Now's a good time to start gathering information on childbirth classes from your local hospital or birthing center. There are several different methods of childbirth education, such as Lamaze, the Bradley Method, Leboyer, and HypnoBirthing; researching them now will give you and your partner time to learn more about which one is right for you. Pick a class date that falls in your third trimester so the information will still be fresh in your mind once the big day arrives. While hospital policy will dictate a lot of what's covered in prepared childbirth classes, here's a general idea of what you will experience:
Commiseration: You'll interact with other pregnant couples and demonstrate that misery (and joy) truly does love company.
Reality: Through lecture and (in many cases) actual video footage, you'll get the full scoop on what really goes on in labor and delivery.
Guided tour: If your class is at the birthing center or hospital, you will probably get a tour of the facilities and some basic instructions on when and where to show up when labor hits.
Teamwork: Your husband, partner, or labor coach will learn more about his or her role in this process, and you may even be given homework to try out techniques at home.
After-birth instruction: Many classes offer valuable information on breastfeeding basics and baby care. Don't be surprised if the instructor brings in a bag full of baby dolls for practice.
Seasoned support: Most prepared childbirth classes will be conducted by a trained childbirth educator.
Paperwork: A lot of literature, brochures, pamphlets, handouts, forms, photocopies, and leaflets will come your way. Bring a bag.
To find out which method is right for you, explore the details of each in the following sections.
While rhythmic breathing exercises are stressed for each stage of labor in Lamaze, helpful laboring and birth positions, relaxation techniques, and pain management are also covered. In addition to massage, water therapy, and hot and cold compresses, you're taught how to focus on a picture or object to diminish your discomfort.
Lamaze also stresses the empowerment of the mother-to-be and her right to the birth experience and environment she wants.
Denver obstetrician Robert Bradley, M.D., was a big advocate of fathers helping their partners through the birth process. Bradley Method classes teach couples how to relax and breathe deeply, but the emphasis is on doing what comes naturally — such as father as coach, proper nutrition during pregnancy, and knowing all the options beforehand. They also emphasize the
Frederick Leboyer, M.D., author of
British doctor and natural childbirth pioneer Grantly Dick Read, who authored the classic