Prepared-childbirth classes run by hospitals are shorter in length and may be taught by hospital staff with a labor and delivery background or an independently certified instructor. Students are introduced to the practices and routines of that particular facility. Course topics typically include: what to expect in labor, typical medical procedures, and pain relief options. Breastfeeding information and infant care may be included or offered as a separate class. Natural childbirth topics such as techniques for early labor, comfort measures, patterned breathing and relaxation are included; but are not the focus of the curriculum.Lamaze childbirth classes
When you mention natural childbirth, chances are someone will say "Oh, are you taking a Lamaze class?"The Lamaze name is a well known part of our popular culture thanks to lots of women on T.V. shows panting and blowing their way through a birth. Official ASPO/Lamaze classes are offered both within and outside the hospital system. The concept was developed by Dr. Fernand Lamaze who studied conditioned responses to deal with pain. Patterned breathing techniques are taught to reduce your perception of pain. More recently Lamaze classes have included more work on relaxation and comfort measures.Bradley Method Childbirth Classes
The Bradley Method's goal is a drug-free labor and birth. The classes focus on learning about the birth process and using relaxation to allow your labor to progress naturally with minimal pain and discomfort. Husbands are trained to be labor coaches and couples are taught to be informed consumers of medical services. Ideally couples come to "early bird" classes early in their pregnancy and then return to study closer to their impending birth. These classes are often run longer than most others (standard curriculum is 12 weeks).ALACE, CAPPA, BirthWorks, Birthing from Within, HypnoBirthing, etc.
There are many childbirth methods out there. You can find out about some through books like Birthing From Within that uses art to work through birthing issues. Others are umbrella organizations that provide certification programs for childbirth instructors and doulas (like ALACE and CAPPA). BirthWorks has the pre-conception/early bird/longer class series idea and stresses working through emotional issues after a difficult birth. HypnoBirthing classes have two components, learning about labor and birth and teaching the couple to reach a hypnotic state for relaxation during labor and birth.