(MayoClinic.com) You've probably read about childbirth and heard countless labor stories from friends and loved ones. Do you really know what to expect during labor and delivery, though? Childbirth classes can demystify the process.
Whether you're delivering your first child or fifth, childbirth classes can help you prepare to meet the challenges of labor and delivery. Consider the opportunities:
Some childbirth classes cover specific types of births, such as C-section, vaginal birth after C-section (VBAC) and multiple births. Refresher courses are available for parents who simply want to review the basics. Other classes focus on specific methods of childbirth. For example:
Many other classes borrow elements from these popular methods. In addition, you might find classes on other approaches to childbirth, such as hypnobirthing.What's the best way to find a class?
Childbirth classes are offered at most hospitals and birthing centers. Some classes are available online or in video format. Ask your health care provider about available classes. A representative from your medical insurance plan might offer suggestions. You might also check with parents who've recently had babies.What should I look for in a class?
Look for a class taught by a certified childbirth educator. Childbirth classes should be small — with no more than eight to 10 couples — to facilitate discussion and allow personalized instruction. Be sure to ask about the cost, location and schedule as well.When should I take the class?
Childbirth classes are often recommended near the sixth or seventh month of pregnancy — but anytime before you go into labor would be helpful. Often a series of classes is offered over a period of weeks during the last trimester. The earlier you register, the more options and flexibility you'll have regarding class dates and times.What is my health care provider's role?
Your health care provider is there to help ensure your health and your baby's health during pregnancy and delivery. With his or her input, use what you learn in your childbirth classes to create a birth plan. No one can predict how labor and delivery will unfold, but together you can design a birth plan that meets your expectations for labor, delivery and postpartum care — and that promotes the best care for you and your baby.
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