Women's experiences of changes to childbirth and parenting education in Australia during the COVID-19 pandemic: The birth in the time of COVID-19 (BITTOC) study


Objective: As changes to Childbirth and Parenting Education (CBPE) classes during the COVID-19 pandemic remain unexplored in Australia, our objective was to understand how changes to CBPE in Australia during the COVID-19 pandemic impacted on women’s birth and postnatal experiences.

Methods: Survey responses were received from 3172 women (1343 pregnant and 1829 postnatal) for the ‘Birth In The Time Of Covid-19 (BITTOC)’ survey (August 2020 to February 2021) in Australia. One of the survey questions asked women if they had experienced changes to CBPE class schedules or format during the pandemic, with a follow up open ended text box inviting women to comment on the impact of these changes. The majority of women experienced changes to CBPE, with only 9 % stating they experienced no changes to classes. A content analysis was undertaken on the 929 open text responses discussing the impact these changes had on women’s experience of pregnancy, birth and postpartum.

Results: 929 women (29 %) made 1131 comments regarding changes to CBPE classes during the pandemic. The main finding ‘I felt so unprepared’, highlights how women perceived the cessation or alteration of classes impacted their birth preparation, with many reporting an increased sense of isolation. Some women reported feeling ‘It was good enough’ with adequate provision of online classes, and others feeling ‘I was let down by the system’ due to communication and technological barriers.

Conclusions: Results highlight the importance of ensuring continued provision of hybrid/online childbirth education models to enable versatility during times of crisis. Gaps in service provision, communication and resources for childbirth and parenting education need addressing


Childbirth education, Antenatal education, Parenting education, Content analysis, Maternal Health, Covid-19

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