Read time: 3 minutes
- Each person’s experience with childbirth and delivery is so unique that nothing can really prepare you for the actual delivery of your little one, but prenatal classes are the perfect opportunity for you to learn more about labor, delivery and caring for your little one.
- There are a wide variety of classes to take ranging from private, couples, women only and more aimed at helping you and your partner have a comfortable birthing experience.
- The best time to take a prenatal class is during the early part of your third trimester, typically when you are seven months pregnant. It’s important to schedule early as classes can fill up quickly.
- Talk with your doctor or the hospital where you will be delivering your baby to get information about classes in your area that will fit your specific needs.
You’ve put a lot of time and energy into preparing for your little one’s arrival by going to your prenatal appointments, getting the nursery ready, registering at the hospital and choosing a pediatrician. Before you put the finishing touches on your little one’s wardrobe, it’s a good time to consider prenatal classes. While not every expecting couple decides to attend prenatal classes, doing so can help better prepare you for delivery.
Are Prenatal Classes Necessary?
Nothing can prepare you for childbirth. Each person’s experience with childbirth and delivery with each child they have is so unique that nothing can really prepare you for the actual moment when it’s time to deliver your little one. However, prenatal classes are the perfect opportunity for you to learn more about labor, delivery and caring for your little one.
Benefits of Attending Prenatal Classes
Taking prenatal classes can help benefit you and your partner by:
- Explaining the process of childbirth and labor
- Presenting the latest research on different techniques for preparing for labor and delivery
- Teaching the various procedures and possible medical interventions that may take place
- Explaining the different birthing positions that can help make delivery easier
- Teaching you different relaxation techniques
- Giving you the opportunity to try breathing techniques and labor massages
- Explaining your pain relief options
- Allowing you the opportunity to have any questions you may have answered
- Helping you to connect with other parents-to-be
- Giving you breastfeeding and baby care advice
Different Types of Prenatal Classes
Early Pregnancy Classes
Early pregnancy classes are typically taken by women in the first trimester and cover topics such as caring for yourself during pregnancy, giving up smoking, exercising and diet, what changes to expect during pregnancy and prenatal testing options.
Single moms-to-be, women who have partners who are away and women who want to take a childbirth class without their partner present can take women-only prenatal classes. These classes may help you find other moms-to-be who have some of the same concerns that you have and may offer different information than what is presented in a couples’ class.
Your partner will be a valuable support to you during labor and delivery, so it’s important that they learn what to expect and how to help you. Many fathers-to-be have a hard time feeling a part of the pregnancy; these classes can help calm their fears and learn how to be more hands-on.
If you want more one-on-one attention, a private prenatal class for you and your partner may be a great option for you. These classes are often held in a more informal setting than a hospital or clinic, such as in your own home, which can make the class more comfortable.
These classes are ideal for parents who have already had a child (or two) but want to try a different birthing technique or receive up-to-date on research information.
Hypno-birthing classes combine self-hypnosis techniques, relaxation exercises and breathing strategies in order to help women have a “natural” labor without any pain medications.
Prenatal Yoga Classes
Prenatal yoga classes aim to help women prepare for labor by strengthening, toning and stretching the muscles. The classes can help you learn how to meditate and relax during labor to properly focus your pain.
Though breastfeeding may be natural, it doesn’t mean that it comes naturally. Breastfeeding is a learned process for both you and your little one. Breastfeeding classes can help women learn the benefits of breastfeeding for both mom and baby, teach different breastfeeding positions and proper latching and help provide moms with information about getting help after their little one is born.
What to Expect During Your Prenatal Classes
The best time to take a prenatal class is during the early part of your third trimester, typically when you are seven months pregnant. While this is when you will ideally take the class, it’s important to schedule it early as classes can fill up quickly.
Most classes are one to two hours long and run for four to six weeks. Prices can range from $60 to $200 depending on the type and format of the class. Remember to wear comfortable clothing and to give yourself plenty of time so that you aren’t rushed when you and your partner arrive.
The class will be taught by a certified instructor, registered nurse or lactation consultant. Though most classes follow a specific format in order to deliver as much information as possible, instructors are often flexible and allow the experience and questions that the class participants have to dictate what is focused on in the class.
If you are nervous about delivering your new little one, prenatal classes may be the right choice for you. Talk with your doctor or the hospital where you will be delivering your baby to get information about classes in your area that will fit your specific needs.