Giving birth to a teeny-tiny human is no joke. It’s normal to feel uncertain and overwhelmed by what it will take and what one risks when you give birth.
Many moms turn to birth classes to help them gain a sense of confidence about what they are about to do, acquire knowledge about the birth process, learn skills that will help them get through it, and to reduce their risks during the entire process.
Beyond gaining confidence and knowledge, the American Academy of Obstetrics and Gynecology has reported that moms who took childbirth education courses were better prepared for labor and less likely to need inductions, interventions, or have an unplanned C-section.
But, choosing a birth class itself can be an overwhelming process. Hypnobirthing, Bradley, Lamaze? Which method is the best and which one SHOULD you take?
Here at She Births Bravely, we help thousands of moms prepare for birth through our free online resources and our own birthing class, Birth Undone. Our goal is to undo fear, undo the things that leave you at risk for twists and turns, and undo pain. That way, you can go through your birth feeling confident, safe and present.
But, if you’re like me, you like to explore all your options. I sometimes have moms ask me, Suzzie, how does your course compare to the other methods out there? so I put together this guide to help you understand the pros and cons of each method so that you can find the BEST childbirth class for you.
I am extremely proud of the results I get moms through my own class. But, in some cases, another method is the best option. I want you to have all the information so you can make an educated informed decision when you sign up for a childbirth class.
This article presents all the details on the most common birthing classes that will make the whole process of finding the right one for you easy.
I have amazing things to say about each of these birthing methods. In my experience as a birth coach (doula), I have seen moms have positive and successful birthing experiences with each of these classes. However, I’ve also seen many moms take the class and not have the birth they want.
Just as there are pros and cons to taking chilbirth classes, there are pros and cons to each type of class. Each mother also has unique needs. Therefore one class may be perfect for one mom and not for another. Here’s what you need to know to pick the right one for you.
The Famous Lamaze Technique
If you ask your friends to find a childbirth class for you, most will probably suggest Lamaze.
Lamaze classes have been around since the 1960s and are the most widely known classes. However, classes today are very different than classes from decades ago.
When most people think about Lamaze, they think about breathing patterns (hee hee, haa haa) to get through labor, but it is so much more than that.
With Lamaze, you also get solid, research-based information about pregnancy and you learn the different ways to cope with labor and delivery.
Lamaze classes are typically six to eight weeks long, with a total of 12 hours. You can also complete some of their series over a weekend.
Pros of Lamaze Classes:
Most moms who take Lamaze classes feel much more confident and prepared for birth. Lamaze classes are based on research and evidence. They focus on exactly what is happening, and what you can do about it. They are definitely not a ‘woo’ or out there birth class. It seems that the majority of Lamaze teachers stay up to date with current research.
One of my favorite parts of Lamaze classes is the birth simulation where you will put your hand in ice water and your partner and you will have to work together to get through ice water “contractions” for about ten minutes. This simulation really lets you get a feel for what labor will actually be like.
Typically, an in person class will only have up to 12 couples, so they won’t be overcrowded. You can also find decent Lamaze classes online as well.
Cons of Lamaze Classes:
As with all weekly classes, it is important to schedule the classes in advance as they can fill up. If you miss a class, you will miss a lot of important information. However, you can find online Lamaze classes as well that you can access anytime.
Another important thing to note is that not all Lamaze classes are the same. Each instructor has the ability to adjust, lengthen, or shorten content. You may find a 2 hour Lamaze class and a 12 hour Lamaze class.
I’ve also seen classes that were mainly about helping a mom understand the hospital policies advertised as Lamaze classes when they don’t even cover the basic Lamaze principals. You definitely need to do a quality control check on your specific class. I always recommend an independent instructor over a hospital based class when possible.
While the evidence is very important, my observation is that Lamaze classes do not spend enough time preparing mothers for the emotional and mental aspect of giving birth. However, moms who take these classes do have useful skills to use coming out of class.
Prices vary region to region and based on the instructor, the cost ranges between $50-$350.
Hypnosis while giving birth seems crazy, right? Well, it’s actually not. In fact, it’s among the most effective ways to manage pain associated with labor and delivery. Hypnobirthing is based on hypnosis, and it is a well-known method for managing pain, easing anxiety, and reducing fears during labor and birth.
People have been using hypnosis during birth for ages, but the credit of HypnoBirthing goes to Marie Mongan as she was the first to use this exact term in one of her books called HypnoBirthing: A Celebration of life.
Its basic purpose is to help moms-to-be deal with the fears and anxiety regarding labor or delivery, which is pretty common, to be honest.
The concept behind this program is to help a pregnant woman relax her mind and body so that her muscles can aid in giving painless birth. This method’s core techniques include practicing and learning controlled breathing by taking deep breaths through your nose, visualization, and focusing on positive thoughts. Some programs also use relaxing music.
Hypnobirthing provides the best mental training for birth on the market. They thoroughly teach about the connection between fear, tension and pain and how to interrupt that cycle. Its true that some moms experience birth as over the top painful, and others experience completely manageable pain levels. With hypnobirthing you are more likely to experience manageable labor.
This course does help mothers experience less pain during birth and typically moms have a calm, peaceful birth experience as well. It is particularly beneficial to moms who are overcoming trauma, have panic attacks or feel a lot of anxiety for birth. It is also great for moms who go very internal and quiet when they are in stressful situations.
I have seen many moms have their perfect calm, peaceful birth experience. However, most moms say that this method didn’t adequately prepare them for how intense and strong birth can actually feel. The use of the word painless is a stretch by any means.
It is also a huge con that hypnosis is the ONLY pain coping tool taught in this course. Many moms wish they had more tools or heavily rely on a doula or other support person to help them when hypnosis isn’t attainable.
Hypnosis is much more difficult to maintain in the hospital than in out of hospital birth at birth centers or home births.
One thing about using hypnosis for birth is that you really have to dedicate yourself to this method. You are required do daily practice. This can be helpful and relaxing to some moms but also can be too much of a time commitment to others.
This method is not as grounded in science as other methods and definitely leaves out some things you can do to make your birth safer.
The average cost of Hypnobirthing is $275-$350; prices vary based on the instructor. Some instructors charge as high as $900-$1100 for private classes.
Founded by Dr. Robert Bradely in 1947, this method is by far the most couple centered birth. By this I mean that the goal of this class is to turn a husband into a birth coach.
The objective of the course is to teach expectant mothers how to give birth naturally by using some simple techniques such as breathing, relaxation, and exercise. They also prepare a birthing partner to be a doula or an excellent support person for mom.
It is great for any couple who is looking for ways to work together through pregnancy and birth. It has great exercises, solid nutrition information and will really help you stay healthy during pregnancy. It also helps you have a entire toolbox of tools to use during labor.
These classes are very information heavy. If you need to know everything about everything these classes are for you.
These classes also do a great job at helping couples work together. They teach your partner skills to support you through a natural birth. The ultimate goal is to turn them into your personal coach.
This class also focuses heavily on exercises you can do before birth to help the process go more smoothly and has easy to follow nutrition information. You may find some nutrition in other courses, but this is definitely superior to Lamaze or Hypnobirthing. Nutrition is probably the number one thing you can do to make your birth safer, so I think this is a huge benefit.
There is so much information in these classes, it is difficult to remember the important things. The information is good, there is just too much of it.
Some dads turn into amazing coach’s for labor. However, being a coach is a lot of responsibility for many dads. I don’t think that this class provides a large enough variety of ways for dads to participate in birth. It also puts too much pressure on them to make sure everything goes perfectly.
Also, it doesn’t prepare moms mentally for the task at hand. Which is a big problem.
This method is also called the Husband coached birth method which may make some families that are not formed in this traditional structure uncomfortable.
The cost varies area to area and also depends on the instructors, but the average cost is somewhere around $400.
I have been honored to study, personally use, and work with many moms who have used all of these methods. That is why, out of all the moms I’ve seen go to childbirth classes, I believe these are the best methods out there.
When it came to putting together my own class, I considered using one of these methods. But, as I thought about the successes and failures with the births I’ve attended, I thought there was still not a complete system that prepared moms for a safe birth and to deal with pain and to understand the metal aspect of birth. All without overwhelming a mom with too much information.
My purpose is to help moms have a safe, rewarding birth experience and have their relationships grow during the process so that birth can truly be one of the best events in a family’s life.
I know that moms have A LOT on their plate during pregnancy. So I prioritized getting you the most important and useful information so that you can actually remember what you need when you need it..
Think of it this way , a 100 watt light bulb can light a room. However, a 100 watt laser can cut through steel. Same energy, different result. My goal was to help you focus your energy so that you are the most prepared for birth possible.
You will have a solid plan to handle pain during contractions at every stage of labor, know exactly what to expect in the birth process and know how to work together with your partner as well.
You will have the mental training and relaxation skills that give you the ability to stay calm, focused and present during birth.
You will have the nutition and exercise information that will help you build a healthy pregnancy and prevent the most common obstacles to a dhat create a difficult birth and leave moms vulnerable to twists and turns in their story.
You will have a fun and easy way to connect with other moms and win prizes when you complete modules and practice what you learn.
The information is available online, anytime, so you never have to worry about missing a class.
Everything in this class is evidence based and based on up to date research.
The easiest to implement exercise and nutrition information that will keep you healthy for birth.
I made it incredibly affordable at $347 for the entire class.
If you would like to prepare for birth together, I would be honored to have you in my class.
To Summarize What You Should Know About Birthing Classes
I hope this helped you understand which classes are out there and why moms might choose one over the other. Any of these methods will help you prepare for birth. But what is most important is that you find the right method for you.
When you take a birthing class, you will know what to expect during labor, how to cope with labor, how to make educated decisions about your birth, and more.
If you have fears or anxieties about birth, it will also give you a place to connect with other moms and someone that has been around birth for a long time.
It is an excellent way to prepare for your baby and make the transition into parenthood or life with an additional baby special.
feeling great about birth is our gift to you. Let us help you make your beautiful beginning a reality.
""I confided in Suzzie that I struggle with anxiety and a lot of self doubt. To be honest, I just wasn't sure I was cut out to do birth. After a conversation with her, I realized that the process of overcoming these doubts and fears was going to be an amazing gift. She gave me confidence to start working towards the birth I wanted. I went into birth feeling safe and ready. And I had a great experience. I'm glad I had the courage to start. That was the hardest part." - Olivia-Grace , a mom who took the first step and kept on going