5 April 2017

Childbirth classes now available statewide by videoconference

Country parents don’t have to miss out on a childbirth course because they live outside a major centre.
Pregnant mother with laptop displaying telehealth class
Derby mum-to-be Amanda Ogg shows how she took childbirth education classes from home by telehealth with WA County Health Service Maternal Health Project project officer Tarryn Sharp (on laptop screen)

The WA Country Health Service (WACHS) offers childbirth and parenting classes by videoconference, or ‘telehealth’. The course was made available to parents in the Great Southern and Wheatbelt a year ago, and recently expanded across the State. 

Expectant mums and dads from the State’s north to south have now undertaken the course from their local health service – and even their own homes in some cases. 

Derby resident Amanda Ogg took one of the six classes from Derby Hospital and the rest from home. Amanda said she didn’t see any difference between the telehealth session and an in-person class.

“I didn’t feel I was missing out by not having a face-to-face class,” she said. “The video camera enabled the midwife to show us demonstrations of things such as how to bath a newborn.

“There’s a videocam on the participants as well, so you can all see each other on the screen.”

Amanda said being able to do the course remotely allowed her to confirm things she had previously only been able to read about online and in books.

“Websites and books have different views and their information is sometimes out of date, so it was good to be able to ask questions of an expert and get a direct answer.” 

Even though Amanda – a teacher with School of the Air – uses the same type of videoconferencing tool at work, she didn’t think that experience was necessary.

“Anyone can use telehealth, especially if they have used Skype or Facetime,” she said. 

To join in the classes at the local health service, participants simply go to the centre and get taken to a meeting room where a staff member will help them log in to the telehealth conference on a large computer screen.

Instructors then deliver interactive sessions using demonstrations, video clips and group discussion. Topics include healthy pregnancy, labour and birth, pain relief, breastfeeding and early parenting.

The classes are delivered by experienced midwives, lactation consultants and child health nurses.

To take the classes at home, people must have good internet access and a suitable laptop or device.

Each of the six sessions lasts an hour and they are held on Fridays at 2-3pm. 

The service has been made possible by the Southern Inland Health Initiative as part of the Maternal Health Improvement Program.

Find out when the next series starts and book online at WACHS’s Maternal, child and youth health page (external site) or email