Bradley, Lamaze or Mongan? How to Choose a Childbirth Class

Filed under: Expert Advice: Pregnancy, Expert Advice: Babies, Expert Advice: Health


Pregnant women spend nine months waiting for the moment when they'll make the trek to the hospital for the big delivery, but you can get a preview of the action at a childbirth class. ParentDish took a look at three of the most popular types of classes in the U.S.:

1. The Bradley Method of Natural Childbirth, sometimes called husband-coached childbirth, is a 12-week program that teaches women to tune into their bodies via natural breathing and relaxation.
  • Birth coaches are expected to attend, and they'll learn ways to become active participants in labor.
  • Classes include instruction on nutrition and exercise during pregnancy and breastfeeding.
  • Although there is an emphasis on natural childbirth, class time is also spent on emergency situations, including the discussion of C-sections.

2. The Lamaze Method is broken down into 12 hours of instruction on natural childbirth and the early postpartum period.
  • It was developed by a French doctor and brought to the U.S. in the late 1950s, making it a method practiced by generations of American women.
  • Although most commonly identified with breathing through the pain of childbirth, Lamaze has moved beyond that to embrace a birth philosophy that empowers women to give birth naturally and nearly anywhere.
  • It is suggested women sign up six to eight weeks before they begin the seventh month of their pregnancy.
  • Coursework includes normal labor, birth and early postpartum, positioning for labor and birth, relaxation and massage techniques to ease pain, labor support, communication skills, information about medical procedures, breastfeeding and healthy lifestyles.
3. The Mongan Method, more commonly known as "hypnobirthing," is a method of pain management for natural childbirth that has been described as "daydreaming, or focusing, that occurs when you are engrossed in a book or a movie or staring into a fire."
  • Women are taught to achieve a state of relaxation while laboring via self-hypnosis, but this method does allow a woman to remain awake through labor.
  • A birth companion is encouraged to attend classes to learn to help the mother through hypnosis prompts and visualizations.
  • Although the method boasts 70 percent of women who use hypnobirth do not use medications at delivery, the Mongan Method also allows for the use of these techniques with a C-section or pain medications.
How to find a childbirth class:
  • Check with your prenatal health care provider. Most OB/GYNs or midwives keep up-to-date schedules of local childbirth classes.
  • Check with the hospital where you plan to deliver. If a hospital delivery is desired, the classes at the facility often include a tour of the maternity ward.
  • Visit the International Childbirth Education Association to find an educator or class near you.
Related: Pregnancy: Week by Week

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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.