An OB/GYN weighs in.
When discussing the subject of pregnancy/childbirth classes, the moms in our office had mixed opinions. Some moms said anything they learned in their infant CPR class was instantly forgotten once they brought their babies home, while others said all you'll need to remember is to "get that epidural!"
So should you or shouldn't you ... and if you do, what class is right for you? Momlogic OB/GYN Dr.Suzanne Gilberg-Lenz says "most people are pretty clueless when it comes to human birth, and classes should help you gain confidence in what you are already capable of doing (having a baby, that is). They teach you the basics of the process and what to expect, help guide and support you and your partner, and give you skills to get through as much of it as you can."
A childbirth class teaches you about labor and birth. By deciding what type of birth you are hoping for, you can decide what class is right for you. Dr. Lenz says the most important aspect of finding a good class is "to locate a reputable and experienced childbirth instructor who is supportive of the environment in which you are planning to deliver." There are a variety of classes you could take:
Lamaze: The goal of Lamaze is to "increase women's confidence in their ability to give birth. Women learn various simple coping strategies including breathing techniques." Lamaze believes that women have a right to give birth free from routine medical interventions, but does not look down upon the use of interventions or pain relief medication.
Bradley Method: The Bradley Method stresses the importance of having a natural childbirth. Classes are extremely personalized and cover everything from nutrition and exercise during pregnancy to postpartum care and breastfeeding. Classes are kept very small.
HypnoBirthing: Hypnobirthing is a less well-known practice, focusing on a relaxed, natural childbirth through self-hypnosis. The method teaches you that, in the absence of fear and tension, or special medical circumstances, severe pain does not have to be an accompaniment of labor. It hopes to free parents from the fear of birthing and trust natural instincts.
- Infant CPR: Though it's hard to imagine being in the position of having to save our baby's life, babies can choke or have other medical emergencies. A CPR class can be taken at your local Red Cross, hospital or birthing class center. A certified instructor will teach you what to do if your baby is choking or isn't moving or breathing.
Need to find a class? Hospitals offer them, but according to Dr. Lenz, "they teach to the middle and are less personal. If you know you will have an epidural, a hospital class is probably enough. For those seeking to avoid medications and interventions, however, finding a private instructor trained in the Bradley Method is better than taking a hospital class, in my experience."
The most important thing, beyond choosing a method, "is the instructor's attitude, knowledge and open-heartedness," says Dr. Lenz.
Other classes to consider are: C-section classes for those having or considering a cesarean; breastfeeding classes; and infant care. But don't be fooled into thinking the more classes you take, the better off you'll be.
|Dr. Suzanne Gilberg-Lenz completed her undergraduate education at Wesleyan University and post-baccalaureate pre-med studies at Mills College. She earned her medical degree from the USC School of Medicine and has been in private practice for 8 1/2 years. She lives in Los Angeles and is the mother of two.|