Childbirth classes are designed to help you and your birth partner prepare for labour, birth and the early days of parenthood. The class sizes tend to be small to allow you and your birth partner to actively participate in the sessions.
There are two main types of childbirth classes:
- hospital run classes – these tend to be led by a health professional, and often take place in a hospital or birth unit
- privately run classes – these classes are run privately by trained course leaders
Childbirth classes are not compulsory, but they are advised for pregnant women. Not only will they help to prepare you for the birth, but they will also help to prepare your birth partner. They are also a great opportunity to meet other mums due to give birth around the same time. Many women stay friends with their childbirth classmates, and watch their children grow up together.
What happens at a childbirth class? Most childbirth classes cover the following topics:
- fetal development
- maternal changes during pregnancy
- giving birth
- meeting your baby
- health and wellbeing
- where to get support
Information given will vary between classes. Many childbirth classes also offer sections on some of the following:
- choosing where to give birth
- pain relief during labour
- birthing positions
- relaxation and breathing techniques
- caesarean sections
- bonding with your newborn
- basic parenting skills such as nappy changing, sleep and bathing
If there are any topics you would particularly like to explore in your childbirth class, contact your course leader in advance and let them know. Most course leaders will be very accommodating of your requirements, and many tailor the sessions to fit the individuals present.
When should I go to childbirth classes? Childbirth classes are most useful during the third trimester. Most women attend childbirth classes around their 34th week of pregnancy. By this point, you will probably have lots of questions about birth and parenthood swimming around in your head. Attending a course in your final trimester means that the information is likely to be fresh in your mind when it is needed.
Hospital classes are the most affordable option, although they may have bigger class sizes. The prices of private courses vary greatly, and will depend upon the style of class you choose and your location.
Your healthcare provider will be able to advise you of the childbirth courses in your local area. Make sure you take your birth partner along to the childbirth classes. The information is as much for their benefit as it is yours.
Written by Fiona, proud owner of a toddler, @fiona_peacock
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a trained medical doctor. Health & Parenting Ltd disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information, which is provided to you on a general information basis only and not as a substitute for personalized medical advice. All contents copyright © Health & Parenting Ltd 2018. All rights reserved.