I would start looking at dates and considering your options now. Whatever type of class you take, you will want to be done with it by about a month before your due date, but you may need to sign up earlier. We signed up for classes at the end of December (around 22 weeks).
I will be delivering at Inova Fairfax, and DH and I are doing the one-day Childbirth Express class through Inova (actually taking the class at Inova Alexandria because the time and date available worked best for us). We're taking that class in March, when I'll be about 32 weeks. We are also signed up for a breastfeeding class (in April) and our maternity ward tour (also in March, the day after our childbirth class).
We were going to take a baby care class through Inova, too, but the class we wanted (one of the few Saturday classes) filled up between the time I realized that registration for March and April classes was available and the day that I got a chance to talk to DH about possible dates. We went with a Momease class on baby care at GW Hospital instead. So, at least from my experience in signing up for Inova classes, the classes do fill up fast.
Also, depending on what type of childbirth class you take, the class could last up to six weeks or so. I think the longest Inova ones are four sessions, but of course, a lot of people do things like Bradley classes that meet for more sessions.
sign up now.
by the time we were "ready" to sign up - our options were severly limited...
the classes in my area seemed to book up about a month before they actually started. for some of the ones at good, convenient times - they filled up even earlier.
I recommend signing up soon! I am taking classes through Holy Cross Hospital and they offer a lot of courses but it was a challenge to find classes that worked with both DH and my schedule. We had to sit down with our calendars to figure out which ones we could sign up for and it turned out that there was only one childbirth class that could accomodate our schedule and that was at the appropriate time in my pregnancy. Also, I know that many of the classes at Holy Cross fill out.
So, I signed up for my classes around week 20 but they don't start until I'm in week 30.
I agree with pp, go ahead and sign up now!
I signed up back in September for the class that DH and I just took at the end of January (and VA Hosp Ctr). A friend of mine gave me a heads up that they fill up fast...she tried signing up in August for an early October class, but they were all booked up until December so she had to take a class at a different hospital since she was actually due in late October.