Birthing classes can help prepare you for labor, but they can also come with fears and anxieties about the birthing experience. For this reason, it’s important to do your due diligence and find out about which methods and techniques are out there, and go with whichever one speaks to you. When choosing a birthing class, it’s important to have information about the instructor, the course material, and the techniques used during the class. Cost of the course is also a factor for many people. Consider these tips if you’re considering participating in a birthing class.
Lamaze, Bradley Method, Hypnobabies, Birth Boot Camp, Alexander Technique, Birthing from within, Birthworks, The Pink Kit Method, your local hospital birthing class, or a birthing center—how do you choose? Today, with so many birthing methods out there, it can be difficult to know which is the right one for you. Read up a little, watch a few videos, and find the one you connect with the most. If you’d rather not choose, and you’re looking for an overview and the basics, go with a class at your local hospital. They tend to be the cheapest anyway, so, win-win!
What happens when the instructor says something you don’t like? Something you don’t vibe with? Well, that’s ok. In fact, there’s a good chance that it will happen. Your instructor is only human, and nothing she says is set in stone. Birthing classes are important because they expose you to the different mindsets and options out there. Take what you like and leave the rest— or put the rest away in an envelope at the back of your mind to pull from if you realize it will help you during labor. Gruesome stories, worst-case scenarios, and fear-inducing thoughts can be left at the door on your way out of class if they happen to arise.
Do you have a specific birth fear you’ve been harping on? Or maybe a question that’s been nagging you for quite some time now? Show up a few minutes early to class, and pull your instructor aside. Share your questions and fears with her. Chances are, she’s heard it all before—and that half the women in the class are bothered by the same thoughts. She may address your question during class (without naming you), providing you with insight or tips that can help calm you and all the women around you.
This can be done before you even sign up for the class. Call the birthing center/instructor/hospital and ask if you will be receiving any material to take home. Some classes come with books; some come with pamphlets, and some with photocopies of a Powerpoint. It’s important to know what you’ll be getting before you go in so that you can adjust your expectations appropriately.
If the instructor asks for a volunteer during class, you may benefit from raising your hand. An expert instructor can provide tips and tricks during demonstrations that will stick with you throughout the rest of your pregnancy and labor. You can benefit from the instructor demonstrating on you— whether it be massage methods, pain management techniques, or birthing positions.
“Are there any questions at this point?” If you have a question, ask it! As mentioned above, it’s possible that many other women in your birthing class are wondering the same thing. Nothing is taboo in a birthing class. It may be intimidating at first, but introduce yourself to the other women in your class, and get their numbers. Find out which hospital they will be giving birth in—or if they are opting for home birth—and which number pregnancy they are one. Maybe you’ll make a few friends that will become your maternity-leave breakfast-club.
We all have that friend who shares horrific birth stories and pregnancy complications— which are usually followed up by unhelpful and unsolicited advice. There are probably a few of those in your birthing class. Identify them (which shouldn’t be too difficult) and take everything they say with a grain of salt. Because every single birth is different, other women’s birth stories are usually unhelpful, and they often instill fear, where fear is unwelcome. Master the smile-and-nod, and move on.
Some classes are partner-friendly, some include partners for a portion of classes toward the end, and some do not include partners at all. If you choose the latter, try to keep your partner informed and involved in what you’re learning, thinking, and doing in the class. Your partner should be completely up to date on your birth plan, and on all of your fears surrounding the birth. As an extra set of eyes and ears, and an advocate for you, your partner and you should be on the same page come go-time.
It’s important for you, your partner, and your doctor to be aware of your priorities for during and after labor. Are you concerned about pain, and if so, what pain management methods would you like to use? Is it important that your baby stay with you after the birth? Do you want to delay cutting the umbilical cord? These are all general preferences that should be planned and written down. That said, keep in mind that births are unpredictable, and in most cases, don’t pan out exactly how you would have planned. Sometimes doctors need to choose speed over your plan. The most important thing is that you and your baby are safe and healthy— and remember that birth plans are really just birth preferences.
If the idea of group learning and class participation makes you cringe, or you know enough about anatomy and biology to avoid the 4+ hours of lessons on conceiving, labor, and delivery, skip it. If there are specific things you think you can benefit learning about —like pain management or troubleshooting complications, for example— there is plenty of material online to learn from. Look for online courses from real instructors with credentials, and learn the material in the privacy of your own home, in your own time, at your own pace. Alternatively, you could just pick up a book that you think might be helpful, and take what you want from there.
Just remember that every woman has a different experience being pregnant, giving birth, and becoming a mother, so do what works best for you!
This site offers information designed for educational purposes only. You should not rely on any information on this site as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, treatment, or as a substitute for, professional counseling care, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any concerns or questions about your health, you should always consult with a physician or other healthcare professional.