So, you’ve decided that you want to have a natural, drug-free childbirth. There’s a good chance you’ll want to prepare yourself by taking childbirth classes. There are many natural childbirth methods; let’s compare some of the most popular ones so you can choose which is best for you.
Natural Childbirth Methods: Why Childbirth Classes?
Birth can be scary and overwhelming, but education goes a long way toward eliminating fear and anxiety. Classes that teach natural childbirth methods help you prepare, teach you what to expect, and also what to do during each stage of labor. We won’t pretend that all pain can be eliminated. But fear and tension increase pain, and childbirth classes can help decrease fear through education, support, relaxation, paced breathing, and touch. Going into childbirth armed with knowledge and skills will help you to be more confident and feel more in control.
What Natural Childbirth Methods are There?
There are many, many options out there, but let’s take a look at some of the most common ones.
This is one of the most well-known natural childbirth methods and has been around since the 1950s. It is based on the idea that a woman has the inner wisdom to guide her through childbirth (1). Classes seek to empower women to make informed decisions about pregnancy, birth, breastfeeding, and parenting, and to trust their innate ability to give birth (3).
Many women have positive birth experiences using Lamaze techniques and principles, though one thing to watch out for is that classes are often taught at hospitals. The downside to this is that it may teach hospital policy and procedure rather than current best practices. Still, there are independent, Lamaze certified childbirth educators teaching in non-hospital settings — these tend to be a better option for natural birth.
This method is based on the view that childbirth is a natural process and that a healthy pregnancy and birth can be achieved through education, preparation, and support from a coach (1). It teaches a variety of relaxation techniques, emphasizes nutrition and exercise, and centers around the active participation of the mother and her coach during the labor process.
Again, this method has been successful for many, but one of the major downsides is that Bradley classes don’t have the best reputation for forming good caregiver-patient relationships. There is an element that is teaching partners to protect the mother from interventions, which may inadvertently set up an adversarial relationship.
This method teaches relaxation and self-hypnosis. It teaches that when your body is sufficiently relaxed and you trust birth, the birthing muscles in your body work in perfect harmony (4). It aims to harness endorphins – the body’s natural painkilling chemicals. The goal is to feel relaxed, calm, aware, and in control.
Once again, this method has been used successfully by many. However, some feel that the hypnosis techniques are too vague and not as easy to use in the moment as concrete techniques like breathing or body positioning.
The Kopa Birth philosophy is centered on fact-based preparation and flexibility. Our method teaches a wide variety of coping tools so you can find the right thing for you in each moment. We prepare birth partners to support mom and to be a part of the birth experience. We prepare you for giving birth in a hospital setting, teaching that you absolutely can have a low-intervention natural birth in a hospital. In fact, our courses are reviewed by a wide range of healthcare professionals. We know that most providers are eager to help you have the natural birth you want, and we will help you learn to communicate with your providers. A Kopa Birth course will give you the knowledge and tools you need to have a natural birth, and prepare you for various situations that may arise during the birth.
We encourage you to do your research and choose the best course for you. But we’d love to have you join us if you decide that our goals and philosophies align with your own! Enroll today in a free trial of the KOPA PREPARED online course, where you can view class #1 of the 8-class series.
Natural Childbirth Methods: How to Choose
There are so many natural childbirth methods to choose from, and so many variables. Some things you may want to consider when choosing classes include:
- Online versus in-person classes. Some women enjoy meeting others and learning face-to-face with an instructor. Others prefer the flexibility of being able to watch the classes on their own schedule and being able to review topics as needed.
- The philosophy of the course. This includes the instructor’s views on childbirth and their feelings about your chosen birth setting (hospital, birth center, home) and chosen birth attendants (doctor, certified nurse midwife, lay midwife).
- The background and training of the instructor(s). They should all be certified childbirth educators. In addition, they may be licensed registered nurses, physical therapists, teachers, psychologists, social workers, or others.
- Cost. It is important not only to consider what you are able to afford, but also to compare what you’re getting for your money.
- Topics covered by the course. Make sure you see a comprehensive list of topics that the course covers. A high-quality course will usually discuss the different aspects of the labor and delivery process, teach a variety of skills and coping strategies, and teach you how to advocate for yourself during labor.
- Number of classes and duration of the course. Some courses last as many as twelve weeks or may be as short as one day. Find the best fit for your schedule and goals.
- Who is offering the class. Classes provided by hospitals or caregiver groups are more likely to be provider-oriented, telling about the type of care provided by the provider, and less focused on giving other alternatives. Classes offered by universities, community groups, and independent educators may be more consumer-oriented, preparing patients to take responsibility in decision-making and self-care (2).
It might seem overwhelming to have so many natural childbirth methods from which to choose. Don’t allowing yourself to get stressed or overwhelmed! Be grateful that there are so many high-quality resources out there to support your pregnancy and delivery, and take your time working through the possibilities. The right class is out there waiting for you!
Kopa Birth’s online childbirth classes allow you to prepare for a natural childbirth from the comfort of your own home, 24/7. Enroll today in our free online childbirth class to learn more about preparing for a natural hospital birth.
(1) The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. (2010). Your Pregnancy and Childbirth Month to Month, 5th edition
(2) Simkin, P., Whalley, J., Keppler, A., Durham, J., & Bolding, A. (2016). Pregnancy, Childbirth, and the Newborn: The Complete Guide. Minnetonka: Meadowbrook Press.
(3) Lamaze for Parents. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.lamaze.org/
(4) Hypnobirthing Institute. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://us.hypnobirthing.com/