Birth Class Options
The more educated and informed you are about the process of childbirth, the more likely you are to have a satisfying and positive birth experience. Expecting parents are inundated with misconceptions about the birthing process, often leading to unrealistic expectations about what birth looks like and how it unfolds. By taking an in-depth, up-to-date, and informative childbirth education class, you will have the knowledge and tools to confidently bring your baby into the world.
Ideally, the class you choose will align with your goals for childbirth and will leave you feeling informed and empowered to advocate for yourself in labor. So how do you know which type of childbirth class is the best? A great place to start is to determine what type of birth you envision. Some classes focus heavily on preparations for unmedicated birthing, while others provide more basic and general birthing information. Classes also range from discussions on clear-cut data to more physical and hands-on work. So it’s good to know where you fall on that spectrum.
Let’s take a look at a few of the most common birthing classes:
As one of the oldest formal birthing classes, the Lamaze International® name is one you’ve probably heard before. It is known for education focusing on breathing techniques (which have been updated since the 50s) and further comfort measures. Lamaze takes a six-step approach to informing parents of the physiological process of birth, options and informed consent, pain management, and partner support.
In recent years Lamaze has done well to update its course material to be more progressive and inclusive. The in-person classes place emphasis on unmedicated birthing, but include information for birthing people who may want to use pain medication and how to confidently make decisions regarding that process. This course is 12 hours of education and the breakdown of those hours varies by location and instructor.
HypnoBirthing® (The Mongan Method) & Hypnobabies®
This form of childbirth education teaches that hypnosis techniques used in labor can ease the birthing process for a more calm and relaxing experience. The two most popular courses are HypnoBirthing (The Mongan Method) & Hypnobabies.
HypnoBirthing® classes are offered both in-person, usually as a 5-week course, or as a self-study. The goal of the course is to teach relaxation techniques to avoid fear and tension in labor, which can reduce pain. The course offers hands-on practice during classes, as well as affirmation and meditation CDs to use at home. There has been criticism that HypnoBirthing® does not address the sensations (pain) in the physiological birth process and that the language used in the course leads to unrealistic expectations for expecting couples.
Hynobabies® takes a similar approach in that the goal is to use relaxation techniques to ease the process of labor and birth. Where this course differs is in its use of medical hypnosis techniques or hypno-anesthesia to increase awareness and comfort during labor and birth. Hypnobabies® is offered as a 6-week in-person course or as a self-study.
Birthing From Within
Birthing From Within approaches education through the philosophy that birth is a rite of passage and that the way you think about the birth process can help prepare you for any outcome: unmedicated, medicated, induction, cesarean. This course suggests practicing coping techniques in daily life to be better prepared to use them in birth.
Birthing From Within Mentors (facilitators of the classes) cover childbirth preparation techniques through the use of self-discovery and creative means. This class is a great option for expecting parents interested in a holistic approach to childbirth education.
The Bradley Method of Natural Childbirth®
The Bradley Method class is an in-person series that places emphasis on intervention-free births through the support and coaching from the husband/partner. This method includes an immense amount of data and evidence-based information, as well as tools for the partner to step into the role of coach and advocate.
The Bradley Method is one of the more lengthy and antiquated birthing classes. The method is still categorized as a “Husband Coached Natural Childbirth” and the language used throughout the organization lacks inclusivity. Be prepared to devote a lot of time to the Bradley Method, as classes are 1-1½ hours each over a 12-week period.
When researching birthing classes, it’s best to sit down with your partner and discuss your goals for birth, your learning styles, and the length of time you want to commit to a class. Don’t hesitate to reach out to the facilitators of courses if you have questions or want further details. It’s important that you have all the information you need to make the best choice for you and your family.
Jami is a birth and human rights advocate, who respects the fierce vulnerability and power in creating, welcoming, and nourishing every stage of a family. She is a certified birth and postpartum doula through Doula Trainings International (DTI), has also trained with DONA International, and received her Lactation Educator Counselor credential from the University of California San Diego.
Jami’s goal of supporting a thriving village extends beyond her role as owner of AustinBorn. She is an active member of her local doula and birth communities, and holds memberships with the Central Texas Breastfeeding Coalition and the Austin Young Women’s Alliance, and is the former Secretary of the Central Texas Doula Association.