Prenatal classes and preparing for delivery

Should I take prenatal classes?

Especially if this is your first baby, you may be feeling some uneasiness when you think about delivering your baby. Prenatal classes can help give you confidence some women feel as birth approaches. The topics and teaching approach vary among classes, so ask your health care provider for guidance in choosing a class. Some women will attend classes at the hospital, clinic, or birth centre they intend to deliver at. Others will choose privately run classes, Internet-based options or specialty classes like Hypnobirthing®.

What will prenatal classes teach me?

There are all sorts of topics covered in the various prenatal classes available. No matter the format or topic, they all aim to help you feel prepared for the upcoming months of your life. You will go through the experience of childbirth. You will have a new baby to care for. You and your birthing partner(s) can benefit from learning as much as possible about labour, delivery, and new parenthood. Some classes are for women only, and some will include a partner. If this is not your first delivery, you may find a refresher course to help you approach your next childbirth experience.

Topics that may be covered include:

  • Healthy pregnancy
  • Mental health during and after pregnancy
  • Family and social supports
  • Understanding labour and delivery
  • How to navigate the hospital or birthing center once you arrive
  • Supplies needed if preparing for a homebirth
  • What sorts of medical interventions you might experience/choose
  • Relaxation and pain-relief techniques (massage, breathing, warm water)
  • Birthing positions
  • Options for pain relief
  • How to prepare a birth plan
  • Breastfeeding
  • Postpartum care
  • Caring for a newborn

What else can I do to prepare for birth?

  • Make sure you have support – be it your mom, a friend, your spouse – you will need some people to help you through labour, delivery, and new motherhood.
  • Keep your body strong – delivering your baby is a strenuous task; be as active as you can.
  • Document your preferences and share this with your care provider. Some women just write out a list of what is important to them and others use a formal birth plan – envision how you would like your birth to happen and write it down in detail so your caregivers can help you get the birth you want.