Taking a childbirth education class will help you and your partner prepare for childbirth. There are several child birth philosophies including the Lamaze method, the Bradley method, the Kitzinger method, and Hypnobirthing®. These methods vary on approaches, but all childbirth classes will teach you signs of labor, what to expect during labor including the birthing process, tools and techniques for managing pain. Most will also include newborn care and breastfeeding information. Each of these methods is slightly different in their approach. Most hospitals offer some type of childbirth preparation class, the method they teach varies and many include different techniques from each method into the class verses teaching a specific childbirth philosophy. Many hospitals use ICEA (International Childbirth Education Association)-certified instructors.
The Lamaze method was introduced by the French obstetrician Dr. Fernand Lamaze. The Lamaze method teaches that birth is a normal, natural process. The Lamaze method teaches patterned breathing, comfort measures such as massage, use of heat and cold, and relaxation techniques. Classes generally consist of six to ten couples and is taught by a Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educator, LCCE.
The Bradley method, based on Dr Robert A. Bradley's book Husband-Coached Childbirth : The Bradley Method of Natural Childbirth is another popular childbirth method. The Bradley method also teaches that birth is a natural process. This method uses primarily abdominal breathing verses the patterned breathing of Lamaze. The Bradley method encourages active participation by the husband (or partner) as the labor coach. This method teaches you to trust your body and natural instincts. Nutrition and exercise are also taught in this class. Classes are typically 12 weeks long.
Although not as heard of, the Kitzinger method is another childbirth method. The Kitzinger method teaches chest breathing combined with abdominal relaxation. This method also teaches imagery to aid in relaxation.