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The early weeks of pregnancy can be a scary and exciting time as expectant parents prepare for the road ahead.  Along with the excitement of a new pregnancy comes many unknowns, new challenges and discoveries.  Many pregnant women will experience a wide range of emotional and physical changes even before a pregnancy is confirmed.  Early pregnancy is a critical time in foetal development.  By the end of the first trimester; all of the unborn baby’s major organs are in place and ready to grow.  That being said, it is never to early for expectant parents to begin thinking about prenatal education.

Either in a group setting or one-on-one, prenatal education helps prepare parents for pregnancy and childbirth.  A prenatal education course can provide expectant parents with information about pregnancy, labour, birth, breastfeeding and transitioning to parenthood.

However, according to the BORN (Better Outcomes Registry and Network) Eastern Ontario Perinatal Health Report (2008) data, only one in five women attended prenatal classes in 2008.  In today’s high-tech environment, many expectant parents are turning to the Internet to get information about their pregnancy.  Convenience, flexibility and anonymity are just some of the reasons expectant parents may choose to take a prenatal class online.

Ottawa Public Health has recently launched an online prenatal course called A new Life/Une Nouvelle Vie.  The course has been tailored for Ottawa residents and is available both in English and in French.  The goal of the online prenatal course is to educate expectant parents on how to have a healthiest pregnancy possible and to increase their confidence level with regards to their ability to care for themselves, their new baby and their family. 

It is comprised of eight learning modules covering various topics such as pregnancy, breastfeeding and parenting.  To enhance learning, the modules include animation, audio and interactive activities throughout such as puzzles and quizzes. Also, for expectant parents who are looking for additional information and support, a sign up option is available to receive a follow-up call from a public health nurse while taking the online prenatal class.

Taking courses online may not be for everyone.  Expectant parents should consider how they learn best, their individual needs and their availability in order to decide how they learn best, their individual needs and their availability in order to decide the best prenatal education option for them.  Those who are planning a pregnancy, are currently expecting or know someone who is and would simply like to learn about pregnancy, birth or caring for a new baby can visit ottawa.ca/health or contact Ottawa Public Health Information at 613-580-6744 or by email at healthsante@ottawa.ca.  A list of the various prenatal education options in the Ottawa region including a link to the A New Life/Une Nouvelle Vie program is available on our website. 

Remember that knowledge is power!  When it comes to learning about pregnancy, it’s never too early to start.  The more knowledge one has, the more one can make informed decisions about their health and the health of their unborn baby. 

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