Prenatal education is one of the most important tasks for expecting parents. In this article we’re going to chat about ONLINE birthing classes (new to the scene in the last 10 years), some of the brands that offer online birthing courses, what you’ll want in your course and instructor, and what first time parents, especially, should be looking for in a class! So, let’s get going.
Cliff notes: If you just want to compare a few different classes, let me help you out (although, I’d still read the article for WHY a class is so important, but maybe you already know that)
Before we get into the whole thing — I made a table of contents because this post is huge — so feel free to skip around:
What’s in This Article (click on an area to jump ahead)
- What Are Online Birthing Classes?
- What do first time parents need different in a birthing class?
- Online Childbirth Classes Compared
- When Should I Take an Online Birthing Class?
- What topics do childbirth classes cover?
- Are These Classes Covered by Insurance?
- How Much Do Online Birthing Classes Cost?
- Who teaches childbirth classes?
- Benefits of Online Childbirth Classes
- What are the risks to an online Childbirth Class?
- What Else Do I Need to Do
- Online Breastfeeding Classes
- I Think I Want an In Person Class
- Customize your ToC
But first — why take my opinion? Hi — I’m Hilary — The Pregnancy Nurse 👩⚕️. I have been a nurse since 1997 and I have 20 years of OB nursing experience, I have seen thousands of birth. I’ve also taught birth classes for my hospital and I am a STRONG proponent both online and offline of childbirth education.
What Are Online Birthing Classes?
What are online (or virtual) birthing classes?
Online birthing classes are a great way to learn about childbirth and labor without having to leave the comfort of your own home. These classes are usually taught by clinical childbirth experts and cover all the stages of labor, from early labor to delivery. Many online childbirth classes also include information on pregnancy and postpartum care.
While many people still seem to think that taking an in-person class is the gold standard, I am here to tell you (after teaching both) that an online class is not only more convenient, but it’s actually better. And, for people who have grown-up for the majority of their lives online, I think you’ll be extremely satisfied with the experience.
What are Birthing Classes Called?
It can be confusing. Birthing classes go by lots of names. When your parents were taking a class, they often called them all Lamaze (although it’s a specific type of class, it’s often used as a general time — like Kleenex for facial tissue).
Some people call them birthing classes, or childbirth classes — as those classes tend to cover mainly the birth.
Some people call them prenatal classes as these tend to cover things prior to the birth, as well as some postpartum tips as well. Often these types of classes are also called hospital classes or pregnancy classes because they cover a more broad range of topics.
That being said, no matter what your childbirth education is called — there are specific things you’re going to want within the class, and we will cover that soon.
What do first time parents need different in a birthing class?
First-time parents often feel overwhelmed and uncertain about what to expect during childbirth. A birthing class can help to educate and prepare expectant parents for the experience. Some things that first time parents may really appreciate in a birthing class include:
- An overview of the labor and delivery process — because your body has never done it before, having an idea of what to expect and what’s normal can be HUGE for both the birther and the support person!
- Information on pain management techniques — it is likely that you have a good amount of fear about what labor is going to feel like, as well as how painful it will be. While no one can exactly tell you how you will feel — we can show you what management options available.
- Tips on how to cope with labor — No matter HOW you plan to mange your pain during labor, there will be a period of time that you are in pain. So, having coping ore relaxation techniques for this is SO important. Don’t skip this part!
- A list of what to pack for the hospital — Not sure what you’ll need for the hospital — hopefully a childbirth expert can help you not bring too much (or forget something important).
First time parents tend to be more nervous. Well, that and people who had a poor birth experience the first time (so, you take a birth class the first time to prevent that). You just want to someone to help guide you at your own pace as you figure it all out.
Online Childbirth Classes Compared
Online childbirth classes are becoming increasingly popular, as they offer a convenient and affordable way to learn about childbirth. However, it is important to choose the best online birthing class for your needs. There are many factors to consider, such as the quality of the class, the experience of the instructor, and the price.
Today I am going to share the top five courses on the internet, and share with you the pro’s and the con’s of each one (plus an honest look at which one’s my favorite). I will list them all here and you can always jump to the one you’re interested in.
- The Online Prenatal Class for Couples
- Mama Natural
- Birth it Up
- Kopa Birth
- Which one I think is best.
This online course is taught by a very experienced RN (20 years as a labor and delivery nurse) and was one of the first hospital-based classes online.
- Instructor Experience — a labor nurse isn’t really even thought competent til’ they’ve done it for 8 years… so….
- Three price points — it can fit your budget
- Engaging — You will see that a lot of people in the reviews call it fun. Because it is meant for both partners and those having the baby — this is SO important (especially for new dads)!
- Not appropriate for home birth — no information on that
- Hilary takes a very medical approach to this, as that is her background
- Not as much “earthy birthy” stuff as some
This is one of the “gold standards” in childbirth education — I think it may have been around the longest and tends to be what people think of when they think online birth classes.
- The class has been around a long time, and you know that it is a quality course for lasting this long
- Genevive is a thought leader in the “natural mamma” movement
- Taught by a mom who had natural births and a midwife
- The “mama” has no credentials other than experience (which can also be valuable)
- Highly biased against medical interventions (which may be necessary)
- The class doesn’t seem to be updated frequently — the videos on the sales page look the same as when I saw them years ago.
This seems to be the “big seller” among childbirth classes. Mostly because I see the ads for it every. place. I. look. Remember that ads mean a great ads team, not necessary a great birth class
- Price — this is a modestly-priced class, and I appreciate that
- It is taught by an RN, a midwife and a perinatal mental health professional — I like that a lot
- Maybe seems less personal because it’s a “big brand”
- I don’t see a freebie that sort of lets people see what the class will be like (and if it’s for them)
- Because they run SO many ads, you have to be aware that about 50% of your class cost is going to advertising
- The childbirth class only includes birth stuff, you have to add-on another class if you want to include new baby stuff and newborn care information.
Mommy Labor Nurse is the Instagram sensation that a lot of expectant mothers follow and love. She created a birth course.
- Liesel has a good amount of experience as a registered nurse, as well as two young children of her own
- Videos seem very calming and soothing
- There are a few free options to see if it’s a good fit for you
- For a long time this was the very BUDGET class for prenatal teaching, but was recently more than doubled in price
- The videos seem, maybe too calming and soothing
- You have to choose if you want c-section, epidural or “natural” which may leave you out in the cold for whatever type of birth you end up having
This has also been a long-standing birth class online. It seems to combine a “natural” birth with a hospital birth. It says it’s #1 doctor recommended…. not sure how they figure that out. 🙂
- Their instructor, Katie, seems engaging, and experienced with several births of her own (looks like she filmed as an expectant mom)
- Nice combination between hospital and natural childbirth
- Has also been around a while, which shows it is a quality product (that has hopefully been updated)
- While the instructor says she’s a nurse, there is no mention of being a labor nurse
- Price — this is one of the pricier courses on this list — and has an even pricier version if you want help for the whole pregnancy
- Main class only includes 3 months access (so if you want to use it with your next baby you’ll have to pay again
So, which one do I like the best?
Well — I have to be honest and say that I am the creator of The Online Prenatal Class for Couples. Way back in 2015 I realized that the internet was full of “natural” birth classes, but there wasn’t much for a mom who was planning for a hospital birth and wanted education for her and her partner.
At the time, I had just finished teaching prenatal classes for my hospital and knew how EXCRUCIATING sitting in those chairs can be for expecting couples (not to mention one or the other often having to miss because Tuesday nights at 6 pm can be hard to fit in for consecutive weeks). So, I created my own.
That first version (in 2015) — maybe not awesome.
But in the SEVEN years since then, I have continuously updated the class, read the research, added additional teachings, printables, bonus videos and more — until I truly do think that it’s the absolute best birth class online. I also have a free class that includes a free chapter of The Online Prenatal Class for Couples, where you can see if it’s a good fit for you. 🙂
After you sign up for that one, keep reading because I want you totally prepared to choose which best class is right for you. Because while I’d LOVE it if you took my class, I’d love it even more if you just took A class. And I’ll tell you why they’re so important in the rest of this article too!
When Should I Take an Online Birthing Class?
The good thing about most online birth classes (except those with limited timeframes) is that you can purchase it whenever, and then take it in bits and pieces as you have the curiosity or the time.
That being said, I believe that around 30 weeks you need to start taking it seriously, and hopefully have it done by 34 weeks, just in case baby comes early.
And, another benefit of the online courses is that you can review stuff as you need in those last few weeks.
In fact, The Online Prenatal Class for Couples actually has “key point” lectures (like birth cliff notes) that you can review that give you the most important highlights of each chapter. Couples love to review these in the week before they’re due.
What topics do childbirth classes cover?
They should cover a pretty good range of information, to make sure that you’re getting your money’s worth.
Keep in mind that some class brands prefer to separate it into different classes — but I do believe that all of these things are important, and you’ll be missing out if you don’t get specific parts — it should cover everything here:
- Third trimester testing, and important things to watch for (and come to the hospital for)
- What are contractions, how to count them?
- How to know you’re in labor — what to watch for
- Hospital routines that you should expect
- Hospital supplies — what they look like and how they are used (this can be SUPER disconcerting for some people — like, did you know they put a “hat” in your toilet to catch your urine sometimes in delivery rooms?
- The birthing process — how labor normally progresses, and what happens at a vaginal birth
- What happens if you end-up being induced?
- Pain management options provided by the hospital — including epidurals, nitrous oxide, and pain medication
- Natural pain management techniques — keep in mind that these are best when these comfort measures & breathing techniques are practiced throughout your third trimester (not just in the class)
- Cesarean Sections — don’t skip this part! Sadly, 33% of women end up having a cesarean birth, so a good overview of what will happen (think just 15 minutes) is so important to have — it really takes the mystery out of it
- Possible interventions — they should even cover a bit about what happens in an emergency situation (as these aren’t in-frequent during labor)
- What happens at birth
- What happens in the hospital after birth
- What to expect when you take baby (and your updated body) home
- Some information on newborn care / breastfeeding — great for new moms!
- How to get the information from your healthcare team without feeling pushy
Shocking, these are basically the chapters of The Online Prenatal Class for Couples — so you’re guaranteed to get information on teach of these topics
Are These Classes Covered by Insurance?
It really varies by insurance. Some do, but I would guess that most don’t.
However, these types of medical classes (especially when taught by a medical practitioner) are covered by most HSA plans (or healthcare reimbursement plans).
I do believe (and I know, for mine) that all the courses above will be happy to give you the information to submit it to your insurance, or HSA card to be covered.
How Much Do Online Birthing Classes Cost?
The average cost of a basic birth class (think, less bells and whistles, but does include online videos etc) is about $167.
I actually did a whole article on the cost of birth classes that you might find interesting.
I will say that when I did the survey about a year prior and found it was only $130. On average, birth class pricing raised about 20% from 2021 to 2022, which is disheartening because I know how tight the budget can feel for pregnant women when you’re adding an extra person to your family.
As an FYI, The Online Prenatal Class for Couples main class (with videos, but less bells and whistles) is $99 — and it’s been that price for maybe 5 years (prior to that it was lower, as it had less video content).
What are the “bells and whistles”? Are they important?
Most often these include (and some may include them with their “base” class — so just check out their sales page:
- Private Facebook group or a support group
- Live Classes
- Extra bonus classes
- Birth consults (often add to the price a lot)
Many expectant moms don’t find these helpful — so just use your dollar judiciously. I will say that for my own class, about 30% of people buy the deluxe class. If that helps.
Who teaches childbirth classes?
As you can tell from the classes I listed above it really does vary:
- Certified Childbirth educators — a few companies will certify you as a childbirth educator, but its hard to know what these companies teach and what these people know (and their experience levels). Most frequently you’ll see a Lamaze certified childbirth educator
- Doulas — again, these can be certified, but also anyone can call themselves a doula — there is no training required to use that title. So, it can be hard to ascertain how much they know…or, how much they’ve done.
- Nurses — there are lots of TYPES of nurses, so you’re going to want to be sure that your nurse has worked Labor & Delivery for a LONG time. That means they’ve seen a lot of stuff, and have a lot of not only training (because in order to become an RN you have to go through a specific type of program), but also experience
- Midwives – Remember that there are three types of midwives, and in fact, one of them requires no formal training — so I’d look for a CNM — or a certified nurse midwife, as those people have been through an accredited training program you can trust. And, I’d also look for a lot of experience as well.
- Doctors — I have seen a few OB’s starting up their own classes. Again, look for experience and a good teaching style.
Let me repeat that — look for experience, training and a good teaching style in pregnancy and childbirth. I really think those are the three best parts to a good teacher! Of course, everyone’s preferred teaching style varies, so try to take a look at what they have to offer.
I actually have a few snippets of my own course you can peek out without even giving me an email.
Benefits of Online Childbirth Classes
Now, here is where the good stuff comes-in. The studies.
Yes, people who take a prenatal class feel more confident, empowered, and excited for their upcoming birth. Their stress levels drop, which is good for both the mom and the baby. This has both ben studied, but is also the consensus of the birth community. I echo these thoughts in my own practice — taking a class just makes you feel SO much better. Agreed.
BUT, in doing research for another article, I found out that people who take a birthing class are 10% less likely to have a cesarean section.
Yes, read that again.
People who take a quality birth class are 10% less likely to have a cesarean section.
You can read more about that and the other studied benefits here.
I was really stumped by it when I read it. I’m not changing your provider, or your pelvis, or your baby daddy…. three things that are very important in your chances of a c-section.
But, in thinking about it there are thee things I am doing that really can have an affect:
- I am showing you how to move more to help baby find their best way out in the pelvis you have (I even have labor movement cards to help)
- I am helping you talk with your provider to make the best choices for your growing family
- I am helping you know what to expect, so that you’re not surprised by something and want to throw-in the towel.
They’re simple things, but obviously effective!!!!
What are the risks to an online Childbirth Class?
Of course, with anything in pregnancy — anything that has benefits also has risks:
- Your money — obviously, you have to take the risk that your money will be worth it. You can mitigate it by finding a free class to see if you mesh well with the provider. The good news is that the majority of these classes have a money-back guarantee, so jump in that class quickly to see if it’s a good fit.
- Your Time — almost as important as money, for me — your time could be wasted — and that would be a shame. I love classes that you can shove into your available time (think, over breakfast) so you’re not “wasting” time but including it into your day.
- You’ll hate online learning — maybe online classes aren’t for you and you’ll just hate it. However, you’re not 80, so I really think this is less of a problem with today’s pregnant couples
- You won’t do it. This is one of the worst things about online learning. You may just not get in there and do it. Of course, you may also sign up for an in-person class and you don’t attend (or can’t due to illness etc) — so this one’s up to you. Just get in there and do it.
What Else Do I Need to Do
Now, I’m guessing that a lot of you are ready to take The Online Prenatal Class for Couples after reading this article. Which I love — but there are a few things I also recommend:
- Take a hospital tour — many are online now, but don’t skip it. It will have valuable info such as if you can bring in outside food, what types of snacks they have, who’s allowed in the room, the size of rooms, and the general flow of the hospital — not to mention WHERE labor and delivery is, because hospitals are confusing!
- A breastfeeding class…. and we’re going to chat why next:
Online Breastfeeding Classes
Breastfeeding classes are a great way to learn about how to breastfeed and the benefits of breastfeeding. Lactation educators teach breastfeeding classes and provide support to new mothers in a private Facebook group. Board-certified lactation consultants (IBCLCs) or Lactation Educators (LE’s) are also available to answer questions and provide support.
My current favorite are the ones from The Breastfeeding Mama. She’s a mom of 3 and a lactation educator (but also almost done with her IBCLC training). She is really supportive and also troubleshoots — which is so important (and something a LOT of people skip in online classes). She also runs successful breastfeeding groups and does online consults when necessary.
I love Katie, and I think you’ll love her too. She has a lot of online classes, but I’d recommend this one for first time new parents before birth. She also has a free starter kit so you can get a sense of her first.
I Think I Want an In Person Class — Where can I Find One?
Ok, after ALL this chat about the BEST online childbirth classes, maybe you’re still thinking you want an in-person birthing course.
Honestly, first off I’d try an online one — and see, maybe you’ll like it more than you think (and if you don’t, enact their guarantee — that’s honestly what mine is there for). But let’s chat about where you can look for in-person classes:
Hospitals — some hospitals offer birthing classes in person (although many have stopped their classes or transitioned to them online after Covid-19, which I can guarantee is not as well-done as the the other ones I mentioned in this class — just knowing hospitals).
Birthing Centers may offer birth classes. However, they’re best if you plan to give birth at that birth center — and may not include a lot of the hospital interventions that I mentioned.
Doulas — some doulas offer in-person classes either at their home or at another location. Again, you’re going to want to see their teaching style, and if their “birth plans” fit with yours. Do they only support natural birth, have they ever seen a cesarean section, do they educate on all these things?
Google it — you could google things like Lamaze, Bradley Method (both of those are “methods” of birth, both of which seem sort of outdated) or just “birthing classes near me” and see what comes up.
Honestly, an in-person prenatal class taught by a great professional can be REALLY good, and you can mark it off on your list be done with that, and that always feels amazing.
Ok, so now’s your chance to join me in The Online Prenatal Class for Couples. In fact, I even have a coupon code for people who made it all the way to the bottom of this very lengthy-article. 🙂 Use coupon code PN10 to save 10% on your purchase of any of my prenatal classes. I can’t WAIT to see you inside!
And, if you’re not quite sure you’re ready for that whole thing, check out my free prenatal class. It’s your first step toward getting in the driver’s seat of your birth.
- 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.