Childbirth class options introduction
Many women and couples desire to take part in formal classes as part of their
birthing plan. While a number of class formats and emphasis is available, what
they have in common is that they all prepare a mother for giving birth. Classes
may cover techniques for non-drug pain management as well as information about
labor and delivery. Childbirth classes can also teach expectant women what to
expect in the postpartum period. In addition, information regarding
breastfeeding is commonly presented.
While classes focused on birthing techniques commonly start around the
seventh month of pregnancy, other types of classes may start in early pregnancy.
Your health care professional can help you decide when and if a childbirth class is
a good option for you. Classes can be held at hospitals, community centers,
health care practitioners' offices or other settings. Video or book versions of
classes are also available.
The following is a brief overview of some of the most well-known childbirth
class options in the United States.
What is the Lamaze technique?
The Lamaze technique is one of the best known methods, and one of the most
commonly used childbirth class method in the United States. Lamaze classes are
designed to inform women about their options for support during the birth
process. The Lamaze program does not encourage or discourage the use of medications and medical
interventions during the birth process. Women are presented with information
and options to make the decision that is best for her.
Some of the topics covered in Lamaze technique classes include:
- The progress of normal labor
- The delivery and postpartum period
- Pain relief techniques such as massage
and relaxation methods
- Other kinds of support during labor
- Medical procedures that may be
- Living a healthy lifestyle
Lamaze classes are generally taught in small groups of up to 12 couples.
Typically, there is at least 12 hours of instruction time.
Quick GuidePrenatal Workout: Safe Exercises for Pregnant Women
Is It a Boy or Girl? 6 Myths!
Here are some of the more unusual myths about predicting a baby's gender that have been widely circulated in the past:
Carrying the baby "high" signals a girl, while carrying "low" means it's a boy. In reality, the appearance of a pregnant woman varies widely, depending upon her body type and the stage of pregnancy. It's not possible to determine a baby's sex from the appearance of the mother's abdomen.
- A male fetus will cause the hair on the mother's legs to grow faster, while a female fetus will not. In reality, the fetus does not make enough hormones to influence mother's hair growth in this way.
- Dull-colored urine means a woman is carrying a girl; bright colored urine means it's a boy. The baby's sex does not influence urine color at all. Urine color is dependent on the mother's degree of hydration and occasionally upon consumption of certain foods.
What is The Bradley Method?
The Bradley method is also known as husband-coached childbirth. It is a
process that prepares a woman to give birth without the use of pain control
medications. It also prepares the woman's partner to be an effective birth
coach. The method does include preparation for problems or unexpected situations
like unplanned Cesarean section delivery. The course is taught over 12 sessions.
Topics covered in the classes include:
- Healthy lifestyle choices
- Relaxation techniques for use during
- "Rehearsals" for labor
- Postpartum care
- Training for the partner in coaching
- Ways to avoid a Cesarean section
What is The Alexander Technique?
The Alexander Technique is a strategy for improving movement, balance,
coordination, and flexibility. This technique is used by many individuals--not
just pregnant women. In expectant women it may be used to increase the mother's
comfort during pregnancy, increase the effectiveness of pushing, lessen any
discomfort associated with nursing, and assist the overall recovery from
childbirth. Some pregnant women choose to take weekly lessons in the technique
throughout their pregnancy.
What is HypnoBirthing?
HypnoBirthing is a method that is based on self-hypnosis techniques to
achieve a healthy and natural birth process. It is sometimes referred to as the
Morgan method. Pre-birth parenting and the consciousness of the unborn baby are
among the topics covered in the training sessions. It is commonly given in a
series of 4 or 5 class sessions of 2 ½ to 3 hours each.
10 questions to ask when choosing a childbirth class
Asking the following questions may help women decide on a childbirth class.
There are no right or wrong answers. Thinking about these issues may help you
clarify your own interests and goals.
- When and where does the class meet? How many
sessions are offered?
- Is the class designed for expectant mothers
or for couples?
- Is there training for the expectant woman's
partner? Is this important to you?
- What is the cost of the class? Will
insurance cover the cost?
- How are the teachers trained?
- Does the teacher have experience with this
type of class?
- What is the class size?
- What kinds of medical interventions are
covered in the class?
- Does the class promote natural birth without
medications or does the class allow women to choose medical intervention?
- Does the class run throughout pregnancy or only in the later
Medically Reviewed on 3/24/2016
Medically reviewed by Wayne Blocker, MD; Board Certified Obstetrics & Gynecology
Medscape. Update on Nonpharmacologic Approaches to Relieve Labor Pain and Prevent Suffering.