Birth & Early Parenting Course

Karen van der Merwe is an Independent Private Midwife who provides a comprehensive but easily understood 6 week antenatal “Birth & early parenting course” which is aimed at couples who are having a midwife-led birth. Her aim is to prepare you & your partner physically, psychologically & emotionally for the birth of your baby & beyond. 

“Ideally, commencement of the course should be between 20 & 32 weeks, but can be later if you so choose” 

The classes are held on Monday evenings, 3 hours each & will educate you so as to reduce any fear & anxieties that you may have beforehand. They cover the topics of breathing/relaxation/visualisation, labour & birthing (Both natural-physiological birth as well as for caesarean section), potential medical Interventions, breastfeeding & care of your baby in the early weeks post birth as well as early parenting skills. The classes are small, interactive and specifically prepare you for a natural birth as well as for any potential interventions should they become medically indicated. They inform you of all your options & choices, applying “evidence based research” so that you can make informed decisions & choices about the birth of your baby. 

”It is important that you are a part of the decision making process when it comes to the birth of your baby as the choices you make for this your first or current birth, have a direct impact not only the outcome of this birth but also on your future pregnancies and births in the years ahead”

These classes also give partners an opportunity to understand the whole process of pregnancy, birth and early parenting. It prepares them so that they will be able to understand your behavior & emotions during pregnancy, labour & birth, lessening their fears & anxieties as well.  Attending antenatal classes will serve to give both you & your partner answers to almost all of your questions surrounding your pregnancy challenges & issues around birth & beyond. They will form a support group forum as you meet & become friends with other couples experiencing similar life changes, as you become parents to your first as well as your subsequent babies.

“Most couples that have attended my classes say that their confidence levels were increased after attending the course & that it prepared them well for their birthing experience & that they highly recommend them to anybody that is going to have a baby”

For couples that have already had a baby previously, or whom have had a previous caesarean section & wish to prepare for a VBAC delivery, I recommend the refresher course, which is the “first four classes” of the course. Often those couples who have birthed vaginally previously, choose to just attend Class 3 which is the “Breathing & Relaxation – or Active Birth” Class. Each class is a module on its own so couples can also select to attend individual classes depending on their needs. 

“Remember along with maintaining a healthy pregnancy - the key to being well prepared for a good birth experience is to become educated & informed with evidence based research as a guide, so that you can make the right decisions & choices” 

Meet your antenatal class facilitator:

Sr Karen van der Merwe: Independent Private Midwife & Mother.

I have been nursing for over 40 years. Practicing as a midwife for the last 34 years & in private practice for over 17 years. Through the years I have acquired a wealth of knowledge & experience both working in the private & government sector as well as in my own private practice. I assist mothers & their families throughout their pregnancies and on their birth journeys at home and at clinics/hospitals. “I believe that empowerment and informed choice is the key to a safe and positive birth experience” I find it both a privilege & an honour to be a part of my clients birth journeys….each of which I find unique & miraculous. I have a gentle and humanistic approach to birth & aim to guide you through a safe & empowering experience. Birthing not only a baby….but a mother & father through the unique & amazing experience of birth.

I have a passion for birth & utilise my gifts towards conducting healthy & safe birth practices. I do not consider my work a job, but believe it is a calling. My care towards all of my clients is personalized. I educate, assist & guide them throughout their journey to motherhood. Patience & perseverance being instrumental on the journey. 

“I look forward to meeting you going forward in your preparation for one of the most important journeys & experiences of your life” – Warm regards, Karen.

Outline of my classes are as follows:
Class 1: 
  • Introductions to childbirth education: -including birth options & choicesAnatomy & physiology
  • Breathing & relaxation techniques & a birth video 
Class 2: 
  • Labour & Birth
  • Video
Class 3: 
  • Active Childbirth – A practical class with breathing, relaxation & visualisations.
  • Non-medical forms of pain relief & birth preparation.
  • The role of the doula.
  • Video
Class 4:
  • The mechanism of birth of the baby & placenta
  • Medical interventions including episiotomy & assisted delivery
    • Forceps
    • Vacuum
  • Medical options for pain relief
    • Pethidine
    • Entonox
    • Epidural
  • Neonatal ICU
  • Video 
Class 5:
  • Medical interventions including induction of labour, breaking of the membranes & foetal heart rate monitoring.
  • The Caesaren birth experience.
  • Video – Spinal anaesthetic & caesarean birth.
 Class 6:

The newborn baby:

  • appearance
  • procedures & care
  • reflexes
  • Postnatal care, adjustments & challenges
  • Breastfeeding
Course Details:
  • Full 6 week Course: R2,550.
  • Refresher Course: R1,700.
  • Individual ClassesR475 each.
  • Crash Course: “One on One” Classes can be arranged by appointment only R750.
I also offer the first intro’ class for a nominal fee of R100 to any couple who are unsure of the benefits they will receive by attending the full classes…hopeful that they will continue & join us for the full course.
  • To secure your place on the course, payment is please to be made in full prior to yourcommencement & to prevent overbooking. Unfortunately the numbers of people are restricted & preference will go to those who have paid unless other arrangements have been agreed upon.
  • You must submit your invoice/receipt to the medical aid for reimbursement of what will be due to you. (NB: It is the member's responsibility to confirm benefits relating to antenatal classes with their medical aid as these will vary from scheme to scheme & not all medical funds have benefits for antenatal classes).
  • You will be given weekly handouts as well as selected resource information during the course. 
  • A number of birth movies will be shown.
  • New parents will be invited to share their birthing experience at selected classes.
Course Dates:

The Full Antenatal course consists of a schedule of 6 weekly classes per group.

The Refresher course will be the first 4 classes of each group.

The upcoming commencement dates for 2018 are as follows:
  • Group 3: 25thJune, 2nd, 9th, 16th, 23rd, 30th  July                                                              
  • Group 4: 27th August, 3rd, 10th, 17th September, 1st, 8th October
  • Group 5: 29th October, 5th, 12th, 19th, 26th November, 3rd December

The training room, Genesis Maternity Clinic. 5 Northwold Dr, Cnr Jan Smuts Avenue. Saxonwold, Johannesburg.

  • Mondays: 18h30 to 21h30
  • In the event that the Monday falls on a public holiday, then that class is carried over to the following week.
How to book:

You can register for the course anytime, but will start after 20 weeks of pregnancy.

Contact Details:

Karen: 082 335 7731

Send an  so that I can send you the provisional booking form to complete

Space is limited and booking is essential.