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
of working together with your partner or coach in preparation,
building confidence in your ability to deliver a baby, and meeting
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.
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