the Childbirth Education Class: How Childbirth Classes Can Help and Why You Should Take One
It’s natural to want to learn more about what you are experiencing in pregnancy and what will soon come with labor and childbirth. There are so many options for taking childbirth education classes, that it can be hard to know where to begin! This article will explain what childbirth education is, why it’s important, who should take childbirth classes, and other ways to enrich your knowledge surrounding your pregnancy, labor, childbirth, and postpartum life.
What is a Childbirth Education Class?
A childbirth education (CBE) class is either a singular class, or a series of classes, offered to expectant parents interested in learning more about the process of labor, childbirth, and immediately postpartum. Childbirth education classes are available in-person or virtually; live, or pre-recorded.
Who Should Take a Childbirth Education Class?
Anyone who is expecting or curious about childbirth and wants to feel more confident during labor should take a childbirth education class! This will primarily include people who are pregnant, their partners, and those who plan on being present as someone else experiences childbirth. This means that you may encounter birth doulas, or other birth professionals, the family and friends of a pregnant person, a non-carrying partner, parents expecting their baby via surrogacy or adoption, and others in your childbirth education class.
What Will I Learn in a Childbirth Education Class?
In a childbirth class, you will learn the physiological process of childbirth starting from the onset of labor to the birth of your placenta. But that’s just the start! You will learn non-pharmacological pain coping techniques and comfort measures for childbirth, medication options for clinical pain management, optimal positions for the laboring person to use to help your body progress during labor, as well as what is considered normal and what are some causes for concern. During your CBE class, you will review when to transfer from your home to the hospital or birthing center, if you are planning a birth outside the home or when to call the midwife if you are planning a homebirth. Finally, If you are taking a live interactive virtual class or an in-person class, you will have an opportunity to ask questions to the expert instructor. You can also brainstorm questions to bring back to your midwife or doctor, and you can discuss your hopes and fears with a group of people who just get it! Here are the basics of what you’ll learn in bullet point form:
- Anatomy of late pregnancy and childbirth
- Signs, Stages, and Emotional Signposts of Labor
- Non-pharmacological Pain Management Techniques and comfort measures for birth like breathing, relaxation, position choices, massage, pressure points, hydrotherapy, aromatherapy, vocalization, and more.
- Evidence-Based Care
- Writing Birth Preferences (aka Birth Plans)
- Pain Medication Options during childbirth
- Types of Labor Support–doula care, family, etc.
- Medical Support (Interventions)
- Cesarean Birth and Prevention
- How COVID-19 may impact the experience
What Impact Does a Childbirth Education Class Have?
While attending a birthing class cannot guarantee that you will experience your desired birth, it can provide you with information, added confidence, and a plan to guide you through something with which you likely have little to no experience. This can lead you to feeling empowered during your birth and more able to advocate for yourself, which, in turn, can result in higher satisfaction with your birth experience. Without this information or a sense of what to expect from childbirth, you may be more susceptible to making decisions based on fear or lack of knowledge during your labor.
What Are Some Other Classes I Can Take During Pregnancy?
There doesn’t seem to be any shortage of classes, trainings, and courses that you can take during your pregnancy to help you feel more prepared for the big changes coming your way. Let’s take a look at some of the most popular classes out there:
Infant CPR & Safety Class
If you find yourself, like many new parents do, feeling nervous and unprepared about safeguarding your baby from harm, an infant safety, CPR, or first aid course is perfect for you. Here you will learn what to do in the event of an emergency such as unconsciousness, choking, sleep safety precautions, and more.
While lactation is a natural phenomenon, it doesn’t always come naturally for new parents. In a lactation class you can learn more about common breastfeeding/bodyfeeding challenges, how to troubleshoot, and when to call a lactation consultant. It is suggested to take a lactation course while you are still pregnant so that you are better equipped to handle any challenges that may arise after the arrival of your baby.
Newborn Care Class
A newborn care class is a course on everything you need to know about taking care of your baby, including understanding normal newborn behavior, feedings, diaper changes, Infant soothing techniques, what to expect from newborn sleep, bathing (before and after the umbilical cord falls off), and more. Newborn care classes are often a great place to learn tips and tricks for taking care of your baby, which can help you transition into your new role as a parent with more confidence and ease.
Postpartum Preparation Class
Take a postpartum prep class if you’re interested in learning how to care for yourself as a newly birthed parent. You’ll learn what to expect in the first three months after your baby is born, often called the “fourth trimester.” You’ll learn the signs of the baby blues and how to support yourself should these feelings arise. You will also learn which resources are available to you if you experience postpartum depression or anxiety. Postpartum prep classes can be taken with a supportive person in your life, which can also help them be a better support to you.
Babies are often soothed by being close to their caretakers. While babywearing they are swayed into relaxation and sleep with each step you take. Consider taking a babywearing class to ensure that you are aware of the different types of carriers that are available to you and how to use them properly. This will ensure not only your baby’s comfort but also their safety.
Babies are small, but preparing for them can bring up BIG feelings. Pregnancy, childbirth education, and postpartum classes are designed to offer you support during a time when you need it most. Consider taking a childbirth education, newborn care, postpartum prep, babywearing, infant safety &CPR, or lactation class to help you start your journey into parenting feeling informed and confident.
Laura is a doula, a writer, and the mother of two incredible kids. When not supporting new families or her own, you can find her trying out new recipes in the kitchen. Laura is available on the boober platform for matches.