Prenatal classes teach soon-to-be parents about pregnancy, childbirth, and the baby’s arrival.
Prenatal classes are the perfect place to ask questions about pregnancy and bringing home a newborn.
What are the benefits of prenatal classes?
Prenatal classes aren’t compulsory, but they are highly recommended, especially for first-time pregnancies. Find out why.
Group prenatal classes help future parents feel more confident and less anxious about pregnancy and labour.
They provide valuable information so that future parents can make informed choices about the birth of their baby.
They encourage fathers and non-birthing partners to play an active role in the pregnancy.
When classes are held in person, they allow future parents to form friendships and create a social network.
They can positively impact the health of both the mother and baby. For instance, the information provided in a prenatal class may encourage a mother to attend all her recommended pregnancy follow-ups or try breastfeeding.
Where are prenatal classes held?
Below are the four main resources offering prenatal classes in regions across Quebec:
Your local CLSC
In many regions, CLSCs offer prenatal classes online. Sometimes they include a virtual Q&A period, where the parents are encouraged to ask questions.
In some regions, CLSCs no longer offer prenatal classes, which are instead provided by non-profit organizations such as perinatal resources centres.
In some regions, CLSCs still offer in-person classes. However, they are occasionally reserved for at-risk individuals. In some cases, private classes can be arranged.
Prenatal classes are taught by various health professionals, such as nurses, nutritionists, kinesiologists, and social workers.
Some CLSCs also produce pre-recorded educational videos that can be viewed online.
In most cases, these services are completely free. To find out what services are available in your area, contact your local CLSC.
Many family community organizations and perinatal resources centres offer group and private prenatal classes. The instructor may be a nurse, perinatal counselor, birth attendant, or other trained professional. Some parts of the class may even be led by a fitness trainer or yoga teacher.
Nurses in private practice and companies in the field of perinatal care may also offer prenatal classes. The rates and course content can vary.
Many organizations offer these classes for free. Others require that you pay their annual membership fee (usually $10 to $25), which gives you access to all their services. Some organizations only offer paid prenatal classes. That said, they may charge parents on a sliding scale depending on their needs and financial situation.
Private prenatal classes are also available, generally priced at $100 per class.
Mothers and families who receive follow-up care at a birthing centre can attend free prenatal classes taught by a midwife.
A doula may offer private, semi-private, or group prenatal classes. Depending on the type of class you want, you’ll need to budget between $250 and $450. Some doulas and birth attendants issue receipts that you can submit to your private insurance provider for a partial refund.
Online prenatal classes
Since the pandemic, the number of CLSCs and organizations offering online prenatal classes has increased dramatically. As a result, prenatal classes are now more accessible to parents who live in remote areas or have atypical working hours.
However, this format has its downsides. Asking questions, sharing personal stories, and interacting with others is an important part of prenatal classes, and it can be difficult to fully benefit from these experiences when attending virtually.
Online classes may also not be suitable for parents who would like to find support or learn about certain services, but don’t feel comfortable asking in front of a group.
What’s more, not all online prenatal classes give parents the opportunity to ask questions. To reap the full benefits of prenatal classes, it’s best to attend in person so you can interact with the instructor and other expecting parents.
When should I start taking prenatal classes?
Classes may be held in the evenings or on weekends. There are generally 2 to 8 classes per session.
Depending on the format and subjects covered, the start date may vary. For example, prenatal classes that touch on nutrition can start as early as the 8th week of pregnancy. Classes that focus on adapting to parenthood are usually offered during the second trimester, whereas those that discuss childbirth and breastfeeding often begin in the 30th week of pregnancy.
As start dates vary from place to place, contact your local CLSC or community organization as soon as you become pregnant.
What topics are covered?
Course content can vary from place to place, but the following key topics are always covered by the instructor:
The stages of pregnancy
Recommended lifestyle habits (diet, exercise, etc.)
Preparing for childbirth, pain management, and possible medical interventions
Welcoming and caring for a newborn
Preparing for breastfeeding
Bringing baby home and your mental health
Adapting to the role of parent and co-parent
Preparing siblings for the arrival of a new baby
Can fathers and non-birthing partners attend?
Fathers and partners are encouraged to accompany the expecting mother. Prenatal classes will give them a better sense of what’s ahead and help them prepare for childbirth and the baby’s arrival.
These classes can be especially beneficial if the fathers and partners have the opportunity to talk to one another and share their experiences. Some prenatal classes are even taught by men to better address the concerns of fathers-to-be.
Couples who attend together will also be guided through important conversations. The instructor will suggest topics to discuss together, such as your respective expectations, how your life will change once the baby arrives, and how you plan to share parental responsibilities (e.g., parental leave, household tasks).
Things to keep in mind
Prenatal classes are useful for expecting mothers and fathers. They help women feel more confident and less anxious about pregnancy and labour, among other benefits.
Prenatal classes are offered in group, semi-private, and private settings. They can be online or in person. Some are fee-based, while others are free.
As start dates can vary, it’s best to find out when prenatal classes begin as soon as you become pregnant.
Scientific review: Marie-Claude Dufour, Executive Director of the Réseau des Centres de ressources périnatales du Québec
Research and copywriting: The Naître et grandir team
Updated: July 2023
Sources and references
Note: The links to other websites are not updated regularly, and some URLs may have changed since publication. If a link is no longer valid, please use search engines to find the relevant information.
Quebec Association of doulas (QAD). To find a doula in your area: aqdoulas.com
CLSC. To find your local CLSC: sante.gouv.qc.ca/en/repertoire-ressources Your CLSC can also refer you to local community organizations.
Fédération québécoise des organismes communautaires famille. To find an organization that offers services to families in your area (French only): fqocf.org
INSPQ. “Scientific Advisory Report on the Effects of Group Prenatal Classes.” 2015. inspq.qc.ca
Naître et grandir. “COVID-19 : les défis des cours prénataux en ligne.” April 2021. naitreetgrandir.com
Ordre des sages-femmes du Québec. To find a birth centre in your area or to check that a midwife is registered with the Ordre (French only): osfq.org
Regroupement pour la Valorisation de la Paternité. To find resources specifically for fathers (French only): rvpaternite.org
Community Health & Social Services Network. To find an organization that supports English-speaking communities: chssn.org
Réseau des Centres de ressources périnatales du Québec. To find organizations offering perinatal services in your area: rcrpq.com