I want to stay away from the hospital birthing classes. I looked into a Bradley class, but the instructor is not currently doing them right now since she has 3 kids and no other couples interested at the moment.

My question is...

Do you have to go through a birthing class?

My doula said she was going to help us come up with something, but I'd just like to know if they are necessary to do, given that I just totally trust my body to do what it's going to do.


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ok, thanks for letting me know
If you can find classes, I think it's a worthy investment. Right now, it's easy to say that you will trust your body but when the time comes, that "trust" can quickly turn to "fear." An indepth class, such as Bradley, will not only help you mentally prepare for birth, it will also help your body relax more during transition. I personally found that the relaxation exercises in my Bradley class helped me a lot during labor. It was sort of like my body remembered what to do, even though at that time I felt like my mental capacities were at a standstill (in "labor land").

If you can't find a good class near you, you could check out some home-study courses. www.esalibirth.com/ is now offering internet classes. Hypnobabies has a home-study course, as well.

In the very least, you could go through some birth books like Husband-Coached Childbirth by Robert A. Bradley, M.D., and Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth by Ina May Gaskin. There is also a great list of resources on mybestbirth.com. Just go to RESOURCES and BOOKS.

Good luck!
P.S. Most hospital classes are free. So if you can't find anything independent near you, I wouldn't totally rule out the hospital class. I think the concern with those classes is that they may be teaching you to be a "good patient." But if you are set on having a natural birth, have hired a doula, and read some good "birthy" books, I doubt the hospital class would sway your thinking. In fact, when/if they show you that epidural needle, it may just reinforce your deep-seeded feelings about doing things naturally even more. ;) Plus, you might find out a thing or two about how your hospital typically does things that will help you be prepared when you go there. You may even meet some of the people that will assist in your delivery.

Now, you didn't say whether you are giving birth in the hospital or whether you even want a natural birth. But I sorta read into what you wrote (since you were talking about Bradley and trusting your body). If you are planning a home birth, then totally skip the hospital class. Just find some home-study materials or books. And if you are planning on having an epidural, then please check out the hospital class. It will help you understand their procedures so you will feel more comfortable when the time comes.
I found that reading books about the various philosophies about childbirth was actually more helpful. I was sold on the Bradley method until I read the book and realized it was totally not for me. I was glad I didn't take the class it would have been a waste of money.

I recommend:

Ina Mae's Guide to Childbirth by Ina Mae Gaskins
Birthing From Within by Pam England
My Best Birth by Ricki Lake & Abyy Epstein
Active Birth by Janet Balaskas (This actually ended up being the "method" that fit best for me)
Having a Baby, Naturally by Peggy O'Mara
Conscious Birthing: Yoga and Meditation for Pregnancy (really helped me visualize, focus and center myself through labor)
The Complete Book of Pregnancy & Childbirth by Sheila Kitzinger
Natural Childbirth the Bradley Way by Susan McCutcheon
Hypnobirthing by Marie F. Mongan

You don't have to read all of all of them. Skim through them and see what works for you then read those. If you are an average reader you could probably read them all in the same amount of time you would dedicate to an actual Bradley Method class. You can but them used pretty cheap online or check them out from the local library.

If its not to much $$$ or too time consuming I actually recommend you take the hospital based class at the hospital you plan to deliver at. It will NOT prepare you for a natural delivery but it will give you a heads up on the climate of the hospital and the way they "expect" your delivery to go. You will learn the "rules, policies, and procedures" of that hospital concerning childbirth so you know ahead of time what to expect and can plan accordingly. They will teach you about all the interventions and explain when/why they use them. So you can know ahead of time what they "want/expect" you to do and decide what routine interventions to accept or decline well before you get to the hospital in labor.



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