Lamaze Classes: Are They Helpful?

Some members of my family don't think Lamaze classes are worth taking. I would like your advice. How much do Lamaze classes really help?

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Peg Plumbo CNM

Peg Plumbo has been a certified nurse-midwife (CNM) since 1976. She has assisted at over 1,000 births and currently teaches in the... Read more

In principle, I am a strong advocate of prepared childbirth. Whether or not a couple or the woman alone, decides to turn to books, videos, self-preparation through meditation, yoga or organized classes depends on several things: personal thoughts and feelings about birth, past experience with classes and with childbirth, family schedules, and the relationship with her support person.

For the first-time couple who know very little about giving birth, enjoy meeting other couples, are willing to do the exercises and are not shy about getting down on the floor and pretending to have a contraction, classes may be a wonderful learning experience. But for the busy couple who may be resentful of the time spent devoted to the group experience or timid, it may make more sense to do the book and video sessions at home. This however takes some commitment and planning.

Prepared childbirth classes often help the father to overcome his sense of fear about the process. These sessions give him the sense that others are going through this too, and that his role is valuable and he can really do something to ease his partner's pain and anxiety. Classes give him a sense of the reality of childbirth and help him know what is normal.

Some childbirth classes offer support as well as education, and this can be the start of many friendships and play groups. I have known some classes that still meet on their own and discuss adolescent issues!

It is important to investigate the series before attending to see if the classes offer what you need. You could attend one as a guest or interview the instructor. Because some are taught in the hospital or birthing center itself, procedures may be discussed that are individual to that site.

I do believe childbirth preparation is important, and the classes offer a package that is beneficial for most people. Being prepared for labor and birth, and learning the relaxation exercises may be the biggest benefit of childbirth classes -- even if you decide not to use the breathing techniques that are taught.

Please be sure to visit the ParentsPlace.com message boards where you can talk to other mothers-to-be about this important issue. I wish you the best with your decision.

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