Childbirth classes

Why Should You Take a Childbirth Class?
Childbirth classes give you accurate information about labor and delivery as well as about possible complications that may occur during the birthing process. During you childbirth classes, you will learn about hospital procedures and medical interventions, which helps reduce any fears you may be having and allows you to better prepare for the delivery. You will also have a weekly chance to ask questions that come up between prenatal visits or that you don’t feel comfortable asking your practitioner.

Classes will also teach you specially designed techniques of relaxation, distraction and breathing to give you more control over the birthing process and reduce your perception of pain during delivery. This may in turn translate into less need for medication. Classes also provide a supportive environment that will help minimize your anxieties.

Spending time with other expectant couples allows you to share experiences, compare progress and swap stories. Many couples make life-long friends at these classes. Childbirth classes also provide an opportunity for the father to increase his involvement in the birthing process. This will benefit both of you since it will make him a more effective coach.

Ultimately, you will develop confidence in your ability to meet the demands of labor and delivery and have the possibility of an improved, less stressful and possibly slightly shorter labor.

Types of Childbirth Education Classes
1. Lamaze
These classes use relaxation and breathing techniques along with the continuous support of a spouse or other coach and trained nurse to allow you to experience a more natural childbirth. Lamaze philosophy believes that women have the natural ability to give birth; her confidence and ability to give birth naturally can be enhanced by the level of support she receives from her environment. With Lamaze, you develop active concentration by relaxation and rhythmic breathing patterns. You will also learn about labor and birthing positions, breathing distraction, massage techniques, communication skills, as well as information on the postpartum period and breastfeeding. Typical Lamaze courses consist of six 2 hour sessions.

2. Bradley
This approach emphasizes excellent nutrition and exercise to ease the discomforts of pregnancy and to prepare muscles for birth and breasts for nursing. You will learn to mimic your nighttime sleeping position and breathing for use during labor and to use relaxation techniques to make labor more comfortable. The Bradley method employs deep abdominal breathing and recommends that a woman concentrate within and works with her body.

This technique stresses that a pregnant woman’s needs during labor are darkness, quiet, physical comfort, and closed eyes. Medication is reserved for complications and cesareans as the program stresses acceptance of pain. The typical Bradley course runs twelve weeks, beginning in the sixth month of pregnancy.

3. Alexander Technique
The Alexander technique views labor pain as normal and natural. It teaches women to cope with labor pain by learning to exercise conscious control over posture and movement and by re-educating the body to replace poor postural positions that may be leading to tension with those of release.

4. International Childbirth Education Association (ICEA)
ICEA classes are very broad in scope and cover the options available for you as an expectant parent in the realm of family-centered maternity care and newborn care. The classes focus on a wide range of possibilities rather than on a single approach to childbirth and stress the importance of individual freedom of choice.

5. Association of Labor Assistants and Childbirth Educators (ALACE)
ALACE programs stress woman’s right to a natural birth when at all possible while trying to minimize routine interventions. The classes focus on techniques that you can use to help work with the discomfort during labor before having to turn to medication.

6. Hypnosis
Hypnobirthing classes teach how to use hypnosis to reduce discomfort and pain by achieving a deep state of relaxation. The program will also provide instruction on how to improve your mood and attitude during labor and childbirth.

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