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Antenatal education programmes have been implemented in many settings around the world. There is, however, uncertainty about their effectiveness. Many studies have failed to show a benefit for women in terms of birth outcomes. A systematic review in The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews included nine trials (2,284 women). The findings were inconclusive with inconsistent results and small sample sizes. The authors of the Cochrane Review stated that the “effects of general antenatal education for childbirth or parenthood, or both, remain largely unknown.”1 Few large well-conducted randomised controlled trials have been undertaken which make the study by Maimburg and colleagues particularly exciting.
The intervention and comparison group
This study, conducted in a Danish university hospital, tested whether a structured antenatal training programme – ‘The Ready for Child’ programme – would impact on the labour and birth process of women having their first baby. The study was a randomised controlled trial comparing the new programme with standard care.
The ‘Ready for Child’ programme comprised three modules, each lasting 3 h, delivered to women between 30 and 35 weeks of gestation. The content of the birth module included lectures and discussion on labour onset, the birth process, the father's …
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