Whether it’s your first or fourth, many moms find themselves nervous about labor. Childbirth classes are a great way to get prepared for your little one’s impending arrival! “Good childbirth classes help women trust the process and understand how they were truly made for birthing,” says Sheri Uhrig, a childbirth and lactation expert at Peaceful Arrival.
And if you think birthing classes are only for first time moms, think again: “Many women benefit from a ‘refresher’ course in birth — especially in breathing and relaxation techniques,” explains Uhrig.
If you’ve never taken birthing classes before, you might be tempted to think that all classes are the same. However, Deb Rhizal, a certified doula, childbirth educator and cofounder of Mara’s World, says that there are some important differences. “Some classes are little more than an orientation to what to expect at the hospital, whereas others elicit profound growth in self confidence as they help you prepare for a momentous experience.”
With choices that include everything from holistic general education classes to lengthy self-hypnosis courses that are said to eliminate the need for pain relief, there are plenty of choices for new mothers looking to take a childbirthing class in anticipation of their little one’s due date.
Here are five of the best types:
- The Lamaze Technique
Even if this is your first pregnancy, chances are good you’ve heard of the Lamaze technique (or at least Lamaze breathing). However, there’s more to this method than just inhaling deeply. As the most widely used childbirth method in the U.S., the Lamaze technique focuses on building the mother’s confidence and involves learning about the birth process, relaxation techniques and of course, breathing exercises designed to help moms through contractions.
- The Bradley Method
This method, which involves both parents, prepares the mother to deliver her baby without pain medications and educates the baby’s father in birth coaching techniques. The Bradley Method also allows both parents to go through labor rehearsals that include relaxation techniques, massage and other methods designed to help mothers cope with the intensity of labor and delivery.
This all-natural childbirth class allows mothers to use the power of self-hypnosis techniques to control pain and remain in control during labor. The method requires dedication from participants, and involves lengthy class periods as well as “homework” assignments that must be completed several times per week in order to hone the self-hypnosis technique.
However, if the participant is successful, this method is said to help mothers deal with pain in a natural way that does not require the use of pain relief medications.
- Birthing From Within
A holistic approach to childbirth, Birthing From Within offers parents a general informative teaching experience as well as multi-sensory processes that are designed to help mothers discover how labor works and how to keep calm during the process while coping with any unexpected surprises. Though the goal of Birthing From Within is education about natural childbirth, information about C-sections, epidurals and other interventions are also given.
- The Alexander Technique
The Alexander Technique is a movement-based birthing class that teaches mothers how to use correct posture, improve mobility and maintain alertness during labor to eliminate stress and improve relaxation efforts. This class is given over the course of several weeks and uses birthing balls, yoga mats and other exercise aids to help prepare the mother’s body in a physical way for labor and delivery.
While there are plenty of options, it’s important to note that there is no “right” childbirth class. No matter if you are looking for an involved class that focuses on pain relief or you want something a bit more clinical and brief, just making the decision to take a birthing class is an important step towards making sure you have the delivery you want and are prepared as well as you can be for the experience of childbirth.
Amanda Kondolojy is a full-time freelancer with more than a decade of caregiving experience.