Expectant parents may be looking to take an online course to know how prepare for their labor experience. What should new moms and dads be looking for in a class? We will talk about the benefits of an online prenatal class, who teaches them, what they should cover, and when to take one!
Hi, I’m Hilary — The Pregnancy Nurse 👩⚕️. I have been a nurse since 1997 and I have 20 years of OB nursing experience, I am also the curly head behind Pulling Curls and The Online Prenatal Class for Couples. 🩺 I have helped thousands of moms get through labor and I know how important a prenatal class can be in your pregnancy journey.
After teaching classes for my own hospital, I can tell you what you really need in a childbirth class so you feel as prepared as you can be.
What’s in This Article (click on an area to jump ahead)
Online Childbirth Classes?
Yes, the gold standard has been a hospital class, but even before we all stayed at home, online childbirth classes were starting to become more and more popular. Pregnant women are now allowed to take classes at their own pace (and re-watch them as necessary).
In fact, I used to teach childbirth classes for the hospital I worked out. I quickly realized that Tuesdays at 6 pm wasn’t for them (or me). We were all tired, couples often couldn’t both be there — and there was no way for them to review what I said without copious notes (which were hard to take as the couples were starving at that point in the day).
Many women are finding an online platform one of the BEST ways to take childbirth classes. A major bonus is the ability to include support people without giant spreadsheets of when everyone is available.
Online classes can be taught by great teachers and they don’t have to be local to you. It’s a great option for families everywhere. I am a huge fan of them!
They really are how prenatal classes should’ve always been!
What are prenatal classes?
Some of you might not be sure what a prenatal class even is. It IS confusing. They obviously go by several names:
- Birth Classes
- Childbirth classes
- Pregnancy Classes
- Prenatal Classes
While these classes have traditionally showed one “way” to birth I’m sure you’re aware it’s all marketing now, so most of these classes cover the same thing.
Who teaches prenatal classes
This is an area that I’m really passionate in. New parents need to do research and find someone that they can trust. Someone they find engaging (and hopefully positive vs based in fear) and is in their price range.
As an online course creator, I quickly learned that many people believe that once you have a course, that makes you an expert. Unfortunately in an area like childbirth preparation, it is SO important to find someone with lots of experience to back you up!
Childbirth Classes Can Be Taught by:
Whoever — remember, if you are just a mom who enjoyed her birth, you can teach and sell a class. I have seen a few that started that way — so be aware. 🙂
Registered Nurse — I’ve see a few classes taught by registered nurses. Be mindful that nurses work in many fields, so you’ll want to see their experience in labor specifically. Personally, I’d want to see a delivery nurse with a LOT of experience. I believe that is the gold standard in childbirth education.
Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educator — Lamaze was all the rage when our parents had us. It’s what most people traditionally think of when they think about childbirth classes (on the floor with pillows). Most of this is based on the relaxation breathing of Lamaze. Most of these educators don’t know all that much about the medical side of birth, complications, etc. BUT they can be great for relaxation and pain management techniques.
Midwives — Some midwives offer childbirth classes. Keep in mind that the name “midwife” can mean a few things:
- Lay midwife – This person has unknown training and delivers babies.
- Certified Midwife – This person delivers in home or possibly birthing centers. They are certified in some particular program, but it is still difficult to know their experience and training with this title.
- Certified Nurse Midwife — This person is an RN who went on for an advanced degree (sometimes a masters or a doctorate) and has done a residency in midwifery. It is a regulated program similar to a doctor. They can deliver in hospitals, and in some states, homes. When you pick a CNM you can known they have specific training and likely have an OB that they work with.
What a Online Classes Should Cover
New mothers need to know specific things about birth — let’s talk about what that should be:
When to go to the hospital
A great class is going to talk to you about when you should go to the hospital. Not just for labor (although they should cover that too). They should also talk to you about warning signs in your pregnancy (in general) that should make you call your doctor or head into the hospital. This type of information can be invaluable for parents (and I cover some of it for free here).
This is an important part of a class. It is likely an area that you’re pretty nervous about.
They should talk about all your pain management options (this means they need to be experienced in all your options, and I will say that many people who aren’t in a hospital don’t truly understand them).
They should also go into detail about comfort measures and relaxation techniques that can help you both at home before the hospital and once you’re in more active labor at the hospital.
Stages of Labor
They should explain what you should expect during the labor process.
They may talk about phases or stages of labor.
Labor normally goes in a specific pattern and it’s easy to know what’s happening and what should happen next. This will help you feel less nervous as your body goes through the process.
They should help you know what hospital staff will be doing to help you. From hospital admission to techs, nurses, doctors, midwives, etc.
Knowing what happens during medical interventions helps people feel less nervous when many nurses come in the room. Those nurses will be doing specific things to help promote you and your baby’s well being. Once you realize that it’s pretty normal, it helps you feel safe rather than scared.
Vaginal & Cesarean Birth
They should go over what to expect during both a vaginal and cesarean birth.
When you know in advance what to expect it is extremely reassuring for you.
Don’t forget about cesarean sections in your preparation. Even if you’re not planning on one, there is always a chance that is how you will deliver your baby (even if you start at a birth center — sometimes those patients are transferred to the hospital).
While they should NOT be creating your birth plan for you, it can be a great place to learn the basic options that pregnant families have to choose from before they go to have their baby.
Many prenatal classes will offer a printable birth plan and also go over the options you can consider.
Communication with Your Healthcare Team
Talking to your healthcare team is one of the hardest parts for couples. You’ve likely never made big healthcare decisions before. A good class will help you learn the risks and the benefits to what’s happening in your individual circumstances.
The way your team will discuss things can be intimidating. When you know how they’re talking to you (and often them discussing death is normal) it makes it easier to make choices for yourself.
Newborn & Baby Care
A good class will briefly discuss newborn care. I will say that a lot of this is hard to really take in before you have your own newborn. BUT, basic skills will be really helpful (and if it’s online you can re-watch those after the baby is born).
Birth Partner Tips
A good prenatal class should involve your partner quite a bit so they can be your best support in that labor room.
When you’re together on the same page before you go into that room, it will keep you on the same page when you’re parenting together.
They should most DEFINITELY go into detail about what to expect after the baby is born. Many classes just skip over this part, when it is truly some of the MOST important information you need.
They should cover how to take care of your bottom or your incision if you’ve had a cesarean. Warning signs for you and your baby and what to expect when you go home.
Bonuses of Childbirth Education Classes
The good news is that because online classes can extend in time longer than in person classes, they can offer some bonuses that other classes don’t. Keep in mind that each bonus will increase your class fee. I like to offer a more basic class, and then a more full course with many bonuses that costs more.
Support groups — meet with other like-minded parents who are all getting ready for their birth.
Live Classes/Coaching — Meet with your teacher to ask questions or talk more about concerns you have about your upcoming birth. They can even help you with your mindset.
Infant CPR — They can include things like Infant CPR or other ways to make you a more prepared and confidant parent.
When to take an Online Birthing Course
Most people take a course with their first baby. I am finding that may parents take it on subsequent babies as well because they hope for a better experience the next time.
Most providers recommend that expectant mothers take a class well before their due date. I recommend people start at LEAST by their third trimester (but the best part of an online class is that you can always review the material later on, as long as the class is given long-term — so, many moms like to start around 25 weeks).
Great Birth Classes to Consider
There are lots of different classes on the market. I definitely recommend checking out the instructor and seeing if they’re a good match for your needs, and that they have the experience to give you some good education.
Classes for a Hospital Birth
The Online Prenatal Class for Couples is the best class on the internet if you are considering a hospital birth. The best news about this class is that is surprisingly engaging for something you don’t even want to think about.
This class covers ALL the areas you will need and does it at a good pace so you’re not left wanting things to speed up or feel left unprepared.
Hilary has thousands of births under her scrubs. She has taught classes since 2014 (including in-person classes), she has a huge online platform that engages millions of moms each month. If you’re planning on a hospital birth, it is the one for you.
If you don’t know if that class is the right fit for you, try out Hilary’s Free Birth Prep Pack that will give you a taste of what’s to come.
If you’re still not sold on that class, some other classes to check out are:
Kopa Birth — This is for a “natural” hospital birth and has been around for a while.
Birth it Up — Leisel is extremely popular on Instagram and offers 3 options for what type of birth you’re hoping for.
Loom — Is taught by an OBGYN and seems like a fairly comprehensive course.
Classes for a Home Birth
If you are considering a home birth I would recommend Mama Natural Birth Course by Genevieve Howland and Maura Winkler. While it will not prepare you for a hospital birth and I do believe they have an agenda against hospital births, I believe they have a very popular online platform for “natural childbirth”
Pain Mangement / Relaxation Classes
If you are wanting to 100% plan on a non-medicated birth I would recommend checking out Hypnobabies. Please realize that it ONLY covers the pain management and relaxation techniques, and does not cover the birthing process at all.
I recommend that you partner it with a prenatal class — and there’s a great offer with The Online Prenatal Class for Couples here. Get that class at 50% off if you purchase Hypnobabies in addition to that class (all the info is in that post).
If that’s not speaking to you, you could try out a class from Lamaze International. Lamaze classes use breathing techniques to help you relax.
Other Childbirth Course Options
In person classes are still an option in many places. I would check:
Your local hospital — remember that class times can be rigid and fill quickly.
Birth Center — they may offer classes (but will likely be for people who plan to deliver in a birth center, meaning you won’t get much info on cesareans or pain medication options)
Doulas — There is no specific training for a doula, so be aware it’s hard to tell how much they actually know. Remember ANYONE can teach a prenatal class and it’s up to you to vet them as someone you want to learn from.
Other Classes to Take Before Baby
I recommend taking a breastfeeding class before your baby is born. They are most likely taught by a lactation consultant or a lactation educator. I have a few that I recommend in this post, I also offer some deals with them after you purchase The Online Prenatal Class for Couples.
As you can tell, online learning has revolutionized childbirth classes. I hope you find a class you truly love that can help you be confident in the labor room!
- About the Author
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A nurse since 1997, she has worked in various fields including pediatrics, geriatrics & hospice.
She has 20 years of labor and delivery experience in the San Jose, CA and Phoenix, AZ areas.