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Childbirth Education
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Most couples decide to take some form of childbirth education class during pregnancy to prepare for labor and delivery. Participating in a childbirth education class offers many benefits, from the more obvious benefit of easing your delivery to other benefits such as getting the father or partner involved and meeting other pregnant women in the community. Today, a wide variety of childbirth education classes are available to you. Some classes are designated as “early bird” and start as early as the first trimester, discussing such topics as nutrition and exercise and beginning to prepare for labor and delivery. Other classes don’t start until the last three months of pregnancy and are more of a “crash course” in the fundamentals of labor and delivery. Even if you don’t end up using all of the techniques you learn in a childbirth education class, the benefits of working together with your partner or coach in preparation, building confidence in your ability to deliver a baby, and meeting women in the same situation as you are invaluable to your state of mind.

Many people are familiar with the Lamaze childbirth education program. This course is usually a series of six 2 to 2-1/2 hour class sessions. The approach is named after Dr. Ferdinand Lamaze, who developed the system of relaxation and breathing in the 1950s. Lamaze teaches the expectant mother and her coach to experience a more “natural” childbirth. The focus of the Lamaze class is on relaxation and rhythmic breathing patterns. The courses also offer pointers on distraction, concentration on a focal point, massage techniques, breastfeeding and postpartum. These classes will also cover the basics of medical interventions that may be used in childbirth, even though the focus is on birthing with minimal or no medication.

Another popular birthing class is the Bradley technique, which focuses on nutrition as the core of a healthy pregnancy and exercise as a key way to alleviate any discomforts and to prepare you for labor and delivery. Bradley courses are begun in the sixth month and generally last for twelve weeks. The Bradley method focuses on replicating your nighttime sleeping position during labor and focusing on low and deep breathing patterns as a relaxation technique during the first stage of labor. Bradley stresses that a woman needs darkness, quiet, physical comfort and pillows along with closed eyes throughout labor. Bradley stresses the acceptance of pain and believes medication should only be used for complications.

Other childbirth education classes are offered, including International Childbirth Education Association (ICEA) classes, which cover a very broad scope of pregnancy-related topics and other classes of the same type. Some instructors will visit your private home as a personal labor and delivery “tutor.” Many pregnant women also decide to take prenatal yoga or water aerobics classes, which can be an excellent way to stay in shape and meet other expectant moms.

Click below to read about related topics.

Introduction
Prenatal Care
Childbirth Education
Lifestyle Guidelines
Miscarriage