You’ve probably heard a lot of different things from everyone you know on the internet or in real life about what to do in order to prep for baby. But their birth journey isn’t yours, and their advice might not work for you! Maybe you’re expecting your second or fifth little one so you think you’ve got this covered. But whether you’re a first-time mom or fifth, there are still classes you need to take before giving birth, these are the top four.
I’m including this one first because it’s the last class you’d think about taking. This is not Newborn Care or Baby Basics 101. This is not a birthing techniques class. Postpartum prep is a class dedicated to preparing new and new again parents for what they will face in postpartum and what they need to do while expecting to have plans, meals, care kits, and support in place. Taking a postpartum prep class means there are fewer surprises when it comes to your relationships, your body, and your mental health. It’s essential and goes hand-in-hand with a Postpartum Healing course that is dedicated to nurturing the whole family as they bond with baby.
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Labor education & techniques
This may have been the one class you expected to see on this list, but sadly many first-time parents miss this class before birth. Attending a birthing technique class significantly reduces possible feelings of regret or trauma from birth. Having a birth doula? Even more. I’m a huge fan of the Hypnobabies Home Study Course —it’s how I was able to achieve my super fast natural birth with my second kiddo after getting the full induction package complete with a catheter at my first birth 6 years earlier. But there are a lot of amazing classes out there (Discover Birth Education Course is another favorite) for you to choose from and you may even want to take a few! Once class might focus on comfort measure techniques while the other focuses solely on your mindset. Find the right balance for your desired experience.
A birthing techniques class can help you to emotionally and mentally prepare for labor and learn great labor positions, but a good prenatal exercise class prepares your body for the birth of your little. Targeted exercises designed with the expecting mother in mind can release tension, open the pelvis, increase blood flow, and strengthen the body for the tough job of labor. Expecting and Empowered is a great prenatal workout program designed by a chiropractor and nurse with the whole body in mind (since it all works together).
I’ve met expecting parents who were adamant about not breastfeeding once the baby arrived, not because of trauma but because they didn’t want to lose that part of their sexuality. But once the baby arrived, they breastfed! Whether you aren’t sure if you want to breastfeed, are afraid you can’t, or are determined that it’s something you’ll do once baby arrives, it’s important to take a class to know what to expect. Your body will produce milk whether you breastfeed or not and you will want to know what your body is going through, why, and how the hormones related to all of this is affecting your whole self. Most hospitals offer a sort of Breastfeeding 101 class and some birth doulas include this in their client education, but I recommend taking another class by a stand-alone professional who is not affiliated with a specific hospital because they can get into more detail about things and tend to have more up-to-date info that the Lactation Consultants at a hospital might not be able to teach due to policies. I’ve been to several hospital-led classes but learned so much more after becoming a Lactation Educator. International Board Certified Lactation Consultants (IBCLC) also recommend meeting with expecting parents before they give birth so they can discuss the best options for their unique breast type. Learn more about this from The 12 Days of Breastfeeding Summit Recordings — there’s 16 speakers, over 6 hours of recordings, a recipe book, a sleep guide, and so much more included.
A basic baby care class can be extremely helpful for first-time parents. In this class, you learn how to swaddle, communicate with your baby, general feeding information, and more. Doulas typically cover some of this with you after birth, too.