Medically Reviewed by Nivin Todd, MD on November 10, 2022



It’s one of the most common methods of giving birth. The classes are about more than just the breathing method that made it famous. They focus on what happens during childbirth. You also learn what your options are so you can decide about medical choices and pain control.

Lamaze: Beyond Breathing


Lamaze encourages you to move around while in labor because it can help you handle the pain and contractions. It can also help your baby get into the right position to come out. Lamaze teaches that the best position to deliver is usually the one that’s most comfortable for you.

It’s a Team Effort


Part of Lamaze is having a loved one, friend, or doula (a professional who provides emotional, physical, and educational support during childbirth) go to class with you. They’ll learn how to support you in the delivery room when the big day arrives. The two of you will also practice how to communicate with each other.

The Bradley Method


This is also called the Husband-Coached Method. The coach, usually the baby’s father, learns how to help you through labor. They’ll also be shown how to assist with things like diet and exercise while you’re pregnant.

Bradley and Natural Childbirth


Bradley teaches medications as a last resort. You’ll learn ways you can avoid an episiotomy (a cut between your vagina and anus) or a cesarean section (surgery that removes the baby through your belly). You and your coach will learn about available drugs and medical procedures anyway, just in case.

The Alexander Technique


This isn’t just for childbirth. It’s also used by folks with chronic pain. Still, it can help you stay comfortable during pregnancy, labor, and delivery. You’ll learn how to pay attention to your body so you can change bad posture. The idea is to calm your mind so you can let your body do what it needs to do to give birth.

It’s About Comfort


Alexander technique classes teach how to sit and squat comfortably for giving childbirth. You’ll also learn how to relax the muscles in your pelvis so gravity can help your baby come out. Techniques to gather your strength for pushing are also taught.



Nervous about giving birth? Hypnobirthing classes teach you to hypnotize yourself so you can put the horror stories about childbirth -- and the fear they cause -- out of your mind. It’s also called the Mongan method after Marie Mongan, the hypnotherapist who invented it.

Water Birth


You’d spend at least part of your labor in a pool of water at least 18 inches deep. You can hit the water at any stage of labor you like, including the birth itself. It may help you feel calmer and have less pain. Getting into the pool in the first stage of labor may make the whole process shorter. You also may not need as much medicine for your pain.

Controversy in the Water


Some doctors say there isn’t enough research about being in the water for the later stages of childbirth. They’re concerned about infections if the pool or water isn’t clean enough. They also stress that equipment to monitor or care for you and your baby should be nearby.

The Leboyer Method


With this, you deliver your baby in a quiet room with low light. Right after birth, your baby is put on your stomach. Your care team won’t cut the umbilical cord right away. That’s done to give your baby time to get used to breathing. Then, the little guy or girl will get a massage and a bath. The idea is to make being born more peaceful for the newborn.

Cesarean Section (C-Section)


The doctor takes the baby out through a large cut in your belly. It’s usually done when a traditional delivery could be dangerous. They can be planned ahead of time, like if your baby lies sideways in your abdomen or if your child is coming feet first (breech) and can’t be turned around. You may also need this method if you're having multiple little ones at once.

Unplanned C-Section


Sometimes, complications come up during labor. You might need a C-section if your baby gets stuck on the way out, or the stress of birth gives your baby an irregular heartbeat. If the umbilical cord is around your child’s neck or body, or it comes out before your baby, you may need one, too.

The C-Section Surgery


In most cases, you’ll be awake for it. Even if you are awake, you’ll get anesthesia so you don’t feel it. The doctor will cut through multiple layers, including your belly and your uterus. It takes longer to heal from a C-section than from a vaginal birth. But, C-section births can take a lot less time -- no more than an hour total.

Risks of C-Section


It has all the risks of any other operation, including:

  • Infection
  • Loss of blood
  • Blood clots

Other risks include injury to your baby, bowel, or bladder. If you’ve had a C-section before, you still may be able to have a baby vaginally, but there are many reasons a patient may need a repeat C-section.

Having Your Baby in the Hospital


Most women have their babies in a hospital. Some places offer “birthing suites” where you can stay in one room the whole time instead of moving to different rooms for labor, delivery, and recovery. There’ll be plenty of doctors and equipment on hand if you need help. 

Having Your Baby in a Birth Center


If you’ve had a baby smoothly before or your pregnancy is low-risk, you can go to a birth center. They focus on natural childbirth, and you’ll be able to have your baby in whatever position suits you. There usually isn’t a doctor there, but there may be nurses, doulas, and other professionals. If you need surgery or heavy-duty pain medication like an epidural, you’ll be taken to a hospital.

Having a Baby at Home


Some women want to have their babies at home so they can have loved ones around them. Others choose it for cultural or religious reasons. Home births are cheaper, but there are risks. Some research says babies born at home are more likely to have seizures. Minutes after birth, they’re also more likely to have problems breathing or lose their pulse.

Who Pays for Everything?


Your insurance might pay for all or some of your pregnancy and birth classes. It’ll depend on which plan you have and what kind of class you’re taking. Some plans might cover water birth, but you may have to rent the pool yourself. C-sections are usually at least partly covered. Check with your provider and doctor to see what you’ll have to pay for.

Show Sources


1) Getty Images



Lamaze International: “Lamaze Breathing,” “Healthy Birth Practices.”

The University of Cincinnati, The Ohio State University, and Case Western University: “Pregnancy: Lamaze.”

The Bradley Method ( “Why Take Classes in The Bradley Method of Natural Childbirth?” “Course Content.”

The Nemours Foundation: “Natural Childbirth,” “Birthing Centers and Hospital Maternity Services.”

American Society for the Alexander Technique: “Frequently Asked Questions.”

The Complete Guide to the Alexander Technique ( “How the Alexander Technique can help during Pregnancy, Childbirth and Parenthood.”

Hypnobirthing Institute: “What is Hypnobirthing?”

Waterbirth International: “FAQ,” “Benefits of Waterbirth.”

American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists: “Immersion in Water During Labor and Delivery.”

The Embryo Project Encyclopedia: “Birth without Violence (1975), by Frederick Leboyer.”

Cleveland Clinic: “Cesarean Birth (C-Section).”

CDC: “Home Births in the United States, 1990–2009.”

American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology: “Apgar Score of 0 at 5 Minutes and Neonatal Seizures or Serious Neurologic Dysfunction in Relation to Birth Setting.”