Antenatal classes aim to help women through their pregnancy and prepare for labour and becoming a parent.

Irish maternity hospitals offer antenatal and postnatal care to mothers and babies and are now encouraging fathers to take part in classes. The objective of the classes is

To teach women about all aspects of their pregnancy, to introduce them to hospital procedures and to prepare them for labour.

At the Coombe Hospital, staff midwife Trea Doog runs what are called "The Parent Craft Classes". Over seventy per cent of first time mothers attend these classes at The Coombe. Trea Doog hopes to provide an environment where women will feel free to ask questions that they might not normally ask their own doctors.

Hospitals now also encourage fathers to be present at the birth and as such, they are also invited to attend some of the antenatal classes.

The Parent Craft Department at The Coombe also offers a postnatal telephone service. New mothers who have worries about themselves or their babies can telephone for advice.

While the antenatal and postnatal services are welcome, Matron at The Coombe Ita O'Dwyer highlights some of the challenges they are faced with and proposes the decentralisation of some of their services to meet the needs of mothers and babies.

The Rotunda Hospital has already begun to decentralise its services and has established a pilot scheme of suburban outreach services. Dr George Henry, Master at the Rotunda Hospital explains how they have established a ring of antenatal clinics around the north side of the city offering a community based service.

This episode of 'ABC of Pregnancy' was broadcast on 10 October 1985.

The programme is presented by Maureen Gaffney.

The series was an RTÉ production in association with the Health Education Bureau.