When you become pregnant, it's like a whole new world opens up to you. There are maternity clothes, foods you have to avoid, different types of exercises you should or should not do, and of course preparing to have your baby. Who knew there were so many things to learn about giving birth? When I was pregnant with my first, I thought that I would know it all without having to take a class, and man, was I wrong.
Why Should You Take a Childbirth Class
I mean it's birth, right? I should know what my body can do. Well, there is some truth there, in that our bodies know what to do, but our minds not so much. In fact, how we perceive an event to go can affect how we experience it. If you go into your college math class hearing about how bad the professor is and how impossible the class is, truth is that you may start to feel that you won't succeed or enjoy the class at all even before setting foot through the door on day one.
Keeping an open mind is a great start, but what's even better is filling your mind with positive stories from people who have actually enjoyed their experience! When someone has great joy in their voice as they explain an event that has happened in their life, there's a part of us that wants to experience the same thing. We all seek joy and want to know the secrets of how to get there. Part of that is listening to those who have experienced that and learning what they did to help get them to where you would like to be. Another part of that is knowing all the options there are, and what would work best for you. What works for one woman in labor may be completely different from another woman, but both have the same results, a birth where they felt empowered by and actually loved.
What Types of Classes are There?
The short answer, lots! There are many different styles of childbirth classes ranging from a variety of things to offer and focus on. Some different styles include:
One day, but long hours
Questions to Ask Yourself When Choosing a Class
(I give full credit of this section to the amazing book, "Pregnancy, Childbirth, and the Newborn: The Complete Guide" for these great questions to ask when selecting a class. The source is cited at the bottom of this post).
Who sponsors the class?
What's the instructor's background and training?
What's the instructor's experience with birth and childbirth education?
Does the instructor participate in continuing education in the field?
Is the instructor certified by a reputable organization?
Does the instructor cover normal childbirth as well as complications?
Does the instructor cover all the choices and include their pros and cons?
Does the instructor teach self-help comfort measures and natural childbirth techniques?
Does the instructor describe the disadvantages and risks as well as the advantages of various procedures and medications?
Does the series cover postpartum adjustment, newborn care, development, and feeding?
How are the classes scheduled?
Are they a series of four to eight weekly meetings, or one or two-day courses (Classes that may last only one or two days may be convenient but they can be exhausting and overwhelming? Classes that meet regularly over a longer period let you better absorb the information, practice the techniques, and think of questions to ask at the next class.)
What is the cost of the series? (A few health insurance plans and government assistance programs cover the cost of childbirth classes.)
What is the ratio of students to the instructor?
Is the instructor available to students by phone, email, or in-person for questions outside of class and after the series?
Some Great Options
While there may be lots of questions to ask, you don't have to ask them all, or you can if you wish. This decision is for you and your partner, not for anyone else. What you desire may be different than your best friend. It is good to seek advice from others and see what the most popular class there is, but at the end of the day, it is about what will help you be the most prepared for childbirth.
Some of the options that are common are:
Again, there is no wrong answer. So take a deep breath, make your favorite beverage, sit back, and find your class.
Source: Pregnancy, Childbirth, and the Newborn: The Complete Guide - 4th Edition - Simkin, Whalley, Keppler, Durham, and Bolding. Page 22.