If you were my best friend, I would tell you there is not any one-size-fits-all “childbirth” class. Education can be foundational to informed decision making and better outcomes for both mother and baby.
You and your baby matter more than a cookie cutter or “good patient” class can offer you.
I encourage you to go about choosing a class series in the same way you would choose a provider or birth location. Do some investigating, spend time discerning your needs and even interview the educator.
- Get referrals from:
- Women who have had or wanted the type of birth you are desiring
- From local birth groups or doulas
- Your provider
- Do a web search for classes in your area. There may be many offerings of differing methods and philosophies outside and within the hospital setting.
- If you are thinking about a hospital sponsored course, find out if it is a comprehensive series or a what happens to women once they get to our hospital class? This is otherwise known as a good patient class.
- Check out the course website, then call or email the instructor to get a feel for her style and philosophy. Even a hospital based educator should be able to call you back or email you.
Before paying and registering:
- How long is the series?
- A comprehensive series is between 12 and 24 hours of instruction and a minimum of 4 class sessions up to 12 class sessions. The condensed express classes of one or two partial days are not designed for good retention or appropriate processing. It IS worth the investment of time.
- When is the class? Day of week and time of day needs to fit into your lifestyle. Again, I encourage your investment over a period of time versus a one-day class. If you cannot find a fit, consider a private class. It is important to have classes finished by 35 or 36 weeks pregnant.
- Where is the class held? Classes may be held in like-minded businesses (chiro office, yoga studio, doula office), in home, care provider office, birth center or hospital. Is it safe? Is it easily accessed?
- What organization is the instructor trained and certified with? Though certification is not required, it can be very important what training and background an educator has. If instructor is certified, check out the organization’s philosophy and beliefs.
- What does the instructor’s experience involve?
- What is the instructor’s philosophy and style?
- What is the cost of the course? Classes can cost anywhere from free through a hospital to a few hundred dollars. It really can be a wide range. Find your comfort level. Though expect to invest in a good class. Free or low cost classes are often not comprehensive in nature.
- What is the course content? A comprehensive class should include a variety of topics, such as, pregnancy basics, common terminology, normal physiologic changes, emotional health and connection, exercise, nutrition, prenatal testing, birth plans, informed consent, communication skill building, overview of spontaneous labor and birth, labor milestones with comfort and position strategies, overview of all options in labor and birth, labor partner role, immediate postpartum, navigating first weeks postpartum, overview of infant feeding, infant norms, medications and interventions, cesarean, unexpected events, role-playing scenarios, relaxation practice and local/online resources. It is usual to expect homework on top of class time as well.
- What are the birth outcome statistics for class participants? It may be difficult though to get true data whether a philosophy-based or method-based class.
- May I visit a current class to “check it out” before signing up?
- What is expected of me as a class participant?
- Will I fit in as a single mother, LGBT person, a high risk mother, etc.?
- What do I need to bring?
- Who may come with me?
- Is there a lending library?
- What is the average class size?