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Back to school: The benefits of childbirth classes

There is more than one way to have a baby. In fact, there are a number of birthing methods offered today.

Now that you're having a baby, it might be time to head back to school.

No, not college or high school. Think childbirth classes. That's where you and your partner can learn more about the labor and delivery to come.

Childbirth classes can be a great resource, whether you're having your first child or your third.

First-time parents can learn all about childbirth. And they can discuss any anxieties they might have.

Those who have gone through the process before can get a refresher course and find out what's new.

How to have a baby

Women have been giving birth to babies for a very, very long time. So you might wonder why anyone needs to take a class about it.

One reason: There are many different birthing methods offered today. Some classes focus strictly on one birthing method. But many childbirth education classes include ideas from different methods, according to the March of Dimes.

Examples include:

The Lamaze method. This method gives women simple coping strategies for childbirth. The classes teach women and their partners how to:

  • Focus their breathing.
  • Position the body for labor and delivery.
  • Use massage to ease pain.

Classes also include information about medical procedures and breastfeeding.

The Bradley method. This method emphasizes natural childbirth without the use of medication, according to the American Pregnancy Association (APA).

It also counsels women on ways to avoid cesarean births. It's usually a 12-week course. And the classes focus on:

  • Nutrition.
  • Exercise.
  • Natural breathing and other relaxation techniques.

Birthing From Within. The APA says that Birthing From Within classes aren't geared toward any specific birth outcome. They focus instead on the needs and desires of the parents in the class. And they offer education and support.

Make a birth plan

Some classes also will help you make a birth plan. That's a written outline of how you'd like to handle labor and delivery.

Your birth plan may include such things as:

  • Where you want to give birth.
  • What, if any, medications you want.
  • Who will be with you.

You'll want to review your birth plan with your doctor to be sure it is workable.

Additional benefits

If you're a first-time parent, childbirth education classes are a great way to ease any anxieties you have.

In addition to a trained instructor, you'll have access to the experience and support of other parents in the class.

Many classes also include a tour of your birthing facility. During the tour, you can talk to the medical staff. And you'll get a better idea of what you can expect when you go into labor.

Questions to ask

Before you sign up for a class, the APA suggests that you ask these questions:

  • What is the instructor's philosophy about labor and birth?
  • Will the class offer information to women who do and do not want medication?
  • What is the cost of the class, and how often will it meet?
  • What topics will be covered?
  • Will my partner be welcome and play an active role?
  • Are coaches or doulas welcome to participate?

Talk with your doctor

Your doctor can help you decide which birthing method is best for you and your partner.

He or she can refer you to childbirth classes. You can also ask about classes at the hospital where you plan to give birth.

Reviewed 10/11/2023

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