Ottawa Hospital cuts prenatal classes

The Ottawa Hospital is cancelling its prenatal and prenatal breastfeeding classes, citing a lack of enrolment from new parents.

The Ottawa Hospital is cancelling its prenatal and prenatal breastfeeding classes, citing a lack of interest from new parents.

The hospital said fewer than 10 per cent of couples giving birth at the hospital sign up for prenatal classes and fewer than two per cent sign up for prental breastfeeding classes.

About 6,400 babies are born each year at the hospital's two campuses, with less than 600 people taking the courses, said a hospital spokesperson.

Ann Mitchell, the director of maternal newborn services at the hospital, said Ottawa Public Heath and other groups also provide the service.

"One of the advantages of doing prenatal classes in the community is that you get to meet those providers like public health who offer post-natal health — baby drop ins and breast feeding drop ins in the community — so you can make those connections early on in your pregnancy," she said.

Mitchell also said more people are turning to the internet for information and that the hospital needs to adjust to the new reality.

Instructor laments loss of program

Erin Shaheen with the Ottawa Childbirth Education Association taught the classes and said while there are other groups that can offer the courses, the hospital classes were in operation for twenty years and should be recognized "for all the good it does do."

Shaheen said the program paid for itself and doesn't understand why it was cancelled.

She said instructors covered a range of issues for expecting parents.

"We taught basic labour and birth information, what people can expect when they come to the hospital, when to come to the hospital, different stages of labour, options for pain management...a fair bit on breastfeeding, normal baby development afterwards and we also cover postpartum depression and resources around town," said Shaheen.

The hospital said it will honour all booked classes over the summer, but prenatal and prenatal breasfeeding classes will end on August 31st.