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.