Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up

Health & Pregnancy

Select An Article
Font Size

Types of Childbirth Classes

You've seen it in sitcoms and movies -- a woman giving birth is choking her partner during a contraction. Hilarious, unless you're the one in pain and your partner is clueless. You don't have to be in that position, though, when you take a childbirth class to prepare. Most expectant parents begin birthing classes when the mom-to-be is about 7 months pregnant.

Classes differ in their focus and philosophy. But all types provide valuable lessons for labor, delivery, and postpartum issues. Some teach parents the medication-free methods of managing the pain of childbirth. Others begin early in a woman's pregnancy and focus on the changes that occur throughout pregnancy.

Lamaze Technique

As the most widely used childbirth method in the U.S., Lamaze classes approach childbirth as a natural and healthy process. Lamaze courses don't support or discourage the use of medicines or routine medical interventions during labor and delivery. Instead, they inform moms-to-be about their options so that they can make decisions for their own labor and delivery. Part of the Lamaze focus is on building your confidence or talking about how to keep your baby's birth simple and safe.

Small classes consist of at least 12 hours of instruction and can provide you with information on:

  • Normal labor, birth, and early postpartum care
  • Different ways to position yourself for labor and birth
  • Massage and relaxation techniques to ease pain
  • Breathing techniques during labor
  • Practicing relaxation by using internal and external focal points
  • Support during labor
  • Effective communication skills
  • Medical procedures
  • Breastfeeding
  • Healthy lifestyle choices

The Bradley Method

Also called husband-coached birth, the Bradley method prepares the mother to deliver without pain medications and prepares the baby's father to be mom's birth coach. Although this method prepares you to give birth without medications, it also prepares you for the possibility of unexpected situations, such an as emergency cesarean section.

This 12-session course covers:

  • The importance of nutrition and exercise
  • Relaxation techniques for pain management
  • Labor rehearsals
  • How to avoid a cesarean birth
  • Postpartum care
  • Breastfeeding
  • Guidance for coach about supporting the mother

Alexander Technique

The Alexander technique is meant to improve your ease and freedom of movement, balance, flexibility, and coordination. Ideally, you will take weekly lessons while pregnant. This is an educational process. So the more you practice, the greater the benefits. Although the technique can be used by anyone, the goals for expectant mothers include:

  • Improve comfort during pregnancy
  • Increase pushing effectiveness during delivery
  • Aid in recovery from childbirth
  • Ease the discomfort of nursing

HypnoBirthing

Also called the Mongan method, hypnobirthing is a relaxed natural childbirth education approach enhanced by self-hypnosis techniques. Teachers emphasize pregnancy and childbirth, as well as on pre-birth parenting and the consciousness of the pre-born baby. It is presented in a series of 5 two-and-a-half-hour classes or 4 three-hour classes.

Where to Find Birthing Classes

Unless you know the type of class you want to take, spend some time checking out the options in your community and discuss different options with your doctor. To find childbirth classes near you, ask your obstetrician, family doctor, or midwife. You may also find classes through:

  • Friends, family members, and acquaintances
  • Hospitals, pregnancy centers, and birth centers
  • The International Childbirth Education Association, which teaches trainers
  • Specific childbirth education organizations, such as Lamaze International, Complete Guide to the Alexander Technique, The Bradley Method, or HypnoBirthing: The Mongan Method
  • Community resource centers

If a technique you're interested in is not taught in your community, don't rule it out. You can take some courses by using books or DVDs in the comfort of your own home.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Trina Pagano, MD on August 01, 2012
Next Article:

Pregnancy Week-By-Week Newsletter

Delivered right to your inbox, get pictures and facts on
what to expect each week of your pregnancy.

Today on WebMD

Woman smiling as she reads pregnancy test
Slideshow
pregnant woman with salad
Quiz
 
pregnancy am i pregnant
Article
babyapp
NEW
 

slideshow fetal development
Slideshow
pregnancy first trimester warning signs
Article
 
What Causes Bipolar
Video
Woman trying on dress in store
Slideshow
 

pregnant woman
Article
Close up on eyes of baby breastfeeding
Video
 
healthtool pregnancy calendar
Tool
eddleman prepare your body pregnancy
Video