Thinking about taking a childbirth class, but aren't sure when you should do it? Lots of parents-to-be ask the same thing. The most basic answer, when it comes to taking a general childbirth class, is to take it closer to your due month so the information is fresh, but not too close in case your baby comes early. If you're taking a more specific childbirth class, the ideal timing may be different.
The Best Time to Take a VBAC Class
If you're planning or thinking about a VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean), it's important to learn as much as possible as soon as possible. If you're questioning whether VBAC is right for you, taking a class in the first trimester (around 12 weeks) that discusses options and considerations can help you make the decision that's right for you.
If you have decided firmly on VBAC, it's also important to take a class early in order to learn the decisions and choices needed to increase the chance of a successful VBAC, including choice of health care provider and birth place.
If you have made a firm decision and carefully chosen a care provider who supports VBAC, you may best benefit from taking a VBAC class in your third trimester in order to feel ready and prepared to VBAC when you go into labor. Women who take a VBAC class early in pregnancy may also benefit from a refresher, if possible, in their third trimester.
Some educators may offer different kinds of VBAC classes to be taken a different points in your pregnancy. Search for online or in-person VBAC classes that best suit your needs.
The Best Time to Take a General Childbirth Class
Comprehensive childbirth classes cover topics that include anatomy, stages of labor, decision making, comfort techniques for labor, medical interventions, postpartum care, basic breastfeeding tips, and infant care. Ideally, you'll take this kind of class late in your second trimester or early in your third trimester. A good childbirth class reviews how to spot the best maternity care during pregnancy. If you discover you're not paired with a maternity provider who will honor your preferences, taking the class well before late in your pregnancy will give you time to switch care providers, if desired. Keep in mind, however, that it's almost never too late to switch care providers. The earlier you change care providers, the more time you have to get to know her and feel more comfortable with her care.
The Best Time to Take a Class on Comfort Measures
Some parents opt to take a shorter childbirth class that hones in on comfort measures and coping techniques for labor. Parents who have gone through labor and birth before may choose a class like this as a refresher for a subsequent birth. A comfort measures class is best when taken during the early to mid third trimester, closer to your estimated birth time (but not too close!). As pregnancy winds down, most people become increasingly focused on the process of labor and birth. Taking a class like this will help you feel confident and prepared for the hard work of birth.
The Best Time to Take a Breastfeeding/Chest Feeding Class
Often, breastfeeding/chest feeding classes are offered separate from or in addition to general childbirth classes. A class devoted to breastfeeding will go more in depth on breastfeeding than what is covered in a childbirth class, with topics like general tips and information, concerns and complications, pumping, and returning to work. It's best to take a breastfeeding class in your third trimester (28 weeks and beyond), and ideally after you have taken another class on childbirth to better understand how labor and birth can affect breastfeeding.
Comprehensive, in-person childbirth classes are ideal for getting the most out of your learning experience. Search for an in-person or online Lamaze class to learn all you can about childbirth!
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