An ObGyn’s Guide to Birth & Baby Classes

pregnancy Dec 08, 2019
by Christine Sterling, M.D., FACOG
Why is “No one told me about this!” one of the most common things we hear from new moms?
There are SO many birth and baby prep classes out in the world. What’s going on? 
I know your time and hard-earned money are precious. So today I want to break down what these classes have to offer, and what they don’t.
But before we embark on the ins & outs of the available classes, we need to know where you stand and what you need. Get clear on how to prepare for your ideal postpartum with The Postpartum Prep Quiz
Once you’ve taken the quiz you will have a better idea of what can help you get one step closer to your ideal postpartum experience. 

Let’s start with...Birth Classes

General classes offered at your hospital/birth center
The focus and quality of these classes varies between institutions. There are no regulations on who can teach childbirth classes, though some are taught by certified childbirth educators. These classes often include a tour of labor & delivery and have the benefit of providing you some exposure to the policies and practices specific to where you will give birth.
Classes geared towards those who would like an unmedicated, low-intervention birth
There are numerous classes out there for those looking for low-intervention birth. I will say, as someone who has had an unmedicated, no intervention birth, preparation is key. I can’t tell you what class is right for you, but I can tell you that having continuous support during your labor- from a friend, doula, partner, or relative, is crucial. The data shows us that people who have continuous support in labor have shorter labors and a lower risk of cesarean. The 3 most popular classes for “low-intervention birth” are Hypnobirthing, Lamaze, and The Bradley Method. 
Online Birth Classes
There are a lot of online birth classes! The advantages to doing them online is that you can 1) Do them at your own speed, on your own schedule, from the comfort of your own home AND 2) You can often get a better sense of the individual teaching the class before you enroll through their website and social media presence. The downside is that you won’t get to meet any other expecting parents IRL through an online birth course.
What birth classes typically don’t provide
Much, if any, details on what happens after birth and how to optimally recover. 

Let’s Talk...Baby classes

Infant Care 
There are both in-person and online courses teaching infant care basics such as swaddling, soothing, diapering etc. If you are a first-time parent the hands-on of an in-person course, paired with the ability to meet other expecting families may be best for you. However, an online class gives you the ability to go back and rewatch portions that you have questions about after baby comes! If you have a busy life, the convenience of an online course may be beneficial. 
Newborn Sleep
This is one type of class where I have a clear preference. When it comes to infant sleep, an online course is key. Why? Because the ability to re-watch components of the course when you are struggling is very important.  
The only online sleep course I recommend is the Taking Cara Babies Newborn Sleep Class. Don’t worry I’m not being paid to say that! There is a reason Taking Cara Babies is a household name in the space and an Instagram celebrity. She is that good.
Breastfeeding Classes
There are both in-person and online classes that cover breastfeeding basics. A course that covers breastfeeding 101 is a must, especially for first-time parents. Even if you take an in-person breastfeeding class, I recommend that you go to a breastfeeding support group before baby is born. Why?
  1. Seeing how to latch a baby in-person, in real-time is SO helpful. Don’t stress, checking out each others latch is a totally normal breastfeeding group activity and these groups highly encourage pregnant women to attend. You are not going to come across as a weirdo!
  2. Going to a new place with new people can be intimidating. Get this hurdle out of the way while you are pregnant to make it that much easier to attend postpartum.
Alright now let’s talk about what all of them are missing:
Unfortunately, none of the class tie all the elements together. They all deal with pieces of the puzzle but none of them are painting the whole picture and answering the following questions:
How am I supposed to recover from birth while learning how to breastfeed, dealing with sleep deprivation, navigating the new challenges to my relationship, dealing with postpartum blues (or even depression/anxiety), enforcing boundaries with family and adjusting to my new identity as a mom?
We cannot just address small pieces of this puzzle! A new family needs to know how to navigate all the things at the same time. Otherwise, you are left feeling lost, asking "Why didn't anyone tell me?!"
It doesn’t have to be so hard. 
There is a better way to the restful, loving and supported postpartum you deserve.
There is a way to prepare that does not overwhelm you with negativity.

Here are some options...

Option #1 
Enroll in Prepared Postpartum: Your step-by-step to a restful, loving, and supported postpartum for the whole family, when the doors open Jan 15th 2020.
In this online course, taught by myself, an ObGyn, and Dr. Cassidy, a Marriage and Family Therapist, you’ll go from feeling overwhelmed to crystal clear and prepared for ALL the things (sleepless nights, a body in serious recovery, breastfeeding, a crying newborn, the fear of postpartum depression/anxiety, and juggling the needs of your family and relationships). You can get on the waitlist for the course here
The enrollment period is short (Jan 15th-28th, 2020) and the course won’t open until later in the year, so I have some other options for you if the timing of this course doesn’t work...
Option #2 
If enrollment is after your due date, or you don’t like watching videos online, here are the steps you can take to fill the gaps
  1. Make an appt with a couples therapist to do some work before baby arrives. 
  2. Hire an experienced postpartum doula (ask your Ob/midwife for a recommendation).
  3. Make friends with an ObGyn who has small children, buy her a few dinners and have her spill all the secrets.
Make an appointment (or 2) with your Ob/midwife specifically to discuss postpartum recovery during pregnancy. Ask for all their reading material on recovery in advance and read it cover to cover. 
Option #3 
Become an ObGyn and a therapist.
Okay, I’m being a little cheeky, but that’s only because I really, really want you, if at all possible, to take Option #1. You deserve a restful, connected and supported postpartum and it is the best, straightest path to get you there.
To get clear on what your ideal postpartum is, and the first steps you need to take to get yourself there, make sure you take the Postpartum Prep Quiz.
Love you precious mommas. You deserve the best.

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