Do I need a childbirth education class if I am planning to have a doula?

Most doulas will strongly recommend learning as much as you can about labor and birth. They may recommend books or videos and many will refer clients to a childbirth education class. More and more doulas are becoming certified to teach childbirth education classes. They may include the class in the cost of their labor support services or offer classes separately for an additional fee.

If your doula does not offer childbirth education classes or you choose to take them with another instructor, here are some things you may want to look for:

  • Independent educator: An employee of a hospital, clinic or private practice may focus on her or his employer's preferred policies and practices. An independent educator may be more able to share all of your options and discuss disadvantages of standard practices. Chances are good that classes located in a community center or an educator's home or offered through a childbirth education organization are taught by an independent educator.
  • Certified educator: Certification by a national organization ensures that the educator has met some standard for skill and knowledge.
  • Enough time per class and number of classes: It takes time to learn new skills and information, get questions answered and explore issues. Look for a class with at least six sessions.
  • Small classes: Class size should allow for good discussion, individual attention and help and comfort with intimate or sensitive topics. Six or fewer women — with or without spouses/partners — may be ideal.