Childbirth Classes, Educating Yourself on Childbirth Education

By: Julie Fletcher

Whether you plan to use medication or have a natural birth, childbirth classes will give you the information you need to make an informed decision on every aspect of your pregnancy and birth. Women are encouraged to be an active part of their birth process unlike times in the past when we were knocked out and woke up with a new baby. You have choices available to you and you should be in control of how you experience labor, except in an emergency. A childbirth class will teach you how to work with your doctor for the most satisfying results.

Choose Your Classes
When choosing your childbirth class keep in mind there are different types of classes available. The basic birth preparation classes offer a minimum of a twelve hour course spread out over several weeks. The exact time will depend on the provider. These classes also are usually targeted for the first time mother or couple. If you have already given birth previously, you may choose a refresher course that includes information on how to introduce your new baby to your other child or children. Teens can sign up for classes that are driven specifically for them, as teen mothers and fathers have issues that many older expecting parents do not. Certain providers also have consultation available on an hourly basis or weekend classes if you are too busy for weekday childbirth education.

Types of Classes

Bradley Method:  This method of childbirth focuses on what is happening in your body. You will learn deep breathing and inward focusing to allow the opening of your body for baby to join the world. This method promotes a drug free birth. It is the most popular class for those who plan to give birth at home. For more information, visit

Grantly Dick-Read: During the 1940’s Margaret Gramper inspired Dr. Dick-Read to create this childbirth class. Education included labor and delivery along with relaxation techniques. These classes are offered starting in the fourth month of pregnancy.

Lamaze: These classes are probably the single most popular classes, at least in name. Widely used in television and movies as the childbirth class of choice, the Lamaze method was developed by Dr. Ferdinand Lamaze. Unlike the Bradley Mother, Lamaze trains the laboring woman to focus on items or people outside of their body. This is the class famous for the breathing methods seen in movies. For more information on Lamaze Classes visit


Prepared Childbirth: Most OB/GYN clinics offer this class, along with hospitals. This class offers education on normal hospital procedures of birthing and include information on vaginal and surgical births. Most educators in these classes are certified by the International Childbirth Education Association (ICEA). Their website is located at

Choosing An Instructor

Instructors or Educators have taken courses and gained accreditation by the following organizations. Some Educators may be accredited by one or more, having shown their competency in teaching childbirth education:

- Advanced Birthing Concepts/CPCE
- American Academy of Husband-Coached Childbirth /AAHCC
- International Childbirth Education Association /ICCE
- Lamaze International /LCCE
Childbirth Educators may be nurses, doulas, social workers, or a number of other professional titles in the medical field. Your educator need not be a nurse or doctor to provide correct and helpful information on how to manage your birth, but an intensive course or courses will ensure your educator’s information and credibility. You may be tempted to ask childbirth questions of your friends and family, but each pregnancy and woman is different. One friend’s bad experience may give you fears of your own pregnancy, whereas an Educator will help you see that there are many ways to calm your fears and help you help yourself enjoy your pregnancy and labor.

A Childbirth Educator should never have a problem with sharing their credentials and qualifications with you. If the Educator seems reluctant to give proof of their qualifications, this should be a warning flag to you. Improper information can strain your experience and possibly lead to problems with informed decision making.

When To Take Classes

You can begin taking online birth education classes from the moment you find out you are pregnant. Most classes outside of the internet begin in your last Trimester. Taking the classes in your seventh to eighth month will help you remember what you have learned. Taking classes very early in your pregnancy may end up with forgotten information or information that is confused with other things you have learned.

What Do Classes Teach?

This depends on the type of classes you choose, but most courses teach the same basic information on pregnancy, labor and birth, and the post partum period. Your educator will teach you about proper diet during pregnancy, emotional changes, changes of your body, and intimacy issues. Your birth and labor education will include relaxation measures, comfort, proper breathing, stages and identification of true labor, medication in labor, and surgical birth procedures. Post partum education should include breastfeeding, care of your new baby, and emotional issues of the post partum period, especially identifying signs of depression. Many classes include information on how to work with your doctor or midwife to build the birth plan that works for you.

Your classes will also discuss medication and the effects of medication on labor. A well rounded childbirth calls will not cast a negative or positive light on medications used in labor. Since every person has their own opinion on using pain relief during childbirth it is imperative your class only offer solid research and information on how medication is used during labor. Never allow someone else to influence your choice on childbirth due to their own prejudices. Some women are able to give birth without medications, others need the help of medication to enjoy their experience.

The decision to use pain killers in childbirth does not make you less of a woman. I have personally had four birth experiences and two were without medication, one with painkillers, and one cesarean. Each one was different and the use of painkillers did not change my capacity as a mother. It will not change your capacity to be a good mother, either.

In conclusion, all birth classes provide a wonderful educational resource for all expectant mothers. Choosing the one that is right for you will require research into all available options. You must remember that your birth experience hinges on you becoming informed and active in all parts of your pregnancy. As mentioned before, each pregnancy and birth is different and even the most educated mother may need to change her birth plan in the event of an emergency. In some cases the birth may move faster than anticipated and you will need to be flexible. Some babies choose their own birth plan with no thought for mommy. As with the pain killer debate, a change of plan does not affect your abilities as a mother. No matter how your baby is born, you will still enjoy your new bundle of joy.

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