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Pregnancy / Active Pregnancy / Get Moving /
A Class of Your Own
With three methods to choose from, which childbirth class is right for you?
By Kim Wilschek, RN, CCE
Use our guide to choose the best method for you
As an expectant parent, you’re bombarded with birthing info via the internet, pregnancy books and magazines like Healthy Mom&Baby, friends and family, birthing shows on TV, and so on. So, should you really go low-tech and consider a childbirth class? Absolutely!

Participating in a class allows for real time discussion of how to prepare for labor and birth from a qualified expert, as well as quality time with other pregnant couples who share the same fears, discomfort, and anticipation as you.

Choosing a class

There are 3 main methods to help you through childbirth: Lamaze, Bradley, and Hypnobirthing. Many hospital-based childbirth preparation classes are a generic blend of these three with Lamaze as the central foundation.

As you sign up, ask about the philosophy of the class as well as the instructor’s qualifications. Childbirth preparation classes should be taught by certified childbirth educators, many of whom are nurses, doulas or midwives.

Taking a class at the hospital in which you are delivering can also be helpful. Hospital-based classes generally include a tour of the facility and are often taught by nurses or doulas working there who can speak directly about specific protocols and procedures. Sign up early and plan on completing all of your childbirth/baby classes by 37 weeks gestation.


Lamaze is the most commonly known and used childbirth preparation method. However, what most people don’t realize is that Lamaze has changed over the years. It is not the “breathing-focused” philosophy most people remember. Today’s Lamaze classes include information about the process of childbirth and delivery, various relaxation and comfort measures, pushing techniques and postpartum care. Some classes even include newborn care. Partners are taught what to expect, as well as ways to support mom and participate in the process.

Bradley Method

Bradley classes are great for expectant moms who desire a natural, non-medicated birth. This method discourages the use of pain medication, except in extreme cases. The classes train the partners to be active participants and coaches during labor. Expectant parents also learn about the process of childbirth, deep relaxation, slow breathing, breastfeeding, postpartum care, and newborn care. Bradley can be helpful for those who desire a home birth.


Hypnobirthing is a newer philosophy that has recently gained popularity. Despite the name, women are not unconscious or zoned out during the experience. Hypnobirthing is a childbirth method that prepares parents for a gentle, peaceful, natural birth. Classes focus on deep relaxation, abdominal breathing, visualization and self-hypnosis. Hypnobirthing is based on the premise that childbirth does not necessarily need to be painful if the mother is properly prepared and relaxed. Partners are taught how to help create a serene, calm environment and support mom. Hypnobirthing can also be helpful for those who desire a home birth.

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