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  • Writer's pictureNicole Ament

Types of Birth Prep Classes

How to know which one is right for you.

For some people, going through a birth prep class later on in their pregnancy is something they consider, research, and plan for soon after they find out they're pregnant, while others worry about it more as they get further along in their pregnancy. But by your second trimester, it's a good time to start thinking about what kind of class you'd like to take to help you prep for the birth of your baby, as most want you in their class sometime between 27 and 35 weeks.

Do you NEED to go to a class to do something that your body naturally already knows how to do? No, not necessarily. But if you're a first time parent, the classes can be especially helpful for you and your partner. Birth is such an unpredictable thing. Learning about all the different things that CAN happen during labor to you and your baby, from what your body is going through and why, to how you can be physically and emotionally comforted and supported, to how your body heals and bonds with your baby after birth, can help to better prepare you to handle all of those twists and turns throughout your experience.

There are just as many price ranges as there are types and lengths of birth classes. Most want you and a partner there, and some offer their class on-line in prerecorded classes that you can watch at your convenience, online by live Zoom, or in-person.

Every birth prep class will cover essentially the same info, just in different ways. Some of the things you may learn are:
  • the biology of labor

  • comfort and pain-relieving techniques

  • what the labor process can look like

  • how your medical team plays into your birth

  • epidurals

  • c-sections

  • breastfeeding and newborn care

  • support for your partner

  • community resources

  • support groups

Here are the most common type of childbirth prep classes offered:

Lamaze - Done in a series of classes that span a number of weeks and hours (typically, a 12-hour course), focuses on breathing and pain-management techniques, how to labor (with or without drugs, though it does tend to lean more on the unmedicated side of labor), and ways that your partner can assist during your labor.

Alexander - Unlike most other birth prep classes, this method focuses on movement during labor, by helping to open the body and help make labor more comfortable. These classes can be designed to fit your needs, as you choose how many you do and for how long, though, it is suggested they be taken weekly. They're designed for both the birth person and a partner.

Bradley - This 12-week course covers all aspects of childbirth, from how to stay healthy during your pregnancy, through different techniques that can be used during all stages of labor and delivery, and also covers what can happen when things don't go the way you plan them to. Some of the courses have a focus on childcare after the baby is born. This class has a heavy focus on med-free births.

Birthing from Within - This method talks about more than just what can happen during your labor and delivery and really focuses, instead, on how birth can be 'psychologically transformative.' It goes into pain management techniques and birth prep with the focus being on your fears, goals and expectations of your birth, as well as how you feel about parenthood. There will be some drawing, journaling, and other rituals and these classes are usually done privately or in small groups.
Hypnobirthing - This type of birth prep class focuses on your fear and anxiety that can contribute to pain, and helps you and your partner to learn deep relaxation techniques to reduce those fears and anxieties, which can be beneficial to 'remaining present' during your labor and delivery. Most who take this class end up having a med-free birth.

Spinning Babies - In some cities, it's becoming increasingly popular to do this type of birth prep class, while most of the positioning techniques are used by nurses and doulas while you're in labor to help optimize the way your baby rotates and enters into and through your pelvis. They teach basic techniques for comfort. They're often a smaller, 3-hour class and are often done online, but there are some places that offer them in-person (we have a few classes offered here in Spokane!).

There's no wrong answer as to what class you choose or which method you prefer to do the class, in-person or online. Some people want something online, that they can be a part of in the comfort of their own space, or to be able to watch videos in their own time, at their own pace. While others prefer an in-person class so they can be with other couples, learning how their bodies will have their babies and how they can cope with it. Cost and convenience are usually at the top of people's priority when choosing a class, but also knowing exactly how much you want to put into that prep is important as well. There are even childbirth refresher classes for parents of multiple children, as well as classes that focus on c-sections. Again, there's no wrong answer with what type of class you choose or how you do the class.

Part of what we offer our birth clients is a resource list of classes, and we can help you figure out which method may be the right one for you. We are lucky to have so many options for birth prep classes in the Spokane and North Idaho areas! While it may seem like one more thing to stress over, worry not. Childbirth prep classes are merely one more tool to help you navigate your labor and birth in a way that keeps you informed and ready to make any decision that can come your way during that special time.

You won't ever get a failing grade for not attending a childbirth prep class and you certainly won't get any judgment from us about it. There are TONS of books and videos online with an endless supply of information. However, taking the time to attend a class can also help you connect with other people who are going through the same stage in life, and one can never have too much support when they become a new parent.

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