Childbirth Classes: Why They're (Still) Important to Attend

Once upon a time, everyone took childbirth class. Now women turn to TV, books, and the Internet. Are they missing something?

The Current State of Childbirth Classes

pregnant woman

When did a childbirth class -- once a rite of passage -- become a burden easily dropped? Participation has dwindled slowly, say people in the industry. One survey now shows that more expectant moms learn about giving birth from television.

"Taking a course is not a requirement; you'll get to give birth no matter what," says Heidi Murkoff, author of What to Expect When You're Expecting (Workman Publishing). "It's just that they call it 'childbirth preparation' for a reason: it helps prepare you. It takes the mystery out of it. Information is empowering, and what you don't know can scare you more than it should."

So experienced experts such as Murkoff urge parents to at least consider enrolling in a class. A good one can teach you about pain relief, demystify hospital procedures, and provide a forum for questions you forgot to ask your ob-gyn. And then there's Dad: taking a class helps him feel less left out. Yet despite all this, there are also good reasons why some expectant parents may continue to avoid the adult-ed route.

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