Where to Find the Best Online Childbirth Classes
So much about the labor and birth process feels shrouded in mystery for first-time parents. Sure, childbirth is a natural process and our body eventually takes control, but understanding what’s happening to our body and how to help it along is key—and it’s not something we’ll learn by simply scrolling through beautiful images of birth on Instagram. To really prepare for the experience of labor and delivery, turn to an expert-led childbirth class.
“All first-time families should take childbirth education—it really should be a blanket requirement because it gives them the foundational framework of what to expect,” says Amy Johnson-Grass, president of the American Association of Birth Centers. “Right now, in this country, everyone learns about pregnancy from social media—[real life] is really so far from that.”
While most hospitals and birth centers offer comprehensive classes in-person and onsite, many are now catering to our current reality of social distancing due to COVID-19 with online childbirth classes. Some classes are taught via live stream; others are pre-recorded. Johnson-Grass notes that a prerecorded class gives parents-to-be time to let the information sink in and the ability to go back and view again; other experts like live web conferences because they allow you to feel like part of a community. Either way, enrolling in an online childbirth class taught by a certified expert can lessen most anxieties you have about giving birth.
“One of the most beneficial parts of attending a childbirth class is accessing an expert,” says Dena Marchiony, a trained childbirth educator and owner of Childbirth Philly. “That’s extremely helpful as any questions you have can be answered.”
Of course, the beauty of online childbirth classes is that you can take them remotely, without having to step foot outside your house. “Convenience is key—especially in our day and age—because people are able to do it in the comfort of their home, even if it’s 9 p.m. at night,” Johnson-Grass says. “People also feel more comfortable digesting the info at their own pace.”
While lots of online childbirth classes speak to specific techniques and birth plans, you may want to start with one that covers the basics, such as “what a normal birth is, anatomy and physiology, comfort measures, what happens in case of an intervention, labor medications and c-sections,” says Marchiony. Other topics that’ll likely be addressed include the different stages of labor, how to work together as a team with your partner and providers, and best practices regarding exercise, nutrition and wellness, says Johnson-Grass. Look for online childbirth classes taught by individuals certified in a well-known technique (for example, Lamaze) or profession (such as a doula or midwife).
Wondering where to find a good virtual option? Here, a list of popular online childbirth classes to help prep you and your partner for labor and delivery.
If you’re looking for a traditional childbirth 101 lesson and you can’t make it to your local hospital for an on-site class, Johns Hopkins offers a no-frills, medical information-packed module you can flip through online. The eight-chapter online birth class uses videos, animation and real-life stories to help you understand pregnancy, labor and various breathing, relaxation and pushing techniques.
Price: $50 for six months of access.
Sign up: hopkindsmedicine.org
Popularized decades ago, Lamaze classes aim to teach mothers-to-be how to be more in tune with labor and cope with pain by following its six healthy birth practices, which include letting labor start on its own, moving around throughout labor and avoiding interventions that aren’t medically necessary. All instructors are certified by Lamaze International; classes are focused on specific topics like managing labor pain, vaginal births after c-sections (VBACs) and birth basics. Check out its “Safe and Healthy Birth: Six Simple Steps” online childbirth class to start.
Price: Prices vary per class ($30 to $90); classes run 1 to 2 hours
Sign up: (elearn.lamaze.org
Designed to help expectant parents navigate the traditional customs around giving birth, Evidence Based Birth online childbirth classes school clients in current best practices when it comes to laboring and giving birth so you can make—and advocate for—your own decisions. You’ll learn the basics, like stages of labor and pain relief; your licensed instructor will also inform you of your rights and how to best communicate with hospital staff.
Price: Prices vary per class (from $250 to $300); class times vary per instructor but most consist of multiple weekly sessions
Sign up: evidencebasedbirth.com
Active doulas and nurses from this Minneapolis-area outfit teach Lamaze-inspired, evidence-based practices, which means you’re getting information that follows the most up-to-date medical evidence about what works best. In a live session via Zoom web conferencing, you and your partner will learn about labor timelines, ways to ease labor pains, medication options, possible interventions and tips for postpartum healing.
Price: $294 for a 12-hour course held over four weeks, or $254 for a one-time, six-hour express class
Sign up: blooma.com
Bootcamp for New Moms is taught by mothers who talk frankly about giving birth, adjusting to life postpartum and how to keep your relationships alive. Learn coping strategies—for breastfeeding, choosing not to breastfeed and how to return to work—from a handful of other new mothers who experienced all types of different situations.
Price: $35 for a three-hour class
Sign up: bootcampfornewmoms.com
Aimed at making fathers feel more comfortable in their supporting role, this online course is taught by veteran dads who talk about the issues they have found to be most important just after birth. Dads learn basics like how to hold, burp, change, swaddle and comfort babies; they also get suggestions on softer skills like how to support new mothers and deal with relatives.
Price: $35 for a 3-hour class
Sign up: bootcampfornewdads.com
These courses coach parents-to-be on not only the practicalities of labor and delivery, but also touch on their fears, goals and expectations for birth and parenthood. Instructors, who are often doulas and are all certified by Birthing From Within, help mothers construct birth plans around their specific needs and concerns. Parents learn about things like alternative pain relief, coping mechanisms and relaxation techniques. Consult the directory below to find instructors who offer online childbirth classes.
Price: Prices and class times vary per instructor
Sign up: birthinfromwithin.com
Certified by the International Childbirth Education Association and in Lamaze, Dena Marchiony—also a prenatal yoga instructor and lactation support person—integrates bits of the Bradley Method, Birthing From Within, meditation and deep relaxation techniques to help expectant parents deal with any anxiety they feel about childbirth. Marchiony uses Zoom to teach live; her “Childbirth Class: Basics” covers anatomy and physiology, stages of labor, when to go to the hospital/birth center, and more.
Price: Inquire for price; classes run for four weeks
You won’t find general childbirth information with the Alexander Technique; it’s a movement method taught by certified instructors that some moms-to-be use to help with breathing during labor to make giving birth more comfortable. Its gentle stretching might help if you’re plagued by aches and pains while pregnant. Check the directory below to find instructors who offer online childbirth classes via Skype.
Price: Price and class times vary per instructor.
Sign up: alexandertechnique.com
Taught by a certified nurse midwife, this eight-part class guides you through preparing for a medication-free birth and features the latest research on water births, gentle c-sections and skin-to-skin contact. Learn about pregnancy nutrition, natural remedies for things like swelling, heartburn, placenta positions and how exercise can influence the position of your baby.
Price: $264 for the 12-hour, ten-module class
Sign up: mamanaturalbirth.com
Amy Johnson-Grass, ND, LM, LN, CPM, is a certified professional midwife and president of the American Association of Birth Centers. She is the founder, owner and director of Health Foundations Family Health & Birth Center in St. Paul, Minnesota and worked as a clinician at Children’s Hospital in Minneapolis in their integrative medicine department.
Dena Marchiony, ICCE, IAT-CE, ICBD, IAT-BD, LCCE, CD(DONA), is a trained childbirth educator with more than 27 years of experience, and is the owner of Childbirth Philly. She is certified in The Bradley Method, Birthing From Within, International Childbirth Education Association and Lamaze. She’s also a certified pregnancy fitness and prenatal yoga instructor, as well as a lactation support person.
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