Choosing a childbirth class is an important decision and can greatly influence your birth and early parenting experience. A high-quality childbirth class will provide you with the facts you need to make informed choices about what is best for you and your baby. Understanding what is happening during pregnancy, labor and birth lessens apprehension and can help you avoid unnecessary medication and interventions. A great childbirth class will teach you breathing, relaxation and comfort techniques as well as ways that a birth partner can provide physical and emotional support during labor and birth. A comprehensive class also educates the participants on possible complications in pregnancy, labor and birth and what medications and interventions are available and recommended to women during this time. And finally, a childbirth class should be so fun, inspiring and fantastic that you want to recommend it to your friends!
There are different methods of childbirth preparation, including Lamaze, Bradley, Hypnobirthing and Birthing From Within, and it is a good idea to do some research to help you decide whether what’s known as a “method” class makes sense for you (of course, you can take more than one class!). Our resource list is a good place to start. BACE feels that there is no one "right" way to give birth and that is why BACE Educators incorporate comprehensive information from lots of different sources into their teaching. You may find it helpful to talk to mothers in your area about their childbirth class experiences and recommendations.
It is also important to interview prospective class instructors to gather information about their philosophies and curriculum. While many women choose classes offered by the hospital or birth center where they will be delivering their baby, this is not a requirement. You may find another instructor offers a curriculum that better suits your personal philosophy about birth. The following questions can help you decide if a particular childbirth educator and her curriculum are right for you:
- Who is sponsoring the class?
- Is the curriculum developed by the hospital or by the instructor?
- Is the class consumer-oriented or provider-oriented? Is the goal to prepare expectant parents to take responsibility in decisions or to inform them about the type of care the doctor/hospital provides?
- Will there be an open discussion about alternative approaches to childbirth, such as water birth?
- Where did the instructor receive her training? How long has she been teaching?
- Does the instructor have children? Has the instructor attended births?
- What is the instructor's philosophy about birth? Does she teach a particular method or are methods combined?
- What topics are covered?
- What type of "hands- on" instruction is there? How much time is devoted to lecture?
- What "techniques" are presented for coping with pain? Breathing? Relaxation? Other?
- How much time is spent on medical interventions?
- Do participants create a birth plan during the series?
- Does the class include information about breastfeeding?
- What is the maximum number of people in the class?
- Can participants bring anyone they want to the class (friend, relative)?