Choices In Childbirth: Finding The Right Classes For You

October 31, 2011

So you're having a baby! Time for prenatal appointments, eating for two and...childbirth classes? Funky breathing patterns to remember and embarrassing “practice” contractions - who needs it? Well, whether it's your first baby or your fifth, everyone can benefit from a good childbirth education series.

So you're having a baby! Time for prenatal appointments, eating for two and...childbirth classes? Funky breathing patterns to remember and embarrassing “practice” contractions - who needs it? Well, whether it's your first baby or your fifth, everyone can benefit from a good childbirth education series.

Not all childbirth series are alike and many people don't realize how many different methods and teaching styles there are. As is finding the right care giver for deliver your baby, finding the right classes are vitally important to your birth experience. Whether it be Lamaze or Bradley, prepared birth classes in a hospital or an independent instructor, they can all impact how you will feel during and after the birth of your baby.

Hopefully, the most important thing you will gain from a series is information and confidence. No matter what kind of birth you want you can find a class to meet your needs. A first time mom, unsure of what to expect? A mom of 2 hoping for a VBAC (Vaginal Birth After Cesarean)? Expecting number 6 and just cant wait to get it over with? It doesn't matter. You can find a variety of different classes to meet your needs. Even if you think you already know all there is to know, every pregnancy, labor and birth is different and it always helps to be prepared for your unique situation. Studies have shown that women and couples that are prepared for their birth feel more confident to make choices that will work for them. When you feel more confident, you feel safer and that will usually lead to a more positive, less complicated birth. No matter what kind of birth you are planning you will have to make choices and wouldn't you want to understand your options so you can decide what is right for you and your family? Isn't it best to be prepared for any unexpected situation that may arise?

So which one is right for you? That all depends on your individual situation and where you would feel most comfortable. There are series that will give you a variety of breathing patterns to help you focus and stay on top of a contraction, series that will focus primarily on the very natural aspect of childbirth and the importance of good nutrition. There are other classes that are offered by your doctor or hospital and they may teach you a variety of methods or what is most often used in their hospital. There are also instructors that work independently or out of an institution that teach a variety of methods and focus on good consumerism and relaxation. All should provide good nutrition and exercises and ways to help you relax and cope during labor. Some may provide community resources and postpartum/infant care and breastfeeding information. What differs is the instructor and the kind of information you will receive. Also, there may be a wide range of prices, length of series, and times of classes. It is wise to contact many different instructors to get a feel of what's out there and what may work best for you. Here are some questions you may want to ask when inquiring about classes:

  • What type of method is taught?
  • What is covered in the series? Does it include postpartum/infant care and breastfeeding info or is that a separate class.
  • How long is the series and how much does it cost? When is the class taught? Do you offer weekend classes? What if it is too close to my due date to complete the series? Is there an alternative?
  • At what point in my pregnancy do you recommend I take the classes?
  • Is the instructor certified through a childbirth organization? If so, which one? If not, what experience does the instructor have in the birthing field?
  • Do you offer refresher classes or sibling preparation, VBAC, multiple birth or other special classes?
  • How large is the average class? Think about whether you would be more comfortable in a large group or a smaller one or a private class.

There may be other questions you can think of that pertain to your situation. Write them down before you call. There is so much to gain if you take a little time to find the right series for you. Aside from meeting other pregnant women and couples, it gives you and your partner time to be together and learn how to communicate and support each other. Your instructor will be available to answer your questions and connect you with people in the community. It's always good to have another support person at this time!

Listed below are organizations (in no particular order) you can contact to find a childbirth educator in your area. You can also ask your caregiver or friends and family which ones they have taken and what they thought of them. It is the best investment you can make for a gratifying, healthy and safe pregnancy and birth.

References:

ICEA (International Childbirth Education Association)

PO Box 20048

Minneapolis, Minnesota 55420 USA

1-612-854-8660

BRADLEY(AAHC)

Box 5224

Sherman Oaks, CA 91413-5224 USA

1-800-4-A-BIRTH

BIRTHWORKS

PO Box 2045

Medford NJ 08055 USA

1-888-TO-BIRTH

ALACE (Association of Labor Assistants & Childbirth Educators)

PO Box 382724

Cambridge,MA 02258 USA

1-888-22-ALACE

1-617-441-2500

fax 1-617-441-3167

LLLI (La Leche League International)

1-800-LA-LECHE

or check your local white or yellow pages

DONA (Doulas of North America)

1100 23rd Ave. East

Seattle, Washington 98117 USA

1-206-324-5440

askdona@aol.com

For a complete resource list of all pregnancy/birth related topics you can email me at: BirthInNJ@aol.com