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Do hospital birth classes cover enough?

So, it’s time to think about giving birth. Like, how it’s actually done. Looking into the different types of birth classes is a great place to start. (Do NOT start by typing ‘giving birth’ into YouTube – trust us.)

Think about what sort of birth you want, how you’ll create and share a birth plan, and what you’d like to learn about in advance. Some mums want to learn about natural pain management techniques and how to avoid intervention (HypnoBirth is great for that), while others may prefer to see the hospital they’re going to birth at and meet the midwives. It’s all relative to what YOU want.

Hospital birth classes can be great for giving you the basic rundown and prepping you for birthing at that hospital. So yeah, they can often be ‘good enough’, unless there’s something specific you want to learn about.

Why would you choose a hospital birth class?

While you can search high and low for the best birth classes, there will usually be a perfectly decent one available at the hospital you’re going to give birth at. This can often be more affordable than other types of ‘boujee’ birth classes and contain information specific to your hospital. 

Of course you don’t need to do a birth class at all, but if you’re trying to keep your pregnancy and birth costs on budget or are keen to see where the action is going to go down, hospital birth classes are great.

What will a hospital birth class cover?

The class may go for around 8 hours, possibly split across two separate sessions. Content covered will differ from hospital to hospital, but they’ll usually cover the following.

What labour is like

The midwife running the class will outline how to know when you’re in labour and when to go to the hospital. Public hospitals are all about preserving beds, so they’ll discourage you from bombarding them at the first sign of labour. 

Your birth class will also cover the details of the different stages of labour and what to expect from each.

Your pain management options

Hospitals won’t try to sway you one way or the other when it comes to managing labour pain. But they will present the pharmaceutical pain management options to you. 

They might cover some natural pain management techniques in the birth class, but they’re more likely to discuss what drugs and technology are available through the hospital (typically gas, TENs machine, epidurals, sterile water injections etc.). 

If you don’t want drugs offered to you, even when you’re at a point of desperation, you may like to do some independent research about how else to manage pain. 

Potential risks and interventions

In hospitals, things like inductions, epidurals, episiotomies and c-sections are a daily occurrence. Textbook stuff! So your hospital birth class will spend a good chunk of time outlining what’s involved with these interventions and what to expect if things go pear-shaped during labour. This is always handy to know – just in case.

Birthing methods and techniques

Your hospital will explain what birthing methods are on offer there – for example, if you can have a waterbirth or if you can access a planned c-section. The hospital may provide fact sheets to take home, and you and your partner will be able to ask all your burning questions in the birth class.

Tour of the birthing suites

This is possibly the biggest benefit of the hospital birth class. You get to take a tour of the birthing suites, meet some of the midwives and get a sense of where things are at. That way, when the show’s on the road you’re familiar with the environment.

Are there downsides to a hospital birth class?

These classes are usually quite good. They cover the medical side of giving birth, and you can ask as many (panicked) questions as you want. 

One downside could be that the class might be packed. You could be lumped with ten or more other couples at once, as opposed to the lovely, intimate gatherings of other classes like Calm Birth or HypnoBirth.

Hospital birth classes might not go into much detail about natural pain management techniques and how to cope with labour pain (aside from drugs). Information tends to be directed at the birthing mum, too, potentially leaving your partner feeling sad, left out and at a loss of how to help when you’re writhing in pain screaming profanities at them (or worse, thinking that they have no real role to play in this whole birthing thing!).

In saying all that, your hospital birth class could be the bees knees. Chat to other mums who’ve birthed at that hospital to get their opinion on what the class was like and if it covered enough.

Have you attended a hospital birth class? What did you think? Share your thoughts in the comments.

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