ECHO fund pioneering antenatal classes for parents whose unborn child has been diagnosed with a heart condition. These classes take place at St Thomas’ Hospital every six weeks and are facilitated by members of the Tower Midwife team – the same people who will be coordinating obstetric care at the hospital.
Similar to regular antenatal classes the day will provide information on:
Preparing for the arrival of your baby
Getting to and staying in and around St Thomas’ Hospital
Stages of labour and what to expect
Pain relief in labour
Your care in labour
Feeding your baby
Caring for your baby
All subjects focus on preparing you for having a baby with a heart condition. In addition to this the midwives give a tour of the birth centre and the neonatal unit at St Thomas’ Hospital.
Most importantly, parents have the opportunity to meet and talk to others in a similar situation, which many feel is an invaluable way of getting support.
An ECHO volunteer also attends – a parent who has experienced a similar situation – to talk about their own family story and to pass on information about other sources of support.
Going along for my 20 week scan was exciting, I never expected it to be the hardest day of my life. Attending the ECHO antenatal class, I was reminded that it was ok to enjoy being pregnant and felt prepared for what was about to happen, being in a room with 8 other couples going through the same thing was amazing.