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Which birth class should you take?

If the thought of chatting gory birth details with a bunch of strangers doesn’t appeal, I hear ya. When I was pregnant, even the mention of labour would make me break out in a cold sweat. And that childbirth book from the 80s with shockingly detailed images that my mum gave me didn’t help. (I took one quick peek, squealed, and never opened it again.)

I knew I had to give birth at some point, but I didn’t want to think about it. My thought was, ‘Why would I freak myself out more by attending a birthing class?’ 

Well, I’m here to share that birthing classes are actually all about alleviating your fears and anxieties around birth, not ruminating on them. They’re a chance to mentally prepare, learn about your pain management options (very important), and have a sneak peek at what D-Day will involve. It’s not even as scary as you might think!

Considering there are approximately a bajillion different types of birthing classes available to pregnant women, how do you choose one that’s right for you? 

Here’s a handy list of some of the main birth classes out there and who they’re suited to.

Hospital classes

While birthing classes can vary from hospital to hospital, they generally cover the same material:

You also get to tour the birthing suites and meet some of the staff who will help with your labour. 

Who it’s suitable for:

  • Mums who want to see where the action will go down!
  • If you want to get familiar with your hospital and visualise the space you’ll give birth in, a hospital class will be great for you.
  • Mums who don’t want to pay a tonne.
  • Hospital classes can be more affordable than private classes.

Where to find a class:

Contact the hospital where you’ll be giving birth and they’ll instruct you on how to book into a birthing class.

HypnoBirth classes

HypnoBirthing uses hypnosis (it’s less woo woo than you might think!), visualisation and relaxation exercises to help parents alleviate fear about childbirth. The focus is on equipping mothers with tools, exercises, and positive affirmations to help them give birth naturally (without intervention). Classes typically cover:

  • Breathing and visualisation exercises
  • Stages of labour and birth
  • Techniques for reducing stress
  • Guided meditations for during birth
  • Education for partners on how to help.

Suitable for:

  • Mums that are set on giving birth naturally.HypnoBirth aims to help you give birth without intervention by listening to your body and maintaining the right mindset for natural labour. Of course, labour can be unpredictable and you should be prepared for if it doesn’t go to plan. Check to see that your chosen class covers special circumstances (like emergency c-sections), just in case.
  • Control freak mums.If you like to feel in control and fully informed, a HypnoBirth class may be for you. Hypnobirth will teach you all about the mechanics of birth, like what hormones and muscles are at play throughout. (Gosh, our bodies are cool!)

Where to find a class:

HynoBirthing Australia can help you locate a class in your area or online.

Calm birth classes 

Similar to Hypnobirth, Calmbirth is a 12 hour program that focuses on relieving anxiety about birth. Grounded in psychological principles, Calmbirth classes cover:

  • How your mental state affects your birthing experience
  • The four stages of labour
  • Tools for birthing
  • Teamwork and how your partner can help
  • Intervention and previous birth trauma
  • Techniques for bonding with your baby
  • Learning about the transition to parenting
  • Self care during pregnancy, labour, and the postpartum period.

Suitable for:

  • Especially anxious mums.Learning about how we respond to stress can help you reframe your thoughts about birth. Calmbirth recommends attending a class between 24 and 34 weeks pregnant, (or earlier if you feel beside-yourself terrified).
  • Mums who’ve experienced traumatic births.If you’ve had a particularly awful past pregnancy or birth experience, Calmbirth can help you move past these negative emotions and prepare for the arrival of your new bubba.

Where to find a class:

You can find registered Calmbirth practitioners online.

She Births classes 

She Births is an inclusive class that caters to everyone: solo mums, same-sex couples, and women planning for natural births or births with intervention. In-person classes are held in Sydney, but online courses are also available. You’ll learn about:

  • Learning to trust your body
  • Practical tools (visualisations and meditations)
  • Labour stages and strategies
  • Breastfeeding and early parenting
  • Benefits of prenatal yoga.

Suitable for:

  • Mums who want ALLLL the content.She Births has so many resources for pregnancy, birth, and parenting. If you want to consume as much content as you can in the lead-up to your birth you’ll love delving into the She Births podcast, app, downloadable resources, research, videos, stories, and courses.
  • Mums who worry about feeling judged.Whatever your situation or plans for birth, you should feel supported and heard at your birth class. She Births classes can provide that for you mama! Their philosophy is all around education and inclusion for all.

Lamaze classes

Lamaze birth classes are based on a childbirth method developed in 1951 by Dr. Fernand Lamaze. It incorporates childbirth education classes, relaxation, breathing techniques, and continuous emotional support. What’s more, you get information about breastfeeding, potential intervention, caring for your newborn, and where to get support after birth. In a Lamaze course you learn all about the 6 Lamaze Healthy Birth Practices:

1: Let labour begin on its own.

2: Walk, move around and change positions throughout labour.

3: Bring a loved one, friend, or doula for continuous support.

4: Avoid interventions that are not medically necessary.

5: Avoid giving birth on your back and follow your body’s urges to push.

6: Keep mother and baby together.

Suitable for:

  • Mums who want to learn about postpartum and newborn care.One of the great things about this class is that it goes beyond the birth! You’ll learn how to take care of yourself postpartum, and how to care for your baby as a newborn.
  • Mums who want an intervention-free birth.Lamaze classes set you up to avoid routine medical interventions, but still cover the possibility of them. 

Where to find a class:

You can find a local birth class on the Lamaze website.

Have you attended a birthing class you really liked? Share your story in the comments below.

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