Google “Childbirth Education Class” and you’re likely to met with a plethora of education options. Should you take the Bradley or Hypnobirthing classes? What if “Preparing for Cesarean” is more your speed? What about Advanced Comfort Measures? Or Prepared Childbirth? It can be overwhelming to an expectant parent to know where to start.
First, slow down. Provided you’ve started looking at your options somewhere in your second trimester, you have plenty of time to make these decisions. If you’re in your third trimester, you’ll want to start looking at these options pretty quickly. If you’re starting to look even earlier than your second trimester, I applaud your planning skills. If you are a long-time reader of this blog, you know I’m a planner. So I’ll just say that either way, today is the right time to start considering your choices.
Second, look into these options. Really start to consider what *kind* of birth you’re hoping for - mainly, what kinds of interventions or comfort measures you are willing to consider. This one step alone will help you narrow down your search. Are you looking for a more natural childbirth? Bradley, Lamaze, Hypnobirthing or Natural Childbirth classes may be the way to go. Considering more pharmaceutically-based comfort measures? Look into Prepared Childbirth type classes. And if you know ahead of time that you’re going to be facing specific situations (cesarean birth, twins/multiples, etc) look for a class is geared for that type of education.
Third, once you have a general idea of what type of birth you’re hoping for, start to consider additional classes.
I know, I know, it's a lot.
Yes, it feels like a lot of class time.
Yes, you are busy with other things: work, family, friends, other commitments.
Yes, it can be an added expense.
Yes, it is worth it.
I’m specifically talking about newborn/newborn parent care classes (though breastfeeding and CPR/First aid classes should be high on your list too!). We spend so much of our time thinking and learning about birth - and not that it’s not warranted, it is a major event - yet we spend comparably little time talking and learning about all the things that happen AFTER the baby arrives.
how to hold a baby
how to change a diaper without making a gigantic mess
how to give your baby a bath without stress
how to dress your baby without panicking about pulling a onesie over your baby’s head
how to sooth a cranky/tired/stressed out baby without losing your mind
how to distinguish between tired, cranky, hungry, overstimulated, frustrated baby cues
And also how to maintain open communication lines with your partner despite the overwhelming lack of sleep
how and where to ask for help when you’re struggling
how to maximize your maternity/paternity leave
how to plan for a smooth transition to parenthood
And that's not nearly the beginning of it. Newborn/newborn parent care classes cover an incredible amount of information.
Will these classes guarantee that you won’t feel any stress in bringing up your baby? No. Practicing with a doll is different than the real deal. Let’s not pretend otherwise.
But here’s what the education gives you. It gives you peace of mind. It gives you a foundation, a reference file in your brain, so when you go to give your baby a bath, it’s not the first time you’ve ever contemplated the technique. Or when your baby seems inconsolable, you’re not just grasping at straws. Or when you’re stressed, it’s not the first time you and your partner have ever talked about how you can help each other.
It’s likely that you will face many of these situations and others during your early parenting days. One way or another, it’s headed your way.
Education helps you prepare.
And that is worth the time and financial investment.