Top 5 Methods of Childbirth Education – Which Classes are Right for You?

Birth methods and classes vary - choose the right one for your labor and delivery. Image by ecahal

Birth methods and classes vary – choose the right one for your labor and delivery. Image by ecahal

If you are expecting a baby, you are probably thinking about taking a childbirth class at some point in your pregnancy. What you may not know is that not all birth methods are the same. Some classes are quite in-depth, and cover topics like what to eat during pregnancy and what types of prenatal testing is available. In addition, rather than discussing a broad range of pain relief measures, some natural labor methods have certain prescribed techniques they offer to participants. To help you learn more about what classes are out there, here is a brief overview of some of the top methods of childbirth education available today.

Lamaze Classes

Not only is Lamaze one of the most easily-recognized names in the world in the field of pregnancy, childbirth and early parenting, it continues to be one of the top methods of childbirth education that parents choose to take to prepare for labor and birth. As contributors to the early natural childbirth movement of the 1950’s, founders Marjorie Karmel and Elizabeth Bing brought Ferdinand Lamaze’s method to the U.S. in 1960. The original method was designed to beat the fear-tension-pain cycle in labor by providing women with education and techniques such as breathing and relaxation to reduce pain.

Originally, the Lamaze method recommended specific patterned breathing techniques, however now educators tend to emphasize a host of comfort tools for labor that moms can choose from, including basic breathing and relaxation techniques, positions for relief, massage and many others. The Lamaze course runs about 6 weeks.

Bradley Classes: AAHC

Bradley classes are undoubtedly one of the best known natural childbirth education methods; the American Academy of Husband-Coached Childbirth is otherwise known as the “Bradley Method.” Dr. Robert Bradley and husband-wife team, Jay and Marjie Hathaway founded this method in the 1960’s. The Bradley method emphasizes relaxation as the most effective tool to reduce labor pain.


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The Bradley website states that approximately 86% of the women who use their method manage to achieve a drug-free childbirth. Since the focus of this method is exclusively on natural childbirth, mothers who are planning to use pain medication may prefer another method for their childbirth preparation.  The Bradley method is typically taught over 12 weeks, and Bradley educators covers topics such as nutrition, exercise, birth planning, the father’s role as primary labor support, cesarean birth and breastfeeding.

What is ICEA?

Freedom of choice through knowledge of alternatives” is the motto of this childbirth education known as the International Childbirth Education Association or ICEA.  Another group that had its roots in the natural childbirth movement of the 1960’s, ICEA began its teacher certification program in the 1980’s and now boasts one of the most rigorous programs to train childbirth educa

tors today. As of 1997, ICEA also began to offer a doula certification program.

ICEA recommends that their childbirth preparation classes be taught over a 6 week series of classes and like Lamaze, it introduces a range of topics including breathing and relaxation exercises as well as other comfort measures for labor, role of support team, medical interventions, cesarean birth and breastfeeding.  ICEA childbirth educators offer classes in birth centers, hospital and in private settings.

Click to Read Page Two: BirthWorks International and Hypnobirthing Classes

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  1. […] Lamaze has a best birthing practice centered around this concept – to let labor begin on its own. […]

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