Childbirth classes are so important for a stress-free delivery. The time you take to take a childbirth class is key. Too early, and you might forget, too late and it might be — well, too late. When’s the best time to take a childbirth or a breastfeeding class?
Hi, I’m Hilary — many people know me as The Pregnancy Nurse 👩⚕️. I have been a nurse since 1997 and I have 20 years of OB nursing experience, I am also the curly head behind this website Pulling Curls and The Online Prenatal Class for Couples. 🩺 I taught prenatal classes for my hospital and I am an expert prenatal educator.
Grab my hospital packing list while you’re here:
In this post we will cover: When to take a childbirth class, does insurance cover childbirth classes — what is the BEST time to do prenatal class. We’ll also cover when to take baby care or breastfeeding classes.
When should you take a childbirth class?
I, and most childbirth educators recommend taking a childbirth class between 24 and 36 weeks — or at least after you start your second trimester. Kind of a wide range of dates — but…
Take it too early and I worry you won’t need it. I just like to make sure the baby is a “for sure” before you pay for a class.
Take it too late and you might not have time to finish it.
Of course, all of this depends on how long your course is and how long it takes to finish, and the timeline. All that jazz. But in general — those are the guidelines I go with.
The best time to take a prenatal class
I think the best time is at 30 weeks. I think you’re starting to have a good “visual” on the finish line at that point, and it’s not so far away that you’ll never remember everything. Just my opinion. A good time is honestly anywhere after 20 weeks or so (that’s around your 5th month)
I don’t recommend starting it in your first trimester. As an expecting mother, you have enough to deal with just starting up a human (but you can still pick which one is for you and purchase it at that point). Health is always a priority.
While a lot of couples only take classes with their first pregnancy, many people take them with each pregnancy as a refresher course!
What will a Childbirth Class Cover?
Your birth class will cover many topics — but most include:
What you’d want on your birth plan. The different options most often on a birth plan, and how to make your birth preferences (but quality childbirth education classes will never tell you which one is best, only how to research for yourself). You can decide what options are the most healthy for you.
Different medical interventions & medical procedures that you might run into (and why we do them). Also, things to discuss with your healthcare providers in advance.
Basic vaginal birth process information, vaginal birth as well as cesarean birth information to help you know what to expect as you head closer to your due date. They should go through the basic stages of labor so you know what to expect from your body and aren’t caught by surprise.
Information for your support person. How to best support you, and what to expect for them as well.
Pain medication, and pain management options — as well as what to expect from each form. They may also teach some relaxation techniques, or comfort techniques like Lamaze class breathing techniques (Lamaze classes aren’t offered as much as far as I can tell, but many classes use the breathing that originated there). They may also give you opportunities to practice them.
In addition, most classes will also go in depth with epidural anesthesia in case you decide to get one.
They might also help with comfort measures & tips that you or your partner can help employ if you’re at home. They should also give you a basic idea of what signs to see to signal it’s time to head to the hospital (that, along with your provider).
Third trimester testing, and why your doctor might order it.
It’s also VERY important to know what to expect during your postpartum period. I personally believe that’s some of the most important information (which is why I have a full 2 chapters on it in my own class).
Does Insurance Cover a Birth Class?
Most often, they do not. However, check with your policy, some do. More often, some workplaces will reimburse people for this type of education.
Other options can be to use your HSA or FSA funds to pay for the class. As long as your teacher is certified or licensed that should work (but, as always check with your CPA first)!
Are Prenatal Classes Really Necessary?
The short answer? No. The baby will still come out if you don’t take a class. It happens every day!
The right answer though — yes. You will want a class on your big day.. The hospital is a mysterious land that you aren’t familiar with. Pregnant women (and families) find that a little info really helps them feel more peaceful during their delivery.
And you’ll be filled with fond memories of your happy day, rather than the anxiety that filled your heart all day.
Studies really do show that people who take childbirth education have a better birth experience.
Who Should Teach My prenatal Classes:
Prenatal classes can be taught by lots of different people:
- Certified childbirth educators
- Labor nurses
- Postpartum nurses
- Nurse educators
- Lacatation consultants (although labor isn’t part of lactation information)
I think you mostly want to find someone who’s birth philosophy is in line with you own. A labor coach you enjoy being with – -but MOST IMPORTANTLY has a LOT of experience to help teach you.
How to Take a Childbirth Class Near Me?
I would just look around for something close by. Keep in mind that not all hospitals teach birthing classes. Of course, not all hospitals even have L&D anymore, so sometimes you have to travel quite a ways to get into a class.
If your mind is dead set on an in-person classes, I would call your local hospital first, or a local birth center they may have a list of them if they don’t provide them.
If you are not planning on a hospital birth, classes, check with your midwife.
However, after Covid there are a TON of….
Online Childbirth Classes
Expectant parents are BUSY and this is a great way to get the education you need without having to adhere to a strict schedule (or listen to questions you have no interest in).
It also gives you the option to pick a teacher who’s style you enjoy.
In fact, if you’re not sure we’re a good fit, I offer a free chapter of my class in this birth prep kit:
Online classes also allow the teacher to be very thorough in what they teach (instead of forgetting to talk about something on the night they had you).
In a lot of ways it’s like having a private classes, as you can focus on just what YOU need for this new baby. You can also include whatever family members you want. Makes it so nice! First time parents are given the opportunity to really UNDERSTAND it, rather than sit through it.
However, an online course is not for everyone. An in person class might be the best if you you don’t think you’ll be able to commit to doing it on your own.
The type of class you take should WORK for you. If you find yourself bored or miserable during it, that isn’t a way to get prepared. Many offer a refund if you’re not happy (I do).
I am experienced nurse, a mom to three and I am PASSIONATE about getting moms educated for their confident, collaborative hospital birth. If you are looking for a prenatal class, I think you’ll make a mistake not checking out The Online Prenatal Class for Couples. It started in 2014 and after several updates I truly believe it is the most comprehensive, best taught class available. And the reviews show that too!
How Many Weeks should I take a baby care class?
I would again recommend these after 30 weeks.
If you haven’t taken care of a new baby much before (especially if its your first child), they are a great option to make you less nervous around your baby (and more proficient with newborn care in general). AND, one is included in the Online Prenatal class for Couples.
When to take a breastfeeding class
I actually recommend a breastfeeding class a bit later. Maybe 32 weeks — but they can be taken at any time similar to a prenatal class.
Hospitals often have one for you — but there are also a lot of great….
Online Breastfeeding Courses
I have two that I recommend. I have a whole post where I review online breastfeeding classes.
Best Online Breastfeeding Courses:
The Milkology classes are a great price. They are very thorough and she’s done a great job filming them, they’re super engaging! She has a basic breastfeeding one, and has recently added a pumping-only one (which may be of special interest to the working moms out there).
Save 10% on Milkology classes with code DISCOUNT 10.
Breastfeeding Mama Classes
I am also a fan of The Breastfeeding Mama’s classes. You’ll find that Katie is on the screen more demonstrating things more than in the Milkology class.
I think it’s just personal preference. I’d recommend checking out both sites and going with whichever seems more “you” (you can’t go wrong).
Both of these clases are taught by lactation counselors/educators (not lactation consultants). However, for basic information that is probably plenty.
So, there you go. I think that getting prepared before delivery is SO important. While birth can be a very natural process, it often doesn’t come naturally to couples — so some preparation to new parents can be a big win!
Because I’ve seen it. I’ve seen the light come on as they realize they know what’s going on and it’s all just how they figured it would be.
Because of a little effort they took ahead of time. It’s just that easy.
In fact, my prenatal class just takes a few hours — and I think you’ll love it! In fact, I guarantee you will!
If you’re not sure you’re ready for the full class, I do have a free mini-class: