Not All Childbirth Classes are Equal; or, You Get What You Pay For

This post is part of the Preparing for Birth Series. Guest Julie of Inexplicable Ways shares her thoughts on childbirth classes. For more information about Julie, be sure to check out the bottom of this post and for more posts on childbirth education, check out our week of childbirth education posts here on the blog.

We have some amazing childbirth classes in my area. Taught by seasoned birth workers. These classes all fall in about the same price range. Some classes, however, are underpriced and for couples looking only at the price tag, it can seem a steal. Are they apples to apples? How do you know which to pick?

I’ve had a few couples who did not take my classes because they felt it was too expensive.

Now, to me, there is a difference in the couple that tells me they can’t afford my class and the couple who says it is too expensive. I lower the price, barter, or work out payment plans all the time for folks who can’t afford it.

What are you paying for when you take a childbirth class?

1) You’re paying for the instructor’s credentials. I spent ton o’ money to become certified as a Hypnobabies Instructor.

2) You’re paying for materials. For example, Hypnobabies students receive 7 CDs, three books, a tote bag, and loads of handouts.

3) You’re paying for class costs: travel expenses, space rental, supplies, business expenses, etc.

Hospitals and some birth centers/childbirth businesses offer free or very low cost childbirth classes. The hospitals do it because they want you to be a good patient and to understand your options (i.e. hospital policies and procedures). The birth groups are perhaps trying to bring in business for other services.

I’ll use hypnosis for childbirth as an example. It is so hip and trendy to use hypnosis for birth these days. There are several programs available: Hypnobabies, Hypnobirthing, Hypbirth. These have been around for a while and have wonderful outcomes.

But hypnosis for childbirth is more than simple relaxation and it is more than listening to a script. It is a rather complex process. For Hypnobabies, before I could even train as an instructor, I had to complete 50 hours of hypnosis training and be tested on the materials. And let me tell you, that was some intimidating stuff. Self-hypnosis is not something I could just teach one of my doula clients outside of a class. It takes weeks of practice and compounding.

When you pay for a Bradley class, you expect it to be taught by a certified Bradley instructor. Not someone who used Bradley for their birth or who read Husband-Coached Childbirth a few times. By the way, we do have an amazing Bradley instructor in town: Mary Kury.

So when you’re shopping for a childbirth class, ask some simple questions:

1) What is the instructor’s background? I don’t think everyone needs to be certified. There are some wise women out there who are treasures and I could sit at their feet all day long. I could care less if they are certified. But listen to the instructor tell you her story. You’ll know if she is someone you can trust.

2) If it is a trademarked program (Bradley, Lamaze, Hypnobirthing, Birthing from Within), is the instructor currently credentialed? You can usually check the parent website for instructor listings.

3) What is the cost? If an instructor is teaching a 10 or more hour course and is charging less than 150.00, I would question it. Most trademarked classes are 250.00 or more. And if a class is less than 10 hours long, it is probably not a comprehensive class.

Bottom Line: Do your homework. Find the class that matches your birth expectations the best. I don’t think hypnosis is for everyone and I regularly refer couples to my stellar Bradley friends.

Julie Byers is a doula and Hypnobabies Childbirth Instructor. She is also a Chapter Leader for Upstate BirthNetwork. When she’s not a busy birth bee, she can be found trying to keep up with Norah (6) and Cedar (2).

This post was previously published at Inexplicable Ways.

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