What will I learn from a childbirth class?
A childbirth class is a great way to prepare for labor and birth. Depending on where you go, classes range from a one-day intensive workshop to weekly sessions lasting a month or more. The typical class consists of lectures, discussions, and exercises, all led by a trained childbirth instructor.
While approaches vary, the goal is to provide you with information to prepare for childbirth, help you make informed decisions, and minimize your fears. You’ll also learn techniques to help you relax and cope with labor.
Most hospitals offer classes, or you can take one through an independent instructor or organization. Classes range from courses that begin early in pregnancy and continue through the postpartum period to one-shot refresher sessions.
Look for a class that covers:
- The signs of labor
- The normal progress of labor and birth
- Techniques for coping with pain
- How your partner can help you during labor
- When to call your doctor or midwife
In addition, childbirth classes generally cover some of the more common childbirth complications and how they might be handled. Most show videos of both a vaginal birth and a c-section.
Classes may also teach the basics of breastfeeding and newborn care. (If you’d like more detail about nursing and baby care, you can generally find separate in-depth classes on these topics. Early pregnancy classes are usually available as well.)
A bonus: Childbirth classes provide a great opportunity to meet other expectant parents who will have a child the same age as yours. Some participants stay in touch long after the classes are over.
What sorts of childbirth classes are offered?
Some classes teach a particular childbirth method, but many – such as the ones offered at a hospital – don’t promote any particular technique. You may want to research the classes available in your area so you find one that meets your needs.
If you want to give birth without an epidural, for example, look for an instructor who spends a lot of time exploring the different natural methods of pain management. On the other hand, if you’re sure you’re going to ask for an epidural or another form of pain medication, a course taught by a stringently antidrug instructor is not for you.
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