Health bosses have been criticised for axing antenatal classes.

East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust said it decided to stop the sessions across the county due to dwindling numbers and because of the amount of information now accessible online.

However angry parents–to–be say having face–to–face advice is vital and many may struggle to pay for private parent education classes.

They also criticised being advised to look online, particularly as the NHS’s own national website suggests antenatal classes are vital for new parents.

One parent who contacted The Argus said: “I was told at week 20 the classes had been cancelled and I had to find alternative arrangements.

“As a result, I tried to get on a National Childbirth Trust (NCT) course but because the NHS did not inform me of the closures before week 20, all the NCT places had been booked – apart from the most expensive classes.

“What happens to the women who cannot afford to pay for the classes?

“In addition, by cutting the classes, expectant parents also lose an opportunity to form friendships and social support networks that are extremely beneficial for the health and happiness of both the parents and the children.

“With this decision, the NHS has seemingly belittled the massive impact that antenatal classes have on parents and newborns – whether it be practical advice or the much needed social support it provides.”

Jenny Crowe, the trust’s deputy head of midwifery, said: “Following a review of attendance at our parent education classes which showed that fewer people had been attending, we decided that from July we would no longer provide these sessions.

“We were made aware that many women already access the internet for this information and we already direct women and their families to our maternity website where a wealth of information can be found including virtual tours of our maternity units.

“Our community midwives continue to provide help and information at antenatal check–ups and we continue to provide a physiotherapy for pregnancy class, a breastfeeding workshop and baby resuscitation class.

“The NCT also provides classes which are available to women locally.”