Parenting Classes to Take While You’re Pregnant
You may have already thought of taking a childbirth class before your baby arrives. But it’s a good idea to be ready for what will happen after the birth too. Life with a newborn can be a challenge, and a class can help prepare you.
I worked for many years as a nurse caring for both pregnant and postpartum patients. Our hospital offered different types of parenting classes to help them learn skills they’d need to care for a new baby.
Every family’s needs are different. A good place to start is by checking to see what classes your local hospital or birthing center offers. Your ob-gyn, midwife, or pediatrician may be able to recommend some too.
4 Parenting Classes to Consider Taking During Pregnancy
Here are some ideas for parenting classes to consider taking before welcoming your new baby.
1. Newborn Care Class
Kate Willers of Aurora, Colorado, took a general newborn care class to prepare for having her first and only child. “Though I’ve worked with children my whole life as a high school teacher, I hadn’t had much experience with little babies and wanted to do everything ‘right,’” she says. The class was offered for free at her hospital.
And there’s a lot to know about newborns! A newborn care class often covers how to bathe the baby, how to handle minor health concerns like gas, how to change a diaper, and skincare.
You’ll likely get a short version of this course if you deliver at a hospital. It’s common for nurses to walk new parents through basic newborn care, including how to change a diaper, clean up those first sticky poops, or give a bath. But you may feel tired or overwhelmed after just giving birth.
Taking the course helps you learn things early and ask questions. Then the walk-through at the hospital can be more like a review.
Even though Sarah Clemence of Denver, Colorado already had a child, she and her husband decided to take another newborn care class before welcoming a set of twins.
“Every baby is different, and there's always something new to learn,” says Sarah. “I'm telling you, I'm a total newborn care class groupie!”
Some hospitals and birthing centers also offer classes especially for parents of twins, triplets, and other multiples. If you’re expecting more than one baby, this type of class may help you prepare for having more than one newborn at a time.
2. Infant CPR Class
“Knowing how to rescue an infant from choking and also perform CPR was 100% something I felt like I needed to do before my baby was born,” says Jackie Duncan, of Fort Worth, Texas. She explains that she had dogs and has felt helpless watching her pets gag or choke. She “did not want that same feeling” if something happened to her child.
CPR stands for cardiopulmonary resuscitation. It’s used to rescue someone from a heart or breathing emergency. It can save a person’s life. Search the Red Cross website to find a course to learn how to perform CPR on an infant or child.
A CPR course teaches a caregiver how to manage choking and heart attack in infants and children. Some classes also cover first aid basics like how to control bleeding and shock, and handle injuries until help arrives.
These courses are important for any parent or caregiver to be ready for an emergency. Some hospitals even require parents to take an infant CPR class before taking home a child with known medical needs or that has spent time in the NICU.
3. Breastfeeding Class
Kate also took a breastfeeding class because she’d heard nursing a baby can be difficult. “I wanted to absorb as much knowledge as possible beforehand,” she says. The cost of the class was covered by her health insurance.
Breastfeeding classes can cover everything you’ll need to know to get started nursing your baby. They may include basics like getting the baby to latch and positions to try. They may help you understand how to handle issues with milk supply, feeding problems, and complications like clogged ducts and mastitis.
Look for a class taught by a certified lactation consultant (C.L.C.) That instructor may also be an important resource for you after the baby arrives. You may also consider getting support from a breastfeeding doula.
If you have a partner, it’s a good idea to bring them along to the class. “It was beneficial in making my husband feel less helpless during the struggle of trying to breastfeed successfully,” says Kate.
4. Infant Sleep Class
General newborn care classes usually cover infant sleep. But if you’re concerned about sleep, you may also want to take a class that focuses on it.
Sarah says she was glad she and her husband learned about the importance of establishing a sleep routine, “which ended up being a game-changer during those long, sleepless nights.”
Practical tips like how to swaddle were helpful too. “My husband became a swaddling pro, and it was so heartwarming to see him embrace his new role as a dad,” she adds.
A specialized sleep class can be taken during pregnancy or after the baby arrives.
Other Helpful Parenting Classes
Taking any type of parenting class is a very personal decision. Your options may depend on what’s available in your area and what fits your schedule, needs, and wants.
Other classes that may be important for your family could include:
- Car seat safety: Learn how to keep your infant safe in a car. This includes how to adjust the seat properly and knowing what seat is right for their age and weight.
- Babyproofing: Know how to make your home safe for the new baby as they grow.
- Siblings, fathers, and grandparents classes: These classes aren’t for you—they’re for other members of the family! They help family members understand their new, unique roles and prepare them to care for the new baby.
Your ob-gyn, midwife, or pediatrician may be able to help you find the classes that will help you and your family feel most ready for your baby’s arrival.
How to Pay for a Parenting Class
Classes can come with a price tag. If you’re wondering how to pay for a parenting class, the good news is that there are a lot of different options.
Here are some ideas:
- Ask at your hospital. Many hospitals offer parenting or newborn care classes. Sometimes they’re free for people delivering there.
- Check your health insurance. Some insurance companies may cover the cost of parenting or breastfeeding classes.
- Contact your local WIC or Medicaid office. If you use any federal or state services, you may have access to discount classes.
- Try an online course. There are many virtual and self-paced courses available online. Be careful to only take a course offered by a professional with licensing and/or certification in the topic they’re teaching.
- Put it on your registry. If there’s a class you’d like to take, add it to your baby registry! Some registries allow parents to ask for gift cards and/or monetary gifts. You could use those to purchase a class, if you receive them.
“Classes can be a great way to feel more prepared and confident in your parenting skills,” says Sarah. “A class can equip you with some helpful tools and knowledge to navigate those first few months with your little one. As a mom of four, I think it's definitely worth it!”
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