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MoonDragon's Pregnancy Information

MoonDragon's Pregnancy Information: Childbirth Classes: Are They Necessary?

Fewer changes in life bring as much anticipation and awe as awaiting the birth of your baby, whether this is your first or your fifth. Most of your entire pregnancy you are, no doubt, excited and looking forward to the day when you get to actually hold your little bundle of joy. You may also be feeling some apprehension and concern. If you have already had a baby, you may feel you need more preparation than you did the last time around to make this experience better than the one before.

It is the fear of the unknown that scares some of us the most. But with childbirth this does not have to be the case. In most areas - childbirth classes are offered. These classes help you to understand what will take place on that day - as well as offer ways of coping and dealing with labor and delivery. There is no reason to face this very important day - without being somewhat prepared. Even if you live in an area that does not offer childbirth classes - you can greatly benefit by going to a bookstore (online or otherwise), or even to the library and reading books on the subject, and discussing your concerns and have your questions answered by your midwife. If you are offered childbirth classes that you will find useful for your specific approach to the birthing experience, it would be wise to consider taking them, especially if this is your first baby. Even with 2nd and subsequent pregnancies, a refresher course could do you some good.

It helps to research your instructor before taking a class. Not all instructors are created equally, even though they may be teaching the same "method". Instructor bias may be a factor in many classes and may influence the quality of instruction received by expectant parents.

childbirth classes


There are many different types of childbirth preparation classes available with many different approaches to pregnancy and childbirth. Hospital-based classes are the most common and tend to use the Lamaze approach, but there are also out-of-hospital courses like Bradley, Birth Works, Birthing From Within, and HypnoBirthing classes. There are other methods as well, plus those that are independent and not affiliated with any real organization. The most familiar methods will be discussed.

Most people take the traditional classes offered through their local hospitals because they are recommended by their health care provider and are usually subsidized (they tend to cost around $60-$100 or less). However, their content may be highly controlled and they tend to have a high rate of medication use and other interventions. Therefore, more and more people are opting for independent classes taught by people or organizations not affiliated with hospitals in order to receive more unbiased information and more natural approaches. Which method that may be right for you depends on your priorities and choices.

Some people take the traditional hospital class in their first pregnancy, but find that it did not prepare them adequately for labor and birth, and so opt to change to a non-traditional class as a "refresher course" in their next pregnancy. Other people know ahead of time that they wish a more natural, less medicalized birth and so seek out these the alternative classes with their first pregnancy. Still others know that they place a very high priority on having pain medication in labor as soon as possible, and so would not be happy in an alternative, independent-style class. And some women are undecided whether they will want a natural birth or will want to use medications, and so choose to take a course that is open and non-judgmental about pain medications, yet still prepares women to work towards a natural birth whenever possible. The choice is yours to make and should be based on what is important to you.

childbirth education tools


These classes tend to be very traditional but the quality does vary significantly from one hospital to another. Some classes are excellent and very fair-minded while others are little more than instructions in how to be a compliant and unquestioning patient. They generally use Lamaze techniques of distraction and patterned breathing during labor; they also contain lots of simplified information about childbirth, including very basic anatomy, stages of labor, hospital procedures and what to expect in your hospital birth and all types of birthing experiences - from natural childbirth to planned cesareans.

These classes will usually contain quite a bit of information about pain medications and availability. Ideally they are not supposed to be pro-medication, but the vast majority of women who take hospital classes end up using plenty of pain medications. Classes usually begin late in pregnancy and continue until just before birth, but sign up early since they fill up quickly. For information on a hospital-based class, simply call your local hospital's health education department and ask for a list of classes and dates.

Hospital classes are also usually considered quite cheap since some HMO's and health care providers sponsor classes which take no particular school of thought. A lot of times these are free of charge if you are registered with their particular hospital or clinic. This can be a big advantage for many couples. Instructors tend to be certified by the International Childbirth Education Association (ICEA), Association of Labor Assistants and Childbirth Educators (ALACE), Lamaze (ASPO) or similar organizations while others are taught by labor and delivery or obstetric nurses employed by a specific hospital or clinic.

In addition to the 4 listed above - many clinics and hospitals also offer specialized classes on cesareans, VBAC's (vaginal birth after cesarean), breastfeeding, siblings, and infant care. Check with your health care provider or midwife about the types of programs they offer.

Before taking any class - be sure to discuss it with your midwife or health care provider. Make sure that they will support you and the type of education you will be receiving from these classes.


Developed by Dr. Ferdinand Lamaze, teaches the laboring mother to look outside her body - to a focal point - while incorporating breathing techniques to ease through labor and delivery. Rapid, panting breathing is used during strong contractions, although the recommended breathing has slowed down considerably over the years. You may obtain more information on Lamaze by contacting the American Society for Psychoprophylaxis in Obstetrics (ASPO), 1840 Wilson Blvd, Suite 204, Arlington, VA 22201; 1-800-368-4404


Some of these classes really are well-done but the majority tend to be superficial and do not adequately prepare you for the demands of childbirth and lack information about coping techniques for labor. These classes may not prepare you to question or evaluate any of the decisions that are made for you during your birth. Critics contend that most hospital classes are so controlled by OB politics that they are little more than classes in how to be a compliant patient and prepare for intervention; this criticism is often a legitimate one. The problem is there is no real way to tell ahead of time which hospitals have the good classes and which do not.

These classes are well-suited to the mother who strongly desires pain medications/epidurals during labor or who feels better with lots of monitoring. They are NOT for the mother who prefers a more natural birth or who strongly wishes to avoid a c-section if at all possible. It is my biased opinion and personal experience that most prepared childbirth classes given through hospitals are not worth taking unless you are a mom strongly determined to use pain medications. For all others, I believe that another childbirth education option is preferable, especially if you are planning a homebirth experience.

There are some exceptions, however. Some hospitals may have excellent supplementary classes on Baby Care, Breastfeeding, Infant CPR, etc. These are often VERY well-worth taking, and I strongly recommend taking a quality class on breastfeeding in order to ease into breastfeeding more easily and successfully, and also becoming proficient in infant first-aid and CPR (I take my CPR certification classes at a local hospital). These are hospital classes well worth taking if available. If you plan to take a breastfeeding classes, be sure the breastfeeding class is taught by a board-certified lactation consultant (IBCLC), if possible. Another favorable alternative to this type of class is to attend La Leche League Meetings for 4 weeks prior to the birth.

(American Academy of Husband-Coached Childbirth)

These classes are independent of OB/GYNs and take place out-of-hospital, so they are not likely to be controlled by local obstetric politics. Therefore, they tend to present a more complete point of view. Bradley Method classes strongly emphasize excellent nutrition and proactive prevention of problems in pregnancy. Their classes promote:
  • Natural childbirth whenever possible.
  • Active participation of the husband as coach.
  • Avoidance of drugs during pregnancy and birth unless absolutely necessary.
  • Relaxation, NATURAL breathing, guided imagery to cope with labor.
  • Becoming attuned to your own body.
  • Immediate and continuous contact with your new baby.
  • Breastfeeding beginning right at birth.
  • Being an informed health consumer.
  • Parents taking responsibility for the circumstances of their births.
  • Preparing patients for unexpected situations such as emergency childbirth and cesarean sections.

Their goal is for you and your baby to have the best, safest, and most rewarding birth experience possible.

Some parents are afraid that committing to a Bradley birth will not prepare them should complications arise, or that they must commit to having a birth without any pain medication whatsoever. Many women would like to have a more natural birth, but do not want to have to commit to forgoing any form of drugs. They are frankly afraid they cannot handle the pain of labor and will need an epidural to cope; they want fair and unbiased information so that they can choose for themselves instead of having to follow rigid dogmatic rules. Other women are afraid that if they do end up using pain meds or having interventions, they will be looked down on or derided. Couples with these reservations sometimes elect not to take a Bradley class, fearing that they will not be given complete information on all their birthing options or will be looked down on if they end up using pain meds.

These parents need not worry since this kind of rigidity is not what the Bradley method is all about. It is about making informed choices, not about judging other people's choices. Bradley does not mandate that all women labor without drugs, nor does it label pain medications as evil. It does present information about pain medications during its classes, and it does so fairly and without condemnation. It leaves the choices up to each couple. Its position is that in the vast majority of cases, natural childbirth IS best for both mother and baby, but that each situation must be judged on its own merit and needs. It does present information about the risks of pain medications, information that is often de-emphasized or completely left out of many hospital classes, and it does take the position that medications can be a very slippery slope on the way to intervention and c-section, but it also recognizes that in some situations, pain medications can be beneficial and appropriate.

It is not unfair or biased in its presentation of information on pain medications, but it does carefully examine all the risks so parents can make a trulyinformed choice, something that is lacking in many OB offices. It also carefully prepares you in alternative methods of dealing with contractions so that you are less likely to use pain medications. Reportedly, over 90 percent of Bradley couples do not use pain medications in their births, a tremendous success rate and one that speaks tellingly of the preparation they receive. However, if you end up in the near 10 percent who has pain medications or other intervention, no one should look down on you or judge you. Of course, not every teacher approaches this philosophy the same way; some students occasionally report a judgmental attitude in some teachers or classes. But, for the most, this is not the approach taken by most teachers and classes.

Bradley classes place a great deal of emphasis on nutrition, and women are generally required to fill out a weekly food diary, at least at first. This can be a painful exercise for women who have dieted and reported to the 'Food Police' all their lives, but the point is not to be judgmental or scolding but to help women evaluate whether they are getting enough protein, vegetables, vitamin A, C, and calcium foods each day.

I, too, as a midwife, have my pregnant moms fill out a nutritional questionnaire and keep a food diary for anywhere from 3 to 7 days at least once during her prenatal care, including how much water and other fluids she is drinking. This is to simply evaluate the nutrient values of what she is consuming. In this way I can make suggestions on how to increase, let's say, her protein intake if she is not obtaining enough protein in her daily diet. I also attempt to help her to improve the quality of her diet if it is lacking in certain food groups or contains a great deal of junk or processed foods by making suggestions of foods she does like and will eat.

Bradley students have a checklist of foods that must be consumed daily or weekly, and some critics find the amounts of protein, eggs, etc. excessive. However, the recommendations are based on the work of Dr. Thomas Brewer, who achieved amazing results by emphasizing preventive nutrition among his patients, many of whom were high-risk. Bradley method proponents feel that the emphasis on prevention and SUPERB, careful nutrition is part of the reason why Bradley classes generally achieve such good outcomes. Furthermore, the Bradley approach is quite compatible with nutrition requirements for gestational diabetes programs or pre-eclampsia.

A few Bradley teachers do have early-bird Bradley classes available, but most parents take Bradley classes at about the same time they would hospital classes, usually in the last several months of pregnancy. If there are early-bird classes available to you locally, you really should consider taking them if at all possible, but later classes are still quite valuable even if that is all that is available. Classes are usually 12 weeks long and are limited to a few couples at a time in order to assure lots of individual attention (sign up early to get a spot!). If you are having reservations about your present provider or wish to find a doula for extra labor support, many Bradley teachers can recommend the best OBs, midwives, and doulas in the area to you, potentially saving you a lot of time and effort searching.

The main disadvantage of Bradley classes is the cost. Classes generally run $150 to 200 and are often held in private homes; the price deters many couples from taking the class. However, those couples who have scraped together the money to take Bradley classes rarely regret it and are generally very positive about the experience. One other possible disadvantage of Bradley classes is that some OBs have very strong prejudices against them, and a few even flatly refuse to take patients who take Bradley classes. Some OBs feel (unjustly) that the protein requirements are excessive and produce 'huge' babies that are hard to birth, or that Bradley parents are hard to work with, demanding, and rigid. Although it's true that some OBs occasionally feel this way, most OBs and midwives are fine with patients taking Bradley classes, and those that object to Bradley classes usually do so from misinformation about the class and its nutrition recommendations. Some OBs have objections to the 'natural childbirth' emphasis and at having their decisions questioned, but that's a good warning sign to find a new doctor anyhow!

The childbirth education training program I received back in the early 1980's was from the Bradley Method via another childbirth organization. I still use much of the program in my birthing practice today. I have found that it has worked well for many mothers. I, too, stress the nutritional aspects and healthy life style as major prevention methods in my midwifing practice. I liked their approach to the natural relaxed breathing techniques (which corresponded with my own method of giving birth very well) instead of the huffing, puffing, and blowing techniques used in other method(s) (which did NOT work for me in my labors) and their focus on the preparation of the mother for the birth through frequent rehearsals of a variety of labor coping techniques. They do emphasize a lot of technical information, anatomy and birth process and not so much on the emotional aspects of pregnancy and preparation for birth. This could be a down side if you have a special emotional situation, such as VBAC birthing. This can be a good course for first time moms and their partners, and for planned homebirth couples.

Further information about Bradley classes can be found at or by calling 1-(800)-4-A-BIRTH for a list of teachers local to your area.


This is a fairly new entry into the childbirth education area and a very promising one. This is one of the only childbirth education classes to really address the emotional preparation as well as the physical preparation needed for birth. It also is one of the few classes available that is appropriate for parents who have given birth before, either vaginally or by cesarean. It is an excellent preparation for VBAC birth as well as for first-time birth.

Its flyer states that Birth Works embodies a philosophy that develops a woman's self-confidence and trust in her innate ability to give birth. The classes are experimental and provide both a physical and emotional preparation for birth. Birth Works classes are taken by new parents, and women with prior cesarean or vaginal births. The program meets the needs of parents planning hospital, birthing center or home births.

The emphasis on emotional preparation, grieving and healing, and discovering belief systems before birth is probably the most unique aspect of this program. It says that talking about obstetrical drugs, medical procedures and birth plans is straightforward. The challenge is to get today's women to develop trust and faith in their bodies. [their emphasis] However, they also emphasize nutrition, exercise, birth plans, breastfeeding, and postpartum issues as well as traditional topics such as components of labor, pelvic body work, labor positions, comfort measures for labor, etc.

Birth Works classes are about 10 weeks long and they do encourage coming early in pregnancy (or even before pregnancy!). The disadvantage of Birth Works classes is that they are probably not subsidized by insurance and cost more than hospital classes, but the information provided is more complete and fair. And unlike many hospital classes, they teach not just cold, abstract facts about anatomy, birth, medications, etc., but also exploring one's belief systems about birth, healing from past emotional issues that might affect your ability to give birth, etc. It does believe in natural childbirth but emphasizes the importance of each woman choosing the right way to birth for her. It is "a unique and innovative approach focusing on the integration of mind, body, and spirit, a process which builds confidence that birth, indeed, works!" [emphasis theirs] Their official statements of belief are:
  1. The knowledge about how to give birth already exists inside every woman. Women's bodies are designed to give birth.
  2. A woman will labor the best wherever she feels the safest and most secure. For some that may be a hospital; for others it may mean at home or in an alternative birthing center.
  3. Birth is one of the greatest challenges life has to offer. It provides an opportunity for personal growth.
  4. While a cesarean section can be necessary at times, the current rate is too high.
  5. In most cases VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean) is a safer alternative to routine repeat cesareans.
  6. Birth Works is a process, not a method. Birth Works seeks to facilitate a woman's or a couple's personal process in childbearing, not to impart a preconceived method of labor and birth. There is no one right way to give birth. Each birth is unique.
  7. A woman in labor deserves an environment in which her privacy, autonomy, and emotional security are protected, and her mobility is encouraged.
  8. Expectant parents should have access to information they need about obstetrical procedures. They should participate in decisions regarding the judicious use of obstetrical medications and procedures.
  9. A woman's beliefs influence her birth. Exploring her beliefs heightens self-awareness, serving as a catalyst for positive change.
  10. The emotions of a birthing woman have profound effect on the birth outcome. Women must be allowed to express all their birth-related feelings.

(copyright 1995, Birth Works, Inc.)

As with Bradley courses, the main disadvantage of this course is the cost. Classes generally run anywhere from $100 to $250, depending on the region you live in, the experience of the teacher, etc. Although much more expensive than traditional hospital classes which are subsidized by the hospital and insurance companies, this course offers so much more that it is worth the added expense.

The other disadvantage of Birth Works courses is that they are not available in all areas. Bradley has been around a lot longer and has many more certified teachers all over the country. Birth Works is rapidly gaining trainees and educators now, but there are still parts of the country where there are not any instructors within driving distance. However, this will become less and less of a problem as time passes.

You can learn more about the Birth Works childbirth education program (and to locate teachers in your area) by visiting its website at or by calling 1-(888)-TO-BIRTH. Their email address is


HypnoBirthing classes are a new entry on the childbirth education front. You may have seen reports on it on nightly news magazine TV shows. They use hypnotherapy to help women relax and prepare for birth, to deal with fears about birthing, to help bond prenatally with their children, and to relax through and deal more effectively with labor discomforts. HypnoBirthing was founded by Marie Mongan, who consciously birthed her four children in the 50s and 60s without being drugged up and knocked out like so many women in that era were (she was inspired by Grantly Dick-Read's book, Childbirth Without Fear). She feels she used a form of self-hypnosis to help, and eventually developed this formalized program to help other women.

A common misconception about hypnosis is that women can be made to do things against their will. This is not true. Hypnotherapy simply helps women go deep into their own internal resources to help them deal more effectively with fear, pain, and the powerful forces surrounding birth. The woman is relaxed, yet highly aware and focused. Another misconception is that women will be unconscious or not completely aware of their births. Because they tend to be very quiet and internalized, many people around hypnobirthers may have this perception. However, women report that they are fully conscious and know what's going on around them during the birth, can also come 'in' and 'out' of this state at will, and are able to participate fully in the joy of birth.

Marie contends that women can control their own levels of pain in birth, and that birth does not have to hurt at all. She believes that women can decide how much pain they want to experience through the use of individual "pain control valves". Many women who take HypnoBirthing classes amaze their attendants because they are so seemingly peaceful and calm throughout the whole birth. Although not all hypnobirthers report "painless" or "no pain, only pressure" births, some certainly do seem to experience that.

Nancy Wainer (author of Silent Knife, midwife, and VBAC pioneer) wrote about HypnoBirthing for the Autumn 2000 issue of Midwifery Today. In it, she discusses how many HypnoBirthers in her practice have had much easier, shorter births after taking HypnoBirthing classes. Although she has a few disagreements with the program on the utility of perineal massage, etc., she was impressed enough with HypnoBirthing to become a certified teacher of it in the Boston area. She writes, One of the great benefits of HypnoBirthing is the reduction/elimination of fear around birth. Decisions made from fear are not decisions at all, they are forced reaction. Women are then free to make real choices about where they birth, how they birth and with whom they birth. Fear increases muscular tension and creates discomfort that grows into pain and then increases the fear. An old concept, but very important to HypnoBirthing.

In my own midwifery practice, I was able to attend a HypnoBirthing class with a homebirth client of mine planning a VBAC. My client did very well through out the labor and coped with the discomforts very well until she reached the pushing stage. She was still coping very well, but unfortunately, the baby's large head just would not fully enter the pelvis, no matter what we tried to do, and so she still ended up having second cesarean, but she, and I were both really pleased with how she had been able to handle her labor experience. Her previous cesarean, she did not have the chance to experience labor since the cesarean occurred before she had entered the active labor stage.

The HypnoBirthing class she had attended was given at a local hospital by a member of the nursing staff. Of course it was taught with the hospital birthing model in mind, this was a disadvantage for someone planning on a VBAC at home. Downside was that it did not assist her much with her concerns about having a VBAC. We had to slightly adapt some of the affirmations found in the course to her own philosophies. Other than these few things, I found it worked very well and have used the information for later clients (I have had several years of working with self-hypnosis myself as a means of stress management).

The class itself was much shorter than the usual childbirth education class with only 4 to 6 class sessions. It seems very short for the amount of information and emotional preparation that is most needed for birth. The classes can be costly and are usually not subsidized. The exact amount will depend on the region and the instructor. It is not available in all areas.

Further information about HypnoBirthing can be found at If there are no HypnoBirthing teachers in your area, you might want to take a different type of childbirth education class and also seek out a hypnotherapist for relaxation training on the side. HypnoBirthing teachers rightly caution that these professionals may not have adequate training in childbirth issues and preparation (which is why it's important to take another type of childbirth class), but while it may not be as helpful, some help is better than none. Hypnotherapy as a concept sounds very 'far out' and alternative, but many people do find it quite helpful for many life issues, including childbirth.

The relaxation and visualization tapes are very helpful for expectant mothers and can be used often to relax, deal with fears, to visualize a different outcome than in previous births, to release anxieties and the need to try and control the birth, etc. This can be by far the most valuable part of the class experience, and would be helpful to many couples.

The downside was the class is rather dogmatic about certain issues, such as perineal massage or patterned breathing. The instructor may be a bit inflexible and not open to differences of opinion on these issues. There can also be a great deal of pressure from the instructor to 'do it right', 'stay in control', not to 'lose it', etc. This can create a great deal of performance anxiety as a result. The class may not be able to cover the important issues in birthing plus getting all the relaxation training since it is such a short duration.

HypnoBirthing classes are appropriate for all types of parents, but probably most effective for those wanting a more natural birth, those having difficulty dealing with anxieties about labor and birth, those strongly afraid of labor pain, and those who have had past difficult births. The program has significant strengths (the relaxation tapes and components, the effective use of visualizations), but not all educators with the program may be adequately trained and the program tends to place a lot of performance pressure on its students. As with any program, the program's effectiveness probably has a lot to do with the strengths and weakness of any individual teacher.


Another relatively new childbirth education program is the one based on the work of the authors of Birthing From Within. It places very strong emphasis on exploring feelings and often uses artwork as a medium to discover unconscious feelings and beliefs. It also tends to use a lot of journal-writing as well. "Left-brained" people might find this class more threatening, but often once they get past their initial reluctance, many report finding the class very helpful and the exercises very freeing. Like Birth Works, this is one of the few classes to adequately address emotional preparation as well as physical preparation.

This class probably is most useful to those highly interested in natural birth, and those who tend to be open to using artwork and journaling as a medium for exploring feelings. People who are very analytical and "left-brain" oriented may also find the class extremely illuminating, but only if they can get past their initial hesitation over the "touchy-feely" exercises and take a leap of faith.

Others who might find it especially helpful might include those who have had past difficult birthing experiences, who have a lot of pregnancy or parenting fears they are having trouble dealing with, those who have had past cesareans and are seeking a VBAC, or those with previous pregnancy losses such as miscarriage, stillbirth, or adoption surrender. However, many average first-time parents would probably find the class useful as well.

Authors Pam England and her husband Rob Horowitz have begun training educators in this approach, but it is relatively new and unfortunately it may be hard to find someone in your area that can offer these classes. You can find out if there is a class in your area at

I have never taken a Birthing From Within class and so cannot speak of this class from personal experience, but I have read the book and think it can be very helpful. Many of the exercises in the book are quite valuable, and if you take the chance on doing them, can be quite illuminating.

Many people (especially some men) would probably find the class a bit threatening at first, and some would find the art and journaling exercises silly or "too alternative" for their tastes. Its approach is probably not for everyone. However, if you do not have a good Birth Works course in your area but do have a Birthing From Within instructor in your area, it might be a good alternative. Even if you do not get to take a Birthing From Within class, buying the book as a supplement to whatever other childbirth class you take is a worthwhile investment.

MoonDragon's Pregnancy Information: Birthing Within


Finding a type of childbirth education class that will suit your needs can be a problem for many women in some regions of the country, especially in the rural areas. If you cannot find a suitable childbirth class, here are some suggestions that you may try:
  • Reading lots of labor books is a good start. Although you will not be able to have hands-on experience with an instructor, this can be helpful, but, may not fully help during the intense portions of active labor. If you must do this as an alternative to classes, you may need to design a regimen from the books and practice it faithfully every day. Rehearsing your coping techniques is essential to programming your brain to work more efficiently and spontaneously when you go into labor. This way you will not have to "remember" what the book said about this or that. The more you prepare yourself and practice, the better the outcome will be.

  • relaxation during transitional labor

  • You may find an instructor in a nearby region but are unable to go there for every class. You may be able to hire the instructor for private classes over a weekend intensive or two, instead of attending a regular 12 week class.

  • Hiring a private hypnotherapist may also help, as suggested above. It is always better to have these sessions over an extended period of time as to be able to assimilate material, obtain clarification and practice techniques instead of concentrating it into a weekend or two intensive, but this can be helpful and definitely is better than no preparation at all. Many women have been able to work in birthing classes in this way.

  • Hire a local midwife or doula (professional labor assistant) to work privately with you for your childbirth education needs, while still going to your original midwife or health care provider for prenatal care. If there is no local midwife or doula to help you, consider hiring one in another city to come to you (or vice-versa) for one-on-one classes. Hiring a midwife for your main care is often an excellent choice in this situation, since the really good ones take the time to do any necessary childbirth education during their prenatal care sessions and will often spend an hour or more per appointment with you (MoonDragon has provided informal childbirth education in with the prenatal care for their clients).

  • Many birthing centers or family practice organizations run their own birthing classes in the community; these are often quite good too BUT you need to inquire about their philosophy because some are simply like tame hospital classes in a private setting. But all possibilities are worth investigating.

  • Not having access to quality childbirth education programs that emphasize consumer awareness and truly informed decision-making can be a difficult situation. There are no easy answers in this situation. However, many women have gotten through this challenge by engaging their creativity. You need to see if you can find answers that suit YOUR situation.

Whatever method you use to obtain the knowledge you need to prepare yourself for the birth of your baby, make sure you find one that is as compatible as possible with your own birthing philosophies and your priorities. You will need to continue to read about birth and practice the coping methods faithfully in order for the method you choose to be effective.


Academy of Certified Birth Educators (ACBE):
ACBE provides both childbirth education certification and DONA approved doula training workshops.
2001 E. Prairie Circle, Suite I
Olathe, KS 66061

American Academy of Husband-Coached Childbirth:
The Bradley Method of Natural Childbirth, 12 week classes (usually).
Click Here for info about class content. The American Academy of Husband-Coached Childbirth offers certification for childbirth educators. Dr. Robert A. Bradley, founder, was instrumental in bringing the husband into the labor and delivery room for birth. He developed a method (named after him) which emphasized natural childbirth through education, proper nutrition, and active participation from the husband. The Bradley Method encourages relaxation and natural breathing and the inward focus of the laboring woman. In Dr. Bradley's experience, by using his method, medications can be avoided 95 percent of the time.

(818) 788-6662
American Academy of Husband-Coached Childbirth
Box 5224
Sherman Oaks, CA 91413-5224

ALACE - Association of Labor Assistants & Childbirth Educators:
Non-profit, educational organization formed in 1995 by Rahima Baldwin and combine aspects of Informed Homebirth and Informed Birth and Parenting. As the name indicates, ALACE offers certifications for childbirth educators and labor assistants (doulas). With a goal to empower women to make the best choices in order to have a wonderful birth experience. ALACE emphasizes the psychological perspectives and mind-body influences on birth. Furthermore, ALACE examines the sociological and anthropological influences our culture has on birthing women today.
P.O.Box 390436
Cambridge, MA 02139

ASPO / Lamaze International (Non-Profit):
American Society of Psychoprophylaxis in Obstetrics by Marjorie Karmel and Elizabeth Bing after Ms.Karmel had Dr. Lamaze for an obstetrician. The mission of Lamaze International is to promote, support, and protect normal birth through education and advocacy. Lamaze International believes that women who are fully informed, confident, and supported will want normal birth. It believes that caregivers should respect the birth process and not intervene without compelling medical indication. Lamaze offers childbirth education and advanced skills workshops for Labor Support Specialist. Teen Support Specialist and Breastfeeding Support Specialist. Lamaze has two publications available.

2025 M Street, Suite 800
Washington, DC 20036-3309

Birthing From Within:
Begun by Pam England and based on the book, Birthing From Within. Birthing From Within mentors (teachers) believe that childbirth is a profound rite of passage, not a medical event (even when medical care is part of the birth). Birthing from Within has mentors or teachers to teach their method.
P.O.Box 4528
Albuquerque, NM 87106

Birth Works (Non-Profit):
Childbirth Education and teacher certification program based on the belief that the knowledge to give birth already exists within every woman. Classes are designed to help women gain confidence, trust and faith in their bodies, and to help birth companions become aware of the ways they can make labor safer and more comfortable. Cathy Daub, RPT and president of Birth Works, designed and taught childbirth classes in 1981 and developed these into a teacher training program by 1988.

Birth Works Inc.
P.O. Box 2045
Medford, NJ 08055

For New England Area:
New England Area Instructors

CAPPA- Childbirth And Postpartum Professionals Association:
Providing information to new and expectant parents on childbirth classes, labor doulas and postpartum doulas. Cappa was founded in 1998 by Donna Johnson and Tracy Peters, to offer a myriad of certification options for perinatal professionals. CAPPA is the only organization with a 5 tier certification - childbirth educators, antepartum doulas, labor doulas, postpartum doulas and lactation educators. CAPPA also provides a free conference to members each year. They introduced and advanced training in 2002 - the Teen Educator Advanced Certification Program. CAPPA believes that women should be encouraged to trust their bodies in birth and be given the tools to achieve a natural birth, if that is what they desire. CAPPA emphasizes the importance of informed choices for birth.
P.O.Box 491448
Lawrenceville, GA 30049

Childbirth Education Association (CEA):
Lamaze-based classes, also cesarean workshops, VBAC.

P.O. Box 1609
Springfield, VA 22003
(703) 941-7183

Childbirth Without Pain Education Association:
Lamaze classes.

20134 Snowden Street
Detroit, MI 48235
(313) 341-3876

Council of Childbirth Education Specialists, Inc.:
The CCES Certification is designed for nurses and other licensed professional health care providers, and focuses on the psycho-biology of birth to improve the state of health and promote wellness in body, mind, and spirit.
Contact: email: unknown
P.O.Box 2000
Williamsburg, VA 23187-2000

Council of Childbirth Educators:
Birth Educators Special Training (B*E*S*T*)
The Birth Educators Special Training (B.E.S.T.) Course is designed for health care providers and educators who want childbirth education certification through that builds on existing knowledge and provides an opportunity to establish a program based on principles of adult education.
8910 West 62nd Terrace
P.O.Box 29160
Shawnee Mission, Kansas 66201

DONA - Doulas of North America:
Begun in 1992 by Marshall Klaus MD, Phyllis Klaus, John Kennell MD, Penny Simkin and Annie Kennedy, DONA provides birth and postpartum doula training. DONA is an international association of doulas who are trained to provide the highest quality emotional, physical, and educational supports to women and their families during childbirth and postpartum.
P.O.Box 626
Jasper, Indiana 47547

Family Life and Maternity Education (FLPME):
Lamaze-based classes

(703) 276-9248

Hypnobirthing (TM):
A unique method of relaxed, natural childbirth, enhanced by hypnosis techniques, providing the missing link, that allows women to call upon their natural instincts to bring about a safer, easier, more comfortable birthing in the way that most mirrors nature. Begun by Marie Mongan, M.Ed, M.Hy, of Concord N.H. and based on the book Hypnobirthing - A Celebration of Life. Emphasis is placed on both pregnancy and childbirth as well as on Hypnobirthing.

Marie F. Mongan, Director
HypnoBirthing Institute
146 Sheep Davis Road
Pembroke, New Hampshire 03275
(603) 225-3441

June 1-September 15
P.O.Box 810
Epsom, NH 03234
(603) 798-4781

September 15-June 1
10738 W. Citrus Grove
Avondale, AZ 85323
(623) 772-7738

Informed Homebirth - Informed Birth & Parenting (IH/IBP):
Referrals to childbirth educators and labor assistants.

P.O. Box 3675
Ann Arbor, MI 48106
(313) 662-6857

International Childbirth Education Association (ICEA) (Non-Profit):
ICEA is a professional organization that supports educators, parents and healthcare providers who believe in knowledge and freedom of choice in family-centered maternity and newborn care. Quality resources, certification, continuing education. Also has great catalog of pregnancy, birth and lactation books. ICEA has been active since the early 1970s and adopted the motto "Freedom of Choice Based on Knowledge of Alternatives." ICEA offers certifications in childbirth education and postnatal education as well as doula certification and perinatal fitness certification. ICEA offers a comprehensive bookstore and publication.

P.O.Box 20048
Minneapolis, MN 55420
(612) 854-8660
(952) 854-8772

Prenatal Parenting:
Prenatal Parenting is based on Dr. Fred Wirth's book, Prenatal Parenting and is dedicated to helping pregnant families be healthy during their pregnancy. Whether you are a parent-to-be, grandparent-to-be or waiting to adopt a child, the advice aids in preparing you to become an educated parent before the baby arrives.

1055 Westlake Drive, 3rd Floor
Berwyn, PA 19312
(610) 727-4145

Prepared Childbirth Educators, Inc.:
This program builds upon an existing knowledge base and provides nursing professionals with continuing education by offering certification courses in childbirth education, labor doula skills, and lactation education.

219 Central Avenue
Hatboro, PA 19040

Read Natural Childbirth Foundation:
Based on Grantly Dick-Read's book "Childbirth without Fear"

P.O. Box 150956
San Rafael, CA 94915
(415) 456-8462

The Childbirth Institute:
"At Home" Childbirth Education Video Series.
Video series for couples who are unable to attend traditional childbirth classes. Includes two video tapes, each containing three half hour childbirth education classes, a 70 page student manual, a set of coaches cards, relaxation / visualization cassette or CD, and email with our certified childbirth educators.
Contact: Paula C.Doughman


MoonDragon's Pregnancy Information: Types of Childbirth Classes
MoonDragon's Pregnancy Information: The Instinct of Birth
Childbirth Graphics: Childbirth Education Supplies
Cascade Childbirth Education & Midwifery Supplies

MoonDragon's Pregnancy Information Index
MoonDragon's Pregnancy Information & Survival Tips


| Prenatal Multivitamin & Mineral Supplement Products |




HerbsPro: Prenatal One Multivitamin, Rainbow Light, 30 Tabs (35472)
HerbsPro: RAW Prenatal, Garden of Life Vitamin Code, 30 Caps (94343)
HerbsPro: Brainstrong Prenatal Multivitamin Plus DHA, I-Health Inc, 30 Tabs & 30 Liquid Gels (98775)
HerbsPro: DHA Smart Essential & Prenatal One Combo Pack, Rainbow Light, 30 / 30 Softgels, (70166)
HerbsPro: Perfect Prenatal, New Chapter, 48 Tabs (91394)
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HerbsPro: Prenatal Formula, Thompson Nutritional Products, 60 Tabs (35684)
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HerbsPro: Early Promise Prenatal Gentle Multiple With Iron, Bluebonnet Nutrition, 120 Caplets (100475)
HerbsPro: Prenatal One Multivitamin, Rainbow Light, 150 Tabs (62769)
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HerbsPro: Perfect Prenatal, New Chapter, 192 Tabs (91396)
HerbsPro: Completia Prenatal, Natures Way, 240 Tabs (34469)
HerbsPro: Prenatal Nutrients, Solgar, 240 Tabs (36704)
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HerbsPro: Complete Prenatal System, Rainbow Light, 360 Tabs (18699)
HerbsPro: Early Promise Prenatal Gentle DHA, Bluebonnet Nutrition, 200 mg, 30 Softgels (100474)
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HerbsPro: Prenatal DHA, Child Life Essentials, 500 mg, 30 Softgels (92591)
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Kalyx: Prenatal Precious Gems Gummy Multivitamin, Rainbow Light, 30 (3 count) Packets: K
Kalyx: Prenatal Formula Multi, Thompson Nutritional, 60 Tabs: K
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Kalyx: Prenatal One Multivitamin, Rainbow Light, 90 Tabs: K
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Kalyx: Vegan Prenatal Multivitamin & Mineral, Deva Vegan Vitamins, 90 Tab: HF
Kalyx: Prenatal Superior Multivitamin, FoodScience Labs, 120 Tabs: K
Kalyx: Prenatal One Multivitamin, Rainbow Light, 150 Tab: HF
Kalyx: Prenatal Multi, Natures Way, 180 Caps: HF
Kalyx: Prenatal Petite Multivitamin & Mineral, Rainbow Light, Food Based, 180 Mini-Tabs: K
Kalyx: Complete Prenatal System, Rainbow Light, 360 Tabs: HF
Kalyx: Complete Prenatal System, Rainbow Light, 360 Tabs: K

  • Nutrition Basics: Multimineral Supplement Information
  • Nutrition Basics: Multivitamin Supplement Information

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    Health & Wellness Index


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    Using Essential Oils


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  • MoonDragon's Nutrition Basics Index
  • MoonDragon's Nutrition Basics: Amino Acids Index
  • MoonDragon's Nutrition Basics: Antioxidants Index
  • MoonDragon's Nutrition Basics: Enzymes Information
  • MoonDragon's Nutrition Basics: Herbs Index
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  • MoonDragon's Nutrition Basics: Minerals Index
  • MoonDragon's Nutrition Basics: Mineral Introduction
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  • MoonDragon's Nutrition Basics: Dietary Supplements Introduction
  • MoonDragon's Nutrition Basics: Specialty Supplements
  • MoonDragon's Nutrition Basics: Vitamins Index
  • MoonDragon's Nutrition Basics: Vitamins Introduction


  • MoonDragon's Nutrition Basics: 4 Basic Nutrients
  • MoonDragon's Nutrition Basics: Avoid Foods That Contain Additives & Artificial Ingredients
  • MoonDragon's Nutrition Basics: Is Aspartame A Safe Sugar Substitute?
  • MoonDragon's Nutrition Basics: Guidelines For Selecting & Preparing Foods
  • MoonDragon's Nutrition Basics: Foods That Destroy
  • MoonDragon's Nutrition Basics: Foods That Heal
  • MoonDragon's Nutrition Basics: The Micronutrients: Vitamins & Minerals
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  • MoonDragon's Nutrition Basics: Phytochemicals
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  • MoonDragon's Nutrition Basics: Choosing The Best Water & Types of Water


  • MoonDragon's Nutrition Information Index
  • MoonDragon's Nutritional Therapy Index
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  • MoonDragon's Nutrition Therapy: Preparing Produce for Juicing
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  • MoonDragon's Aromatherapy Chart of Essential Oils #1
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  • MoonDragon's Aromatherapy Tips
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