• Katie McCarthy

Which Childbirth Education Class is Right for Me?

I recently wrote "Childbirth Education Class - Is it Worth It?". Spoiler alert... the answer is yes! So, which one do you choose? There are so many options - both locally and online. So how do you narrow down your decision?

Things to consider: Philosophy, Curriculum, Format, Class Size and Cost. 

Philosophy

When selecting your class, first take a moment to consider your ideal birth. You'll want to make sure the class is compatible with your overall birth philosophy. What do you want to get out of the class? Are you determined to have an unmedicated birth? Do you want to really understand the physiology of birth?  

Childbirth education courses are typically run by hospitals, providers or private instructors. The host of the class will have a large impact on the curriculum that is covered. Which leads me to...

Curriculum

Is there a specific curriculum or focus of the class? Do you prefer a class that is holistically-based? Evidence-based? Faith-based? These things may or may not be important to you, but you should consider the options.

The class may also follow specific childbirth education ideologies, such as Lamaze, Hypnobirthing, Birthing from Within, the Bradley Method, or the Alexander Technique.

  • Lamaze:  Focuses on breathing and pain management techniques, how to labor (with or without drugs) and ways a birth partner can assist.

  • Hypnobirthing: The goal is an unmedicated birth. It points to fear and anxiety as contributors to pain, so it teaches deep relaxation techniques that can help reduce fear and keep you present during labor.

  • Birthing from Within: Covers traditional pain management techniques and birth preparation, but also focuses on the fears, goals and expectations you have surrounding labor and delivery, and your feelings about parenthood.

  • Bradley Method: The goal is an unmedicated, intervention-free birth and it focuses on techniques to help you through all stages of labor, what to expect if things don’t go according to plan, and the role of your birth partner

  • Alexander Technique: A movement technique designed to make people feel more relaxed in their body, but it can also help women with labor breathing and ways to focus on opening the body for birth.

Format

The format may be a contributing factor to which class you decide to take. How much time can you invest? Do you prefer a series of short classes, or an all-day crash course?

If you and your partner have trouble coordinating your schedules, an online course may be the best option. The options for online childbirth education classes are constantly increasing. Here are a few you can check out if interested:

Class Size


Depending on the mindset you're bringing into the class, you may want to consider how many people will be in attendance. Classes put on by hospitals are typically larger with ten or more couples (pregnant woman and her support person). Obviously there will be less one-on-one interaction in this type of class than in one that has fewer couples. Furthermore, you have the option to take a private class where you can customize the curriculum to fit your exact needs. This is a good option if you're coming into the birth with past trauma, fear or anxiety.

Cost

As you probably suspect, the cost of these classes ranges significantly. Some are free or may be covered in full by insurance. Others, especially those that are specialized, can be a bit more pricey, reaching $300+. Be sure to find out if your insurance will cover all or a portion of the class.

Western New York Childbirth Education Classes

For those of you in Western New York, here are some options you can consider when choosing your childbirth class.

Birthing by Design: 3-Day Natural Childbirth Series

  • Description: Covers stages of labor, natural birth, common interventions, dealing with fears, comfort measures, newborn procedures, and more.

  • Location: Lancaster, NY

  • Cost: $150/couple


Birthing by Design: 5-Day Christian Childbirth Series

  • Description: Covers anatomy, dealing with fears, natural birth, stages of labor, comfort measures, options in labor, newborn procedures, basic baby care, breastfeeding and more.

  • Location: Williamsville, NY

  • Cost: $250/couple


Birthing by Design: Private Date Night Class

  • Description: One-day crash course for those with tight schedules, on bed rest, or who need a refresher. It is typically private and can be customized to your individual needs. Class is approximately three hours long.

  • Location: Williamsville, NY

  • Cost: $150/couple


Hypnobirthing of Buffalo

  • Description: 3-day series covering the HypnoBirthing childbirth method. HypnoBirthing teaches you, along with your birthing companion, the art and joy of experiencing natural birth in a more comfortable manner.

  • Location: Buffalo, NY

  • Cost: $300/couple


Birthing & Babies

  • Description:  Full-day intensive childbirth education and newborn care class. Incorporating aspects of curriculum from Bradley, Hypnobirthing, Hypnobabies, and Birthing from Within, this class is comprehensive, engaging, and perfect for any type of birth plan.

  • Location: Buffalo, NY

  • Cost: $250/couple


Lamaze (Katherine Steen Gillette-Cockerill)

  • Description: One-day class that empowers women to make informed choices in healthcare and take responsibility for their health, and to trust their ability to give birth.

  • Location: Buffalo, NY

  • Cost: $250


JoyWheel Birth Prep Classes

  • Description:  4-week series to equip and connect new parents as they embark on the birth journey. Students practice breathing and positions in class to assist them during pregnancy, labor, delivery, and postpartum.

  • Location: East Aurora, NY

  • Cost: $125/couple


Hospital-Based Classes



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