For new parent’s pregnancy can be both joyful and overwhelming. It can be equal parts terrifying and exciting because so much of it is new and unknown. Most new mothers and fathers have many questions about the pregnancy process itself such as what to expect during delivery, how to know when it’s time to go to the hospital and what worrying signs to look out for.

In the past few years, childbirth classes have become a popular way for new moms and dads to get these questions answered. The classes provide a friendly and welcoming environment where knowledgeable instructors can address all of your questions, concerns and ideas. They also give you a chance to learn what to expect and how to best prepare yourself for the ups and downs of pregnancy.

What can prenatal and pregnancy classes teach you?

A good prenatal or pregnancy class can teach you about the stages of pregnancy, what to expect during the delivery process and pain relief options. Classes are great at taking the mystery out of pregnancy, the delivery and basic hospital procedures. Many different types of classes exist and here is just a small sample:

  • Prenatal class (< 12 weeks) – These classes are meant to teach women and their partners about the different aspects of pregnancy and the delivery itself. Instructors will usually talk about what you should expect during your pregnancy, how delivery works and little tips and tricks to help you and your partner cope in the coming weeks. We orient/introduce you to our practice and philosophy of childbirth and prenatal care so there are no surprises.
  • Preparing for the birth (>32 weeks) – This class is especially popular for first time parents. If you’ve never witnessed a birth before these classes deal with preparing for labor, what to expect during labor and coping techniques. Many classes also give prospective parents a chance to visit the labor ward to see what their environment will look like. This is definitely worth doing.

Other classes:

  • Lamaze classes – These classes are meant to help pregnant women understand normal labor and birth, breathing and relaxation techniques and dealing with pain during the birthing process.
  • Newborn and parenting classes – These classes are less common but can include topics like breastfeeding, things to expect when bringing the baby home, parenting and relationship skills or even picking the right baby car seat. Other important topics that may be covered are infant CPR and safety (which itself can be taken as a separate course).

Still not sure about prenatal classes? Here are a few great reasons to take them:

  • Classes remove the fear of the unknown – They give parents a good idea of what to expect and how to prepare for it. Many first-time parents find this invaluable.
  • Narrow down on information overload – With the vast amounts of childbirth information out there on the internet it’s easy to get overwhelmed and not know what to pay attention to. Childbirth classes let you focus on the important information that you need to know.
  • Feel prepared -Most parents will tell you that after attending a class they feel less anxious, more self-assured, in control, and ready to make decisions.
  • Connecting with other moms and dads – Childbirth classes are a wonderful place to meet other parents that are going through the exact same thing you are. It’s a good time to swap advice and you may even meet someone with whom to have a future playdate when your little one arrives!
  • Getting your partner involved – Taking a class with your partner is also a good way to make them feel more included in the process. In the all the busyness of being pregnant, it’s easy to forget that your partner sometimes feel a little left out and classes are a nice way to include them in the process.

Classes in your community are a great way to make sure you’ll be getting quality, educational information straight from the professionals. Moms and dads who participate in prenatal and pregnancy classes generally feel more confident in making decisions and have a positive view of the entire experience.