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My girlfriend an I were wondering if we should attend prenatal classes. We have some really mixed opinions in our friends and family. Some say we just have to listen to the DVD because they say exactly the same thing in the class. Some says it really help them getting ready to be parent.

We understand that a positive point is to meet new people in the same situation as us but we do have many friends that are pregnant at the same time and we do not consider new relation as a plus factor in it.

So are these classes worth it?

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for sure this depends on the quality of the class and the teacher, but as morah hochman says: it may help especially the non-pregnant future dad to find his role in this situation before and after birth, it is some time you spend as a couple (if the class is for both, which would be good) [and for sure there are the contacts, which you'd obviously not necessarily need as you have already pregnant friends) –  BBM Feb 16 '12 at 20:34
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It depends on who you are. We didn't gain much from it, but I'm sure many do. –  DA01 Feb 16 '12 at 21:00

13 Answers 13

up vote 12 down vote accepted

Our eldest was born almost 3 months premature, before we had a chance to attend our prenatal classes. We had absolutely no idea what was going on. By the time we figured out what was happening, the baby was already born. We spent the next 3 months in the hospital with her until she was well enough to take home.

Even though we had already parented 5 children, including our son we later adopted and 3 foster children, taken 40 hours of parenting classes to become foster parents, knew CPR, read a ton of books, and had spent more time in a hospital than anyone else we knew who didn't work in one, we still took the prenatal class when my wife became pregnant again. I'm glad we did.

One of the classes talked about cesarean sections. Despite everything, it was a possibility my wife had never even considered, and it terrified her. Having it discussed in the class brought that to the surface and allowed her to come to terms with those feelings and know what to expect. She turned out to need a C-section due to some complications and was much better prepared for the experience.

If everything goes perfectly, the class will likely feel like a waste of time. If not, you will be glad you attended.

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+1 for mentioning the unexpected information about the c-section. No one wants to have a c-section with their first baby, but I know so many women who wound up having to have one and were so emotionally traumatized by the experience because they failed to consider the possibility beforehand. My best friend had some serious post-partum depression because of it. –  Meg Coates Feb 16 '12 at 23:03

My wife delivered our second child naturally, so the things we learned in our lamaze class (from before our first child was born) were definitely put to good use. A lot of people have already mentioned that the mother feels more prepared just having gone through the class, and I can attest to that. One thing to realize though is that the mother has no way of knowing how she will feel in labor. We spent a lot of time practicing the techniques for our first baby (I mean a lot), but during labor my wife didn't want any of it. It all rubbed her the wrong way for some reason, and neither of us knew why. For our second child, we did a few practice sessions to brush up on the techniques right before the child was born. The second experience was totally different. The techniques she had hated during her first labor really helped during her second labor.

So if you would have asked me about prenatal classes after our first child, I would probably have said it was a waste. But it definitely came in handy with our second child. I would definitely recommend it.

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Yes.

The potential that you will learn something makes it absolutely worth it. I have 4 bio children (5 total) and went for all of them. Didn't learn much if anything from the last one but going to the classes put us in the frame of mind for having a baby and that was as much the benefit as learning a new way to wash cloth diapers.

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"will makes" and "a learning a" - are you missing some words here? –  Torben Gundtofte-Bruun Feb 27 '12 at 19:11
    
Clarified. TIL that I think faster than I type. –  monsto Feb 28 '12 at 0:35

Our class was beneficial for a number of reasons: although I have diapered and swaddled MANY babies before having our own, my husband had never had any experiences with those things. I think it put my mind at ease knowing he had the basic mechanics of those things in hand before our daughter arrived. Also, I found it quite helpful that ours was taught by a labor and delivery nurse from our hospital and included a tour. The hospital specific information was far more important for me than most of the labor information, which as others have mentioned can be found online.

Our hospital required prenatal classes so it was never a consideration to only watch a DVD and although it was yet another thing to schedule before the birth, I was overall glad for the information and experience - even if you gain even the smallest piece of information or are slightly calmer going into the birth, it is worth it!

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Live classes are beneficial because other people in the room think to ask questions that you do not. Babies vary a lot so it's important to get different angles. There is no one DVD that will just tell you "the information."

I am glad I had a class with one couple expecting twins. I think of them often and remind myself things could be harder. This is a totally soft benefit but still real.

It was also a healthy way for my partner and I to take some focused time and really prepare mentally for the big change coming.

You could just pop in a DVD but I think you're going to miss some things. This goes for almost any learning subject.

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20 years ago my wife and I took Lamaze classes during the pregnancy. At that time they were primarily about what to expect during the labor and delivery, and for the first few weeks after the baby came home.

The L&D part was quite useful. Just having an idea of what was happening and what should be happening next was very calming for me, and allowed me to help keep my wife calm as well.

I have no idea about the classes that you are considering. If the focus is L&D, excellent.

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Worth it? It's a difficult question to answer. It depends on the costs; time, money, loss of the alternative uses of your time. It depends on the benefits; what you learn, how it can help you transition from pregnant to parent, how it can reduce anxiety, who you experience it with, the value of the experience...

With your first child, if you can easily afford it, in most circumstances prenatal classes will be worth it. Even just setting aside the time to prepare yourself is important. Sometimes a class is the best way to do this. If you can't afford it find alternatives. Friends who have recently given birth. The DVD you mentioned. Being super-prepared with questions for your doctor visits.

Seek to understand the phases of labor, familiarize yourself with the hospital, make a flexible plan for what you will do, and trust your instincts. Remember that the doctors and nurses around you are experts in their fields and dedicated to protecting your health, but they are not the authority over you or your child. You get to make all of the decisions that you want to make.

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The short answer: whether or not they are worth it depends on the personalities and learning styles of you and your wife, but in most cases they provide some definite advantages.

I tend to learn best by reading and reflecting on materials at my own pace, but there were a few pieces of advice or nuggets of information that I doubt my own research would have uncovered. I also found the hand's on practice for changing diapers immensely useful (my first diaper change was still an absolute disaster, but that was only because it... just... kept... coming! Not because I didn't know how to put on the diaper (I put on three successfully that very first time!).

I'll admit, other parts of the classes were not only not useful to me, but seemed silly and a complete waste of time. However, these were made up for by the parts that were useful. The hospital tour. The information about likely sequences of events. The information about possible complications, and how they would be responded to. The information about when to call.

Most importantly, though, they were immensely helpful for my wife, because she simply felt better prepared.

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Prenatal classes are totally worth it (if they're any good)

I'm a very practical and "gears and mechanics" kind of guy. I understand stuff best when I see things in action, but with parenting and especially concerning the birth, there's no practice run, so as a first-time dad I felt very unsure. Going to a prenatal course helped immensely. The classes described the whole birthing process in very small and surprisingly un-gory details.

There were exercises for the couples, designed to handle the contractions, and I think it's very important that the father takes part in these because it very clearly shows the mother that the father takes it seriously and provides support - and knows how to support.

There were also some practical demonstrations of things like infant CPR, diaper-changes, and so on. The classes were held by two midwives and it was clear that they really knew what they were talking about, and that they cared to make the whole thing easier on the couples.

There were also visits to hospitals (in Austria, these visits are called stork parties) and it was helpful for me to see all the facilities. The bedrooms, the delivery rooms, and so on. Visiting several different hospitals also made it very evident what the differences between them were, and I was surprised at just how different they can be. These visits helped us choose a hospital we felt very comfortable with.

I think prenatal classes are always a good idea, even if you are somehow certain that everything will happen perfectly. Just knowing what to expect helps immensely to remain calm throughout the whole event, and you'll be less stressed and freaked out if things don't go as planned.

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Alternative hubby perspective: Nothing went wrong, and I still don't think it was a waste of time. Absolutely recommended.

My wife found it immensely comforting to attend these classes, with me (her husband). I observed her anxiety levels before and after, and I could see the difference in her composure and her "feeling ready for this".

She felt that the whole thing was more manageable, from an anxiety point of view, when she had lots more information. The lady who led the classes was a experience nurse, Doula, and labor coach, and had taught these courses for years.

I asked her afterwards if she was glad she went to these, and she said yes, first for herself, and secondly because she wanted me to know what was up, and to be able to help her and support her properly during labor and right afterwards.

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My husband and I didn't actually get to attend our scheduled parenting class because I went into labor four weeks early. Having said that, I would have probably appreciated getting to attend the class--especially since my experience with babies up to that point was limited. It would have been nice to know about how to change a diaper, perform a proper swaddle, care for an umbilical stump, and a circumcision BEFORE I actually had to do it. I think you also need to know what kind of learner you are. I am very kinesthetic and learn best when I perform an action. If you're more verbal or aural then reading things online or in a book or watching a DVD will probably be fine. For me, having that dry-run would have been extremely helpful. Obviously, I eventually learned all these things, but instead I learned it on the fly. And keep in mind that just because your wife might not get much out of it, you might simply because you learn differently.

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I was pregnant with twins and the only thing I got out of the class was the basics of infant CPR. If I were to do it again I would only attend the part of the class where they do a tour of the hospital. I would also try to take a infant/child CPR class separate from the main classes. With all the quality information available on the internet from reputable sources much of the information in the class was outdated and unnecessary. Even my husband found it to be tedious.

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+1 for separate classes on infant first aid. –  Torben Gundtofte-Bruun Feb 23 '12 at 10:16

Yes. Even if you meet no one (we didn't). Even if you know everything they say (you won't).

We found the hospital tour itself is worth it (that was part of our class). Also while I didn't find it so useful my husband did, as he got to see what was going to happen. He explained it to me later saying, I was going through it and so did what I had to do, but he was a bystander (even as he was involved) and so he had more time to process the crazy stuff that goes on, therefore he was glad he was prepared.

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