Birthing classes are an essential part of a good pregnancy experience. The classes will teach you how to deal with pain during labor and delivery. You will also learn about proper diet and exercise during pregnancy. It is a great way to bond with your partner. You'll also meet other people going through the same physical and emotional changes related to pregnancy and a new baby.
It's normal to feel fear and anxiety about the birthing process. You also may wonder what will happen the day of your delivery. The information you get during childbirth classes will help you prepare for that day. Some women are concerned that they will have no control over their labor and delivery. With education you will feel more confident and in control when the time arrives.
There are three common childbirth education techniques that are taught. These include:
The techniques are all slightly different. But they all teach you how to manage pain by using special breathing techniques, and provide exercise and diet information. Some provide information on the use of medicines to help manage pain. Others focus on childbirth without the use of pain medicine. Before you take a class, decide if you are planning on medicines or an epidural so that you take the right class for you and your focus on childbirth.
Many classes will help you develop a birth plan. Remember that there are too many surprises in the birth process to make a firm plan. So you need to think of them more as birth preferences. If you create a birth plan, be sure that your preferences will work at the hospital where you are planning to deliver. Every hospital has different policies and procedures that they follow. Often the hospital you choose for your delivery may have childbirth classes available in the facility.
Reviewed By: John D. Jacobson, MD, Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Loma Linda University School of Medicine, Loma Linda Center for Fertility, Loma Linda, CA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.