All labor involves some pain. Even though you wish to have an epidural, it is very important to learn about alternative ways of dealing with labor pain, and books simply cannot teach you the coping skills the way a class can. Whether your childbirth class involves Lamaze breathing and relaxation techniques or other approaches to childbirth, the class should incorporate discussions of natural methods of coping with pain as well as medication options.
As with all types of education, childbirth classes are taught by some great teachers and some not-so-great teachers, but in general these classes are extremely helpful as preparation for labor and birth. Your course should help you understand what will happen with your body in labor and how to work with this natural process. Your teacher should tell you what you need to know so that you won’t be afraid of what your body is going through and so that you can make informed choices in labor. The classes provide this information in an open, accepting atmosphere in which you feel your questions are welcome. A good instructor will teach you to be flexible, because labor is always somewhat unpredictable, and will help you to feel supported, confident, and capable. By taking the classes, you will be better prepared to have a positive birth experience, whether you end up giving birth vaginally with an epidural, having a non-medicated birth at home, or having a planned or unplanned cesarean. Finally, by emphasizing that there is no right or better way to give birth, your instructor will dispel any anxiety or guilt you may feel about your choices.
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Ask Tori RN®, by registered nurse and resident author of The Joy of Pregnancy, is a helpful and reassuring resource for parents-to-be.
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