What should I look for in a class?

Look for a class taught by a certified childbirth educator. Childbirth classes should be small — with no more than eight to 10 couples — to facilitate discussion and allow personalized instruction. Be sure to ask about the cost, location and schedule.

When should I take the class?

Childbirth classes are often recommended in the last trimester of pregnancy — but anytime before you go into labor would be helpful. You can take classes earlier in pregnancy if you feel that you need more time to build your confidence and knowledge.

Often a series of classes is offered over a period of weeks during the last trimester. The earlier you register, the more options and flexibility you'll have regarding class dates and times. And, in some areas, it's important to register early because classes fill up quickly.

What's my health care provider's role?

Your health care provider is there to help ensure your health and your baby's health during pregnancy and delivery. Your health care provider will also provide educational materials and instructions throughout the course of your pregnancy. Ask questions and share any concerns you may have about your delivery.

With your health care provider's input, use what you learn in your childbirth classes to create a birth plan. Remember that your plan might need to be altered if things change during your labor or delivery, so create a plan with an open mind. No one can predict how labor and delivery will unfold, but together you can design a birth plan that meets your expectations for labor, delivery and postpartum care — and that promotes the best care for you and your baby.

June 02, 2017 See more In-depth