With the 3rd trimester approaching quickly, I have started researching birth classes to take. We're having our baby (assuming all goes well) at a wonderful birth center in Everett. Cascade Birth Center actually requires their moms-to-be to take a class to prepare them for labor and delivery, which makes sense if you think about it. There's no option of an epidural or super pain meds at a birth center, so you need to be well prepared.
Anyways, I have been checking out different birth class options that are available, and there are SO MANY! It's been hard to narrow down which one to go with. We've had multiple friends who have used the Bradley Method and been super happy with it. Another currently popular birthing method is HypnoBirthing. Of course there is the well known Lamaze style of birth, which isn't as trendy right now, but classes are still available. In the Seattle area, we also have classes available which are taught by well known author and natural birth expert Penny Simkin. My friend who took her class absolutely loved it! In addition to these options, most hospitals offer classes, as well as community centers. (Teen and single mothers who are experiencing an unplanned pregnancy can get FREE classes here: http://www.expectingmiracles.com/.) With so many choices, where do I even begin?
Right now we are leaning towards taking the class which is offered at our birth center. It's 6 weeks long (which is not as overwhelming at the 12 weeks required for the Bradley Method) and focuses on partner participation. Since we aren't hiring a doula, we thought it would be nice for Ian to have some pointers on his involvement. Also, it would be fun to meet other couples who are due around the same time as us, and also planning births at the same birth center. The class covers things like relaxation techniques, birth partner support, infant care, breast feeding, hospital transfers in an emergency, labor stages, etc. The only question we have is the cost... is it worth the extra spending to go to a specialized class like this versus a less expensive one offered in a hospital? Pricing is comparable to the Bradley Method, or Penny Simkin's classes.
In my research, I found out that birth classes are on the decrease. With most women choosing to take an epidural and about 1/3 of births in the US ending in c-section (hmmm.. coincidence?), many women don't think a class is necessary. The thing is, even if you are planning on a hospital birth with an epidural, it's still good to have some sort of pain management practice. Epidurals don't always work properly, and sometimes it can be a while before it is even available. No matter what your birth plan, some sort of education should be considered.
What classes have you taken? Was it worth the cost? What did you like/dislike about the class you took?