt like the worse mother in the world. The motherhood guilt settled in like an old friend.

Things got a bit better after that. I could rest a bit a more, go to bed early (as no scheduled pumps). Not being under constant pressure of pumping every 2 – 3 hours was amazing.

The shift from one child to two was hard

I was constantly exhausted, having two children to take care of kept me on my toes daily.

Caitlyn’s sleep deteriorated badly in this period, and for about two weeks straight Caitlyn got up at 4am to get the day started.  That is waking up at 4am to see to Caitlyn after Ava just gone back sleep.

I also underestimated the impact it would have on Caitlyn overall. Adjusting from being the only child, to having a new person in her space was a significant change. Caitlyn struggled quite a bit at the beginning and she needed time to adapt to the new world.

However, I am happy to say that as time passed their relationship grew.  Ava is 8 months old and they have already developed a strong bond.

And  I am thrilled about having two little girls.

I had to learn to let go,  not sweat the small things, and not stress too much about the routine. It took time to adjust, but now I honestly cannot picture my life without both my girls.

Herewith (yet another) picture of my two beautiful angels 🙂


Further Reading: 7 Reasons Why I am Pretty Certain We Are Only Having Two Kids

Two kids, baby




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