Though only around a quarter of American women take childbirth classes prior to giving birth, those who do are more likely to feel satisfied and empowered by their experience. Childbirth classes help to prepare both mom and dad for delivery. They can be used to squelch any underlying fears and give both parents a clear idea of what to expect so that they can face the big day with confidence.
Finding the right childbirth class can be a bit difficult. In most major metropolitan areas there may be many different childbirth education programs, each with its own focus. So how do you know which one is right for you?
Lamaze classes are some of the most popular and well-known childbirth education classes around. The Lamaze organization was one of the first to begin offering such classes, particularly outside of the hospital. Though many agencies have come in and started to offer a slightly different experience from the Lamaze one, they are still extremely popular. Lamaze focuses on the study of controlled breathing, relaxation techniques, and educating parents on the basic principles of evidence-based birth.
Based on the studies of Dr. William Bradley, Bradley birth classes focus on natural birth, with an intimate partner as the primary support person throughout the labor process. Most Bradley classes are taught by a husband and wife team, they may also, in fact be referred to as husband-coached childbirth classes. The Bradley method of childbirth is extremely inclusive, with classes lasting up to twelve weeks and recommended exercises beginning in early pregnancy.
Hypnobirthing focuses on hypnosis as a relaxation technique. Many women swear by the meditative state they experience after working on their hypnobirthing exercises. Some even claim to have experienced a completely painless birth as a result of hypnobirthing. There are not only hypnobirthing classes, but also doulas who are trained in the process in order to provide additional support throughout labor and delivery.
Birthing from Within classes offer a holistic look at childbirth and relaxation processes. The classes are the brainchild of midwife and author of a book by the same name, Pam England, who herself experienced a home birth turned cesarean, followed by a home birth after cesarean several years later. Her experience allow her to write classes tailored to a variety of experiences. As the name suggests, these classes are deeply inquisitive, roving fur deeper than the standard class. Women learn how to depend on themselves and tap into the spiritual energy that surrounds us all during birth. They also learn tool for coping with the unexpected and at educators working in hospitals, many of whom are certified through one or more of the agencies listed above. However, the majority of hospital classes are instructed by nurses who may or may not have a vested interest in childbirth, especially natural childbirth. These classes may not provide the whole story and are definitely not as all-inclusive as private classes.
These are only a handful of the major childbirth educator training and certifying organizations. Once an instructor is located, parents frequently have the option of choosing between group or one-on-one classes. Many childbirth educators are willing to sit or an interview before the start of class, to give parents a feel for both their classes and personality. Childbirth is something that women remember for a lifetime, learning tips to make it a more positive experience is crucially important.