Your body knows how to give birth.

But your mind before the first time you go into labor? It's hard to know what to expect.

That's why when it comes to getting informed about giving birth, it really helps to be proactive and do the work of understanding the process and preparing for the big day.

Here's what you need to know about birth class, birthing methods, and exactly when to hit the books:

Where can I find a birth class?

If you are delivering at a hospital, that's a good place to start in your search for a birth class.

Not only can you expect to learn about coping techniques to use during contractions and what different labor terms mean, but you will probably also get a tour of the birthing center and specific information about what to do when checking in.


(Have your partner pay extra close attention to that last one... You may not be thinking too clearly when that time actually comes.)

If your hospital doesn't offer the “type" of birth you're looking for, check out a local new mothers/ parenting center, many of which host more in-depth classes.

What about the different 'types' of birth classes?

With these independent centers, you can pick a class that is more specifically geared towards the type of birth you want. You've probably heard of Lamaze classes before, which is one of the most popular birth methods in the United States.

Lamaze explains the different pain relief and birthing options to couples and focuses on building self-confidence in the birthing process.

The Bradley Method, or Husband-Coached Natural Childbirth, is a more intensive class that prepares couples for medication-free births — while also covering what could happen in unexpected situations, such as emergency c-sections.

There are also classes in HypnoBirthing, the Alexander technique the Leboyer Gentle Birth (and more), so start early to determine what type of course is best for you.

What else should I know?

Other factors to consider are how the classes will fit into your schedule, whether they are participatory or more lecture-based, what are the qualifications of the instructor and what is covered beyond actual labor techniques.

Also keep in mind that it's generally best to wrap everything up sometime in the middle of the third trimester so everything is fresh on your mind when the big day actually arrives.

If you decide to sign up for a class, try to have some fun while learning.

Sure, it might be goofy to practice “whoo-haa" breathing techniques in a room full of people, but these skills really will help out on delivery day.

Besides, you may even make some friends with other expectant mamas while you're at it!

There's the magazine cover photo of the new celebrity mom glowing as she looks down at the beautiful, sleeping baby in her arms—and then there's real life.

In real life, postpartum mothers are just as likely to be wearing diapers as their babies are, and bumps need months to deflate.

That's why we're so grateful for the way celebrities are ditching damaging narratives about postpartum perfection and embracing the messy authenticity of new motherhood. Thanks to these modern mamas, the rest of us are seeing our own experiences reflected in pop culture, and that lets us know we're not alone.

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