Preparing for Childbirth: Education, Planning & Labor Pain Management


Time has never moved so fast and so smooth, and now your little angel is on the way! Everyone is excited and bumbling for the arrival of the new addition to the family, and the preparations are on the high. Preparing for childbirth is taxing yet wonderful, so better get yourself up and start the newest, biggest change in your family’s life.

Childbirth Education

Most expectant parents, especially the first timers are eager yet anxious to know the rules to becoming a parent even before the birth of their child. There are several courses or classes for parents regarding childbirth that would fill up the gap of knowledge that the couple is yearning for.

  • The birth of childbirth education started in the early 1900s to encourage women to involve themselves in prenatal care.
  • It progressed because of the additional birth choices that emerged later on.
  • The goal of childbirth education is to prepare expectant parents physically, mentally, and emotionally for childbirth.
  • Childbirth educators have a professional degree and a certificate from a childbirth education course.
  • Some of the topics that childbirth educators teach are the physical and emotional aspects of pregnancy, early parenthood and coping skills, and labor support techniques.
  • Childbirth classes are mostly taught in group; and today there are instructors who also employ the use of slides, videotapes, and demonstrations.
  • Childbirth education is more effective if both the parents are interactive, as they would be able to share their fears and hopes about the pregnancy and learn together as a couple.
  • A lot of studies have been conducted regarding the efficacy of childbirth classes when it comes to pain reduction, shortening the length of labor, decreasing the amount of medication used, and the increase of enjoyment in the overall experience of childbirth.
  • It is now generally accepted that childbirth courses could increase the satisfaction and control of feelings and reduce the amount of pain felt during childbirth.

The Childbirth Plan

  • The childbirth plan consists of the choice of setting, birth attendant, birthing positions, medication options, and plans for immediate postpartum, etc.
  • Classes encourage the couple to write a birth plan and deal with these issues before the day of birth to avoid stressing out at the last minute.
  • Make sure that the couple also understands that the birth plan should be flexible in case some complications may arise.

Preconception Classes

  • Preconception classes are classes for couples who are planning to get pregnant within a short span of time.
  • These couples most likely want to learn more about what they can expect in a pregnancy and what could be their possible birth setting and procedure choices.
  • The class includes recommendation of preconception nutrition changes and physical and psychological changes that pregnancy brings.
  • Overall, preconception classes emphasize the importance of pre-pregnancy preparations to ensure a healthy fetus and mother.

Expectant Parenting Classes

  • Expectant parenting classes are for couples who are already pregnant and expecting.
  • The focus of the topics is on the family health, nutrition during pregnancy, health changes during pregnancy, and newborn care.
  • Pregnant women come to these classes accompanied by their support persons, and the class usually lasts for 4 to 8 hours over a 4 to 8-week period.
  • The classes are individualized for each group according to their special needs, such as for adolescent pregnancy, pregnant women with disabilities, or expectant adoptive parents.

Sibling Education Classes

  • Sibling classes are designed for older brothers and sisters to give them awareness of what would happen during birth and what they can expect a newborn would act like.
  • Simple things that a child can do during the period of pregnancy, such as eating nutritious food together with their mother and how babies grow are taught in these classes.
  • The information given during sibling classes should be appropriate to their age to make sure that the classes are effective.

Breastfeeding Classes

  • Women who take breastfeeding classes appreciate over time the importance of breastfeeding and the advantages it gives both the mother and the baby.
  • Topics include the physiology of breastfeeding, its psychological aspects, and the advantages of exclusive breastfeeding.
  • The classes would also emphasize on ways on how a busy mother could still breastfeed her child despite a busy work schedule so the breastfeeding could continue for at least the first full year of the baby.

Preparation for Childbirth Classes

  • The focus of preparation for childbirth classes is mainly in the birth process.
  • The class would help the woman and her support person prepare for the childbirth experience.
  • Pain management and reduction is also a part of these classes, both with nonpharmacologic and pharmacologic measures.

Pain Management during Labor

The Bradley Method

  • Also known as the Partner-Coached Method, it centers on the idea that the woman’s partner should play an important role during pregnancy, labor, and childbirth until early newborn care.
  • Originated by Robert Bradley, it sheds light on the fact that pregnancy and birth are joyful natural processes.
  • The woman is taught to use an internal focus point as a disassociation technique, and she is encouraged to walk during labor.

The Dick-Read Method

  • This is a method proposed by Grantly Dick-Read wherein the premise is that fear leads to tension, which leads to pain.
  • The idea is for the woman to prevent the fear and break the chain between tension and pain, so she can reduce the pain of labor contractions.
  • Lack of fear is achieved through education on childbirth and relaxation, and pain management techniques.

The Lamaze Method

  • The Lamaze Method is one of the most widely taught methods in the United States.
  • The theory is based on stimulus-response conditioning, wherein women can learn to use controlled breathing to reduce the pain of labor.
  • Formal classes are organized by Lamaze International or the International Childbirth Education Association.
  • Topics from Lamaze include prenatal nutrition and exercises, common discomforts of pregnancy, and information to prepare couples for unexpected circumstances such as cesarean birth or the need for anesthesia.
  • The gating control theory of pain is emphasized in Lamaze where the use of controlled breathing and imagery can block incoming pain sensations.
  • Lamaze classes are kept small so that there would be enough time for individualized instruction and attention to each couple.
  • The support person that the woman brings would act as her coach in labor.

Practice Quiz: Preparing for Childbirth


1. Why did childbirth education progress up until modern times?

A. A lot of women fear the pain of childbirth.
B. Many childbirth courses were developed over time.
C. Birth choices expanded and developed over the course of time.
D. Education helped couples understand the childbirth process more.

2. What method of pain management would you suggest to a woman who wants control of pain even before labor contractions occur?


A. Bradley Method
B. Dick-Read Method
C. Lamaze Method
D. LeBoyer Method

3. How could the Dick-Read Method reduce the pain of childbirth?

A. The connection between pain and tension should be cut through proper education.
B. Breathing techniques should be mastered to reduce the pain of labor.
C. The support person must be able to coach the woman during labor effectively.
D. There should be focal points of interest during labor.

4. What childbirth class should a pregnant teenager consider attending?

A. Breastfeeding classes
B. Expectant parent classes
C. Sibling education classes
D. Preparing for childbirth classes

5. What childbirth class should a couple who wants to get pregnant take?


A. Preconception classes
B. Expectant parent classes
C. Sibling education classes
D. Preparing for childbirth classes

Answers and Rationale

1. Answer: C. Birth choices expanded and developed over the course of time.

There are a lot of birthing choices developed today and couples may have confusion in choosing the right fit for them.

2. Answer: C. Lamaze Method

Lamaze method uses the gating control theory of pain wherein you have to visualize that you have closed the gates of sensation before the pin could enter them.

3. Answer: A. The connection between pain and tension should be cut through proper education.

Lack of fear is achieved through education about childbirth and tension and pain could be broken if fear is not present.

4. Answer: Answer: D. Preparing for childbirth classes 


Preparing for childbirth classes set an individualized curriculum for every group that they handle.

5. Answer: A. Preconception classes

These classes emphasize the importance of pre-pregnancy education to ensure the health of the mother and the fetus even before conception.

Childbirth is both exciting and terrifying, so the need for proper information and awareness must be enforced before the day of reckoning. The expectant parents, as well as the people around them, must prepare wholeheartedly so everyone could achieve a sense of satisfaction and describe the entire pregnancy experience as something that could be close to a miracle.

Marianne is a staff nurse during the day and a Nurseslabs writer at night. She is a registered nurse since 2015 and is currently working in a regional tertiary hospital and is finishing her Master's in Nursing this June. As an outpatient department nurse, she is a seasoned nurse in providing health teachings to her patients making her also an excellent study guide writer for student nurses. Marianne is also a mom of a toddler going through the terrible twos and her free time is spent on reading books!