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A Hospital Childbirth Class – 10 Reasons to NOT Take One

A hospital childbirth class isn’t for everybody. I’d  be a liar if I told you that everybody gets their time and money’s worth at our local hospitals’ childbirth classes. (I would know! I teach one of them!)

Is a Hospital Childbirth Class for Me?

The following are 10 Reasons to NOT Take a Hospital Childbirth Class. In this list I compare a typical hospital childbirth class to a more comprehensive/longer childbirth class. The one is typically not like the other!

1. You want to have a shorter and less painful birth.

I’m really not trying to sound gimmicky here, but there’s something I teach in every childbirth class that gives moms the tools to have a less painful and shorter childbirth. It’s no secret, but called optimal fetal positioning. If you want to learn more about this on your own, you should check out Spinning Babies’ Daily Essentials. It’s WORTH IT!

2. You want to learn pain coping practices that work.

Many childbirth classes have ditched teaching “hee hee hoo hoo’s” (which was probably for the best because everybody was hyperventilating), and instead teach women to “survive” until they get their narcotics and epidural. Or they gloss over pain coping practice in general because there’s not enough time.

This is a disservice to women because they are often shocked at the intensity and pain of childbirth, and are unprepared (women still have to cope through labor before they get an epidural/drugs). Also, the underlying theme there is “you can’t do it”.

In every class I devote time to learning a different pain coping practice that will serve two purposes: 1) build a pain coping mindset and 2) be mindful (which is helpful in labor AND in life).

Click here for 10 reasons you might not want to take a hospital childbirth class. Share this! Friends don't let friends take a hospital childbirth class.

3. You want to learn about cesarean births.

The cesarean rate in our country is very high and therefore some women who take my classes might find themselves, for whatever reason, having a cesarean birth.

Talking about a cesarean ahead of time does not make it more likely to happen (a common deep seated belief) but instead gives parents things they can DO to make it more of a birth and less of a medical event. It’s good to prepare for a cesarean even if you don’t plan to have one.

Fear not, however, in addition to learning about how to have a more gentle and family friendly cesarean birth, we cover in depth many ways to reduce the chance of having one.

4. You want to successfully navigate the medical system.

One of the most favorite hands-on exercises I do in my classes (this is by far the Dads’ favorite thing we do in class, it’s one of the best dad tips for a great delivery!) is on working with your care provider to gather the information you need in order to make the best decisions for you and your family.

First, I give you the tools (the BRAIN acronym for birth) you need to work with your care provider, and second we role-play where you get to practice these tools. It’s fun AND extremely informative!

5. You want to prepare for the unexpected.

Many parents come to the first night of class narrowly focused on their ideal birth fantasy. However, this may or may not happen, depending on what mood the Birth Fairy is in that day. (The Birth Fairy ALWAYS brings a little bit of the unexpected to every birth!)

I find it helpful to think about multiple scenarios in case the birth doesn’t go to plan (honestly, birth hardly ever goes strictly according to a plan).

Opening to other potential scenarios, and learning to do the Next Best Thing, will serve parents during birth and postpartum when the birth processing begins.

6. You want to grow, change and LEARN something new in class.

Some parents enroll in a childbirth class in order to check it off the a third trimester checklist of “things to do before baby is born”. They are not mentally invested in the class, and might even nonchalantly attend classes.

I can’t tell you how many times I hear people tell me they took the generic hospital childbirth class and thought it was a waste of their time and money. The way I see it is if you’re paying me for a class, I’m going to do my best and make sure that you get something out of it. I want you to be more prepared for what’s to come, grow as a person/parent, and discover new questions and solutions. Also, I make it a point to teach you things you can’t learn for yourself from books and google.

7. You don’t see birth as a medical event.

There is a lot going on at a birth – a physical ordeal, a personal transformation, a testing of perceived limits, the birth of a baby, mothers and fathers… a family. I believe it is narrow minded to prepare for birth solely from one perspective, which is typically the medical perspective.

By learning how to give birth from multiple perspectives we can better prepare for the unknowns and possibilities of birth.

Click here for 10 reasons you might not want to take a hospital childbirth class. Share this! Friends don't let friends take a hospital childbirth class.

8. You are ready to get outside your comfort zone.

Birth is uncomfortable and is designed to test our thresholds. Because of that, I think it’s helpful to try new things, and to practice spending time outside of our comfort zone.

In my childbirth classes we spend a lot of time doing “hands on” activities and trying new things that allow for personal growth.

9. You enjoy group discussions.

In my childbirth class I try very hard to not personally answer all the questions that come up. I enjoy asking other expectant parents, and even the person asking the question what they think the answer might be.

We all have lots of knowledge and wisdom to share. Some of the most profound learning has come from class discussions, when we are bouncing ideas and new questions off of each other. This is something that I could never have pre-planned but is spontaneous and organic.

However, I do try to keep us on task and focused in order to have effective discussions. As much as I would love to hear about everybody’s crazy family, we just don’t have enough time. 😉

10. You don’t enjoy lectures.

I don’t know about you but I learn very little from lectures. Lectures might be very interesting, but if you asked me a week later what was discussed, I probably wouldn’t remember. What a waste if you show up to your birth and don’t remember a thing from your childbirth class!

In my childbirth class I don’t lecture. I will not stand in front of my class and talk for an hour. Lecturing is not my style, but more importantly, if I lecture nobody will remember what I said! As Pam England often says, teflon teaching isn’t ideal – because it slides right off!

Instead I try to incorporate left and right brain learning in what we do – art projects or maybe role play. Anything that will help us to experience learning… will make it stick.

Leave a Comment

If you’ve read to the bottom of this post you’ve probably realized I am NOT in support of the generic, wham bam thank you ma’am, waste of time, hospital childbirth class. If the philosophy discussed in this post sounds appealing to you, you would probably enjoy taking a Birthing From Within childbirth class.

Do you have experience with a hospital childbirth class? If so, leave a comment and let me know your thoughts. Thanks!

Amanda J.

Sunday 29th of April 2018

Hmmm... my hospital birth class was actually great! It covered a lot of the aspects you say they don’t. This is kinda a negative perspective. I’m choosing a hospital birth but was very selective about the hospital to find one that aligned with what is important to me and their birth class was rooted in many of these things. Maybe the post should be what to look for in a good class, not hospital class bashing. The constant hospital bashing makes those who choose to deliver there or learn there feel less than. Not all hospitals are bad. And not all home or birth center experiences are good.


Monday 14th of August 2017

As a hospital childbirth educator, I find this post extremely insulting! I have been following your blog for awhile now, and even point my class participants in your direction for further information on a regular basis (as well as and many of the other resources that you claim folks in the hospital setting will miss out on). I won't be recommending Mother Rising any longer. I know we come from different backgrounds (I'm an RN in L&D) so for the most part I understand the anti-hospital undertones to some of your posts. I know there are good hospitals and bad hospitals, just like there are good birthing centers/home births and bad. I can understand your reasoning when I see your discussions about mothers learning to stand up for themselves and be active in the development of their plan of care - I want that too. I think this post crossed a line, though. It's not as black-and-white, us-against-them as you make it seem. I love seeing a patient through to their goal of a low-intervention birth! I love helping patients prepare for that journey, and I believe anything is easier to cope with when you're educated and aware of what's going on. And I work in a hospital!! Please consider minimizing the trash talking about hospital births and birth services. Lots of us are working very hard to provide holistic care in a safe setting, and it really serves no purpose to speak about us so negatively.


Wednesday 20th of June 2018

It really is an "us against them" in most hospitals. I'm sorry but that's just the way it is. This post is spot on an truthful.


Monday 14th of August 2017

Ironically, as of this year I now also teach hospital childbirth classes. I take your criticism seriously and promise look over this post again with new eyes. Perhaps in the next month. Thanks for your comment!