Reasons to Take Your Childbirth Class Early

Husbands and their pregnant wives at a prenatal class

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Childbirth classes are a great way to not only meet other people who are expecting a baby near when you are but to learn about all of your options when t comes to giving birth, and how to cope with your baby those first weeks after you give birth. Every community will have a variety of resources available, though some have more than others and some will offer private classes, hospital-based classes, and community-based classes. Your first step is to figure out what is offered in your area and go from there.

Why You Shouldn't Wait to Take Childbirth Classes

The biggest problem for getting the class you want to take is procrastination. Forget procrastination, take your childbirth class early. As a childbirth educator, I can tell you that I get several calls a month from people wanting to take my class but can't get in because they are booked. They usually say they are late for one of the four reasons below:

Babies Don't Wait

If you plan to take your childbirth class at the end of your pregnancy, you may have your baby before your childbirth class starts or before you finish your childbirth class. Babies can't read calendars and sometimes they are born early either because of preterm labor or the need to induce labor prior to the end of pregnancy.

Classes May Be Full

You may go to register for a class, only to find that you can't find a class that has available slots that fit your schedule. For the best number of options, register early, even if you don't take the class for a while. 

If you find the class is full, you do have a few options: 1) Call and ask if you can show up anyway. Some places allow this because they know that some people will drop because they've had their babies or something else came up; 2) You can talk to any of your local childbirth educators and ask about private classes. These are usually tailored to meet your needs and schedule.

Lack of Time to Act on Information

One of the most compelling reasons is that you learn so much in your childbirth class. Perhaps you find some great information in your childbirth class that you want to act on by researching or talking to your doctor or midwife, but find that you don't have the time left in your pregnancy to do so. Another component of this is that you feel stuck with less time.

An example might be learning about breech babies. If you find out this information, say around 32 weeks into your pregnancy, you know what to do when you're 37 weeks and someone says your baby is breech. If you haven't started class yet, you may not know what your options are to help turn a breech baby head down.

No Choices 

You may also find that while you can find a childbirth class, it's not the one you want. This may mean a different philosophy or classroom setting than is ideal for you. 

To prevent this from happening to you, start looking into what your community has to offer in childbirth classes early. Once you decide which class you want to take, register for it, even if that class is months away. This holds your spot and allows you to be confident in your class selection. The most popular classes often fill early because of word of mouth advertising.

Ideally, the best time to take a childbirth class is one that leaves you 8-10 weeks left of your pregnancy to continue practicing what you learned in class and making birth plans that reflect your new knowledge. This gives you plenty of time to talk to your providers about your wishes and their ideas as well as gives you a cushion should your baby arrive early.

By Robin Elise Weiss, PhD, MPH
Robin Elise Weiss, PhD, MPH is a professor, author, childbirth and postpartum educator, certified doula, and lactation counselor.