Vulnerable populations are under-represented in prenatal education and experience barriers to access despite many programs being free of charge. Understanding how vulnerable women perceive and experience prenatal education can point to what factors might aid in recruiting and retaining them in education programs.
I conducted an ethnographic study of prenatal classes at the Calgary Pregnancy Care Centre. Through observations, field notes, and in-depth interviews with participants, four main themes emerged: Perceptions of the class - classes were seen as a source of social support (esp. for lone mothers) as well as formal knowledge about pregnancy and birth; The “nature” of the client – instructors’ assumptions about the “nature” of the clients dictated how the classes were run; Formal knowledge vs. experiential knowledge, and Lone mothers and the role of partners.
Prenatal education programs should consider the diverse perspectives which surround and shape vulnerable women’s experiences of prenatal education.