If you live in an area like I do where there are as many doulas per square mile as tap houses, then you know the difficulty of choosing the “right” childbirth education path. Back in the day, our moms had Lamaze at the hospital. Or... Lamaze at a different hospital. Now, our options are much more diverse. No need to be overwhelmed. Take a deep breath and read on.
*Denotes Hummingbird Doula’s most recommended education series for clients.
Lamaze Most well-known for its focus on patterned breathing, this method also includes techniques such as visualization, guided imagery, focal points, and partner coaching. Expect to learn the ins and outs of medical interventions, the stages of labor, and how to write a birth plan. Lamaze is still one of the most widely used childbirth education options in the United States.
Bradley This method places an emphasis on the partner as labor and birth coach. Breathing techniques, nutrition, exercise, and pain awareness are other main components. You’ll learn the physiology of labor, what various interventions do, and how to write your birth plan.
*Hypnobirth or The Mongan Method* All hypnosis is self hypnosis; this method teaches the release of personal and cultural fear surrounding birth. It reframes the language surrounding birth to be more gentle, non medicalized, and positive. Visualization, relaxation, breathing, and guided imagery techniques are all components of this method. Physiology of labor and delivery are part of the curriculum; however, medical interventions and medical pain management options are not emphasized.
*Birthing From Within* Art, storytelling, and meditation are explored to expose and develop both mom’s and partner’s deepest feelings and beliefs about birth. A reliance on inner knowledge and know-how is emphasized over technical, physiological information.
*VBAC Class* With a c-section rate of about 30% in this country, we have a growing need for childbirth education classes specifically tailored to women who are seeking a subsequent vaginal delivery. While most of the information presented is not unique, many educators place an emphasis on self-advocacy, understanding choices, and finding a supportive care provider.
Alexander This method teaches muscle relaxation, tension release, and breathing exercises that are to be practiced throughout pregnancy. Expect to learn how to let your body take over and have a passive, not highly active birth experience.
Even if you’re still unsure of which method to choose, the important thing is that you ultimately do educate yourself about the labor and birth process. “Winging it” and “going with the flow” are lovely ideas for your babymoon weekend away, but they won’t cut it for your actual birth experience.
Know more, do better.