Childbirth classes help expectant parents learn about and prepare for labor and birth. There are several kinds to choose from. Two of the most popular are Lamaze and Bradley, named after their developers. Most childbirth education classes use one of these two approaches. Many borrow elements from each.
Both Lamaze and Bradley teach women how to cope with labor pain. Both approaches encourage the woman's partner to participate in the labor and delivery process. Other childbirth education techniques include the Alexander technique, HypnoBirthing, Birthing From Within, and Birthworks. Learn as much as you can about each technique until you find an approach that seems right for you.
Lamaze teaches simple coping strategies for labor, including focused breathing, moving and positioning, massage, relaxation techniques, and labor support. Women receive information about medical procedures and pain relief during labor
so that they can make informed choices. For more information, visit the Lamaze Web site
The Bradley method teaches natural childbirth to women with no medical complications. It emphasizes exercise, nutrition and deep breathing. For more information, visit the Bradley Web site
Some childbirth education classes help women create a birth plan. This is a written document in which you express your preferences about labor and delivery. Topics covered include where you want to deliver, who your support people will be, and the pain medications you want (if any). If you do create a birth plan, be sure to share it with your provider ahead of time. He or she needs to discuss your wishes with you well in advance.
- What method of childbirth education is taught?
- Is the instructor certified?
- What topics are covered?
- Are relaxation and breathing techniques taught?
- What is the instructor's philosophy toward pregnancy and birth?
- Does the class help participants create their own birth plans?
- How big is the class? (Smaller classes, with fewer then 10 couples, are ideal.)
- Will the environment be welcoming and comfortable regardless of whether your childbirth partner is your spouse, partner, relative or friend?
- What is the class style: lecture or participatory?
- Are the time, length and location convenient?
- How much does the class cost?
Ask your health care provider. Check with your insurance plan, hospital or birthing center. Ask your friends who have recently given birth.
These Web sites can help you find a class near you: