For most pregnant women, pregnancy and childbirth are equal parts exciting and terrifying. It can feel like there are a million things to do: tons of baby books to read, DVD’s to watch, blogs to visit, and very little time to get it all done.
Prenatal classes are a great way for new moms and their partners to
- tackle all these things at once,
- get answers to all their questions, and
- take the mystery out of the whole process of pregnancy and childbirth.
You get the chance to interact with instructors and other parents.
These days, most people get their information from the internet. Although it’s an amazing resource, it comes to you unfiltered. There is a lot of misinformation out there. Googling something like ‘epidural’ will bring up nearly 3 million hits. There’s no guarantee that everything you read will be 100% correct. Prenatal classes are a great way to get quality, educational information from professionals. With that said, here are 3 helpful prenatal classes you might consider.
NOTE: Some prenatal classes are better than others. Before signing up, speak to friends, family, and neighbors to see if they have any recommendations.
1- Lamaze classes
This is by far the most popular class for pregnant moms. The Lamaze method was developed by the French obstetrician Ferdinand Lamaze. This method has been used in the United States since the late 1950s. The goal of Lamaze is to increase a mother’s confidence in her ability to give birth. The classes are meant to help women understand how to cope with the pain of labor.
Begin a Lamaze class near the start of your seventh month of pregnancy. Classes usually cover the following:
- what happens in normal labor and birth
- breathing techniques for labor
- relaxation techniques and strategies to help with labor pain, such as massage, walking, position changes, and hydrotherapy
- tips to help your partner encourage and support you during labor
Different classes offer slightly different curriculums. It’s a good idea to check what will be covered by your provider before signing up.
NOTE: Before signing up for a class, it’s important to find out the various philosophies being taught. 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? Depending on what plans you have for yourself, some classes may be more relevant than others.
2- Childbirth educational classes
Childbirth educational classes teach women and their partners about what to expect during their pregnancy and delivery. They differ from Lamaze because they talk about more than the birthing process itself. Instructors usually cover things like
- different delivery methods,
- the signs of impending labor,
- terminology that doctors and nurses use, or
Instructors are there to answer all your questions and shed light on topics you’re anxious about.
Childbirth classes can’t improve the outcome of a delivery. What they can do is arm you with information about the labor process itself. They can tell you about things you can expect or those that may come as a surprise. You feel more confident when you have the information necessary to make informed choices. It’s never a bad idea to have these things explained to you before labor—as opposed to while you’re in the middle of giving birth!
The main benefits of childbirth classes
Childbirth classes offer many benefits. As mentioned earlier, don’t get all your information and education from the internet. Here are just a few of the benefits these classes provide:
- Classes remove the fear of the unknown. For parents that like to plan ahead, it may be daunting to feel like you’re going to have to learn “on the job”. One way to get around that is to take a birthing class to get an idea of what to expect.
- They narrow down information. With the massive amount of childbirth information out there, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. What information should you pay attention to? Childbirth classes let you focus on the information that you need to know.
- Classes help you feel prepared. After a class, many parents tend to feel more ready to handle pregnancy, birth, and an infant. They usually feel less anxious, and more self-assured and ready to make decisions.
- You can connect with other moms. Childbirth classes are a great place to meet other women that are going through the exact same thing you are. This is especially true if none of your friends have children or all their children are older. It’s a great place to swap advice.
3 – Newborn and parenting classes
You focus a lot on what to expect from pregnancy and childbirth. What happens after the baby comes? Newborn and parenting classes help prepare you for life with a baby. These classes can include topics like:
- bringing the baby home,
- relationship techniques, and even
- picking the right car seat.
Other important topics that may be covered are infant CPR and safety (which itself can be taken as a separate course). Just as you want to be prepared for labor and childbirth, you want to be prepared for life with your newborn baby.
TIP: Before signing up for any class, here are a few questions you should always ask:
- What certifications does the instructor have?
- What topics are included in the curriculum?
- Will my partner learn how to play an active role in labor and birth?
- How many couples will be in the class?