Childbirth Education Classes

Childbirth Education Classes

For most pregnant women labor and birth are joyful experiences. However, because the experience can also be overwhelming, many women and their partners choose childbirth classes as a way of dealing with their anxiety. There are several things to consider when choosing a childbirth education class.

What are the benefits of childbirth education classes?

  • Childbirth classes can build confidence in your body’s ability to give birth.
  • Classes provide the opportunity to discuss any fears you might have with the instructor as well as with other couples in the class.
  • Classes will educate your partner in ways to support you during labor and birth. Many couples report that attending childbirth classes together strengthened their relationship.
  • You will learn about pain relief options, including massage, relaxation, breathing, and medications.
  • A tour of your birthing facility as part of the class provides the opportunity to observe the medical staff in action. It is a good time to ask the instructor about routine practices such as electronic fetal monitoring and freedom of movement during labor.
  • For those who are planning a hospital birth, taking more than one class can be helpful. A class at the hospital can provide a basic overview of labor and birth in connection with specific hospital practices. Classes taught outside the hospital can provide additional helpful information regarding coping skills, the physiology and emotional aspects of labor and birth, and childbirth options.

How do I find the right class for me?

Lamaze® International:

Lamaze® International has a contemporary curriculum that presents birth as normal, natural, and healthy. The organization enables expectant mothers and their partners to make informed decisions by covering the following topics:

  • Normal labor, birth and early postpartum
  • Positioning for labor and birth
  • Relaxation and massage techniques to ease pain
  • Labor support
  • Communication skills
  • Information about medical procedures
  • Breastfeeding
  • Healthy lifestyle

For more information: http://www.lamaze.org/

The Bradley Method®:

The Bradley Method® helps women prepare for a natural labor and birth that avoids the use of medication. This comprehensive 12-week course covers the following topics:

  • Importance of nutrition and exercise
  • Relaxation techniques to manage pain
  • Labor rehearsals
  • How to avoid a cesarean birth
  • Postpartum care
  • Breastfeeding
  • Guidance for coach/doula about supporting and advocating for the mother

For more information: http://www.bradleybirth.com/

Hypnobirthing®:

The Hypnobirthing® method is based upon the belief that the removal of fear and tension will eliminate severe pain during labor. This approach provides instruction in methods of intense relaxation designed to enhance natural birthing instincts. The intended result is a more calm and serene birth experience. Women are taught how to attain a feeling during labor and birth that is similar to daydreaming, enabling them to remain controlled and feeling happy throughout the event.

For more information: http://www.hypnobirthing.com/

Birthing From Within®:

Birthing From Within® teaches mothers how to achieve“birth-in-awareness” rather than focusing on a specific birth outcome. The curriculum can be modified to address the unique and special needs of parents. This approach is based on the belief that pregnancy, birth and postpartum are a time of continuous learning and that holistic support and education should be available throughout that period.

For more information: http://www.birthingfromwithin.com/

What questions should I ask before choosing 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 different birth philosophies be taught? For example, will the class teach coping skills for un-medicated as well as medicated labor and birth?
  • Does a specific location offer a variety of childbirth classes such as Childbirth Basics, Refresher Class, Natural Childbirth and Sibling Class?

Where do I find a childbirth education class?

Childbirth education classes are usually conducted at hospitals, birth centers, physicians’ offices and private homes.

Information about childbirth education classes is available from a variety of sources including:

  • Your physician or local hospital
  • Family and friends
  • Doulas
  • Pregnancy centers
  • Specific childbirth education organizations
  • Community resource centers

Recommended Reading

The following resources can also be helpful:

Your purchase supports the American Pregnancy Association.

Last Updated: 01/2013


Compiled using information from the following sources:

March of Dimes, http://www.marchofdimes.com/

MayoClinic.com, http://www.mayoclinic.com/