Childbirth Pregnancy

Pregnancy and Tips for Selecting a Childbirth Class

There are many benefits to taking a class to prepare you for the birth of your baby. Women who have taken classes tend to be more prepared and have less fear of labor. There are a variety of different methods. Here is some tips and information on childbirth classes...
Young happy couple in childbirth classThere are many benefits to taking a class to prepare you for the birth of your baby. Women who have taken classes tend to be more prepared and have less fear of labor. There are a variety of different methods. Three common methods are Bradley, Lamaze and Birthworks. Some hospitals offer courses that are hybrids of several methods. You can locate classes through your doctor, midwife, hospital, birthing center or get a recommendation from friends or family members. Here is some information and tips on childbirth classes:
The Bradley Method
The Bradley method was pioneered by Dr. Robert Bradley. At the time he first introduced his method, it was common for women to be heavily drugged in labor and for them to labor alone, without their husbands. Dr. Bradley founded the American Academy of Husband Coached Childbirth. This organization trains instructors in the Bradley method.

This method teaches pregnant women to work with their bodies in labor. An understanding of the physiological processes helps women achieve an unmedicated birth. Relaxation is the key component in this method. Rather than patterned breathing, relaxed abdominal breathing is used. Relaxation exercises help the laboring woman relax the muscles and allow nature to take its course. The philosophy is that women instinctively know how to birth their babies and this process is supported and encouraged by the Bradley method.
Bradley classes last twelve weeks. The classes include much more than childbirth preparation. Topics such as nutrition, exercise, breastfeeding, newborn care and [tag-tec]post partum[/tag-tec] healing are also discussed. Students are given a workbook with exercises for each of the twelve sessions. It is recommended that students begin the classes no later than the fifth month of [tag-cat]pregnancy[/tag-cat], since three months are needed to complete the course.
Bradley classes tend to be smaller than other methods. A smaller group allows for more personalized instruction and more time to connect with the other people in the group. The success rate for this method is higher than others for women seeking a completely natural birth. According to the American Academy of Husband Coached Childbirth statistics, about 86% of Bradley students achieve an unmedicated birth. The c section rate is much lower as well, about 10%, compared to the 25% national average.
Birthworks Classes
Birthworks is a relatively new method that was developed in 1981 by Cathy Daub. This method teaches women to trust the body’s ability to give birth. The instructors are trained in this method. Classes include video segments, music, experiential exercises and small group work. The course is taught over ten weeks for a total of twenty hours.
Like the Bradley method, Birthworks covers many topics. Some of the topics covered in this method include nutrition, patterned breathing, exercise, nutrition, birth positions and medical procedures. Time is spent discussing beliefs about pain and attitudes toward labor and birth. There are topics specifically for women who have had babies in the past, such as Vaginal Birth after [tag-ice]Cesarean[/tag-ice] (VBAC) and healing past pain. Students create a birth plan for the upcoming birth of their babies.
The Lamaze Method
The Lamaze method was pioneered by French Obstetrician Fernand Lamaze. This method uses the theory of conditioned response to minimize anxiety and reduce pain. The main difference between Lamaze and Bradley is that Lamaze students learn patterned breathing exercises and rely on external controls. One of the main external methods used in these classes is the focal point. Women are taught to focus on an external object while using patterned breathing for different stages of labor.
Questions to Ask before Signing up for a Class:
  • How many sessions are in the course?
  • How many students per class?
  • What techniques are used?
  • What topics are covered in the class?
  • What do I need to bring?
  • What is the cost of the class?
  • How long has the instructor been teaching?

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