Birthing classes are a good way to prepare for the labor process. There are many different types and styles of birthing classes, tailored to fit the needs of expectant mothers. Often, birthing classes ask that the expectant mother bring a friend, relative or partner who can help with exercises and who plans to be present during labor. In many cases, these classes can help the partner as much as the pregnant person.
Some birthing classes follow a specific method or theory of labor and delivery. Some of the more common methods include Lamaze or the Bradley method. Lamaze courses focus on techniques that help relieve pain and maintain serenity during labor. Bradley method classes use different exercises and techniques, and also focus on proper nutrition and healthy behavior during pregnancy. Both of these classes put an emphasis on natural childbirth without using drugs.
Most birthing classes run for about two months, and may be taken at any time during the pregnancy. Many women choose to attend classes in the last trimester of pregnancy in order to prepare them for the quickly-approaching birth. Commonly covered topics in birth classes include understanding signs of labor, knowing when to go to the doctor or midwife for delivery, methods for handling pain during labor, and partner assistance.
A good way to find information about birthing classes is by asking the attending obstetrician or doctor that is giving prenatal care. Many hospitals and community organizations offer birthing classes throughout the year to accommodate pregnant women at any time. Check online review sites to see if there are positive or negative reviews about the teacher, class, and method. Most birthing classes do charge a fee for attendance, but this may be waived for people with low income levels.
Some birthing classes have less to do with the actual birth and more to do with preparing the mind and body for the stressful process of labor. Many women take prenatal yoga classes to help keep the body flexible during pregnancy as well as to practice meditation. If a person takes the time to practice meditation daily, it may be easier to draw on during the understandably stressful and painful experience of giving birth.
For partners of pregnant women, birthing classes can be enormously beneficial. Oftentimes, a partner may feel just as panicked and helpless during labor as the mother. Attending classes can help partners prepare to be helpful and calm during the process, instead of adding to the stress by jumping around, fainting, and shouting “Breathe!” Remember that a birthing partner does not need to be the father or a romantic interest. A close friend or relative may be happy and excited to assist in bringing a child into the world.