women in birthing class
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Childbirth classes: preparing for labor

Even when you’re excited to meet your little one, the delivery process can be a bit intimidating. Luckily, birthing classes exist for those who feel like they could use a bit of guidance and instruction before it’s time for Baby to show up on the scene.

What you’ll learn

Childbirth classes can teach you a number of different tips and techniques that will help make the process of labor and birth much easier.

  • Labor education: From how to identify labor is on its way to what to do next and more, childbirth classes will help get you ready for that magical moment when you say, “it’s go time!”
  • Relaxation and breathing techniques: Vital for labor and birth, relaxation and breathing techniques can help keep your mind at ease during the most physically and emotionally challenging parts of labor.
  • Common interventions. Learn what to expect from a hospital stay, from an IV to fetal monitoring and more. 
  • Types of births, such as vaginal, cesarean or forceps or vacuum assisted.
  • Meeting other expecting parents: Whether you’re the first among your friends to get pregnant, or you just want some solidarity from those who are in the same boat as you, the importance of the social aspect of childbirth classes is a huge benefit for some people.
  • Involve your partner: If you have a partner, attending childbirth classes together is a great way to bring them into the loop, and get them better acquainted with the process.

Where to go

Childbirth classes are increasingly offered online, although many hospitals and private childbirth educators still teach in person. It’s possible to mix and match both types of classes by taking a hospital class on childbirth and an online class on something more specific, like breastfeeding. Hospital classes can be helpful because they generally include a tour, and you can find out all of the details about what is available where you plan to give birth. Options do vary quite a bit from facility to facility! They are often free or low-cost if you plan to give birth at that location. 

Online classes usually allow you to access information again and again or to go at your own pace. You don’t have to leave your house and can work within the schedules of your family members. They often provide a wider perspective, which can be great to add to what you’re learning from your provider.

Two popular methods

There are many schools of thought when it comes to childbirth classes, including the Lamaze technique and the Bradley Method.

The Lamaze technique is the more popular of the two and can help manage your body, mind and pain through relaxation, breathing, and visualization techniques.

The Bradley method places more emphasis on having an unmedicated labor and birth, as well as on your partner or support person learning how to be your labor coach. Bradley followers generally believe that labor pain medication is unnecessary in most births. These classes are a better fit for those whose views fall under this umbrella.

The bottom line

Even if you’ve read every book and article possible to prepare yourself for birth, the expert perspective and information from a qualified childbirth educator are invaluable. The social aspect can also be a great way to build community Childbirth classes are a wonderful option for anyone who wants to get a little more comfortable with that fast-approaching due date.

Read more
  • R Grajeda, R Perez-Escamilla. “Stress during labor and delivery is associated with delayed onset of lactation among Urban Guatemalan women.” Journal of Nutrition. 132(10):3055-60. Web. 10/2/2015.
  • Mayo Clinic Staff. “Childbirth classes: Get ready for labor and delivery.” Mayo Clinic. Mayo Clinic, 6/18/2014. Web.

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