Why do I need a childbirth class?
I actually believe you don't need a childbirth class. After all, humans have given birth across the millennia without formal childbirth classes. However, there are a couple of reasons why childbirth classes can help more now than ever. Most women have never seen a birth before they give birth themselves. In times past, girls would see family members giving birth many times before it was their own turn. Secondly, our culture broadcasts relentless messages about how risky birth is, how painful it is, how essential it is to have medication and have surgeons on standby. The birth zone class is a counter message to all of that.
Also, the class provides the chance for you to:
- practice relaxation and pain management techniques
- hear far more detail about labor and birth than you will get in prenatal appointments
- explore the role of birth partner
- meet with other expectant parents
When should I take the class?
Ideally, you should complete the class series between 35 and 37 weeks pregnant. But since your pregnancy and my class schedule may not be quite in sync with each other, you may need to time your class outside of that window. If you retain information well and are motivated to practice elements taught in class, then completing the series when you are 32 weeks pregnant may work well for you. If you prefer to be in class close to the time you will actually use the information and won't mind possibly missing the last class or two, then think about timing the class completion for 40 weeks--the average first time mom delivers 5 days past her due date, so you'll probably get all the classes in anyway!
How early should I reserve a place?
Demand for classes has risen tremendously in the last year or so. Classes are sometimes full 5 months prior to class start time. Ideally you start a series 2 months prior to your due date, so that means you'll need to register by the end of your first trimester to be sure of a spot.
However, if you have left it until the last minute, click here to check for current class openings--there may still be space available. Even if the class is full, contact us at email@example.com. We can sometimes make it work by having you attend a couple of classes from one series and the rest of the classes in another series, or I can give suggestions for alternative classes in the area.
I've given birth once already. Would your class be useful to me?
The Refresher class is designed for those who have experienced birth at least once already. We'll listen to everyone's birth stories and address any particular concerns about the upcoming birth. This is a very fluid class that covers what couples are most interested in reviewing.
For some who have birthed before, the full 7 week series is a better choice. If you feel that your previous birth was not what you expected and you feel that more preparation would help, the longer class would be perfect for you. Also, if you used pain medication the first time but would rather avoid it this time, the longer class will help you prepare for the new experience of unmedicated birth.
If you still are in doubt about whether a class would help, feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we can discuss your needs.
This is my first baby, but I don't have time for a full series. Should I take the Refresher class?
We have a couple of concerns about a first time mom taking the Refresher class. The curriculum is crafted at the start of each class by listening to previous birth stories and addressing only those areas that moms and partners specifically would like to re-visit. This means that you won't get a comprehensive coverage of labor and birth--you may only hear about pushing, or long early labors, for example. Our second concern is that some of the moms who choose to attend a Refresher class do so because of an unusually challenging first birth. What this means is that the birth stories tend to be about an unusually high percentage of difficult labors, and we worry that attending just the Refresher could undermine your confidence--the last thing you need!
I'm planning to get an epidural. Is this the right class for me?
If you are planning to get an epidural as soon as possible and do not want to experience labor, you would probably be better off taking a hospital childbirth class. There you will learn all about when epidurals can be administered and how labor is monitored.
If you are unsure about getting an epidural, or you are hoping to experience as much labor as possible before requesting pain medication, this class can help you a lot. You will learn techniques that will get you further through your labor, and you may well surprise yourself and get through it all unmedicated.
During the class, we do not demonize medication or other interventions. I have seen first hand how valuable such options can be when labor does not proceed normally. But we do emphasize the message that women are designed for birth and can birth without the use of drugs. We also cover some of the reasons why it may be better for mom and baby to avoid medications and interventions in a labor that is progressing normally.
The father of my baby isn't involved. Can I bring someone else to class?
Absolutely! Ideally, bring the person who will accompany you in labor.
My partner isn't very enthusiastic about taking a childbirth class. Can I take it alone?
You have my sympathy! My husband was not at all thrilled at taking a childbirth class when I was pregnant with my first child, and the classes were a bit dry. One of my goals in teaching classes is to entertain and inform, and most partners find the classes more enjoyable and useful than they expected.
If that hasn't convinced your partner to attend, yes, you can take the class alone. I encourage you to explore the option of hiring a doula for the birth itself. Doulas are a fabulous part of any birth team, but I think they are particularly useful for any birthing person who does not have a fully engaged partner.
Does insurance cover childbirth classes?
No, I haven't found an insurance policy that covers classes. However, if you are enrolled in a medical savings plan (sometimes called a Flexible Savings Plan) your tuition may be an eligible expense. Rules vary from plan to plan, so please check yours carefully. I am happy to provide a printed receipt if you require one.
Do you take DSHS insurance?
No, our classes are not reimbursable by DSHS. I believe most hospital-based classes and those taught by Parent Trust are covered by DSHS.
How long does each class take? Should I bring food?
The full class lasts from 7pm to 9:45pm (in person classes) or 6:30pm to 9:15pm (online/virtual sessions) with a short break for snacks at about 8:30pm (8:00pm for virtual sessions). If you are coming straight from work or somewhere else to an in person session, you are welcome to arrive any time after 6:45pm if you would like to bring dinner with you and eat it before class starts.
The Refresher classes last from 9:30am to about 1:30pm. The exact duration depends primarily on how many couples attend. We spend time reviewing previous birth experiences and tailoring the class contents to the needs of each couple. That usually means that a class with 5 couples will last maybe 4 hours or so, but a class with 2 couples would take up to 3 hours.
Do you offer babysitting?
We don't have any babysitting available, unfortunately.
What should I bring with me to class?
Birth ball (required by class 2)
Your booklet (given out in class 1)
Because the location is a shoe-free environment, you may want to bring slippers
Where can I buy a birth ball?
You can also buy inflatable exercise balls at Target and most sports retailers. For use in birth, the ball is best underinflated so you can lean on it comfortably, so we recommend larger ball sizes than would be recommended for exercising. If you are between 5'0" and 5' 4", 65cm size ball is good. If you're below 5'0", a 55cm ball work better. Above 5' 4", a 75cm ball may work best.
What books do you recommend?
- Pregnancy, Childbirth, and the Newborn by Simkin, Whalley, and Keppler
- The Baby Book by Dr William and Martha Sears
- Ina May Gaskin's Guide to Natural Childbirth
- The Birth Partner by Penny Simkin
- From the Hips by Rebecca Odes and Ceridwen Morris