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Not all childbirth classes are equal; or, you get what you pay for

We have some amazing childbirth classes in my area.  Taught by seasoned birth workers.  These classes all fall in about the same price range.  Some classes, however, are underpriced and for couples looking only at the price tag, it can seem a steal.  Are they apples to apples?  How do you know which to pick? 

I’ve had a few couples who did not take my classes because they felt it was too expensive. 

Now, to me, there is a difference in the couple that tells me they can’t afford my class and the couple who says it is too expensive.  I lower the price, barter, or work out payment plans all the time for folks who can’t afford it. 

What are you paying for when you take a childbirth class? 

1)  You’re paying for the instructor’s credentials.  I spent ton o’ money to become certified as a Hypnobabies Instructor. 

2)  You’re paying for materials.  For example, Hypnobabies students receive 7 CDs, three books, a tote bag, and loads of handouts.

3)  You’re paying for class costs:  travel expenses, space rental, supplies, business expenses, etc.

Hospitals and some birth centers/childbirth businesses offer free or very low cost childbirth classes.  The hospitals do it because they want you to be a good patient and to understand your options (i.e. hospital policies and procedures).  The birth groups are perhaps trying to bring in business for other services. 

I’ll use hypnosis for childbirth as an example.  It is so hip and trendy to use hypnosis for birth these days.  There are several programs available:  Hypnobabies, Hypnobirthing, Hypbirth.  These have been around for a while and have wonderful outcomes.     

But hypnosis for childbirth is more than simple relaxation and it is more than listening to a script.  It is a rather complex process.  For Hypnobabies, before I could even train as an instructor, I had to complete 50 hours of hypnosis training and be tested on the materials.  And let me tell you, that was some intimidating stuff.  Self-hypnosis is not something I could just teach one of my doula clients outside of a class.  It takes weeks of practice and compounding.

When you pay for a Bradley class, you expect it to be taught by a certified Bradley instructor.  Not someone who used Bradley for their birth or who read Husband-Coached Childbirth a few times.  By the way, we do have two amazing Bradley instructors in town:  Mary Kury and Kristin Abboud.   

So when you’re shopping for a childbirth class, ask some simple questions:

1)  What is the instructor’s background?  I don’t think everyone needs to be certified.  There are some wise women out there who are treasures and I could sit at their feet all day long.  I could care less if they are certified.  But listen to the instructor tell you her story.  You’ll know if she is someone you can trust.

2)  If it is a trademarked program (Bradley, Lamaze, Hypnobirthing, Birthing from Within), is the instructor currently credentialed?  You can usually check the parent website for instructor listings. 

3)  What is the cost?  If an instructor is teaching a 10 or more hour course and is charging less than 150.00, I would question it.  Most trademarked classes are 250.00 or more.  And if a class is less than 10 hours long, it is probably not a comprehensive class.

Bottom Line:  Do your homework.  Find the class that matches your birth expectations the best.  I don’t think hypnosis is for everyone and I regularly refer couples to my stellar Bradley friends.

7 responses »

  1. So true… I think our hospital-sponsored class was $45 with my employee discount. Such a great deal! Until we ended up with an unpleasant birth experience and a hefty bill for all those interventions to go with it. The sad thing is that I loved our teacher. She was a VBAC mom and former doula and WANTED to help us have a natural birth. It’s just that she was working for the hospital and had been instructed to go over certain things. For Ivey’s birth we had Caryn and she was great.

  2. I agree 100%. The only thing I can say good about going to the hospital sponsored birth class (if you plan to birth there) is that you will be aware of their policies ahead of time. That gives you a chance to think about what works for you and what doesn’t and how you are going to stand up to those that don’t work for you. For me it was $25 well spent. If I had been confronted about some of those things in the midst of labor and had to make a decision right then I might just have gone with what they wanted rather than what I wanted. Of course having a doula who is familiar with the hospital also helps a ton. 🙂

  3. Ive done two hospital birth classes and they are a joke. But alas, on a single income family with a husband still in college, Cant afford all the nice things like private birth classes and doulas. So use the internet to arm myself with information. Hoping for a better outcome this time!

  4. Crystal, you’re right–private classes and doulas can be pricey. In terms of my classes, I provide a free class to someone almost every class series. I don’t advertise it and the rest of the class doesn’t know (well, now they might!). I’m sure other educators do the same.

    And there are usually student doulas who need to finish their quota of births. Or doulas who will barter for services.

    Birth professionals often love to barter! You never know until you ask. We would have never been able to afford our first birth if our midwife had not bartered and lowered the remaining price. Thanks Amy Leland!

  5. I spent a lot of time using google and asking questions trying to find local doulas and classes. After 6 months I gave up. Ive acquired the prices from all of the doulas in our area, realized they are beyond our means and was not able to find any doulas in training. Kind of felt with me attempting a VBAC, I would need a seasoned vet of the trade. The odds and the medical field are already against me 🙂

  6. Crystal, please feel free to contact me if you would like to talk through resources. I very much understand being pregnant without means!

    And you certainly don’t need a class to teach you how to give birth.

  7. How do I contact you?


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