Is it time for childbirth classes? Unlike in the past, there are now many options to choose from when it’s time for pregnancy and birthing classes. They range from more traditional straightforward classes to ones that really get into meditation and more new age practices and generally support natural childbirth.
It’s up to you and your partner to decide which class structure is best going to prepare you to give birth. In this post, we’re talking about 5 different birthing methods you can choose from and their corresponding childbirth classes.
I am not a birth instructor and have only taken one of these classes. The information contained here was obtained from my own understanding of the different methods based on research. Be sure to look more into those classes that are appealing to you before deciding which to register for.
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Traditional hospital childbirth classes
Most everyone has heard of Lamaze. It usually brings to mind a woman giving birth in a movie with lots of heavy breathing. No one really takes Lamaze anymore. But there still are your basic birthing generally offered by the hospital at which you’ll give birth.
These classes will cover the basics of the birthing process and will review pain management options. Depending on the class they may also review some more natural pain management techniques. The classes can generally be done in a few weeks, or some even offer a one day class. They will also generally review the basics of newborn care.
Beyond these traditional classes, there are a number of different types of classes you can take outside of a hospital setting. Each follow a slightly different style or philosophy and many focus on natural birthing methods.
Options for natural childbirth classes
The other four options we’re going to discuss are all independent classes taught outside of the hospital, though some may be taught at birthing centers. They generally do cost a bit more than the hospital classes but they also go more in-depth and generally have a greater focus on natural childbirth and focus more beyond the biological birthing process.
- Birth as a rite of passage
- Mom as a birth warrior
- Focuses on the journey
- Preparing for the unexpected
Birthing from Within is definitely the method I can speak to the most as I took these classes with my husband when pregnant with my first daughter. The class really focuses on preparing for the journey. You will spend several classes discussing and practicing different pain management techniques.
One of the most known preparation techniques this class uses is holding cold ice in your hand while practice breathing and other pain management practices. You will also discuss thoroughly unexpected things that may come up and how you plan to deal with them. By preparing in advance hopefully, it’s not as surprising and traumatic if these events actually come to pass.
The Woo level here is about a 6. There is some artwork and meditative type practices involved but it’s not overly new age. Our classes ran for 6 weeks.
- Husband Coached Natural Childbirth
- Emphasizes relaxation as a key to success
- The class is structured to be 12 weeks long though I’m sure some offer a more condensed model.
- Also has a focus on nutrition and health
The Bradley method is also referred to as husband-coached natural childbirth. The emphasis is on the partnership between mom and her husband or birth support person to get through this experience.
- Everyone can have an amazing birth
- Sees itself as a modern take on birthing classes
- Focus on doulas and breastfeeding
- Have classes tailored to in hospital or out of hospital (home births & birth centers) birth plans
While still focusing on natural childbirth this class uses the Boot Camp model and militaristic talk to make it a little fun and modern. They even call their workbook a Field Manual and discuss breastfeeding as the Ultimate MRE.
- Main philosophy is that severe pain does not have to be a part of labor
- You can get into a daydream like state to help get through the pain
- endorphins will replace the stress hormones to help keep you calm and out of pain
Hypnobirthing is definitely the most out there of the classes. However, if you’re into meditation and the like it might be right for you. But, you definitely have to be fully bought into the idea and the process in order for it to work.
How do you decide which is right for you?
This is one topic where you really have to do your own research and see which birthing classes resonate with you and your partner. Most of these classes do have at least some focus on the mother and her birth support person, whether that’s your husband, boyfriend, best friend, etc, working as a team. So the class and techniques need to be something you can both get behind.
If you have a doula or midwife they may be able to give you a bit more information about the classes to help you narrow it down. The good news is most of these classes now offer online options for those who struggle to get to in person classes or who live in smaller towns and cities where the choices are limited. However, I highly recommend attending in person if possible, my husband and I would not have gotten as much out of the Birthing from Within courses if we’d been sitting alone in our living room watching them on a screen.
Whichever you choose make sure you choose one. Birth is not something you want to go into blind and unprepared! I also suggest you take a separate breastfeeding class as well!