Classes for First-time Parents: The Classes Experts Recommend
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 about the big changes coming your way. But if you are feeling at all overwhelmed with the number of options you have, you’ve found the right blog! Let’s take an in-depth look at the most popular classes that are offered to pregnant people so that you can narrow down what’s important to you and decide on the ways you wish to invest in yourself at this crucial time.
Childbirth Education Classes
This class is often taught by a licensed childbirth education professional but it can also be taught by a birthworker who is familiar with the process of childbirth, such as a birth doula, midwife, or maternity nurse. The purpose of this class is to learn about the different stages of labor, what you can expect when labor begins, typical lengths of labor, coping techniques, and medication options. A childbirth education class is a great opportunity to take notes and brainstorm questions to bring back to your midwife or doctor. These classes are taught both in-person and virtually, and while they are often offered in a group setting, you can also find private classes.
If you have not yet given much thought to the type of birth you would like to have, a childbirth education class is a wonderful starting point. If you have already given a lot of thought about the type of birth you would like to have, a childbirth education class is a rich resource to learn more tips to be successful with your goals. Depending on how deep you would like to go, you can find a basic overview of what to expect during labor in a short, 3-hour class format or do a more all-inclusive immersion within the topic with a multi-part series of classes.
Prenatal Exercise Classes
It’s important to stay active during your pregnancy, without straining your body or pushing yourself too hard. With so many physical changes, it’s hard to know what kind of exercise is safe for you and your baby. This is where prenatal exercise classes come into play! They are custom fitness classes for pregnant people. In these classes you won’t have to worry about modifying positions to make space for your belly or for your safety. Every pose you are instructed to do is safe and optimal for pregnancy. Many people find relief from discomfort from prenatal exercise classes and they also learn new techniques that they can use at home to help cope with the normal aches and pains associated with pregnancy.
Daddy Boot Camp/Partner Boot Camp
Traditionally called “daddy boot camp,” these types of classes are ideal for the non-laboring partner, and are not just limited to dads! This is a great class to take or suggest for someone to take if they plan on being with you while you labor. This may mean in this class you’ll see non-carrying mothers, grandparents, in-laws, friends or other family members. It’s designed to explain the process of labor and key ways you can be a support during childbirth. This kind of class is essential, because there will not likely be any pregnant people participating. It really allows the non-pregnant support person an opportunity to address their own fears, anxieties, questions, and uncertainties without taking away time or attention from the laboring partner.
The first three mentioned trainings focus on the end of pregnancy, childbirth, and labor. These are key life events where you want to gain knowledge and confidence, but this is not where the learning ends. There are also many classes that are available to help you step in to parenting, such as:
Newborn Care Classes
The term newborn generally refers to babies from birth to about three months old. A newborn care class is a course on everything you need to know about taking care of your baby including feedings, diaper changes, 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 a little more confidence and ease.
Postpartum Preparation Classes
Believe it or not, your baby isn’t the only one who needs to be taken care of! 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, a time period often called the “fourth trimester.” You’ll learn the signs of the baby blues and how to get support, should these feelings arise. You will also learn which resources are available to you if you experience postpartum depression. Postpartum prep classes are great to take with a supportive partner, if they are available, so that they can get a glimpse into what you’ll be experiencing after the birth of your baby. This will also help them better support you during the fourth trimester!
Ask any doula or seasoned parent what their secret is to happy parenting and they just may tell you it’s babywearing! Perhaps you have a baby who doesn’t want to be put down, or can only fall and stay asleep on you. Babies are often soothed being close to their caretakers and are swayed into relaxation and sleep with each step you take. You also probably will have things to do around the house but not enough arms to get everything done. Or maybe you just want to go outside without having to use a clunky stroller. There really are endless reasons to learn more about babywearing! Consider taking a baby wearing class so that you are aware of the different types of baby carriers that are available to you and how to use them properly, to ensure not only your baby’s comfort, but also their safety.
Infant Safety, CPR & First Aid Classes
If you find yourself, like many new parents do, feeling nervous and unprepared about safeguarding your baby from harm, perhaps an infant safety, CPR, or first aid course is perfect for you! In these classes you will learn what to do in the event of an emergency, such as choking, suffocation, burns, falls, and more. Sleep safety precautions are usually covered in these classes as well. These are very popular classes to take for new parents and for good reason! The protection and peace of mind they provide are invaluable for both you and your little one.
Last, but certainly not least in importance, is a breastfeeding/bodyfeeding class. While lactation is “natural,” it does not always come naturally for new parents! In this class you will learn common nursing challenges, ways to troubleshoot them, and signs you might need more lactation support from a lactation counselor or lactation consultant. Take a lactation course while you are still pregnant so that you are better equipped to anticipate and handle any challenges that may arise after the arrival of your baby.
All of the classes mentioned in this article can be helpful to pregnant people and families but you likely will not take them all. Try sitting down and thinking about what’s most important to you in childbirth and parenting. Consider your budget and also remember that these classes are an investment in yourself and your baby. After doing so, reflect on which of these classes you feel will bring you closer to your goals. Make an informed choice and let the learning begin!
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.