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If you can find a natural birth-focused class, I would say they are really helpful. We did the Bradley Method classes, which are 12 weeks long and very thorough. I got a lot out of them, and would recommend it. Bradley focuses on husband/partner-coached childbirth so for me, it was extremely helpful in preparing DH.
If you're 23 weeks, you may have trouble finding a Bradley course. Others on here have done Hypnobabies, and I know many cities have other natural birth classes. There are so many unknowns with your birth, I feel like the more you can prepare the better.
We did the Bradley method and loved it. We chose it because it go H
involved and taught him how to be a great coach. It also educated him
on childbirth as he is not the type to read childbirth books in his free
time. I thought the class was extremely helpful, especially since I was a FTM. IMO a support person is a great asset at your birth. Labor is an emotional, painful, intense process. Someone to
support you (either verbally, physically, or emotionally) is a huge help
and can make difference during labor. I would highly recommend a doula. I attribute my wonderful
natural birth to my H and my doula. I could not have done it without
ETA: I started my Bradley classes at 24 weeks. I went into labor at 39 weeks 4 days. I thought the timing of the class was great.
We took a holistic class sponsored by our hospital. I also started reading the Bradley Method book but never got through it all before baby came.
I just kept thinking positive, had a super L&D nurse and an amazing husband. I didn't need any drugs - just a positive support team!
You can do it!
I am scheduled for a 4 week series birthing class at my hospital. Unlike the 1 or 2 day class, this extended class goes into more of the breathing and relaxation techniques that I am looking for. This class also will go over pain medications. Even though I am striving for a natural birth, I would still like to learn as much as I can about this since this is my first baby and I have no idea what to expect. This class is scheduled through my 30-33 week.
I would have loved to look into The Bradley Method of Hypobirthing classes, but the cost was a deterrent for us.
We did Hypnobabies and it was so wonderful. It is a 6 week course (there are live classes or a home study option) and it is recommended you start by your 7th month. It teaches medical grade hypno-anesthesia to reduce the pain. You literally retrain your brain to feel pain as pressure, this is the same kind of hypnosis people use to have surgery. The birth partner plays a very active role in Hypnobabies by giving the mother relaxation cues and helping her change positions.The classes aren't cheap but when you think about the cost of medications and interventions it is far less expensive.
My birthing time (what we call labor) was 36 hours but I was sleeping through pressure waves (what we call contractions) and I felt no pain other than a 3 second sting just as LO crowned. I didn't tear because I could feel her move down the birth canal, no pain but I could feel everything else. It was so cool, right after she was born I was like "lets do that again!" I still use the relaxation techniques whenever I feel overwhelmed.