How do we choose a Lamaze instructor?

I'm four months' pregnant and my husband and I will soon begin our search for a Lamaze instructor. I have a list of educators in our area, but we have no idea how to choose. Any suggestions?

Question:

I'm so glad you're thinking about classes early in your pregnancy. Shopping for a good teacher and the right class makes sense. Hopefully you have some real choices available. I suggest gathering information on several and then choosing the one that is the best fit for what you're looking for.

Most areas have both hospital-based and independent classes. Some hospital classes are not consumer oriented -- they only teach options that are commonly used at that institution. Ask friends -- or even women you see at the grocery store with babies -- where they took classes, whether or not they were pleased with them and whether or not they felt well prepared for birth. If you're thinking of a more natural childbirth, call some local midwives and ask if they have a particular teacher they recommend to their patients.

I think it's a good idea to interview potential teachers on the phone. You can often get a good "feel" for somebody this way. Does she sound friendly, knowledgeable, open to your questions? Of course you want to know the basic information, like cost, location, class size (Lamaze recommends 6 to 10 couples in a class) and number of hours of instruction the class series includes (should be at least 12). 

  • Ask what her credentials are and how long she's been teaching?
  • Does she have a particular method she endorses (Lamaze, Bradley), or is she more eclectic in her teaching?
  • How much class time is spent on practice (vs. lecture and other information sharing)?
  • What is her philosophy about birth?
  • Does she actually attend births herself?
  • Is she available for questions outside of class time?
  • Does she do any kind of follow-up with her students?

Childbirth classes vary quite a bit in what they offer and how they are taught. It's worth the time it takes to find a teacher who is a good match with your needs and philosophy.

For more information, read Choosing a Childbirth Educator and a Childbirth Class, What is covered in Lamaze childbirth education classes? or visit Lamaze International.

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