THE BLOG
08/31/2012 03:45 pm ET | Updated Oct 31, 2012

How to Choose a Birthing Class

These days, when it comes to choosing a childbirth preparation class, couples can get easily overwhelmed by the different options and methods out there -- some familiar, some not. Parents today are asking themselves: Do I want to be hypnotized during birth? Do I want my husband to coach me? Do I want to birth from this place called "within"? It can be hard to know which class will be a fit until you've signed up and are sitting in it.

Here are some tips and things to think about when gathering information about potential birthing classes so that you can make an informed, thoughtful decision.

Be open. When most of us seek out birthing preparation, we are usually drawn to classes that speak to what we already know and believe, what feels comfortable to us and what backs up our fears and hopes about birth. But after we come out on the other side of birth, we may find ourselves shocked at what we didn't know or what we didn't seek out. Hunting for a birthing class is the perfect time to open yourself up to new ideas and possibilities.

Be yourself. Your family, friends and even strangers are sure to have opinions about what you're eating, where you're birthing and surely, what kind of birthing classes you're taking. It can be tempting to choose the same class as your friend who swears she never felt any pain or your family who may not want you veering off the mainstream path, but at the end of the day -- your labor day -- is about what you need to know to give birth, which could very well be different from your friend, your mother or the chatty checker at Whole Foods. Listen to what you need from a birthing class.

Look for variety in pain-coping methods. Nothing is one-size-fits-all. We each get through intense moments in different ways. Some go inward, some look outward for help, some are quiet, some need to get loud. What makes finding the right birth preparation tricky is that you won't know if the tool you learned will do the job until the very moment you need it. Having a variety of tools will support your freedom in coping with what labor may throw your way, so you may want to think twice before settling on just one methodology.

Beware of false promises. Most birthing classes talk about instilling you with the tools to have a birth that's "painless," "easy," "blissful," "beautiful" or some other alluring word. These classes can surely help us stack the deck in our favor to be able to handle the intensity of labor. But beware of a class that promises or guarantees a certain alluring outcome -- there is a difference between suggesting that birth can be blissful, for example, and that it will be. This is a tough one, because any pregnant woman is vulnerable to these types of promises and wants to believe that she can just do XYZ and get the birth of her dreams. But let's be clear, there are no guarantees as to what your birth will look and feel like. Even Ina May Gaskin herself didn't receive a "painless, easy, blissful, beautiful birth" guarantee.

Dig deep to find out how you feel about birth fear. Some birthing preparation methodologies avoid talking about your fears about birth. Before you subscribe to this theory, ask yourself this: In my life, when I have avoided intense emotions, such as fear, has it really eradicated the fear or just put me in a state of denial? Check in with yourself about your need to feel heard and if verbalizing, exploring and then moving past these fears helps you to create a more prepared and peaceful mindset (hint: it does), then look for classes that allow you to do so.

Be gentle on yourself. Just like many pregnancy and birthing decisions you have already made -- and about a million more parenting choices just around the bend -- you cannot know beforehand if you're making the right choice. So, what's a parent to do? Open up, get educated, get in tune with yourself and lovingly move forward and make decisions knowing that you are doing the best you can. There's nothing more to be done.

Learn more about Brandy and her current classes, workshops and groups schedule at www.mothernurturedenver.com.