Thursday, November 02, 2006

Selecting a Birthing Class

By Brandi M. Seals

Many first time parents decide to take a birthing class to learn about a select birthing technique, what to do during the labor and what to expect. There are a variety of techniques out there and several different classes to choose from.

When signing up for a birthing class it is important that you find a class that is right for you. There is no one set birthing method or class that is right for everyone. Find what you are comfortable with and go with it. Decide if you would prefer a small intimate class setting or a large class with little interaction. Do you want an overview of different birthing techniques or a class that focuses on just one?

If you are looking to sign up for a class, check with local hospitals, health care providers, midwives, any national childbirth education organizations, and community health organizations. They generally put on classes or they will know where to direct you.

Before you sign up for a class, find out what the curriculum will include. Request a course outline and review it to make sure it covers lots of topics and will prepare you for labor and delivery. You may find it beneficial to attend a class that covers both natural childbirth techniques as well as the use of pain medication. Depending on your experience with kids, you may also want to look for a course that covers tips on post natal care.

If you have questions about the instructor's experience, ask about it. He or she will not be offended when you ask standard questions. Such as:

What is your background?
How were you trained?
Do you have certification from a nationally recognized organization?
What is your philosophy?
Do you teach a particular method?
How many people are in the class?

Birthing classes are a good idea for anyone who is looking to get their partner more involved, reduce anxiety or learn about different techniques.

There are a number of different techniques that can be used during labor. The following is list of techniques used with natural birth. If you are unfamiliar with the techniques, take your time examining which technique will work best for you and your partner.

Lamaze Technique
Lamaze is the most widely used method in the United States. Lamaze focuses on the fact that birth is a normal and natural and that women should be educated to know what to expect during birth. Classes tend to focus on relaxation techniques to use during labor. They teach a mother to respond constructively to pain and stress of labor. For example they teach controlled breathing instead of a natural response to holding the breath. Students are taught to focus on objects or photos so that they are distracted from the pain. Coaches are also taught to massage the mother to reduce the perception of pain.

Lamaze is fairly liberal and do not advocate for or against the use of drugs and medical interventions during labor and delivery. Instead they focus on educating mothers about their options so they can make informed decisions when the time comes.

The Bradley Method
The Bradley method emphasizes natural child birth and encourages active participation from the baby's father as the birth coach. One of the main goals of the Bradley method is to avoid medications unless they are absolutely necessary.

In addition, several other topics are covered. Such as the importance of good nutrition and exercise during pregnancy, relaxation techniques, and that parents trust their instincts and become active, informed participants in the birth process. The course is generally taught in 12 sessions.

While the Bradley technique emphasizes not using pain medication, the classes do prepare parents for unexpected complications, like emergency c-sections.

The Alexander Technique
This technique stresses sitting, standing and moving. Pregnant women use this technique to release muscular tension and increase breathing capacity. When it comes time to deliver those using the Alexander technique will be able to breathe, and calm their system which will help open the cervix and allow for effective pushing as the baby comes.

Water Delivery
Water delivery involves a woman giving birth in a warm tub of water. The water is supposed to help the woman relax and the buoyancy helps with discomfort and pressure

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