Childbirth Education Classes: An overview of options



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Childbirth education classes can give you and your partner the information and skills that will enable you to move through pregnancy, labor, and birth with confidence. Childbirth classes will teach you about relaxation and breathing techniques that will help you during labor. The classes will inform you about different options available during labor and birth and may help you develop a birth plan. You’ll also learn about topics such as breastfeeding, parenting, physical and emotional adjustments in the postpartum period, and taking care of your newborn. There are many different kinds of childbirth educators and classes.  Many childbirth educators are trained and/or certified by well known organizations such as the International Childbirth Education Association (ICEA) and Lamaze International. It’s important to shop around and select the class that is right for you.

An Overview of Options

The following is a summary of some of the types of classes offered during pregnancy. Though each presents a unique way of preparing for childbirth, all include information about pregnancy and the process of labor and birth.

Bradley classes teach the woman's partner to be a "coach", and instruct couples to use relaxation techniques during labor and birth to avoid using medication. There is a strong emphasis on prenatal nutrition throughout the classes.

International Childbirth Education Association (ICEA) classes focus on informed consumer choice and family-centered birth. Labor-coping techniques, predominantly progressive relaxation, are taught with a focus on benefit versus risk for all options.

Lamaze International classes are based on the philosophy that birth is normal, natural, and healthy and seeks to help women give birth with confidence. Classes teach women a wide variety of ways to seek comfort during labor and birth including movement, changing position, relaxation, breathing, massage, and hydrotherapy.

Sibling classes help to prepare brothers and sisters for the arrival of the new baby. Classes focus on birth and newborn care (holding the baby, diapering, etc.).

Breastfeeding classes are offered during pregnancy to prepare women for nursing by providing basic information on techniques, maternal and infant nutrition, and strategies for success.

Regardless of which type of class you choose, all classes provide support and will guide you through the changes that occur during pregnancy, birth, and your new life as parents.

Continue to "Questions for Choosing Childbirth Education Classes" journey to parenthood


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Childbirth Connection is a national not-for-profit organization founded in 1918 as Maternity Center Association. Our mission is to improve the quality of maternity care through research, education, advocacy and policy. Childbirth Connection promotes safe, effective and satisfying evidence-based maternity care and is a voice for the needs and interests of childbearing families.
Most recent page update: 3/6/2012