Birthing Classes: Everything You Need to Know

Should you take a birthing class? How much do they cost? Are they covered by insurance? Get answers to all of your most pressing questions.

Which birthing classes are best for you, your partner and baby? Check out the most popular birthing classes options and get the pros and cons of each.

So you’re 4 or 5 months into your pregnancy, your belly is getting bigger, and you realize, “Woah, we’re really going to have this baby; we better get prepared!” But how? Birthing classes are a good place to start.

In this article, we’ll answer all of your most pressing questions about birthing classes, including:

What Are Birthing Classes?

Think of a childbirth class as a 101 on all things related to childbirth and delivery. Though classes range in timeframe and comprehensiveness, they all have one thing in common: they provide information to help prepare you for what’s to come, so you can go into childbirth with less reservation and more empowered to make informed decisions.

Do I Need to Take Birthing Classes?

Knowledge is power. The more you know about the birthing process and how your body slowly (or sometimes rapidly) dilates to prepare for your baby’s arrival, the less fearful you’ll be during labor.

You’ll also understand the rhythm of pushing and the intensity of transition.

Unfortunately, for most women, the majority of what they know about childbirth comes from Hollywood depictions of a screaming, hysterical woman in stirrups on a metal table.

Birth does NOT have to be that way (and shouldn’t be that way!).

By taking birthing classes, especially one that’s geared toward natural birth, you’ll learn a whole new way of approaching the big day.

Birthing classes will help you:

  • Gain confidence in your body’s ability to give birth.
  • Understand the physiological process of birth, which will help you feel more confident.
  • Learn effective and natural pain management strategies.
  • Understand the many benefits of going natural if that’s what you pursue.
  • Create an informed and empowered partner, who will know how to support you.
  • Nurture relationships with other natural mamas who have similar pregnancy due dates.

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When Should You Take Birthing Classes?

You can take a birthing class at any time during your pregnancy, but the second trimester is generally a sweet spot. At this stage of pregnancy, you are typically still relatively comfortable and have the most energy. It’s also far enough along that you’ll retain the information you learn, but not so far along that you’ll feel rushed.

How Much Do Birthing Classes Cost?

The cost of childbirth classes varies widely, based on what type of class you’re taking and how comprehensive it is, as well as your location.

For example:

  • Bradley Method courses in Chicago cost around $400.
  • Lamaze courses in Phoenix cost $375.
  • Generic childbirth classes in Gainesville, FL cost 160.00.
  • Online birthing courses range from $100 – $400.

While there are some free birthing classes available online, these are not the most comprehensive or well-established courses.

Are Birthing Classes Covered by Insurance?

Childbirth classes are not generally covered by health insurance, though you can check with your individual provider to get specifics.

Birthing classes are, however, considered partially eligible for reimbursement through a flexible spending account (FSA) or health savings account (HSA).

Where Can I Find Childbirth Classes Near Me?

Google is your friend here. Search “Childbirth classes near me” and you should see some local results.

If that fails, give Google Maps a try.

Or search Google or Yelp for “Midwife” to find an office or individual near you. Give these folks a call, as childbirth classes are sometimes taught in midwife offices. At the very least, a local midwife or midwifery office should be able to point you in the right direction.

There are pros and cons of taking birthing classes near you. The pros are that you’ll meet and form relationships with other pregnant couples. The cons are that they can be expensive and inconvenient to attend.

“My hospital offers a birthing class – will that one be okay?”

In most cases, we do not recommend in-hospital birthing classes.

In-hospital birthing courses generally teach women and couples how to be good patients as opposed to empowered birthers.

Of course, there are exceptions. Some “Baby Friendly” hospitals (that is an actual designation; call your hospital to see if they are certified) may be a little more conscious and encouraging. Or you may have an OBGYN who is more mother-centric and less intervention-focused.

But let’s face it. Over 32% of deliveries in the USA are done by Cesarean. (source)

Yes, C-sections save lives and are a critical part of our healthcare system. But the World Health Organization says that the ideal rate for caesarean sections is between 10-15%.

Something is wrong when the USA’s numbers are 200% or 300% higher than that ideal rate.

A good, out-of-hospital birth course may help you avoid becoming one of those statistics. 

What Birthing Classes Are Right for Me?

While there isn’t one right way to have a natural birth,

There are many different types of birthing courses out there, all with their own philosophy, time commitment, and expense. You’ll want to research and find the one that fits you… your personality, your goals, and your learning style.

  • There are hospital courses (which we generally do not recommend).
  • There are in-person courses that teach the Bradley Method, Lamaze, or a competing curriculum.
  • There are in-person courses conducted by local midwives or doulas.
  • There are several great online childbirth classes as well.

Take all of these things into consideration when choosing the birthing class that fits your (and your partner’s) needs.

My Favorite Birth Course

Of course, I am a little biased, but my vote goes to The Mama Natural Birth Course.

Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM) Maura Winkler and I poured our hearts and souls into this course, and we continue to work hard to make it the best-in-class birth course available online for moms who want a natural birth.

The Mama Natural Birth Course

The Mama Natural Birth Course

The Mama Natural Birth Course is hosted by yours truly (a crunchy mama of three) and Maura Winkler, a certified nurse midwife, a registered nurse (RN), a doula, a breastfeeding counselor, and a placenta encapsulator. The course includes:

  • Comprehensive curriculum: Our 12-hour eight-part, online, on-demand course is designed to educate, inspire and empower moms and partners to deliver naturally. The course takes parents through the entire process of preparing for and experiencing a natural birth. These birth classes also include modules on the first several weeks with baby, with natural postpartum care for baby and mama. We also have an entire class on breastfeeding.
  • Flexible and convenient methods: Because 12 hours of content are divided into 8 classes total, some students do one class per week, others cram the whole course in over a weekend.
  • Personalized support: Mama Natural Birth Course students come together together in private Facebook groups to foster a sense of community and provide extra support. Students have 24/7 access to me and Maura in these private groups.
  • Special bonuses: The Mama Natural Birth Course also includes bonuses, like weekly practice sessions to prepare your body and mind for childbirth, segments on nutrition, as well as a host of natural remedies for common pregnancy complaints.

And the cherry on top? We donate 10% of all profits to midwifery projects in the developing world, helping mamas in Uganda and Haiti bring their babies into the world safely.

Whatever You Decide…

Whichever route you chose to take, do yourself and your baby one big favor: Take a natural childbirth education course! It will make all the difference and empower you to feel in charge of your birth (no matter how it unfolds).

Keep in mind that over 80% of women get some sort of intervention during childbirth birth. It takes dedication, education, and support to take the path less traveled. But it is SO worth the work!

I have not met a single mama who has regretted giving birth naturally. It is truly a life-changing and soul-defining experience!

I wish you the best and most natural birth. ❤️

Genevieve Howland

About the Author

Genevieve Howland is a childbirth educator and breastfeeding advocate. She is the bestselling author of The Mama Natural Week-by-Week Guide to Pregnancy and Childbirth and creator of the Mama Natural Birth Course. A mother of three, graduate of the University of Colorado, and YouTuber with over 85,000,000 views, she helps mothers and moms-to-be lead healthier and more natural lives.

20 Comments

  1. Hi,
    Have you found that your class can be covered by insurance? My insurance only covers “certified group classes” and am wondering if any of your preggo moms have mentioned getting this covered. Thank you!

    • Would love to know the answer to this as well!

    • Hi Caitlin! Our students get reimbursed by their insurance companies all the time. And you can pay for the course on MamaNaturalBirth.com directly with an FSA or HSA card. If you even need any help getting reimbursed for our course, just reach out to support AT mamanatura dot com and my colleague Joyce will give you whatever you need to be reimbursed. Best wishes to you!

  2. I took that Bradley Method classes and hoped that after attending 3 different birth classes with my husband, that he would be super involved and feel prepared. I had no idea that he would be more freaked out than me during the birth and was not even able to time contractions correctly because I think he was so nervous (and this is a guy with 2 college degrees). I disliked the Bradley Method for putting so much pressure on the husband to be the birth coach (yes he read the book….or atleast it sat on his bedside table so it looked like he was reading it). He is not a professional birth coach and 12 weeks of any class will not make him prepared to be all the support I really needed and did not get for my 1st birth. Its too much to ask of a stressed out husband to be as involved as you are (I feel with mine anyways) because he just couldn’t handle it. He came to all of my midwife appointments and wanted to be involved but just could not do what a doula does/knows and he couldn’t get the double hip squeeze right and he was just SO TIRED after the baby was born! This 2nd pregnancy Im telling my husband to go out and play golf when I go into labor because I really need trained professionals there to really support me. I 100% would never recommend the Bradley classes (its not just that they are outdated- I never understood what they meant by that- I mean the 65 year old instructor showed us a fuzzy VHS of a baby climbing up the mama to latch right after birth (this didnt happen with my birth (shock!) but it could have just been her!). I will DEFINITELY be hiring a doula not depending on my husband.

  3. Proper birth class is like a compass that directs couples to a healthier and safe birthing. However, due to “trend” and painless delivery, hospitals are gaining ground. If only all women and especially fathers are being birth educated, they would have to choose natural birth or home birth. For men, Bradley Method or BirthForMen is a help. Men also play a crucial role in their pregnancy journey.

  4. Hi Genevieve,
    I took Birthing From Within and read the book when I was preparing for my VABC 13 years ago. I found the self -reflective practices and guidance for mindfulness and awareness of my thoughts, beliefs, ideas and even dreams about birth to be very valuable. It helped me to build confidence and inner resourcefulness and also to be flexible and compassionate with myself and those around me in birth. I did what was needed to create a circle of support around me. I was so inspired that I became a BFW mentor and incorporated the philosophy into CBE programs I created in our community at a local hospital. I am glad there are options for everyone and thanks for sharing them here. My one wish is that all programs help families prepare for the unexpected and build self-compassion no matter how birth unfolds.

  5. I love that you have online classes, I have become a more crunchy mama through so much of your blog !
    I agree that Bradley is outdated, that is why I became a birth class instructor, dads role is important in birth but more as a support partner NOT the coach. We like doulas for that reason too 🙂

    Keep up the good work!

  6. Hi, Is your course good for doulas as well? thanks!

    • It’s a very informative class!

  7. I’ve loved the Mama Natural Birth course! It has been the best all round course for us, and online was preferred for our schedules. We couldn’t find a like-minded instructor/course anywhere locally that wasn’t too New Age, or middle of the road, or too basic or too fear-based. With being a practicing Holistic Doctor, we were already 100% confident we wanted a home water birth with a midwife & with no interventions unless absolutely medically necessary. My husband and I have also each read hypnobirthing (our philosophy: chew on the meat & spit out the bones) & Supernatural childbirth. My best friend and husband, who will both be at the birth with our midwife & midwife assistant, are reading The Birth Partner and have found it very helpful. I can honestly say we all feel excited and prepared. Our bodies were made to do this! We trust God with the rest 🙂

    Re: Mama Natural Birth Course: I love the fact that there is info on nutrition, home remedies, exercise, personal testimonies, anatomical/physiological demos & explanations, etc. This is vital to having a healthy pregnancy & understanding the birth process & eliminating many future health problems, complications, fears & obstacles. This course has been truly holistic and even as a Doctor whose helped hundreds of women through infertility, pregnancy & postnatal care, I’ve learned a lot! Best bang for buck by far!! Well done Maura & Gen.

  8. When is the best time to start taking the course – I can imagine too early and you may forget…
    I just hit 18 weeks.
    Thanks!

    • Hi Brandy! I think any time in your 2nd trimester is a fine time to begin. And with The Mama Natural Birth Course, you get access for a full year, so you can always go back and revisit portions. Hope that helps!

  9. Just curious… I know you say that hospital classes mostly teach you how to be a good patient, but my hospital has a separate class for giving birth with a midwife at the hospital (which is the track we’re on) that my husband and I were considering. It’s described as working towards natural birth; avoiding pain meds, practicing relaxation, and positioning; and taught by a doula. It seems a bit different from the standard, I wasn’t sure if you were familiar with this option. I’m still not sure which we’ll opt for–so many interesting offerings!

    • That does seem different from the standard hospital class, and sounds like it could be a good option.

  10. Curious why you think Bradley is outdated. Because their videos are outdated or because you feel the information itself is outdated? I had a great experience my first go around, but that was nearly 6 years ago.

    • Bradley videos are outdated for sure. But more than that, the gender roles portrayed in Bradley feel pretty dated too.

  11. Hi Genevieve! I was wondering where I can get a copy of “Supernatural Birth” that you referenced in Part 1 of your Natural Birth video series? You mentioned listening to it during your labor. Thanks so much!

    • Hi Victoria, I also wanted the book after hearing Genevieve talk about it in her birth series. I found it on Amazon for about $8. I really like the book, but boy, does it require some serious flexing of your faith! Hope that helps 🙂

  12. I am currently doing the Mama Natural Childbirth Course, 36 weeks, finished with class #5. I love that I can go back a rewatch parts of the class…GBS test was coming back and I could go bsck and rewatch that portion, or I am hoping to finish in time to go back and rewatch some of the stages of labor classes again before the real deal. This is a big pro I hadn’t considered before I started and that should be included on your list.

    • Sarah! Thank you for chiming in. So glad to have you in class, and thank you for the awesome feedback!


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