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A childbirth educator teaches new parents what to expect during pregnancy, childbirth, and the first few weeks of parenthood. Childbirth educators do not usually need special licensing to do their job, although many hospitals and birthing centers may have their own requirements. Many educators are nurses, midwives, or others who work with expectant parents and who have a lot of experience in the birthing process.
The most common task for a childbirth educator is to teach childbirth classes to expectant mothers and their partners. These courses cover the signs of labor, what to expect during labor and pain management techniques, along with the importance of birth plans, the steps leading to labor, and care for the new mother and child after birth. Childbirth classes may be general, providing the information any mother-to-be can use, or they may be specific. Specific classes would include courses for high-risk pregnancies, Lamaze or Bradley style labor techniques, and teen parents.
Childbirth educators may also teach conception and pregnancy courses. This is especially true if the educator is a nurse or midwife. There is a lot to know about conception, and there is a lot of confusion about what time during her cycle that a woman can get pregnant. Early pregnancy is another good time to take a course, because there is so much to learn and remember, especially if it is a woman's first pregnancy. Women with high-risk pregnancies, including women pregnant with multiples, are also good candidates for an early pregnancy course taught by a childbirth educator.
Post-pregnancy courses can also be taught by a childbirth educator. These courses are taught during the last few months of pregnancy and can help prepare a couple for the arrival of their child. Childbirth educators teach infant care, breastfeeding, and postnatal care courses to expectant parents, helping them to feel more confident about their role as parents. These courses may be offered weekly for a month or two during the last trimester of pregnancy, or they may be taught individually when an expectant woman sees her doctor, either before or after her appointment.
Childbirth educators do more than just teach. They also counsel soon-to-be parents, listening to their concerns and helping to find solutions. Although they cannot take the place of a woman's doctor, a childbirth educator can offer a lot of advice on labor, delivery, and the first few days after the baby is born. They provide an invaluable service to pregnant women and their families.
@SailorJerry - First, take a deep breath! And congratulations. Remember, the only thing that is *always* true about childbirth is that when it's over, the baby is on the outside instead of the inside!
Different childbirth preparation methods have different philosophies and they are all appropriate for different kinds of people. You and your wife should find out just a little bit about each method you're considering - maybe through library books, websites, or talking to an instructor from that method - and discuss with each other what feels "you." The Bradley method, for instance, involves a lot of lying still and focusing - good for people who have a natural inward focus.
You are probably right about your hospital class. These can have value, especially for couples who do not necessarily plan a natural childbirth, but they don't always give you all the tools you need if natural birth is your goal. Remember that online childbirth education might be an option if you can't find a class that sounds right to you being taught in your area.
My wife and I are preparing for the birth of our first child. How do we figure out what childbirth education classes to take (books to read, etc.)?
We're a little bewildered by all the terms that we've heard tossed around - Bradley, Lamaze, HypnoBirthing, etc. Then our hospital offers a class as well, but I've heard that it's mostly an explanation of how they do things at the hospital!
The cost of these is not insignificant, so we can only afford to take one. Recommendations? How do we decide?