One of the best things you can do before giving birth is attend a childbirth class. These birthing classes will give you and your partner a lot of
information and support to help you during labor and birth. You'll get to meet other pregnant couples and share advice and concerns with them. And taking
part in a childbirth course will increase your confidence as you face the big event.
Childbirth Classes: What’s the Difference?
Not all childbirth courses are created equal. Some are primarily lectures and merely inform you about what you can expect when you go to the hospital for
delivery. Others are more interactive. Interactive courses are kept small, usually with no more than 10 couples; this allows for one-on-one instruction in
practicing comfort measures and creates a more intimate atmosphere in which to share advice and concerns. Some courses discuss the choices available to you
in terms of pain relief, optional procedures (such as episiotomy), and where to deliver (at home, in a hospital, or in a birthing center). Be an
inquisitive consumer as you look for a course; don't choose one just because it's held at your hospital or close by.
What a Good Childbirth Class Offers
Here are things you should look for when shopping around:
At least 12 hours of instruction, with classes spread out over several days or weeks.
An emphasis on practicing pain management skills (relaxation, positioning, massage, breathing) for you, and labor support for your partner.
Small classes, with no more than 10 to 12 couples.
A curriculum that supports birth as normal and natural and empowers couples to make informed choices.
Class content that includes labor, birth, early postpartum (the time right after the baby is born), the newborn, breastfeeding, and adjusting to
parenthood. Other topics should include medical procedures (such as fetal monitoring and episiotomy), medication, anesthesia, communication skills, and
Time for questions and discussion.
An instructor who's a nationally certified childbirth educator. Lamaze International and International Childbirth Education Association (ICEA) both
To learn more about childbirth courses and to find one in your area, visit the Web sites of Lamaze International and the ICEA.