Having a baby is a very exciting thing. You want to do everything right and make sure that your baby gets the best start possible. Millions of parents have felt the same emotions since the dawning of time. This is a new era for many parents, though. While parents are often concerned about germs and their infants coming in contact with diseases, this novel coronavirus, COVID-19 has changed the way medical professionals, parents, and caregivers are doing things. Many parents have had to begin working from home or remote locations. While midwives, labor and delivery nurses, and doctors are not operating remotely, many childbirth, labor, and parenting classes may not be feasible in the traditional sense.
Do I need parenting and childbirth classes?
Everyone can benefit from knowledge. Childbirth and parenting classes are usually about more than just one moment in time. Sure, childbirth classes focus on labor and delivery primarily, but there are often bits of great information about parenting and recommendations from pediatrics groups such as the American Academy of Pediatrics or the Office on Women’s Health. These are the premier associations following childbirth and labor statistics in the United States. Other countries also have their own governing bodies.
The choice to take classes is a personal one. According to the Office on Women’s Health “Classes to prepare you for childbirth, breastfeeding, infant care, and parenting are great ways to lessen anxiety and build confidence. In some cities, classes might be offered in different languages.” Taking childbirth and parenting classes can certainly help expectant parents feel more ready for the newest family member’s arrival. These times of uncertainty with COVID-19 being a worldwide concern can make attending these classes more difficult.
You still benefit from learning all of the things presented in these classes, so what do we do now? There are several midwives and childbirth experts with videos on YouTube and there are sometimes virtual options available through birthing centers and hospitals around the country. What method is best for you? Each person is different, but I don’t think there’s anything wrong with combining methods. You can, of course, get more information than you bargained for and become overwhelmed, but you can also find out things from different people that might work better for you. Each person has favorite methods and ways of doing things. I want to walk you through some things you should consider when choosing a video or virtual class to join.
Like all childbirth classes, you must consider the schedule. If your partner is still working at 8 pm on Tuesdays a live chat might be ill-advised. However, if you guys are watching videos and aren’t doing live chat, you might find a more flexible schedule.
Do you want a local instructor? Would you prefer someone virtually available only? How much experience? Do you prefer one instructor or a team? There are no wrong or right answers to the above questions, but they do make the search process different. For example, if you like to privately watch videos without much contact from anyone else, online videos might be the answer for you. Whether you choose an agency’s website or YouTube is also up to you. With an agency website, you might find people more apt to answer your questions. For instance, you might find that watching videos is enough and you don’t need a support person to ask questions. In that case, a good YouTube video should suffice. If, however, you decide that you need a person to ask questions, you might want to check the YouTube channel to see if they answer questions or look for an agency page to watch their videos. When I say agency, this could be a midwifery practice, birthing center, hospital labor and delivery department, or OB/ GYN office. This does not have to be an agency that requires payment, either. It may be videos provided to patients of the practice or center.
Topics covered in childbirth classes
You need to consider what topics you want to be covered in a single video or by the same instructor. Do you want one long video or several short videos? Is this your first baby or have you experienced childbirth before? These questions are also important. Some instructors split their videos up based on individual topics. You must decide what type of video you like.
Types of childbirth courses
There are two major types of childbirth classes available now. Most people have heard of Lamaze classes, but many facilities and agencies now offer the Bradley method as well. Let’s take a look at each method.
Labor should be allowed to begin naturally
12 continuous weeks of classes for unmedicated birth
Walking is strong encouraged. Changing positions is also helpful
Woman and her coach play an active role. Coaches are also taught about effective childbirth methods
A support partner is encouraged
Natural breathing is best for birthing mothers
Avoid unnecessary medical interventions
Nutrition considered from the beginning
Avoid giving birth on the back
Focus inward and relax during childbirth
Keep baby near mom after delivery
Preparation is encouraged
There is no right or wrong for your choice. Some people like one method or the other for their own reasons. Some people find Bradley to be more complex and they opt for Lamaze because it has been used longer and they trust it more. Others like the holistic approach Bradley takes. Your body is yours to choose how to labor. Discuss the pros and cons with your partner. You guys can make the right choice.
There are other types of childbirth too such as water births, home births, birthing center, hospital, and many other options. You have to make the choice that is best for you and your baby. Keep in mind, some types of birth are not an option for certain birth situations. For example, a high-risk mother may not be permitted by her physician to labor at home. Discuss your options with your physician. Never take a blog or website’s information for your medical advice.
When do I start childbirth classes?
Most agencies suggest starting classes during the second trimester. You could wait until the beginning of the third trimester, but if you have an unexpected complication, you might not finish the course and you might feel ill-prepared. Beginning in the second trimester is the best bet. You can begin either the Bradley method or the Lamaze method then. Keep in mind, Bradley is a 12-week course. You may want to start it earlier if it is your option.
How helpful are the childbirth courses?
Many courses discuss things such as diapering, swaddling, and general parenting tips, but they also tend to talk about things people don’t often realize. One thing I had never heard of was the period of purple crying. Babies sometimes cry from about two weeks old up until three to four months. There’s no real explanation for the crying. Some people assume it’s colic but there’s no gassiness involved. It generally happens in the evening. I learned to expect this and not to worry. My partner learned some new massage techniques to help at home as well as during labor.
What if I know that I will need a cesarean?
Sometimes doctors and mothers realize early on that a cesarean section is going to be the safest type of birth for the baby. This can be very frustrating for mom since she was expecting one thing, but she isn’t going to “get” that experience. These classes can also help expectant moms learn about healing, taking care of baby, practice diapering, swaddling, holding, breastfeeding, and other tips. It can also help her prepare for the newborn as much as for the birth.
How do I find or register for childbirth classes?
There are many options available on YouTube, but your birthing facility may also have classes. Check with your physician to see how classes are being offered. Some are offering virtual classes using apps like Google Meet, WebEx, or Zoom. Others are offering YouTube-like videos where you watch the video rather than attend a class. You need to find what is being offered in your area.
Are these childbirth classes free?
These classes are often free for folks who will be delivering at the facility offering the course. Your facility, however, may have different rules or payment plans for different courses. Check with your facility and your insurance to see what is covered and available.
A last thought—women have been giving birth for thousands of years with and without support from partners. You are lucky that you live in a time when we have virtual and live options available. It will be okay. You will find what works best for you and your family. Education is the most important part of making good choices. Use this as a tool to help you, but ultimately the choice is yours. Always discuss any plans with your partner and medical care provider.
What are the best online childbirth classes on youtube ?
Maternity care midwives : 3 Part Class
Labor & Birth (41:23)
ParentingU : Newborn Care
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 “Birthing, Breastfeeding, and Parenting Classes.” Office on Women’s Health. US Department of Health and Human Services, https://www.womenshealth.gov/pregnancy/getting-ready-baby/birthing-breastfeeding-and-parenting-classes Accessed 8 April 2020
You can find other helpful pregnancy related resources at pregnancy directory.