Finding the Right Class
The cost of childbirth classes can vary considerably. Jessica Porter, Executive Director of the Association of Labor Assistants and Childbirth Educators, has these suggestions for getting the most for your time and money.
- Sign up early: Don't wait until the last, hectic weeks of your pregnancy to take a class. The ideal time to attend a course is during your second trimester (or even earlier). This way, you will finish the course even if you deliver early or experience unforeseen developments. Also, the nutritional information included in almost all of the different courses is more applicable to women in their second trimester than to those in their third.
- Get to know the instructor: Once you have verified that the instructor is certified as a childbirth educator, make sure he or she played an active role in developing the curriculum. Porter cautions that some instructors (particularly those employed by hospitals) may be limited to teaching the practices and procedures of that particular institution. Independent childbirth educators do not have such limitations and may address your questions and concerns more impartially.
- Attend classes with other people: Many independent childbirth educators offer expectant couples private, one-on-one instruction. While this virtually guarantees you a more personalized experience, it may not warrant the extra cost. Having other people in the class gives you the chance to learn from their observations and experiences. Frequently, women who attend childbirth classes together go on to form friendships, support networks, and playgroups that ease some of the isolation associated with being a new mom.
- Opt for thorough instruction: Porter suggests taking a minimum of six or seven classes, each lasting somewhere between two-and-one-half to four hours. Taking an intensive, one-day course (those usually last eight hours) is better than nothing, but can be exhausting and deprives you of many of the benefits of a more in-depth class. If the price of a particular course is a concern, check to see if your insurance company will pay a percentage.
Completing classes early allows you more time to practice the class exercises and supplement what you have learned with additional childbirth books, lectures, or workshops.
Most importantly, find an instructor whose overall philosophy closely matches your own. If you are open to using pain medication (i.e. an epidural or other options) steer clear of instructors who discourage their use. Similarly, if you are determined to have a natural (drug free) birth, find a class that offers a wide variety of relaxation and pain management techniques.