In our quest to be prepared as parents (we know you’re never fully prepared) we signed up for a birth and labor class with the hospital we plan on having the baby in. There was no shortage on opinions and feedback with family and friends on what class we should take, how we should give birth (natural vs pain free), and where to give birth.
We decided we need to find a class that could get a solid overview and then make our decisions and birth plan based on the information we received.
Finding the Right Class for You
There are several reasons why people want to sign up and you two need to take the time and figure out which ones are important to you.
- Kind of Birth: Some couples go for a pain free birth and some go for a drug free birth.
- Knowledge: A lot of anxiety that many people carry is the fear of the unknown.
- Options: I find comfort in knowing what my options are in a given situation. We hadn’t made a decision on many things, so we wanted a class that covered it all.
- Teaching Method: Being aware of how you learn best is important. Ask the instructor and past participants how much of the class is dedicated hands on, workbook oriented, and/or discussion activities.
It’s vital that you find the right class for you as a couple. A great labor/birth class will help you feel more knowledgeable and confident.When should you sign up for class? It depends on which one you choose since they vary in length. For our class we were encourage to sign up around 14-20 weeks so we could be scheduled during the last trimester.
What are some of your options? Here are three of the most popular that I’ve found – Lamaze, Bradley, and Alexander.
This method is a very popular one. Our birth and labor class through the hospital incorporates Lamaze into the curriculum.The focus is on preparing for labor process with breathing techniques, relaxation, and positions to help the mother work through it. Learning what to expect with labor, including possible complications and medical invention options.
It also covers breastfeeding and bonding your baby. Each class has its own particular curriculum, but it does include the general guidelines.
To find a Lamaze class near you, please visit their site.
The Bradley method is another popular choice for parents. The method encourages natural birth and includes information on learning to work with your body throughout the pregnancy.
This is a much longer program with 12 weeks of lessons. It’s also more extensive, covering in much more detail the preparation parents can make during pregnancy. The official curriculum includes:
- Introduction to The Bradley Method®
- Nutrition in Pregnancy
- The Coach’s Role
- Introduction to First Stage Labor
- Introduction to Second Stage Labor
- Planning Your Birth
- Variations and Complications / Postpartum Preparation
- Advanced First Stage Techniques
- Advanced Second Stage Techniques
- Being a Great Coach / Are You Ready?
- Preparing for Your New Family
To find a Bradley class near you, please visit their site.
The method focuses on everyday movements and releasing tension. It’s not a posture class per se, but from the material I found it’s helpful for those who have developed bad habits. It wasn’t designed as a pregnancy/labor method, but it has been adapted to help women cope with pregnancy and help them prepare physically for labor.
To find a Alexander class or instructor near you, please visit their site.
I’ve only mentioned the 3 methods I kept hearing about, but there are so many options out there. If you’re curious about finding what’s out there in your area, The Bump has a local guide.
Our Birth and Labor Class
Before we attended the class, we received a welcome letter, information packet, and our course workbook.
With the first class we received our syllabus for the course. Here’s the plan for the course:
- Anatomy and Physiology of Pregnancy
- Discomforts and Warning Signs
- Introduction to Relaxations
- True vs. False Labor
- First Stage of Labor
- Relaxation and Breathing
- Back Labor
- Positions for Labor
- Second Stage of Labor
- Hospital Tour
- Second Stage Practice
- Medical Procedures and Options
- Labor Bag
- Birth Plan
- Cesarean Birth
We meet up once a week in the evenings for a couple of hours for a total of 12 hours. That’s not counting the time we spend for reading, reviewing, and homework (massages!). It’s spread over 5 weeks – there’s an intensive weekend options, but that didn’t feel right for us. I wasn’t looking for an information dump.
Thoughts on Birth and Labor Classes
Did you take a class when you were expecting? How did you find your class? Were the classes worth it?
Join In the Baby Expenses Series
Are you a parent or a parent to be with some helpful advice or stories? Please go ahead and join in on the Baby Expense Series, there are 4 ways you can be a part of it:
- Leave your tips in the comment section. I love reviewing thoughtful comments from readers. Some topics have several ‘right’ answers and I think sharing different view points can be helpful.
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Photo Credit: limaoscarjuliet