What does a childbirth education class include?

Most of my Childbirth Education classes are either one 8-hour class in one day or four 2-hour classes taken over a series of weeks. Some topics included in my classes are as follows:

  • Expected physiologic patterns of labor, birth, and postpartum

  • Common unexpected variations of labor, birth, and postpartum

  • A woman’s physical and emotional changes experienced in pregnancy, birth, and postpartum

  • A partner’s emotional changes during the childbearing year and postpartum

  • Maternal and infant nutrition

  • Common medical interventions and procedures during the birth process as well as analgesia and anesthesia, vaginal and cesarean birth, indications and contraindications for the above and available alternatives

  • Skin to skin advantages

  • Family-centered maternity care

  • Exercises and labor coping skills

  • Positioning for labor and birth

Why should you take a childbirth education class?

  • Learn things you never knew about labor, delivery and postpartum care. You'll find out how to identify the signs of labor and what happens to your body as your baby makes his or her way into the world.

  • Address your fears. During childbirth classes, you'll have the chance to talk about your fears with other women who probably share the same concerns. The instructor can dispel myths and help put your mind at ease. Research suggests that women who take childbirth classes know more about labor and delivery and are less likely to have psychological distress than women who didn't go to classes.

  • Connect with your partner or labor coach. Childbirth classes offer your partner or labor coach the chance to understand childbirth, too — as well as learn how to support you during labor.

  • Discuss options for handling pain. You'll practice methods such as breathing techniques, relaxation and visualization for coping with contractions. Most classes also cover the pros and cons of common medications, such as epidural blocks.

  • Get the basics on medical interventions and possible complications. Find out how routine interventions can influence the course of labor.

  • Brush up on newborn care. You'll likely get a primer on newborns. Common topics include choosing a pediatrician, breastfeeding, diapering and bathing.