Being pregnant for the first time can be the most exciting and nerve racking time in your life. The learning curve is tremendous and the transition is huge! While there is no lack of information out there about pregnancy, birth, and parenting, the multitude of web cites, diverse methods, and opposing attitudes can be confusing to say the least. One of the easiest ways to gain straight forward information while also meeting other expectant couples is taking a childbirth education class. Easy, right? But which one is for you? Just like everything else in the baby bump world, there are many different choices. The first step is deciding what you want.
• What do you want to learn, are you interested in learning about natural unmedicated birth, or are you looking for a class that focuses on a range of options?
• Are you interested in learning about nutrition and exercise for a healthy pregnancy?
• Do you learn best through research or small group discussion?
• Do you have any personal beliefs or values that need to be addressed?
Once you know where you are coming from, you can figure out where you are headed! There are many types of classes- Lamaze, Bradley, Hypnobirthing, Prepared Childbirth, etc. So how do you decide which is best for you?
First look at the philosophy of the method you choose. Does it fit with your philosophy of birth? What are the beliefs about women, labor, birth and the coach’s role?
Next, look at the qualifications experience and training of the instructor. Are they certified through their organization? What is their experience and background? Are they open to answering questions?
Lastly decide if the schedule and monetary investment are realistic for your situation. Some classes require a 12 week time commitment while others offer a ‘crash course’. Would you rather learn over a longer time period or have all the information in one sitting? Independent childbirth classes are usually more expensive than hospital classes. The cost of classes can vary widely and cost should be the last thing on your list of criteria. A more expensive class that helps you feel empowered to become a consumer of your healthcare will be priceless in the grand scheme of things. Many independent teachers offer phone and email support also.
Not every class will be a perfect fit for every couple, but a good class will teach parents to become informed consumers and help them to become advocates for themselves and their babies. This will help couples to make informed decisions that are right for their situations. The main goal of taking childbirth classes is to ease anxiety about birth, gain confidence in yourself and the birth process, learn what resources are available, and help facilitate bonding with your baby! School house rock had it right, ‘Knowledge is Power!’
By Niki Johnson, Childbirth Educator and Doula