There’s no magic formula for birth. No 1, 2, 3, snap your fingers, and definitely, no one size fits all. The truth is every birth journey will always be unique and take its own course. There’s nothing ever wrong with being prepared and having a little (or a lot, haha) of knowledge. Antenatal classes or birthing classes offer the basics and in-depths of birth and labor in so many ways. It’s such a great way to prepare yourself, your partner, the labor squad, and even your other children for birth and labor. Classes range from 30 minutes of consuming juicy information to 1 day or longer.
Why are birthing classes necessary?
Dare I say there’s no such thing as being too educated or too sure about birth and labor or what it looks like. Your birth and labor journey is such a beautiful and vital time, so preparation in any situation is key.
Benefits include learning about how to prepare for:
- Labor and the signs
- Each stage of labor
- Breathing techniques
- Positions for both labor and birth
- Actual birth and the expectations
- Postpartum care for baby and birthing person
The solidarity of experiencing and learning together with those in the same journey also signifies why antenatal classes are important. Education is half the battle, and I’ve never heard of anyone knowing too much when it comes to labor and birth. Studies have also shown that participating in birth classes reduces labor and delivery anxiety and generates a suitable pain response.
How much do birthing classes cost?
Childbirth classes have varying costs. When it comes to paying out of pocket, the average price can go anywhere from free up to $200. The benefits of childbirth classes are becoming widely recognized to the point health insurance companies such as Medicaid are willing to cover the classes (usually through the birthing hospital). Whether you’re using insurance or out of pocket, check with the class creator on scholarships offered and sliding scales to help with accessibility, knowledge, and affordability. Money shouldn’t be an obstacle when educating yourself about birth.
Where can I find birth classes?
Typically, birthing classes are offered in person. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, accessibility has evolved. Online materials and classes have become a readily available resource. Virtual courses such as the comprehensive 25 hour course from Birth Boot Camp are self-paced and give you extended access to the class and information; hence you can refer back as needed or share with a partner who may not have been present at the actual class time.
My go-to options would be trying your local hospital, local doulas, and childbirth educators or checking your local WIC (Women Infant Child) office. Pampers has an inclusive free online nine-part series, while Nurture online birthing class draws from the bestselling book Nurture by doula and author Erica Chidi Cohen.
Always confirm that the course is evidence-based and the instructor is well trained. These are just a few starter places, but the truth of the matter is, despite the variety, it’s all about how YOU want to tailor your experience!
How do I choose the right class for me?
Not every class is for everybody. Depending on your family’s makeup, you must ask the right questions before signing up for a class. I only refer to and utilize inclusive classes that embrace language for all families and birthing bodies, so everyone feels confident and validated in their learning space.
Here are a few generic questions to ask before putting money and time into a childbirth class:
- What certifications does the teacher have? This is important because many classes require only certified individuals teaching the course. It’ll also give you peace of mind knowing your instructor is ready to provide you with evidence-based information as you prepare to have your baby.
- How many people will be in attendance? Even before COVID, knowing whether it’s a large or small group is essential. Find out if it’s a hands-on class. If you want direct instructor interaction, it’s important to know the class size.
- Where is the class held? Keep this in mind when considering accessibility. Is it online or in person?
- What materials are covered? Know what you’re learning even before the class begins so that you’re aware if they’ll cover your concerns and questions.
- Will the instructor cover all birth options? If you’re still unsure of your birth options, you want a class covering them all.
- Is this class for me, my partners, or the whole family? Some classes focus on involving partners and sometimes even family members such as siblings. If this isn’t for you, then you may be in the wrong place.
- How will this help impact my birth? Ensure you’re choosing the right class to fit your needs. It’s good to know what subjects will be covered but take it a step further by assessing how it’ll affect your birth in particular.
A peek into the classroom
Some classes are all-inclusive, while other types of birthing classes focus on a direct audience hence why it’s important to ask those questions to be sure you’re in the right environment for your needs.
Lamaze is an up-to-date course taught to birthing bodies and their partners. It involves learning all the basics such as labor stages, labor and birthing positions, communication between the birth squad, simple medical procedures, breastfeeding, postpartum period, and sometimes health tips. Lamaze classes empower couples to make informed birth decisions, including developing a birth plan.
Infant first aid/CPR training
Infant first aid and CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) classes are for everyone. They teach life-saving techniques, including the basics of treating medical issues with an infant and how to perform CPR if ever necessary. The more you practice, the more confident you become in an actual emergency. It’s essential to have these skills if you’re around infants or you’re an expecting parent or family. Being prepared for emergencies gives added peace of mind in an already new experience. Check your local classes’ age requirements, but the American Red Cross has an online version available with great reviews from children as low as 9 years old.
As the name suggests, hypnobirthing is a class that teaches hypnosis, visualization, and deep relaxation techniques to help you and your partner deal with any fear or anxiety you may have around birth. This conditioning puts you in a sort of daydream state. The premise for hypnobirthing is that when you go into a place called “labor land,” removing the fear and tension out of your body leaves you in a state of relaxation, giving you a calm and serene birthing experience.
Hypnobirthing is usually associated with natural births and you can use the techniques for home births, hospital births, or at birthing centers. You may also get tips for pregnancy nutrition advice and hiring doulas.
Bradley method classes
This class is specifically for women who plan on birthing without medication. The Bradley method involves a set of classes that go for 12 weeks and covers basics through the lens of unmediated birth. The topics include nutrition, exercise, labor techniques or rehearsals, pain management through relaxation, postpartum period, and breastfeeding. It covers ways to avoid a C-section and consists of a segment for present doulas advocating for the birthing body. As noted, this class has a specific agenda, so keep that in mind when signing up.
Getting your beautiful baby comes with so much newness to enjoy. Other than healing, feeding adds to your postpartum stress. Infant feeding options include exclusive breastfeeding, infant formula, and expressed breast milk. This course helps you learn the benefits of each method, how they work, what to expect when feeding an infant, and the feeding portions. To answer the questions related to infant feeding, we suggest you grab the course, whether it’s the first time or as a refresher!
When adding a new member to your family, transitions affect everyone, especially your older kids. Sibling classes help ease the transition. They outline what these changes may look like in a fun and child-focused manner and the hardest and fun parts of having a new addition. These classes are suitable for parents as they teach you how to include older siblings in the baby routine so that everyone feels wanted.
Whether it’s your first or last time, your birth journey is a special time. With so many questions surrounding your pregnancy, labor, and birth process, it’s advisable to always prepare for this unpredictable time. The benefits of learning what to expect before and during birth, how to handle labor, postpartum, feeding, and first aid continue to make a difference in perinatal health. The increase in confidence brought about by being informed and empowered in your birthing journey is worth taking these birth classes.