Pregnancy Classes. Are they important to attend?

Back in the day, childbirth classes were almost mandatory. They were just a part of the process. Nowadays, with the vast space of the internet and so many pregnancy books available online and in the library, many women are opting out of taking the class all together. But are they missing out?

Heidi Murkoff, author of What to Expect When You’re Expecting, makes an excellent point. “Taking a course is not a requirement; you’ll get to give birth no matter what.” And it’s true. Babies come whether we feel ready or not. The hospital isn’t going to turn you away because you don’t have your birthing class diploma on you. But does that mean we should remove them from the equation altogether? In the same sense, aging is going to happen regardless of our education level, but wouldn’t a course in getting older help us to do it a little more gracefully? The same applies to birth.

They call it ‘childbirth preparation’ for a reason as it helps prepare you and anyone who may be with you during the birthing process. Going into a situation with the most amount of information possible is usually the best way to get good results. Childbirth can be a overwhelming experience whether it’s your first child or your fifth. Moms with multiple kids, who have been through the ordeal can attest to the fact that knowledge is power. Many of the women I have talked to who chose not to participate in the birthing class for their first regret it and wish they had been more prepared. points out that these classes can teach you about pain relief, demystify hospital procedures, and provide a place to ask questions you forgot to ask your OB-GYN. And then there’s Dad: taking a class helps him feel less left out and more confident during the birthing process.

Some of the top activities and topics include:

  • Breathing exercises
  • Reviewing the different positions to give birth
  • Importance of nutrition and exercise
  • Relaxation techniques to manage pain
  • Postpartum care
  • Breastfeeding
    and more…

Childbirth education started in the late 70’s to shed light on the complications associated with giving birth and alleviating fear. Henci Goer, a Lamaze International resident expert and the author of several books on childbirth says, “The movement grew out of the realization that you didn’t have to be zonked out on drugs during labor, and that you could have someone you love in the delivery room with you”.

When you come into the birthing situation with the knowledge that you are in control, and have options, you become much more empowered and are far more likely to have the childbirth experience you want. It all comes down to control.

The main birthing methods are the Bradley Method, Lamaze and Natural Childbirth.

  • Bradley Method: The Bradley method is a common choice among mothers who want a natural birth while still having a hospital experience. Many companies offer online courses and in-person workshops ranging in price from $125 to $350 per couple.
  • Natural Childbirth: When choosing this method, a doula or midwife is often used. There are many agencies to choose from in the area and can range in price from free all the way to the thousands. Some doula agencies offer free childbirth classes when you use their services and have affordable prices for non-members for $50 per couple.
  • Lamaze: offers FREE online courses providing birthing classes, resources, advice and more from Pregnancy to Parenthood. If you want an in-person experience, the price can vary based on location and instructor. Multiple birthing clinics offer free consultations, and prices under $100. Doula Love in particular has classes for $50 per couple for a multi-week course covering pre and postpartum topics.
  • General: This approach can be very welcoming. The classes often feature a bundle of information in a 5 to 10 week course including topics such as labor, birth, breastfeeding, etc. Prices can be anywhere from free (i.e. local community center), and up to $135 (i.e. PeaceHealth five night series) per couple.

For all of these methods, your local community center, library or school may be offering classes for free or a small fee for low income families. Make sure to look around and find the best option for you. Different instructors may have teaching styles you may not agree with or the information you find on TV or the Internet may be incorrect. Make sure to do your research before making a decision and above all, get educated.

~ The Vancouver Birthright Team