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 as well.

When should I take the class?

Childbirth classes are often recommended near the sixth or seventh month of pregnancy — but anytime before you go into labor would be helpful. 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.

What is 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. With his or her input, use what you learn in your childbirth classes to create a birth plan. 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.

Jul. 23, 2011 See more In-depth