Two of the country’s largest maternity hospitals will conduct “hybrid” childbirth classes — including sessions taking place over Zoom — well into the pandemic.
The Rotunda and National Maternity Hospital on Holles Street – both based in the city of Dublin – will permanently offer online courses for expectant mothers and their partners. It is because the rotunda has transformed a room used for teaching into a suite exclusively for private patients.
Like all maternity hospitals, the Rotunda and Holles Street have been forced to cancel in-person childbirth and breastfeeding classes after Covid hit. The courses are an important part of prenatal care, especially in the case of first-time pregnancies.
After consultation with the patients, both hospitals have decided to continue offering online birth preparation courses even after the pandemic.
Eleanor Durkin, a midwife who runs prenatal care at Holles Street, said research by the hospital showed just under a third of women “love” the online model and “would do it”. Another third preferred face-to-face teaching, while the rest of the patients wanted the teaching to be divided into both formats.
“Before Covid our classes were very large and not very flexible because we had to come so many. But the online model allows us to be much more flexible. In the future we will have a hybrid model.
“It’s especially handy for people who already have children and may not be able to come to the appointment. When you’re doing the lesson, you can see another kid jumping around in the background, which is nice to see,” Ms Durkin said.
She said the hospital noticed more patients were taking antenatal classes since they went online. It had also enabled the hospital to create new hypnobirthing or birth partner courses, as well as a postnatal drop-in webinar, as “postnatal support in the community has been really depleted since the pandemic started.”
The Rotunda is also transitioning to a hybrid model for its antenatal classes and recently converted a classroom formerly used for antenatal classes into a private patient suite.
“We are constantly evolving and optimizing the space and infrastructure within the rotunda to improve the patient experience,” said a spokeswoman for the rotunda.
“We will continue to offer antenatal classes and have responded to service user demand for a blended experience of smaller in-person classes and virtual antenatal classes.”
Lisa Canavan, a midwife and founder of private childbirth service Bump and Beyond, said she has been offering private childbirth classes in people’s homes in Dublin since 2018.
Her course, which costs 200 euros for a two to three hour “crash course”, covers the weeks before the birth, the birth itself, the postpartum period and nutrition.
“Some people are very comfortable in group situations and would ask questions, but others would prefer to do so in private. That’s when I saw the gap in the market. But being a midwife myself, I would support the hospital classes very much.
“It’s really important to try to connect with your hospital at some point, even if you decide to teach privately.
“I think now that they’re offering the service of Zoom courses it’s really important to connect with them – because you understand the guidelines in the hospital and the way things are handled in the hospital before the birth, need to know.”
https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/health/antenatal-classes-for-expectant-mothers-at-rotunda-and-holles-street-will-remain-online-41594735.html Prenatal classes for expectant mothers at Rotunda and Holles Street remain online