Pregnancy care classes can provide invaluable information about childbirth. With so many types of classes to choose from, find one that meets your specific needs and enjoy learning!
Learn all you can about your baby’s development, birthing options, pain relief techniques and breastfeeding and newborn care.
Preparing for Birth
Birth preparation can feel both empowering and daunting at the same time, depending on its purpose. Some aspects can feel liberating: tea to tone your uterus or exercises designed to get baby into an optimal position can make labor room preparations feel empowering; selecting music and scents will complete the picture; while for others it can simply feel overwhelming.
Although you can’t plan every detail of your birth experience, you can consider who should be there with you, how you will manage pain management, and the options that might be available if things don’t go exactly according to plan. Many women and their partners create birth plans which they share with medical professionals so their wishes are heard during labor.
Pregnancy care classes provide essential information on labor and delivery, from what to expect during each stage to who to speak to if there are classes available for expectant parents. Check with the hospital where you’ll be giving birth if there are classes for expectant parents; if so, inquire as to their general philosophy on birthing that matches up with what your vision of an ideal birth is.
Preparing for the Postpartum Period
Arriving home with a newborn brings about major adjustments to daily routines, relationships and self-concept – not to mention physical recovery from labor and delivery – making new parents understandably overwhelmed and anxious about what lies ahead. Pregnancy care classes offer helpful strategies on how to meet these challenges head-on.
Childbirth classes usually occur during months 6 or 7 of gestation and cover topics including the physiology of labor, emotional aspects of gestation and comfort measures during labor; some even provide newborn and infant care instruction.
Some providers believe that providing information on postpartum recovery during prenatal visits could improve outcomes and decrease stress in the initial postpartum period, while other clinicians feel such integration would require additional resources and free time from their patient visits.
Prenatal classes that discuss breastfeeding, infant CPR or alternative pain control methods may help new parents transition into parenthood more smoothly. Attending such a course might even make it easier to gather their support team of an OB/GYN, midwife, lactation counselor, mental health counselor and doula.
Breastfeeding is an efficient and eco-friendly way of feeding your baby, not only saving money by costing less than formula but also eliminating storage issues. Furthermore, breastfeeding provides vital immunological benefits as breast milk contains important antibodies and cells which promote immune development while creating an incredible bonding opportunity between mother and child.
One study revealed that expectant women ranked breastfeeding and attachment as being extremely important topics to learn in prenatal classes, along with first aid for babies, knowing when labor starts and comfort measures to manage labor pain (Spiby et al. 2003).
A breastfeeding class will teach you techniques for feeding your baby and how to recognize signs of an adequate milk supply, including how to prevent sore nipples when breastfeed. You’ll learn how to use a breast pump, continue breastfeeding while working, and find out about grandparents. These classes usually last three hours each and can be found monthly.
If you will be caring for an infant, this class will give you confidence when holding and feeding them. You will learn safe newborn care skills such as bathing, diapering, dressing and swaddling your newborn.
You will learn what steps to take if an infant stops breathing, turns blue or has a seizure – knowledge which all expectant parents, grandparents and caregivers need to know in an emergency situation.
Check for response (tap and shout; never shake) before starting CPR (delivering 30 gentle chest compressions while avoiding the xiphoid process; CPR should be performed at 100-120 compressions per minute alternating with two breaths; continue until help arrives). If an infant cannot be located for CPR purposes, try placing your fingers gently below his nipple line to feel an apneic pulse – try placing your fingers gently in the center of their sternum below their nipple line to feel its pulse without pressing too firmly; if that doesn’t work or there are signs of poor circulation such as blueish discolorations in their face, extremities or nails then call 911/EMS and obtain an AED device if available.
Dependent upon which pregnancy class you attend, you may learn essential pre-pregnancy concepts like nutrition, exercise and fetal development. Plus, pregnancy classes allow expectant parents to meet like-minded moms and dads all going through similar experiences, and some even say they have made lifelong friendships through them!
Childbirth classes typically last several hours and cover topics like physiology of childbirth and different delivery techniques; as well as how to utilize various comfort and relaxation measures during labor. Some classes, like those provided by Mama Natural, even include tours of birthing facilities so parents-to-be can choose their desired type of labor experience.
Pregnancy care classes vary in price, and options for them can be found both locally and online. What matters most is finding classes that make you feel prepared for your big day – studies have shown that women who attend birthing classes are more likely to opt for vaginal deliveries rather than C-sections due to reduced risks and faster recoveries after vaginal deliveries.