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Back to School: Childbirth classes can answer questions, and ease fears, about delivery.
As you approach your third trimester, you may want to consider registering for childbirth classes. These are generally offered by your hospital, although if you have a specific interest, such as the Bradley Method or Hypnobirthing, you may want to ask your obstetrician, or experienced friends, for recommendations.
These classes can range from short, one-day courses that cover the basics to classes that meet over weeks or months to discuss a specific birth plan, or labor method. These classes give you and your partner an opportunity to learn about the birthing process. A typical class will cover the signs and symptoms of labor; the stages of labor; the involvement of your partner, doctor, and the nursing staff; and your options for pain management. If you take a class through your hospital, your class will often include a hospital tour. If you take a class elsewhere, you may still have the option to schedule a hospital tour. The hospital tour will give you a chance to see the labor and delivery areas, the operating rooms used for caesarean sections, the recovery and patient rooms, and the nursery area.
Some questions to consider asking:
- What are the hospital's policies on visitors?
- Will your partner be allowed to stay with you during labor and delivery, and throughout your recovery?
- Are private rooms available? Are they standard?
- What are the hospital's policies on rooming-in?
- Do they offer breastfeeding support?
Most hospitals offer the opportunity to pre-register for child birth. Some even allow you to submit your information online. This will make your arrival and check-in when you are actually in labor much faster and easier, so be sure to take advantage of this if it is offered.
If you haven't already, now is also the time to begin putting together a birth plan. This doesn't have to be anything formal. It can be as simple as discussing your options with your doctor to be sure that your preferences are made known. We have an online checklist that can assist you in putting together your list of preferences for your labor and recovery period. Discuss your options with your partner and with your doctor ahead of time, so that all of you have a clear understanding of the kind of experience you want for your labor and birth. As you prepare, keep in mind that you can't control every aspect of your delivery. The best you can do is plan for the possibilities, while remembering that almost anything can happen.