Antenatal classes - natural birth
Natural birth classes usually mean classes where you learn about labour and giving birth without the use of any drugs. Natural birth is difficult to define as some people define natural birth as ‘vaginal’ as opposed to birth by C-section birth, whereas others describe it as birth without pain medication (for example an epidural).
The main aim of natural birth classes is to eliminate any negative side-effects that drugs in labour and birth might have on you and your baby. The Lamaze Technique, Bradley Technique and birth hypnotherapy are all types of natural methods.
Where are they held?
Classes can be held in hospitals, birth centres or at your home.
What to expect from natural birth classes
Expect to learn about alternative pain management techniques including hydrotherapy (the use of water), massage, relaxation, breathing exercises, vocalisation, visualisation, and water-birth techniques.
Other approaches include movement and different positions (ie using a birthing ball), hot and cold therapy (ie using hot compresses and/or cold packs), and receiving one-on-one labour support like that provided by a midwife or doula.
You may also learn about methods to help labour along such as changing positions frequently, remaining in an upright position to increase the pressure of the baby on the cervix, and walking up and down stairs.
Methods to reduce the need for an episiotomy (a cut made in your vagina to prevent tearing during birth) include learning how to massage the perineum (the part of your body between your vagina and your anus), hot compresses, and pushing the baby out slowly, may also be covered.
Your partner will be encouraged to attend.
Sign me up
Natural childbirth classes are mostly listed as birth hypnotherapy classes and cover similar topics. Start between 20 and 30 weeks pregnant so you can practise what you’ve learned. You book a course not a class ie it’s not a drop-in experience! Courses usually last between two and four days which can be separated into weekends, days or evening sessions.
A quick search on the internet will list umpteen courses. Look for those which are accredited to large organisations such as ‘Hypnobirthing – the Mongan Method‘ or the ‘Hypnotherapy Association‘.
Expect to pay between £100 and £500 for a course, including materials (eg CDs) which you get to take home.
Why choose natural birth classes?
If you’re keen on having your baby without the use of pain-relieving medication then these classes are for you.
But don’t choose if
You’ve already booked your C-section/epidural as no amount of classes will convince you that labour can be ‘naturally’ pain-free!