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Prenatal classes are ideal for expectant mothers preparing for childbirth. Some courses are only a few hours long, while others are conducted over a series of several weeks or months. The most popular programs include ones that focus on labor and delivery, pain management, prenatal health and nutrition, breast-feeding and newborn care. Many hospitals sponsor low-cost or free prenatal classes for patients in the community. Pregnant women often choose to sign up for multiple types of courses so they can feel prepared for the arrival of their babies.
First-time mothers can benefit from prenatal classes that cover a variety of topics. Lamaze® classes are quite popular because instructors typically review a multitude of prenatal issues. While breathing techniques, coaching and natural birthing methods are generally discussed in detail, instructors also offer information about medication options to ease labor pain as well as the pros and cons of an epidural to help moms-to-be make informed decisions. Many times, these multi-week classes are held during the early evening hours to accommodate busy work schedules.
Similarly, the Bradley Method® emphasizes deep breathing exercises, relaxation, prenatal nutrition and exercise. These classes are great for women who prefer to forgo pain medications or other intervention from medical staff during the childbirth process. These programs teach techniques to help ease pain using controlled breathing exercises and other natural methods. Even if expectant mothers choose to give birth in a hospital setting with the use of pain medication, the methods taught in either of these classes often help relieve anxiety about childbirth.
In addition to the physical preparation of labor, delivery and recovery, including diet and nutrition, many expectant mothers benefit from taking prenatal classes that focus on the days and months following the birth of a child. Breastfeeding, newborn care and infant cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) are popular classes among pregnant women. Participation is often an excellent way to prepare for a new baby, motherhood, and the many changes that take place within the family dynamic.
Support groups and pregnancy counseling may also be available for young mothers or single women who might be having a difficult time dealing with their pregnancies on an emotional level. Other specialized groups and prenatal classes may be geared toward women who are expecting twins or are otherwise dealing with a high-risk pregnancy. In cases in which babies are diagnosed with a chromosomal defect or other type of physical or mental limitations, specialized classes and support groups can be especially helpful. They can offer guidance and advice about the unique challenges parents may face as well as the emotional aspect of raising a child with a disability.