Birth Classes

We at Raising Madison believe that finding the right birth class is vital to getting the labor/delivery that you want.  In order to help you find the best fit for you, we asked our friends and family and RM readers for personal reviews of the classes they took in and around Madison, so we could share them with you!

Below is a list of just some of the birth classes offered locally. Included in each review is a list of other classes offered by that location. Follow the links provided in the reviews for more detailed info on classes including prices and dates/times.

Included in this post are reviews of: BirthWorks, Group Health Cooperative, Happy Bambino, Madison Birth Center, and Meriter Hospital. If you know of any other birth classes available locally, please send the info our way. We’d love to post your review as well!

The reviews below are personal to the people who shared them. We realize that you may have taken the classes listed below and had a completely different experience. If that’s the case, please feel free to leave your own review in the comments or e-mail Raising Madison and we’ll put it on the blog!

BirthWorks

“Prior to the birth of our daughter, my partner, Andy, and I took a BirthWorks course with Nicole Luebbers through Empowered Beginnings. We were working with a midwife and planning a homebirth. Nicole was incredibly supportive of our choice. She facilitated our course with confidence and knowledge. What we really appreciated about BirthWorks was its depth and thoughtfulness. A few things that stand out; written exercises to initiate conversation about our own birth experience, what we wanted our daughter’s birth experience to be, how we wanted to connect to our daughter in her first moments as an outside baby, what we thought our strengths would be as parents. The course included body mechanics of the birth process, guided meditation, and so much more.

Near the end of the pregnancy, I developed H.E.L.L.P. syndrome and was told to go immediately to the hospital, Nicole was the first person we called. She offered us so much assistance and information at a time when we needed it most. Because of this course we were so well prepared to advocate for ourselves, and although it was nothing like we planned it was still a powerful and amazing experience.” – Brianne

Find out more about BirthWorks at their website.

Group Health Cooperative

Childbirth & Parenting
Prepare for the childbirth experience with this last-trimester course. This 15 hour course will cover anatomy, signs and stages of labor, the role of the labor partner, relaxation and breathing, the latest in labor and birthing options and medical interventions. Discussions also include newborn appearance and procedures, infant feeding, newborn care and parenting.

“I did a birth class through GHC on two Saturdays. It was ok. Very pro-breast-feeding and into being aware of what the different options might be during labor and birth. It didn’t prepare me fully for my own experience, but stuff happened that was not foreseen. The class was still very useful. Two long days of learning was harder than more short meetings probably would have been.” – Enid

Other classes offered through GHC include: Childbirth & Parenting, Breastfeeding your Baby

Happy Bambino

“If you are looking for information on how to achieve a natural birth then I highly suggest Happy Bambino’s Confident Birth birthing class. The session I took was held on two weekends (Saturday & Sunday) and was held for about 6 hours each day so that we ended up with a total of 24 hours of class.

The first part of the class is the confident childbirth preparation. We were provided with a wealth of information about natural birthing options, natural pain management as well as a general understanding on the birthing process and how your body works during this time. The instructors at Happy Bambino, Lea Wolf and Alison Dodge, provided hand outs, video clips and facilitated discussion to make sure everyone understood the information that was provided. They were very knowledgeable about everything we discussed. Although the goal is a natural child birth I felt it was very well rounded as they did make sure to touch on birthing interventions so they we knew what they involved and how they worked. I was able to make some more substantial decisions on the type of birth I wanted and along with my partner I was able to put together a birth plan that best fit my needs.

The second part of the class is breast feeding and newborn care. The information they provided was great to make sure the breast feeding relationship starts out on the right foot. I was also very glad for the newborn part of the class. I worked at daycares with infants and toddlers for about five years while I was completing college so I have a fair understanding about them but a newborn has special needs that should be taken into consideration. This is also perfect for the first time parents that have no experience with children.

If you’re looking for a well rounded natural birthing class to better prepare yourself for a natural birth I highly suggest this series of classes. I feel that because of these classes I was prepared for birthing in a hospital and with the help of an awesome birth team I was able to achieve the natural birth I wanted.” – Christine

Happy Bambino offers many other classes including: Alternative Birth Options, Confident Birth, Babywearing & Baby-soothing, Breastfeeding & Newborn Care, Breastfeeding: Return to Work, Prenatal & Postnatal Yoga, Infant Massage

The Nursing Mama’s Resource Station gives moms a chance to receive expert help from lactation professionals, at a fraction of the cost of other services. It has a one-time fee of $50 (per birth) for unlimited visits. Pregnant? Feel free to drop by the clinic prenatally to ask questions at no charge. Check the site for clinic hours.

Madison Birth Center

Natural Birth Classes
This seven-week class focuses on techniques for achieving a natural childbirth. The class uses a case-study approach to educate parents about the physiology of labor and birth, guides couples through the process of developing a plan for coping with labor, and demonstrates labor support techniques. Common complications and management decisions are also covered. Taught by Madison Birth Center midwives and staff.

“My husband Jess and I took our class through the Madison Birth Center. We had various instructors from the Birth Center teach our classes over the seven-week period, which was nice (because some obviously knew the topic being covered better than others), but there were a few classes when we’d spend quite a bit of time covering something someone else had covered in an earlier class.

Topics covered included: ways to deal with pain naturally, ways for the dad/partner to help during labor and delivery, the differing roles of a midwife/doctor/doula, stages of labor (and how there’s really no such thing as “false labor” – everything is your body working toward delivery. Something I think all ladies dealing with BH contractions should be told!). We watched quite a few videos. Most were helpful, but there were others that didn’t really serve a purpose (it was neat to see ladies giving birth in the Red Sea and then having a family swim, but I didn’t plan on giving birth in Lake Mendota!).

We were one of only two couples planning a natural birth in a hospital (all others were planning home or birth center births). I feel like the class helped us feel prepared for what was to come (or as prepared as you can be for something you’ve never experience before!) and equipped us with many ideas on different ways to labor, etc. Their view on hospital births was a bit negative and outdated, however. I went into the hospital (St. Mary’s) prepared to fight for my birth plan, but the nurses and doctor were completely supportive of everything I wanted.

Another nice thing about the Birth Center classes was that we had time in the middle of each class to snack on treats one of the couples brought and have a chance to chat with everyone. This was the only time I got together with other pregnant ladies, so it was nice to have the opportunity to hear how everyone else was doing!

Over all, we definitely enjoyed the classes and are glad we decided to take them through the Madison Birth Center. Although, I wish they had touched on breastfeeding and newborn care a bit more during the class.” – Kat

Other classes offered by the Madison Birth Center include: Preconception Class, Hypnobirthing, Natural Childbirth Classes, Great Start Breastfeeding Class, Yoga for Pregnancy, and Infant Massage.

Meriter Hospital

Holistic Birth
This 2-week class focuses on pain-coping techniques, the partner’s role and gaining confidence as you prepare for an unmedicated birth. The class also covers birth plans and use of “alternative” therapies.

Confident Homecoming (reviewed below)
Meriter’s team of dedicated educators help expectant parents discover options, advocate choices and prepare confidently for the challenges and changes ahead.

“My husband and I attended Meriter Hospital’s Confident Homecoming classes before Dahlia was born.  The class had two main things going for it.  First: Flexibility.  They offer classes at many times on many days, and allow you to switch around to make makeup classes.  For my husband, who works late and travels frequently, this was the only way he would be able to attend a multi-week class.  Second: Cost.  My insurance would cover half the cost of the class!  As much as I would have liked to take classes at Happy Bambino, or maybe a Bradley or Hypnobirthing class, spending less than $50 is hard to pass up.  (Sadly, this was an ongoing theme during my pregnancy experience, and in retrospect there are a number of things I wish I had just shelled out the cash for — it would have made things go more smoothly.)

Anyway, Meriter’s class is split into three parts over six weeks.  The first two weeks are mainly about the birth experience itself: the mechanics and sequence of everything, how partners can support mothers, and some very basic pain coping strategies (mainly a few breathing exercises and holding an ice cube in your hand as long as possible).  The third week continues the discussion of the birth experience, but is mainly about medical pain relief options.  An anesthesiologist will discuss epidurals, spinals, and narcotics.  The second part of the course is two weeks talking about what to expect once you bring the baby home — talking about car seats, diapering, bathing and otherwise caring for your baby.  The third part is just one class all about breastfeeding.

I was pretty underwhelmed with the course in general.  I really liked our instructor for the first and last part.  Her name was Jodi and she was a lactation consultant and former Lamaze instructor.  She had given birth to four children completely naturally, with the fifth a pitocin induction but not until 42 weeks — and even then she went without an epidural!  So as someone who was hoping for natural childbirth, she was a great example to me.  However, there was really not as much time spent on pain coping mechanisms that you would hope for with a Lamaze instructor running the class.  The breastfeeding class was great — straightforward and informative — although my husband felt like it wasn’t teaching him anything he couldn’t read for himself and wasn’t impressed.  The middle part, about caring for your baby after birth, was definitely my least favorite part. For some reason they had two different instructors over the two weeks, so the second woman basically just went over all the same things the woman from the first week had.  How many times can they remind you not to shake your baby?

The biggest disappointment though, for both me and my husband, was the third week — the class about medical pain relief options.  The head of the anesthesiology department was supposed to give a presentation, but he thought the class started at a different time for some reason.  So first they dragged some poor anesthesiologist right out of an OR, still in his scrubs, to give us a jumbled and confused (but very honest) summation of how epidurals work and what the positive and negative points are about them.  Then another guy showed up, who they had actually called in from home, to talk — but he didn’t really seem to know what to talk about.  He admitted that his wife had wanted an epidural but didn’t actually end up having time to get one, so it was interesting to hear about that sort of thing from someone who gives epidurals for a living!  But then the main guy finally showed up, and we were treated to a Powerpoint about how epidurals are now basically foolproof, you should totally get them because childbirth is the only time that people for some crazy reason CHOOSE to stay in pain when they don’t have to, and how awesome the anesthesiologists are at Meriter.  He was very dismissive of the idea of natural childbirth altogether.  It was frustrating to me.  I fully believe that women should have epidurals IF that’s what they want to do.  But more than anything I think women should be honestly informed about all the options available to them, and the positives and negatives that go along with all those options.  There’s no correct, perfect way to go through childbirth.  Everyone should make the choice that’s right for them and their situation.  The first two guys, who were speaking extemporaneously, did a much better job of expressing that than the guy who showed up with a Powerpoint presentation.  My husband and I were also able to eavesdrop on a conversation that our natural-minded instructor had with the anesthesiologist about how common epidurals are, where the guy admitted that epidurals might not be simply a gift from God, and how they might actually be a little too common — apparently Northwestern Hospital in Chicago has an epidural rate of over 90%!  Our instructor was pretty shocked by that.  (Incidentally, I was personally shocked that I knew more about the cesarean rates at Meriter than the anesthesiologist did!  I had done research and found out that the first-time birth rate for cesareans at Meriter was about 15%, whereas he said it was 33% overall, like the national average.  I don’t see how that could be mathematically possible, unless maybe if there are absolutely ZERO VBACs at Meriter.)

Overall, you get what you pay for with Meriter.  I appreciated the hospital tour, but you can get those for free.” – Maggie

Other classes offered by Meriter include: Baby’s First Weeks, Confident Young Parents, Daddy Basics, Exercise for Two