Choosing the Right Childbirth Class

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 Guest blogger: Stephanie Heintzeler is a German educated midwife and US licensed Doula. She has delivered over 1,200 babies. Find out more about Stephanie at the New York Doula.  

Congratulations on your pregnancy! Alongside with the preparations for the baby, you might be thinking about booking a childbirth class. Some “dads-to-be” are worried they might end up panting and pushing. Some “moms-to-be” are worried they might have to moan in front of strangers. Let me help you with making a decision.

There are a lot of classes in NYC, which can be confusing, but the good news is that you can find the right one for your needs. Generally, I recommend booking three classes; a childbirth class, a newborn care and breastfeeding class, and a CPR class. Why so many classes? First of all, you should know about common hospital procedures, labor pain techniques, how your partner can help and what medical terms like “AROM” means (Artificial rupture of membranes.) Second, you need to know a few things about breastfeeding. As natural as it is, you probably didn’t grow up with aunts and siblings around you breastfeeding, so a few instructions are necessary to have a great start with your little one. Third, once you have a baby, you will be surrounded by other babies. To know how to react when they have small accidents or need CPR, book a baby CPR class, a good one will also cover some basic first aid. 

These are the general childbirth class-approaches:

Lamaze

Probably the most known childbirth preparation approach. Lamaze classes are based on 6 principles (no separation of mother and baby, freedom of movement, etc.) and classes are typically 12 hours in total, spread over 6 two-hour classes. Focus is on breathing techniques, suggestions on how to communicate with your birth team, and possible interventions. The idea is about building confidence. You can find more information on their www.lamaze.org. 

Hypnobirthing

Hypnobirthing, commonly referred to as the Mongan Method, is working with relaxation techniques, visualization and self-hypnosis. Based on Dick Read’s circle of fear-tension-pain, this class teaches mom’s how to relax (not tense), be confident about what’s going on (be unafraid,) and therefore experience less pain. Classes cover basic childbirth principles beyond hypnosis. More information at www.hypnobirthing.com

Bradley Method

The Bradley Method is for women who want a natural childbirth. Over the course of 12 weeks of intensive classes, participants receive study guides, along with homework assignment, and learn many breathing and pain-management techniques. By the end, the labor partner will feel as though they passed the exam for being a Doula. This class is very active and intense, but wonderful preparation for a natural birth. More information can be found on their www.bradleybirth.com. Some amazing teachers in NY are Mary-Esther Malloy and Tanya Wills.

Hospital led Classes

Childbirth classes offered in your hospital are tailored to the common procedures in your hospital. I’d recommend taking an independent class so you have an instructor who is not working for a specific hospital.

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