Childbirth Education & Breastfeeding Classes
Childbirth education and breastfeeding classes can be helpful to expectant parents in a number of ways. These classes educate expectant mothers and fathers on the basics of labor and delivery, as well as postpartum issues such as successfully breastfeeding and properly caring for the baby. Generally, childbirth classes are recommended for parents near the sixth or seventh month of pregnancy, although parents can attend classes at any time.
Childbirth education and breastfeeding classes are normally conducted outside of a hospital setting, and help give patients a better idea of what exactly to expect during childbirth. Often, a health care provider will recommend classes based on a patient's specific needs or desires for their pregnancy.
Types of Childbirth Education Classes
There are several common types of childbirth education and breastfeeding classes available from which expectant parents can choose.
Lamaze classes are probably the best-known childbirth education classes in the United States today. Lamaze classes are designed to increase help increase a mother’s confidence during pregnancy, and to help educate parents on their many options so that they will be able to make labor and delivery decisions that are right for them. Lamaze classes usually consist of 12 sessions, which last for about one hour each.
These classes will provide patients with information on:
- Normal labor and birth
- Early postpartum care
- Breathing techniques to use during labor
- Medical procedures used during labor
- Effective communication skills
- Healthy lifestyle choices
The Bradley Method®
The Bradley Method®, or husband-coached birth, prepares the mother to deliver without the aid of pain medications and prepares the father to act as the mother’s birthing coach during delivery. Like Lamaze, the Bradley Method classes are usually conducted over 12 sessions that last for about one hour each. These classes focus on the importance of:
- Postpartum care
- Labor rehearsals
- Nutrition and exercise during pregnancy
- Supporting and coaching the mother during labor and delivery
HypnoBirthing®, also called the Mongan Method, is a childbirth education program that relies on self-hypnosis techniques to help the mother relax during labor. HypnoBirthing methods teach women to practice visualizing a pain-free delivery, and to eliminate the fear and anxiety that often contribute to an uncomfortable, painful or lengthy labor. These classes are usually presented in five sessions, lasting approximately two hours each. HypnoBirthing education classes provide patients with information on the following:
- Relaxation techniques to put the mother at ease during labor
- Using self-hypnosis to eliminate the need for pain medication during pregnancy
- A basic understanding of breastfeeding
The Alexander Technique
The Alexander Technique is focused primarily on improving a woman's flexibility, ease of movement, coordination and balance during pregnancy. Most patients will take 30- to 45-minute long weekly lessons on this practice during pregnancy. The Alexander Technique provides expectant mothers with knowledge on:
- Easing the discomfort of nursing
- Improving overall comfort during pregnancy
- Breathing and focusing during delivery
- Shortening recovery from childbirth
While breastfeeding is a natural and healthy process that provides advantages for both baby and mother, many new mothers struggle with breastfeeding. Breastfeeding classes are designed to give women specific answers to their questions on nursing and lactation and help troubleshoot any problems they may have. Children who were breast-fed are generally more resistant to disease and infection early in life, and research indicates that they may be less likely to develop asthma, obesity, respiratory infections and type 2 diabetes as they get older.
Many pregnant women also opt to schedule a lactation consultation, which can help them better understand the breastfeeding process and its benefits. Even mothers who have had success breastfeeding previously may need assistance with a new baby. A lactation consultant helps patients achieve their breastfeeding goals, creates a timetable, helps with positioning and pumping and addresses any difficulties being experienced.
Benefits of Childbirth Education Classes and Breastfeeding Classes
Childbirth education and breastfeeding classes are beneficial to both expectant mothers and fathers in various ways. These classes provide parents with information and knowledge on what exactly to expect during labor and delivery. Furthermore, the classes give parents tools that can make pregnancy as comfortable as possible. While no one can predict exactly what will occur during delivery, a patient and healthcare provider can create a custom birth plan that promotes the best care for both the mother and baby.