Your first pregnancy is an exciting time, but it’s also a journey into the unknown. No matter how many childbirth stories you hear from your friends, or how much advice you get from your mother, you never really know what childbirth is like until you go through it yourself. Like many other new Moms, you may choose to attend childbirth classes to get specific information, and the delivery options available, including alternatives such as drug-free and water birth. Childbirth classes will map out the birthing journey, showing you what you can expect, from the first labor pains, to the moment your baby is wrapped up in her first baby blanket.
Classes should be taught by a certified instructor, and it’s a good idea to verify your teacher’s credentials. Courses often consist of several classes and extend over many weeks. Topics can include subjects such as the stages of labor, pain reduction techniques, the role of other family members, and new baby care, such as breastfeeding and taking the baby home from the hospital. There are a wide variety of childbirth classes available, including online classes, hospital-based classes, and classes from various organizations, such as Lamaze and the International Birth and Wellness Project. Some courses include aids such as workbooks, demonstrations and video presentations. Since many courses extend over multiple classes, they can be expensive, so be sure to ask about costs.
The information you receive in a childbirth class will also likely include how to recognize the signs of labor, postpartum information, and breastfeeding and new baby care techniques, such as how to use a swaddling blanket. It will also give you the chance to ask questions, and may be an opportunity for you to compare notes with other new Moms.
There is also training for other family members who will be present at the birth. This training is often an effective way to reduce, or even eliminate, the new Dad’s pre-delivery jitters.
If you intend to take a childbirth class, it’s best to do so early on, if only to ensure yourself a spot. Signing up early preserves your choices in many ways: if you decide you want to drop your first class and take another on an alternative delivery method, you still have time to do so. Signing up early also gives you the most time to benefit from what you learn. You can master the massage or pain reduction techniques demonstrated in class. You also have the optimal opportunity to ask questions, interact with your teacher and get to know your other classmates.
If you decide to take a childbirth course, you should educate yourself about all your options. There are many educational websites online that list the different kinds of childbirth classes available, and your local hospital will also have information about courses offered. There’s no need to face your first childbirth with questions. Just a little advance planning and information, and you can be well prepared for your baby’s arrival!