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Birthing, breastfeeding, and parenting classes
- Birthing classes
- Breastfeeding classes
- Parenting classes
- More information on birthing, breastfeeding, and parenting classes
First-time mothers-to-be often have lots of questions and even some worries: How will I know I'm in labor? Will it hurt? Will my baby know how to breastfeed? How do I care for a newborn? Classes to prepare you for childbirth, breastfeeding, infant care, and parenting are great ways to lessen anxiety and build confidence. In some cities, classes might be offered in different languages.
Birthing classes often are offered through local hospitals and birthing centers. Some classes follow a specific method, such as Lamaze or the Bradley method. Others review labor techniques from a variety of methods. You might want to read about the different methods beforehand to see if one appeals more to you than others. That way, you will know what to sign up for if more than one type of birthing class if offered. Try to sign up for a class several months before your due date. Classes sometimes fill up quickly. Also, make sure the instructor is qualified.
Most women attend the class with the person who will provide support during labor, such as a spouse, sister, or good friend. This person is sometimes called the labor coach. During class, the instructor will go over the signs of labor and review the stages of labor. She will talk about positioning for labor and birth, and ways to control pain. She also will give you strategies to work through labor pains and to help you stay relaxed and in control. You will practice many of these strategies in class, so you are ready when the big day arrives. Many classes also provide a tour of the birthing facility.
Like any new skill, breastfeeding takes knowledge and practice to be successful. Pregnant women who learn about how to breastfeed are more likely to be successful than those who do not. Breastfeeding classes offer pregnant women and their partners the chance to prepare and ask questions before the baby’s arrival. Classes may be offered through hospitals, breastfeeding support programs, La Leche League, or local lactation consultants. Ask your doctor for help finding a breastfeeding class in your area.
Some hospitals and birthing centers offer sibling classes for soon-to-be brothers and sisters. These classes often help small children get ready for a new baby using fun games and activities.
Many first-time parents have never cared for a newborn. Hospitals, community education centers, and places of worship sometimes offer baby care classes. These classes cover the basics, such as diapering, feeding, and bathing your newborn. You also will learn these basic skills in the hospital before you are discharged.
In some communities parenting classes are available. Children don't come with how-to manuals. So some parents appreciate learning about the different stages of child development, as well as practical skills for dealing with common issues, such as discipline or parent-child power struggles. Counselors and social workers often teach this type of class. If you are interested in parenting programs, ask your child's doctor for help finding a class in your area.
Explore other publications and websites
Birthing Centers and Hospital Maternity Services (Copyright © Nemours Foundation) — This online publication explains the types of services offered by birthing centers and hospital maternity centers, and provides a list of questions to ask and other considerations to help parents make an informed decision.
Birthing Choices: Health Care Providers & Birth Locations (Copyright © American Pregnancy Association) — This online publication explains the different birthing options for women. It gives the definitions and a short history of each option.
Birthing Classes (Copyright © Nemours Foundation) — This article discusses the benefits of taking childbirth classes. It provides information on the types of classes that are available and how to find and choose a birthing method that is right for you and your baby.
Childbirth Education Classes (Copyright © March of Dimes) — This article can help expectant parents choose a childbirth class to prepare for labor and birth. An overview of the Lamaze and Bradley methods are provided, as well as a list of questions expectant parents can use to help select a class that appeals to them.
Connect with other organizations
American Association of Birth Centers
American College of Nurse-Midwives
Content last updated September 27, 2010.
Resources last updated September 27, 2010.
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