The large majority of childbirth classes target women in the third-trimester of their pregnancy. This makes sense in many ways as class content largely covers labor and delivery – how to know when you’re in labor, what happens during labor and delivery, coping strategies for labor pains, tips and instructions for labor partners, a brief overview of postnatal information, etc.
However, most childbirth classes also cover important topics like healthy pregnancy nutrition and exercise and the physiology of pregnancy – and this information comes a little late in the game if you’re already seven- or eight-months pregnant.
Enroll in an early childbirth class and reap the benefits
That’s why we advocate for patients to attend an early childbirth class. These classes can be taken from the moment you’ve confirmed your pregnant. The information you learn can be put to use immediately and taking a childbirth class earlier also gives you more time to discuss and create a Birth Plan with your partner and healthcare team.
Here are some of the benefits of taking an early childbirth class – one that begins during the first-trimester rather than the last.
You’ll learn about nutrition recommendations that matter now
Much of the nutrition information covered at traditional, later-stage childbirth classes pertain to the first-trimester; whoops! It’s a little late for that information now…
For example, did you know that women in their first trimester should eat an average of 75 – 100 grams of protein per day? This protein is essential for the neural development of the baby, which happens most rapidly during this stage. Adequate folic acid is also essential from the very beginning of your pregnancy to prevent birth defects such as spina bifida and other brain/neurological conditions.
Read, Nutrition During Pregnancy for more information along those lines. However, an early childbirth education class offers more specific information and resources for you to access.
Expand your support network
If this is your first child, you’re new to the area and/or some of your closest friends don’t have children – your childbirth education classes are a great place to expand your new-motherhood support network. Connecting with moms-and-dads-to-be now gives you more time to develop bonds before you’re thrust into the very busy “new baby” phase.
More time to practice what you learn
The goal is to give birth to a full-term baby, but babies are apt to emerge anytime between 36- and 40 weeks – which means you could potentially go into labor before the class is complete. If you go into labor before your first class, you miss out altogether. Waiting until the end of your pregnancy also means you may only have a handful of weeks to practice the breathing, relaxation, positioning and massage techniques – at a time when you’re pretty busy preparing the nursery and your home for Baby.
The first trimester or two is typically spent waiting, waiting, waiting – to get to that last trimester. Taking a childbirth education class early will fill up that space and give you plenty of time to practice what you’re learning – especially if breathing and relaxation/pain management exercises are new to you.
In a perfect world, our Women’s Health Associates patients would take two courses – an early childbirth education class and a traditional childbirth education course during the third-trimester. They would also join a La Leche league or similar group dedicated to the postnatal breastfeeding/mothering journey before the baby is born. Not only do these classes make for more informed and educated women, they empower you and give you the confidence (and/or the support and resources) to tackle any challenges that arise along the way.
Contact WHA for direct referrals to certified early- and third-trimester childbirth education instructors in the KC area.