You and your partner can learn a lot by taking a childbirth education class. This is especially true if it's your first pregnancy. A good time to start the class is in your sixth or seventh month. If a friend is going to be your labor support (labor coach), he or she can come too. These classes usually run for 6 or 8 weeks.
Most childbirth education classes:
- Give you good information about what you can expect during pregnancy and labor and delivery. You may also learn what to expect in the hours, days, and weeks after delivery (postpartum period).
- Teach you about proper diet and exercise.
- Show you techniques for relaxation, muscle control, and breathing during labor and delivery. There are several methods that might be taught. The most common are Lamaze, Bradley, and Read.
- Teach your labor coach how he or she can best help you during delivery. These classes also help your partner be more involved in the pregnancy and delivery.
- Give you a chance to spend time with other couples who are expecting a baby.
Taking a childbirth education class can reduce your stress both before and during labor and delivery. That's because the class can prepare you to deal with what might happen. Call your doctor or midwife or your local hospital or birthing center to learn more about these classes.