by Kathryn Beck
When planning your home birth, you may think that taking a childbirth class isn’t for you.
You may have heard others talk about local classes, and how they focus on giving birth in a hospital or birth center, or how they talk about cesareans and epidurals…topics that may not pertain to you as a person planning a home birth.
You may think that if you read enough and talk to others who have had home births, that you will have all the information you need for your upcoming birth.
As a childbirth educator, I firmly believe that ALL women should take at least one childbirth education class prior to giving birth. The knowledge you gain from taking a childbirth class is going to provide you with more confidence in your ability to have a home birth.
How do you find a childbirth class?
Perhaps the first step would be to look in your phone book or do a search online for local childbirth educators. There might even be a local birth organization you can contact, or you can call the hospital to find out what options are around.
Just know that a hospital-based childbirth class is probably not going to be the best fit for you if you are planning a home birth as they will be focused on preparing students on how to have their babies in the hospital with doctors and nurses. Your midwife and/or doula can also help lead you to a local childbirth educator.
If you find a local resource, here are some questions to ask about the classes.
- Who teaches the classes? Is she/he a certified childbirth educator, and if so, with what organization?
- How long does the class series run? I recommend doing classes that are at least 5 classes long. A one day course is not a proper childbirth class as it is difficult to cover all the information you will need and can be overwhelming.
- Is the program a group class or private class? (Think about how many people you feel comfortable with when learning about childbirth.)
- What is the cost? Do they offer payment plans? The cost of childbirth classes vary greatly from teacher to teacher. Make this a priority in preparing for your baby’s birth.
- What topics do they cover in the course? A complete childbirth education course should cover Anatomy & Physiology of Birth, nutrition & exercise, relaxation and breathing techniques, positions for birth, information for the birth partner, the birth process step by step, and more.
Be sure to tell the teacher that you are planning a home birth and ask what topics they will discuss that pertain specifically to birthing at home.
What is the philosophy of the birthing class?
Do they teach that pain is a part of the process and methods of coping with the pain? Or do they teach that pain isn’t an inherent part of childbirth and teach relaxation techniques to be calm and comfortable?
When deciding on a class program, think about what YOU believe about birth and find a class that fits your beliefs. If you believe that childbirth doesn’t have to be painful, then you don’t want a childbirth class that is only going to talk about pain relief.
Unable to find a childbirth class locally? Don’t despair!
There are still options.
Look around surrounding towns and cities.
Yes, you may have to travel a bit to go to class, but you may find someone who is willing to travel to you to do an in-home class.
More and more childbirth educators are offering classes online. The information can be sent to you through email, web videos, booklets, or even done via web conference or Skype.
*My only caution with this is to be sure that the teacher is a certified childbirth educator through a reputable organization. Find out where she/he trained and what topics they cover that pertain to home birthing.
Home Study Courses on childbirth are also available.
Again, be sure that the program is a certified program by a reputable organization.
Make childbirth education a priority in your birth preparation. You will learn so much and it will empower you with education for your upcoming birth.
We are honored to have her as a guest blogger at Bring Birth Home.