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I'm anxious to get started on birthing classes. So, at what stage of pregnancy do women typically start? Where these classes helpful for you? Or, do you feel you could go without them?
It depends on what kind of classes you're looking at.
For example, Bradley classes are comprehensive and cover material that will be helpful throughout your pregnancy as well as during childbirth and after. They're also typically 12 weeks long.
I took a Hypnobabies course that started during my 2nd tri. It's also a comprehensive course, it's 6 weeks long, and you want to have time to work with the material between the class ending and when your baby arrives. I believe mid-2nd tri is actually the recommended time to start a Hypnobabies course, if I'm remembering correctly.
If you're just taking a hospital basic class then you can probably wait until towards the end of your pregnancy.
As far as their necessity, we took a hospital class last time. It was a waste of time and money as they really just went over medicalized birth and what to expect. I did a ton of reading/research on my own, but it just wasn't enough for me when it came down to it. Some women are totally fine with just reading/research though. This time I knew I wanted to take a course that would give me real tools that MH could learn along with me and that would give me more confidence. To me, the course I took this time was well worth the time/money (and that's saying a lot because I don't like to part with either ;) ). It's different for everyone, but I definitely don't think you can be over-prepared though.
We did the Bradley Method. It's an 8-12 week course so you have to start them early enough so you don't deliver in the middle of the course! If it's just a weekend or even just one day then you can take it whenever you want. I'd wait til 30+ weeks but not later than 36 weeks just in case.
As for whether they're helpful? Well, we aim for a natural birth so if that's what you want I would say yes yes yes! You can read all you want but will hubby? And will you practice these techniques? Bradley was great b/c it wasn't just about the birth. We did diet and nutrition, we discussed each intervention and listed out pros and cons, had mock labor practices, and even went over some postpartum care. And being in a group of couples who didn't look at me like I was crazy b/c I don't want any medical intervention unless absolutely necessary was amazing. Hubby and me have already reaped the benefits of this class when DD caused a rib to dislocate. Of course we didn't know what was going on b/c no one would do an x-ray so we had about 48 hours of me in intense, mind-numbing pain. He used so many things we had learned from Bradley, he really stepped up and took charge but in a loving way. Bradley was worth every penny imo.
The hospital I am birthing at offers the classes either weekly or 2 consecutive saturdays. It includes Lemaze and has about 12 hours total. They suggest you complete the classes 6 weeks before your due date... Mine start tonight! The fee was $90
They also offer a one-time breast feeding seminar that I am attending tomorrow. The fee was $60
Depends on your learning style - to me, classes ended up being unnecessary, but everyone's different. I really wanted to take one, but the time and money involved made me try other avenues first. Ultimately I was able to learn what I needed on my own.
First, for the medical information about birth, I read Pregnancy, Childbirth, and the Newborn by Simkin (sp?) et al. I'd definitely recommend it, whether you take a class or not.
Then, for birthing and relaxation information in addition to what's in the above, I read The Birth Partner by Simkin (again, sp?). I loved it and would recommend it for sure. Friends also suggested Husband-Coached Childbirth by Bradley, but I didn't get around to that one.
In addition to the books, over the course of a several months I watched a few hours' worth of youtube videos on breathing techniques, relaxation strategies, birthing ball positions and uses, etc. Some were helpful, some not; I don't remember any stand-outs, but there's a ton of options out there.
For DH, we watched one section of BabyCenter's online birthing class with info about the stages of labor, just so he'd know what the terms meant. He already knows how to help me if I'm in pain or upset, so he didn't need anything other than vocabulary.
Then, as far as labor practice goes, I have had plenty of aches and pains on which to try out our coping strategies. We didn't plan to practice ahead of time, but every time something hurts, I let DH help me. Now we both have a good mental inventory of what works and what doesn't, which we couldn't have learned in a class. We also have gotten good at rating my pain - DH can easily tell the difference between when he's able to distract me versus when I'm in another world.
PS: A newborn class (especially if you don't have newborn experience or family to help you) could be a good idea. A breastfeeding class can't hurt either if you are going to nurse. More "hands-on" training might be beneficial in those two areas - if I had concerns about nursing or infant care I definitely would look into those.
im due april 13th and taking them the beginning of march
ask your dr for some options
I start mine tonight. I am 28 weeks. Our hospital recommends taking them between 29 and 35 weeks, with all classes completed by 36 weeks. I am at risk for pre-term, so I wanted to make sure I got all my classes in before little guy joins us.