Lamaze classes, prenatal classes, Bradley Method classes; 2-days or 6-8 evenings – there is a range of childbirth education options available out there and choosing the right class for you can be confusing.
To help you make an informed choice, we have provided the following eight tips to consider when choosing a prenatal class.
First, inquire about the credentials of your potential instructor. Some have formal medical training, while others have none. Are they health professionals (registered nurse, physiotherapist, medical doctor, chiropractor,or midwife)?
Have they completed a recognized, formal course on childbirth education: Lamaze International certification (LCCE), International Childbirth Education Association (ICEA), Chlidbirth and Postpartum Professional Association - Childbirth Educator (CBE), or Childbirth International (Dip CBEd)?
The Lamaze-Certified Childbirth Educator (LCCE) credentiial is the most widely-recognized and respected qualification in this field. It is the only childbirth education credential accredited by the U.S. National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA), a government body ensuring quality in certification programs
Consider the number of years of childbirth education experience. You may not want to be in the class of someone who is just learning how to teach. Also, consider the amount of experience in other class content areas such as breastfeeding and early parenting support. You may want to give more weight to experience working in formal settings such as in hospitals or for government agencies such as public health departments where quality standards are strictly enforced.
Does the potential instructor publish testimonials and endorsements/recommendations about their classes? Read the feedback carefully to get a better picture of what past participants have thought of the classes
Also, consider who is recommending the class. Have you found it on your own, were you recommended by a friend who heard about it or who took the course, or were you recommended by your obstetrician, family doctor, or midwife?
Ask where (specifically) the classes will be taught. Educators teach in a variety of environments. Some teach in hospital classrooms or medical offices, while others teach in community centres; some even teach in their homes. The location sometimes can be a clue as to the professionalism of the instructor; for example, educators teaching in community facilities are regulated to ensure they maintain professional liability insurance and up-to-date credentials. If instructors are teaching in their homes, ask where in their homes – make sure you are comfortable in such personal settings. And if going to classes in a stranger's home, remember to always go with a partner – you must consider your personal safety.
Most prenatal instructors offer their classes as a series of 6 to 8 consecutive 2 to 3 hour sessions. Typically, these are offered after dinner on weeknights, or sometimes on weekends. Ask what nights are offered and make sure that your calendar can accommodate all of the sessions – plan ahead.
For shift workers, commuters, professionals, those who need to travel for business, and those with either lots of committments or unpredictable schedules, a 6 or 8 week committment may not be feasible. In this case, consider instructors who offer the content delivered in 2 full-day sessions. You'll get the same content, but delivered over one or two weekends. For many, this is a much more convenient option.
Ask for – and carefuly examine – an agenda or course outline. Look at the topics to be covered. Some classes just focus on labour and delivery, while others spend equal time on what happens after the baby is born, such as feeding, diapering, bathing, settling crying babies, caring for the mother immediately after birth, postpartum depression, changes in the family, and other related topics. For labour and delivery, make sure classes include a range of options for pain management including breathing, positioning, and relaxation techniques plus drugs and other interventions you may be faced with during labour and birth. Caesarean section births should be covered in detail, as this is also a modern birthing reality that participants should be ready to face, should the situations arise.
Ask what resources are being used and try to determine how up to date these are. Many instructors purchase videos and other resources and continue to use them year after year, without investing in refreshing the resources as new versions come available. You may be learning with outdated information.
Pamphlets and other handouts should also be assessed for their currency. Recommendations change over time as the results of new medical research come available. Try to determine whether or not your instructor is keeping up to date with the latest developments. Some professionals, such as registered nurses, are required to stay current to maintain their nursing license, while Lamaze-certified instructors are required to take a number of continuing education courses each year to help them stay current
What is your learning style? Do you learn best by reading, listening to lectures, watching demonstrations, or participating in activities? The best instructors use a variety of teaching techniques to ensure that all participants leave the class with the required informaiton, regardless of their preferred learning style. Ask your potential instructor what techniques they use to teach the class.
By following these eight tips, you will more likely find the right prenatal classes for you.