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Hospital Antenatal Classes vs Lamaze Childbirth Classes

As a first time mother, you probably have a lot of questions on your mind about the labor and birth process, whether you’ll be able to cope, when you should get to the hospital and what happens after the baby is born.

More mothers-to-be are looking to childbirth classes to find answers to these questions and to secure themselves a community of support.

Today’s birthing mothers do not have ready access to the shared birthing wisdom that was passed down generations between our foremothers because of the changes in modern family structures and the fact births nowadays takes place almost universally in hospital settings.

Birthing classes, also commonly called antenatal classes or parentcraft classes, aim to help couples prepare for their birthing experience. Birthing classes vary greatly in their philosophy, approach, style and objectives.

As a parent to be, it is important to know the differences between them so that not only you find one that meets your needs, but also one that is right for you and your family.

At present, one can choose your hospital antenatal classes or antenatal classes that are independent to the hospital you are giving birth to.

Hospital Antenatal Classes

Hospital antenatal classes are more widely known. Often times such classes are offered monthly to couples as part of their maternity package. The focus and approach of hospital classes tend to vary quite significantly from independently offered childbirth classes in many aspects.

Typically, hospital classes focus on preparing couples to be aware of the policies and procedures of the particular hospital and what can be expected if one were to give birth there.

These classes touch upon labor and birth process that is specific to the respective hospital birth settings. They also tend to pack in a lot of topics ranging from fitness to labor, breastfeeding, newborn care and postpartum into a few hours and therefore are unable to go indepth into any of these topics.

They are great if you’re looking for a fast, touch and go approach to preparing for pregnancy, birth and postpartum but do not provide the indepth and comprehensive information that is required for couples to truly feel prepared, as well as hands on practice of comfort measures and tools for pain management and relief, birthing positions and exercises in creating birth plans and informed decision making.

As for pain management, the focus is often on epidural as primary method for pain relief.

Lamaze Birth Classes

On the other hand, independent childbirth classes, like the Lamaze Birth classes are taught by a specialized childbirth educator who has in depth knowledge about not only the labor and birth process and the what, why and how but also a passion for empowering couples to take charge of their birthing experience and knowing their birthing options.

Lamaze classes are centered around the 6 Healthy Lamaze Birth practices and cover all aspects of preparing for labor, birth, postpartum and the arrival of the baby.

The discuss methods of coping with contractions naturally and with drugs, understanding the labor process, what to expect from the process as it unfolds and how to cope with potential complications, medical interventions and a c section procedure.

Lamaze classes allow couples the space to explore and understand their own expectations and desires, their fears and concerns, encourage them to craft and discuss birth care plans and their preferences with their care providers, and empower birthing partners to be confident advocates in the decision making that arises along the way.

Lamaze classes also discuss the role of pain medication in labor, and how to minimize other medical interventions that may arise as a result and encourage the use of positioning, movement, massage, counter pressure, breathing, relaxation and visualization to help women cope and manage discomfort and pain during labor.

Regardless of whether a woman chooses to labor naturally, plans beforehand to opt for pain relieving drugs, or decides during labor to opt for a pain reliever, the various tools and techniques learnt during their Lamaze classes help women feel emotionally and physically prepared for the uncertainty of labor.

While couples may seek out hospital classes as a way of preparing for labor, many couples who are keen to explore their birth options and want access to unbiased information while working on developing a birthing mindset will find that Lamaze classes are a great option to getting prepared for this experience of a lifetime.

Research on satisfaction with birth experience has shown that the amount of control a woman feels she has had over her birth experience directly impacts how she feels about it. Ultimately, the Lamaze classes are geared towards helping mothers feeling more informed, in control of, and satisfied with their birthing experiences.


Namrita is on a mission to create a supportive community for parents and provide resources, tools, and a safe space to help them on their parenting journey. You can join her free Facebook group here ​

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