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One of the best ways to prepare for labor is by attending a birthing class. Whether a day-long class or regular weekly sessions, these classes can help demystify childbirth. Most classes cover signs and stages of labor, how partners can help, and when to call your doctor. Some classes teach specific methods for coping with pain and encourage moms to deliver without medical interventions, and they may also cover basic newborn care or breastfeeding techniques. Along with this knowledge, childbirth classes are also a wonderful way to meet other expectant parents, who may become part of your “village.”
Best known for teaching rhythmic breathing patterns, Lamaze is one of the oldest and most widely used childbirth techniques. The stated mission of Lamaze International “is to advance safe and healthy pregnancy, birth and early parenting through evidence-based education and advocacy.” In addition to breathing techniques, instructors cover movement, hydrotherapy, and massage as methods for alleviating pain. While the main focus is encouraging moms to try for natural birth, they do address pain medication options and possible medical interventions.
It may be for you if you’re interested in learning about natural childbirth.
It may not be for you if you are totally against labor medication, or you plan to be induced or schedule a C-section.
Find a Lamaze class near you.
In 1989, Marie Mongan founded the HypnoBirthing® Institute based on the concept “When you change the way you view birth, the way you birth will change.” While the name evokes an image of being in a trance-like state, it uses relaxation based birthing techniques to work with your body during labor. Some moms compare it to the feeling you get when you’re daydreaming or staring into a fire. Mongan developed her method based on Dr. Grantly Dick-Read’s work in the 1920s.
During HypnoBirthing® classes, women and their partners learn about the amazing things women’s bodies can do, why childbirth is associated with pain, and how to handle that pain. Mongan’s techniques use visualization, positive affirmations, and meditation to help moms remain calm rather than fall into the “fight, flight, or freeze” instinct. HypnoBirthing® teaches women to rephrase words with a negative connotation (like “pain” and “contraction”), and instead encourages them to use the terms “sensation” and “surge.”
While women who use HypnoBirthing® aren’t necessarily less likely to request pain medications or require interventions, they are more likely to recount their labor experiences as generally positive.
It may be for you if you want to keep interventions to a minimum, you’re open to positive affirmations, and you enjoy relaxation training.
It may not be for you if you are comfortable having others direct your birth.
Find a HypnoBirthding® Class near you.
The Bradley Method®
Based on Dr. Robert A. Bradley’s book Husband-Coached Childbirth, The Bradley Method® believes in “importance of Healthy Baby, Healthy Mother and Healthy Families.” While the focus is on teaching couples how to together to welcome a baby, The Bradley Method® also encourages couples to use a doula during delivery.
These classes take place over twelve weeks and cover everything from the importance of nutrition and exercise during pregnancy to how to avoid pain medication and interventions through careful preparation and even postpartum care. The Bradley Method® emphasizes natural relaxation techniques like self-awareness, deep breathing techniques, and massage. The curriculum includes how to avoid possible complications, when to know when interventions are needed, and how to cope with changes to the birth plan.
It may be for you if you want your partner to act as your birth coach and you do not want any intervention or pain medication.an active participant in labor.
It may not be for you if you don’t want your partner to act as your birth coach, or you think you might choose pain medication.
Find The Bradley Method® near you.
Birthing From Within
Developed by Pam England, a Certified Nurse Midwife and natural birth advocate, Birthing From Within classes follow England’s mission “to inspire and teach parents and those who support them, by honoring the power of birth as a Rite of Passage.”
After laboring at home and “trying possible alternative known to midwifery,” England was admitted to a hospital for a C-Section. This experience brought two questions to her mind: “What did I need to know to give birth as a mother that I didn't know as a midwife?” and “What do all modern women need to know to give birth-in-awareness in a medicalized birth culture?” These questions propelled England on a journey to develop a different model of childbirth classes.
Birthing From Within is similar to HypnoBirthing® and The Bradley Method® in its focus on teaching women to trust their bodies to be able to give birth; however, the scope of the classes is more about a “mindset of resilience” than a set of “tools.” Birthing From Within classes also incorporate “labor theater” group sharing of beliefs and expectations, breath awareness and mindfulness lessons, a guided art session, poetry, journaling, and visualizations.
It may be for you if you enjoy self-discovery and are open to all possible types of delivery.
It may not be for you if you expect a scientific discussion about childbirth, without participating.
Find a Birthing From Within class near you.
Don't forget to save this blog for later:
- Care.com: The 5 Best Types of Childbirth Classes
- BabyCenter: Childbirth Classes
- WebMD: Childbirth Class Options
- thebump.com: Childbirth Classes
- Mom Junction: Lamaze Method of Childbirth
- Our Family World: Pros and Cons of Lamaze
- Kopa Birth: Bradley Method Pros and Cons
- Baby Center: Hypnosis for Labor
- Birthing From Within: An Insider’s Look at Birthing From Within Classes