Prepared-childbirth classes run by hospitals are shorter in length and may be taught by hospital staff with a labor and delivery background or an independently certified instructor. Students are introduced to the practices and routines of that particular facility. Course topics typically include: what to expect in labor, typical medical procedures, and pain relief options. Breastfeeding information and infant care may be included or offered as a separate class. Natural childbirth topics such as techniques for early labor, comfort measures, patterned breathing and relaxation are included; but are not the focus of the curriculum.Lamaze childbirth classes
When you mention natural childbirth, chances are someone will say "Oh, are you taking a Lamaze class?"The Lamaze name is a well known part of our popular culture thanks to lots of women on T.V. shows panting and blowing their way through a birth. Official ASPO/Lamaze classes are offered both within and outside the hospital system. The concept was developed by Dr. Fernand Lamaze who studied conditioned responses to deal with pain. Patterned breathing techniques are taught to reduce your perception of pain. More recently Lamaze classes have included more work on relaxation and comfort measures.Bradley Method Childbirth Classes
The Bradley Method's goal is a drug-free labor and birth. The classes focus on learning about the birth process and using relaxation to allow your labor to progress naturally with minimal pain and discomfort. Husbands are trained to be labor coaches and couples are taught to be informed consumers of medical services. Ideally couples come to "early bird" classes early in their pregnancy and then return to study closer to their impending birth. These classes are often run longer than most others (standard curriculum is 12 weeks).ALACE, CAPPA, BirthWorks, Birthing from Within, HypnoBirthing, etc.
There are many childbirth methods out there. You can find out about some through books like Birthing From Within that uses art to work through birthing issues. Others are umbrella organizations that provide certification programs for childbirth instructors and doulas (like ALACE and CAPPA). BirthWorks has the pre-conception/early bird/longer class series idea and stresses working through emotional issues after a difficult birth. HypnoBirthing classes have two components, learning about labor and birth and teaching the couple to reach a hypnotic state for relaxation during labor and birth.
Couples have found the group experiences in a childbirth class helpful. They want to be in a class with others who want a natural birth and don't think that the idea is crazy. A class requires you to take time to think about your birth, has incentives for eating well, exercising and practicing relaxation.
The experience of seeing your child born is a powerful one, and should be positive for the coach. If they can get used to thinking about the birth and are prepared, they can focus on the miracle that is occurring and not on the bodily fluids that come along with it.
Of course, not everyone needs to take a childbirth class. You need to know
yourself and your husband.
Consider these questions:
Taking a class early is a good idea. Students have told me that they needed the extra time to read, practice and prepare for their labors. This extra time allows you more opportunities to discuss important issues with your medical care provider. (Since you only go once per month and have limited time with each visit).
The bottom line is to take classes that are at the most convenient time and location so you will attend them.
Your class should cover issues that have been frequently mentioned as the most challenging by childbirth class students here in North Carolina. Many didn't realize how clearly they needed to communicate with their birth team members to be sure that their special concerns were addressed during the birth.
Try to obtain a balanced perspective on use of medication and medical interventions. If you are planning for a natural birth you should still be well versed in the choices that come along with common medical interventions. This allows you to communicate more effectively with your care providers.
Induction of labor is quite common in this area and typically not without complications. I have found that induction can have a huge impact on a labor, usually dramatically increasing the number of additional medical procedures required. There should be some discussion in your class of the various situations and medical research behind a decisions to induce.
Students also have said that the relaxation techniques presented in class were very helpful. Take time to try out and practice these techniques.