Health chiefs have been criticised by a charity following their decision to axe antenatal classes for pregnant women across 1066 Country.
East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust (ESHT), which runs the Conquest Hospital, Eastbourne’s DGH and the birthing centre in Crowborough, said the move was taken due to dwindling numbers.
It added that more expectant mothers were accessing what they needed about childbirth on the internet.
But the National Childbirth Trust (NCT), which provides support for parents through antenatal and postnatal courses, said antenatal sessions for expectant mothers were vital for face-to-face contact and advice.
Elizabeth Duff, the charity’s senior policy adviser, said: “We are disappointed that these courses are being cut. Being able to ask questions and share common concerns and interests helps many parents feel informed and better prepared for their baby’s arrival. It’s important that parents aren’t left to rely solely on online resources as these won’t always provide the necessary support.”
Lisa Powell, a yoga teacher and therapist for pregnant mums, said: “As a practicing prenatal yoga teacher in the Hastings area I find women are very keen to join classes to help them understand their pregnancy more and prepare them for the birth and changes to come. It is through these sessions that they get to meet other women who are pregnant thereby forming social circles for when baby comes and to have a place they can meet weekly where they feel nurtured and understood. These things are not to be found on the internet.”
ESHT said there were around four classes a month in the Hastings and Rother area.
Jenny Crowe, the trust’s deputy head of midwifery, said: “Following a review of attendance at our parent education classes which showed that fewer people had been attending, we decided that from July we would no longer provide these sessions. We were made aware that many women already access the internet for this information and we already direct women and their families to our maternity website where a wealth of information can be found including virtual tours of our maternity units. Our community midwives continue to provide help and information at antenatal check-ups and we continue to provide a physiotherapy for pregnancy class, breastfeeding workshop and baby resuscitation class. The NCT also provides classes which are available locally.”