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If you’re struggling with a fear of childbirth, taking a prenatal class can boost your confidence and help you learn everything you need to know about labor and delivery. Here’s how to find a prenatal class that’s the best fit for you.
What to look for in a prenatal class
Prenatal classes are usually offered at hospitals, parenting centres or midwifery clinics with costs ranging from $150 to $250. Most prenatal classes take place over a series of evenings or weekends for a total of about 16 hours.
“When deciding on a class, it’s important to find out what it covers and whether it’s aligned with your birth goals,” says Susan Georgoussis, a perinatal nurse and co-founder of Becoming Maternity and Parenting Centres in Toronto.
Most classes cover:
• signs of labor and when to go to the hospital
• what to expect during labor and delivery
• pain relief options and birthing positions
• information on medical procedures and interventions, such as episiotomy and C-sections
• newborn care, such as the art of bathing and swaddling
• breastfeeding techniques
There are many different philosophies when it comes to childbirth, which is reflected in the variety of prenatal classes out there, says Georgoussis. “A class in a hospital is often based on a more medical model of birth and may focus on complications that can arise and medical interventions that may be necessary.”
On the other hand, she says, a class with a midwife usually offeres a more optimistic approach to childbirth. “Midwives sometimes put a greater emphasis on topics such as alternative comfort measures, including things like acupressure during labor, but you may not get as much information on potential problems and how to deal with them.”
She recommends researching the class ahead of time to make sure you’re getting the content you want, whether it’s extra information on writing birth plans or an emphasis on lactation and breastfeeding. “Think about your birth goals,” she says. “For instance, you may think you want an epidural, but you may also want to learn about relaxation techniques, such as hypnobirthing.” Find out if the class offers information on both.
Georgoussis also recommends talking to the instructor before booking the class. “You want to find someone who is respectful of different aspects of birth and isn’t dismissive of other approaches.”