Plan ahead for childbirth-education classes. When you are around 20 weeks pregnant, begin looking into classes that are offered in your area. You should be signed up or just beginning classes by the beginning of the third trimester or about 27 weeks. It's a good idea to plan on finishing the classes at least a few weeks before you are due.
Why Take Classes?
Childbirth-education classes are a good way to prepare for this very important and exciting time of your life! You will find other people have the same concerns you have. The classes provide a lot of good information. They are a very helpful way to learn about the birth process or to refresh your memory if you have had a baby before.
Classes aren't for first-time moms only. They are recommended for women with a new partner, if it has been a few years since you've had a baby, if you have questions or if you would like a review of labor and delivery.
Classes are offered in various settings. Most hospitals that deliver babies offer classes. They are often taught by labor-and-delivery nurses or by a midwife.
To find a class, ask your healthcare provider to recommend classes in your area. He or she is familiar with what is offered. Check local hospitals. Friends can be good sources. Or look in the yellow pages under "Childbirth Education."
Studies have shown that women who have taken classes need less medication, have fewer forceps deliveries and feel more positive about the birth than women who do not take classes.
What You'll Learn
Classes cover aspects of labor and delivery including breathing techniques, vaginal birth, Cesarean delivery, hospital procedures, ways to deal with the discomfort and pain of labor and delivery, various pain-relief methods and the postpartum or recovery period.
Some insurance companies and a few HMOs offer at least partial reimbursement for class fees. Classes are usually reasonably priced.
Lamaze is the oldest technique of childbirth preparation. It emphasizes relaxation and breathing as ways to handle labor and delivery.
The Bradley method teaches relaxation and inward focus, using many types of relaxation. Bradley class members are typically people who have decided they do not want to use any type of medication for labor-pain relief.
Grantly Dick-Read classes.
The Grantly Dick-Read method attempts to break the fear-tension-pain cycle of labor and delivery. These classes were the first to include fathers in the birth experience.