While it might be early to take a childbirth class, it is an excellent time to start researching what kinds of classes are available in your area and details about different childbirth philosophies. Unless you already know which method you want to try, it is best to pick a general birthing class that covers information on multiple styles, and potential interventions that might happen should things not go as planned. The hospital where you plan to give birth likely offers this kind of class and could be a good jumping-off point for deciding which method appeals to you the most.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists state that "hospitals and birthing centers are the safest setting for birth." If you are considering a home birth, we strongly encourage you to discuss this with your obstetrician and pediatrician, as a home birth carries a significant risk (i.e., risk of approximately 1 neonatal death per 1000 normal live births, a 2-3-fold increase in neonatal mortality and an increase in low Apgar scores and neonatal seizures). Things to consider as you do your research include different childbirth philosophies, types of classes, hospital tours, pre-registration, and creating a birth plan.
We recommend you begin by attending a basic childbirth class with your partner to gain an understanding of the stages of childbirth as well as traditional approaches you are likely to find in a hospital. From this point, if you wish, you can embark on exploring different childbirth styles and philosophies to see if any particular one resonates with your vision and desires. The more natural varieties include Lamaze, the Bradley Method, and Hypnobirthing. While there is no one best method for giving birth, it is essential that whatever option you decide to try includes some room for flexibility and potential change of direction as childbirth can be somewhat unpredictable.
Types of Childbirth Classes
Once you choose a birthing class that appeals to you, you should encourage your partner to attend all of the sessions if possible, as your childbirth wingman it's important he knows what is happening during delivery to help make important decisions, especially if you can't make them for some reason. You will both benefit from knowing the ins and outs of what could potentially happen if things don't go according to plan.
Taking a tour of the maternity ward is an excellent way to get the lay of the land and ask questions on amenities offered by the hospital. This gathering of knowledge can help you prep for what to pack for the big day. Most hospital run birthing classes include a trip to the maternity ward, but if you choose to take a course outside the hospital, you can still schedule a personal visit to get the lay of the land. Being familiar with the ward, and how to get there, can help alleviate any big day jitters related to finding the right place and checking in, when you should be concentrating on relaxing and timing your contractions. Familiarity with a place can decrease anxiety and stress.
It is also a good idea to pre-register with the hospital where you plan to give birth. Submitting your paperwork and supplying information about your doctor and insurance ahead of time will help the process move smoothly come game time. It can be a very comforting feeling to arrive at the maternity ward on the big day knowing you don't need to worry about any details besides a healthy delivery. Hospitals offer and encourage this kind of advanced planning and involvement as it is easier for everyone to process paperwork when there is no impending medical need.
Creating a Birth Plan
As the arrival of the baby becomes imminent, not knowing how childbirth will unfold or what kind of birth you'd like to have, can potentially cause anxiety. A birth plan is a good idea, but it is best to avoid being too rigid. Because every pregnancy and every baby is different, it is hard to say how labor and delivery will go until you get there. Understanding the various options and potential interventions ahead of time can help you make crucial last-minute decisions without losing precious time to explain your options. Discuss your birth plan with your partner and your doctor so you area ll on the same page and can troubleshoot potential deviations from the plan ahead of time.
1.American Academy of Pediatrics - Planned Home Birth AAP Policy