According to the organization's website, "Birth Works is a process, not a method of childbirth. It recognizes that there is no one right way to labor and birth." Classes cover a wide variety of topics including diet, exercise, the risks and benefits of pain medications, breastfeeding, and proper infant nutrition. Emphasis is also placed on exploring the emotional and psychological components of childbirth and parenting.
The website encourages people to sign up early (even before becoming pregnant) to learn about interviewing health-care providers and identifying a birthplace that feels safe and comfortable. A full session consists of ten, two-and-one-half-hour sessions. (For more information:www.birthworks.com; 888-862-4784.)
The Bradley Method
Named after its founder Dr. Robert A. Bradley, MD, the Bradley Method stresses the importance of a well-prepared, supportive birthing coach. Couples learn the birthing and coaching techniques needed for each stage of normal labor as well as skills for coping with unexpected complications.
Interactive class exercises include labor rehearsals where partners can practice their communication, breathing and relaxation techniques as a team. Nutrition, exercise, breastfeeding, and caring for a newborn are just a few of the other subjects covered in the courses. A full Bradley series consists of twelve, two-hour meetings. (For more information: www.bradleybirth.com; 800-4-A-BIRTH.)
The central philosophy of HypnoBirthing is that childbirth without tension and fear is childbirth without pain. "We view birth as normal, natural and healthy," says Marie Mongan, founder of HypnoBirthing and author of HypnoBirthing: A Celebration of Life. "We teach people self-hypnosis, so they can bring their bodies into a profound state of relaxation and allow it to work and function the way it was created to work."