Close to 4 million women go through the birthing process each year in the United States. While the overall fertility rate might not be as high as it once was in the 1970s (when it was at its peak), women are still giving birth – which is why birthing classes have become so popular.
Because the fertility rate was so high (back in the 1970s), a need was developed for some basic education courses regarding the labor process (and giving birth in general). This is how birthing classes got their start. Fast forward to today, and there are numerous types of teaching methodologies, teachers, and childbirth classes available to choose from.
If you’re wondering what some of the main techniques/strategies are, below we cover each of the most popular birthing styles, from Alexander all the way to HypnoBirthing. If you’re looking to enroll in a class as soon as possible, we also go into detail about exactly what you should look for when trying to find a suitable course for you (and your partner – because many courses also include the woman’s partner).
Birthing Education Overview: Main Class Types
The reason that birthing classes have become a staple of US culture is that birthing can be a very nerve-wracking process (especially for the person going through the actual process). That’s one of the main reasons why they were invented in the first place – to ease pre-birth anxieties and provide women with the tools needed to have a successful (and hopefully complication-free) pregnancy.
One of the most surprising courses in existence is that of HypnoBirthing. Just like the name suggests, this type of birthing class focuses on teaching expecting mothers to essentially hypnotize themselves when giving labor (for pain management and stress relief purposes).
HypnoBirthing classes require a lot of time investment on the part of the mothers/their partners. There’s a lot of classwork involved, and there’s also homework assignments. If you’re looking for an alternative approach to giving birth, you might want to consider this birthing style.
The Alexander method is one of the most popular birthing methods/teaching formats out there. This method focuses on body awareness (e.g. posture, staying active, etc.) during the birthing process in order to naturally lower the body’s stress levels. The class provides instruction in specific movements, breathing exercises, etc. Alexander method courses usually take a few weeks to complete.
Another one of the more popular styles is the Bradley method. What makes the Bradley method unique is that it places its emphasis on the mother going through the birthing process without the assistance of pain management drugs (i.e. naturally).
The Bradley method also includes the mother’s partner in the course as well – providing them with guidance on how they can best assist their partner during the childbirth process. Other important aspects covered during Bradley method courses include the following:
- Basics of proper nutrition for pregnant women
- Specific techniques for managing pain (naturally)
- Labor practice (i.e. doing dry runs)
- Complication avoidance (i.e. how to avoid common complications)
- How to care for yourself (and the baby) after giving birth
- Proper breastfeeding practices, techniques, and tips
Lamaze Birthing Classes
Lamaze International is a US-based group that has the goal of arming women with the education they need to make informed decisions about giving birth. This method focuses on modern science, fact-based teaching, and informing women to make their own choices. Below are some of the topics covered in a typical Lamaze class:
- What a typical (i.e. not abnormal) pregnancy looks like
- What happens during a healthy birth
- What to expect after giving birth (i.e. postpartum)
- Overviews of various stress-relief strategies (physical and breathing-based)
- Common birth-related medical procedures
- How to live an optimal lifestyle for the birthing process
- Breastfeeding techniques
How To Choose the Perfect Birthing Class
Choosing the birthing class/teaching methodology oftentimes comes down to what your personal preference is. Do you want to focus on an education-based class? Do you want to arm yourself with specific techniques to minimize pain? Do you plan on having a natural birth (i.e. no pain medications)?
Knowing exactly what you wish to gain through enrolling in a birthing class is the first step to choosing the one that’s perfect for you/your partner. Before starting any class, always do some basic research into the teaching method/ideology to see if it aligns with what you’re looking for.