Childbirth Education Classes: Types and Benefits
For most pregnant women, even if you already have a child, the labor and birth process can be both overwhelming and joyful. Many women and their partners choose to attend childbirth classes to gather information and lessen their anxiety.
There are several different options when choosing a childbirth education class.
What are the benefits of childbirth education classes?
- Childbirth classes help build your confidence in your body’s ability to give birth.
- You can discuss your fears about labor and birth with the instructor and other couples with the same concerns.
- Your partner will learn about childbirth and how to support you on the big day. You may find that attending childbirth classes together will create a special bond.
- Your instructor will discuss pain relief options, including massage, relaxation, breathing techniques, and medications.
- A tour of your birthing facility during class will give you the opportunity to see the staff in action. This is a great time to ask your instructor about routine practices, such as electronic fetal monitoring and freedom of movement during labor.
If you are planning a hospital birth, you might be interested in taking more than one class. A class at the hospital might include a basic overview of labor and birth and may teach specific hospital practices. Classes taught outside the hospital may equip you with in-depth information about coping skills, physiology of labor and birth, emotional aspects, and childbirth options.
How do I find the right class for me?
Lamaze® International uses a contemporary curriculum that supports birth as normal, natural, and healthy, and empowers expectant women and their partners to make informed decisions.
The class content includes:
- Normal labor, birth, and early postpartum period
- Positioning for labor and birth
- Relaxation and massage techniques to alleviate pain
- Labor support
- Communication skills
- Information about medical procedures
- Healthy lifestyle
For more information: http://www.lamaze.org/
The Bradley Method®
The Bradley Method® helps women prepare for a natural labor and birth without the use of medication.
This comprehensive 12-week course covers:
- Importance of nutrition and exercise
- Relaxation techniques to manage pain
- Labor rehearsals
- How to avoid a cesarean birth
- Postpartum care
- Guidance for a coach/doula about supporting and advocating for the mother
For more information: http://www.bradleybirth.com/
The Hypnobirthing® method teaches mothers that if you remove fear and tension, severe pain does not have to be part of labor. Intense relaxation will enhance natural birthing instincts that lead to a calm and serene birth experience.
The curriculum also teaches women how to experience a feeling similar to daydreaming, while remaining controlled and happy during labor and birth.
For more information: http://www.hypnobirthing.com/
Birthing From Within®
Birthing From Within® prepares mothers to give “birth-in-awareness,” not to achieve a specific birth outcome. The class curriculum is adjusted to meet the specific needs and differences of parents. This method also recognizes that pregnancy, birth, and the postpartum period involve continuous learning; holistic support and education should be available throughout this time.
For more information: http://www.birthingfromwithin.com/
What questions should I ask before I choose a class?
- Is the instructor certified to teach childbirth classes?
- What is the instructor’s philosophy about labor and birth?
- What topics are included in the curriculum?
- Will my partner learn how to play an active role in labor and birth?
- What is the cost?
- How many couples will be in the class?
- How often will the class meet?
- Will various birth philosophies be taught in the class? For example, will a woman wanting an un-medicated birth learn coping skills for pain relief? Will a woman wanting an epidural learn how to cope with a medicated labor and birth?
- Does this location offer different types of childbirth classes? For example, some locations offer classes on childbirth basics or natural childbirth, in addition to a refresher class and a sibling class.
Where do I find a childbirth education class?
Childbirth education classes are usually offered at hospitals, birth centers, physicians’ offices, and private homes.
- Find a Childbirth Educator in your area.
Or you can find information about childbirth education classes through:
- Your physician or hospital
- Family and friends
- Pregnancy centers
- Specific childbirth education organizations
- Community resource centers
You may find the following books helpful:
- The Official Lamaze Guide
- Judith Lothian
- Birthing from Within
- Pam England
- Husband Coached Childbirth
- Robert A. Bradley
Your purchase supports the American Pregnancy Association.
Compiled using information from the following sources:
March of Dimes, http://www.marchofdimes.com/