Online Birthing Classes by Hearth & Home
Hearth and Home Midwifery is in the process of building a series of interactive, comprehensive online birth classes for families in both midwifery and OB care. Topics will include stages of labor, comfort measures and how to deal with pain, breastfeeding, and all of your options in childbirth and with your newborn. If you are planning a homebirth or to give birth at a birth center, or you are planning a hospital birth and want to know how to optimize your chances of a natural birth, this course will give you the information you need to feel prepared and informed.
We offer childbirth education classes in person in Hood River and Portland (and we do private classes in your home if that’s your jam- it’s so good to have someone come to you, right?) These classes are designed to help people who want to have a physiologic birth- sometimes called a natural birth. What that means is we not only tell you about early labor signs and how to cope, we also tell you what to do to set yourself up for success for the later parts of labor, including active labor, pushing, and getting your placenta born. We really want everyone to have the birth experience they’re looking for. If you want an epidural and that’s the right thing for you, we completely support you! Not everyone wants a natural birth. We talk about interventions in our class, and when our online course launches there will be sections on common interventions and how to choose which ones you want to help you have your baby. However, if you’re one of the people who doesn’t want an epidural, who wants to have a natural birth and experience what labor and childbirth are like without medication, we want you to be prepared and set up for success as much as you can.
Labor and birth are unpredictable, and lots of the time birth doesn’t go to plan. That said, there are lots of times when people have different labors than the planned simply because they didn’t have the information ahead of time and they didn’t know what to do to create the environment they would need on the day. We help you with that. We’ll give you tips and pointers, but also strategies for advocating for yourself and figuring out what you need to succeed. Good childbirth education should not only be the nuts and bolts, but also a framework so that no matter what your birth ends up being like, you are the autonomous decision maker, and you were in charge. If you want to choose a scheduled Cesarean, that’s the right thing for you. If you want to have an unmedicated birth at home, that’s the right thing for you. We want you to know what you’re choosing and how to get yourself ready for the birth you’re planning (and how to make informed decisions if the birth you’re planning isn’t the birth you get.)
What could there be to it that I don’t instinctively know?
The answer: a LOT! It may be unclear to you what you will learn in a childbirth education class, however taking a childbirth education class can be a really critical part of your journey to parenthood.
In most childbirth education courses, you can expect coverage on:
- The nuts and bolts of pregnancy, pregnancy coping, nutrition, and exercise
- Comfort measures during pregnancy and labor, including pre-labor, active labor, pushing, and the placental stage. This will include measures for medicated and unmedicated births
- What to expect and how to cope with the sensations of labor
- When to either go to the hospital if you are planning on birthing there or when to call your midwives if you are planning a home birth or birth center birth
- How to support a laboring person, whether from the perspective of the partner, the doula, or another family member
- Labor positions and methods for coping with contractions
- Positions to push in
- How to time contractions or how to assess that labor is progressing normally (and how to ask if your need help!)
- Medications, common procedures, and some of the complications that can come up. We spend a lot of time on this particular part during our class, because we want people to be prepared for all the what-if’s and have thought a lot about what they would choose ahead of time.
- Cesarean birth, what to expect in a surgical birth, and how to recover from a Cesarean birth
- Fetal monitoring in active and second stage
- Fetal cardinal movements during birth
- How to make the best decisions for yourself and your baby
- Newborn care including diapering, bathing, cord care, and what to expect after you have a baby
- Newborn cues, including hunger, discomfort, satiety, and relaxation
How do Online Childbirth Classes Differ from In-Person Childbirth Classes?
Here are some of the pros and cons to taking an online childbirth class as opposed to an in-person class:
Online Birth Class:
- You can do it when it’s convenient for you. If you are someone who has a tight schedule, or you’re trying to fit in as many work hours as you can before baby comes, it might be really helpful for you to just do the class when you have time. For people who already have children, an online childbirth class can be a huge benefit because they don’t have to pay for childcare or arrange a class around the schedule of the children. Especially for people who had an adverse birth experience the first time around or second time around, they might be attracted to childbirth education but have a hard time getting away from the kids. Online childbirth classes are a great option for this population.
- Online you might have access to classes you wouldn’t otherwise, such as classes from midwives or doulas that aren’t available in your geographic region.
- You can select in-depth knowledge about the areas you really want help with (such as natural birth, coping techniques, newborn cues, etc) and spend less time on the things you feel confident in
- You can select classes that are focused on your particular situation, such as if you are planning a Vaginal Birth After Cesarean (VBAC), if you are pregnant with multiples (twins or triplets), or if you are giving birth as someone with a medical condition that will make your situation different from the average population
In-Person Birth Classes
- You can have the opportunity to meet with other expectant parents in your area and get to know the community that might eventually be your new parent friends! The postpartum period can be very lonely, and one of the main risk factors for postpartum mood disorders is isolation. For some people, spending time with other parents in their area makes them feel more prepared not only for childbirth but also for the period after the birth, when they have a new baby
- You will benefit from hands-on demonstration and opportunity to use different kinds of learning. If you are a body-learner and you really like to feel someone’s touch to understand how hard to do something, for example, an online childbirth class might meet your needs. Let’s say you are a partner to an expectant person, and you want to learn how to massage your partner while they are laboring. If you watch a video online, you might understand it okay, but be left with certain questions. If you take a class in person, you will have the opportunity to try it out, get feedback from then instructor, and feel on your own body what the massage feels like. This can be a major advantage for people who learn best by doing and feeling, rather than seeing, listening, or reading. There are a great variety of learners in the world, and everyone has their preference in order to take in the information the way that works for them!
- You can ask the instructor your specific questions in real time and have the opportunity to hear from other parents. Sometimes, you don’t even know what question you have until you hear someone else ask it. One time, in a childbirth class we were teaching, a husband of a pregnant person asked timidly after a few hours, “Can you explain what a cervix is?” We were surprised- we were so far into the class for that question!- but as we talked we realized multiple other people in the class had the same question. They all got to learn from each other by being together in the room, and that was really valuable for those learners. Of course, there are other ways to simulate that in an online childbirth class, but for some people, in-person is the way to go.
When Should I Take An Online Childbirth Class?
As with any childbirth education class, you want to take the class in time to be prepared for the birth of your baby, but close enough to the birth that you remember what was covered and the bulk of the content. (If you have hired a doula or a midwife, they will be available to help you remember some of the things you forgot, but it can set each individual at ease to remember what they talked about in their childbirth education class.) Typically, we recommend doing childbirth education sometime in the third trimester before 36 weeks. This will allow you time to incorporate what you’ve learned and practice some of what you want to from the class before it’s time to actually give birth, even if your baby comes on the early end.
Does Hearth & Home offer online birthing classes?
Hearth and Home Midwifery is hard at work compiling the premiere of our online childbirth classes. In the mean time, if you are interested in online childbirth classes, here is a list of some of the current online birth classes that people use to prepare for their big day:
Baby Center has free online birth courses broken up into seven chapters, including labor basics, stages of labor, managing pain, medical procedures, decisions to make about your newborn, and birth stories. There are fifty-one videos to watch and re-watch, all for free. It’s a great place to start if you don’t know anything at all, or if your partner doesn’t have the basics and needs them.
Mama Natural Birth Course
Mama Natural Birth Course is hosted by a doula and focuses on online childbirth classes for anyone planning an unmedicated, or physiologic, birth. The course is the top-selling online birth course.
Midwife 101 is an online child birth class with home birth midwife Gelena Hinkley. It is more than twenty five video classes covering all aspects of natural birth, including pregnancy, nutrition, breastfeeding, and how and when to push. It also includes newborn care.
We wish you all the best in your pregnancy and birth journey, and we hope this information about online childbirth classes has been helpful. Please stay tuned for the development of our online childbirth classes, whether it’s for this pregnancy or the next!
Sarah and Charli
Hearth and Home Midwifery