How to Choose the Right Prenatal Class for You
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
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.
7. Current Information
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.
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