To the head of the class: Childbirth classes help prepare you for your new arrival
This Great Starts class connects parents with local resources and each other.
Photo: Joshua Huston
Attending a childbirth class gives parents an opportunity like nothing else in pregnancy. In Seattle and around the Sound, there are a wide variety of class offerings at local hospitals, local nonprofits and independent small businesses, including classes that focus on hypnotherapy, mindfulness, father-coached birth, out-of-hospital births, yoga and birth as a rite of passage. Some childbirth classes focus on one modality, while others aim to achieve a blend of many different approaches. Class schedules vary from partial day classes to weekend immersions or weeknights series.
All childbirth classes cover the basic information about the birth process, along with the standard of care to expect during labor and delivery. Most childbirth preparation classes will cover newborn care and breastfeeding basics. More in-depth classes are available for nearly every area of concern for new parents.
Regardless of which class a family chooses, the benefits of taking a group class make it worth the investment of time and money. For financial assistance, some classes offer scholarships and DSHS covers the cost of some classes. Your childbirth class may also be considered a reimbursable/eligible expense with your Health Savings Account or Flexible Spending Account. Check with your plan administrators.
Birth class benefits:
Opens the door to conversation and joint decision-making on birth and parenting topics.
Provides an opportunity to form new relationships with other expectant parents who may become allies in the months and years ahead.
Connects parents to the available resources in the city. Knowledge of resources ahead of time can help parents feel confident that help is accessible if needed in the postpartum period.
Provides a safe space for parents to test out how it feels to speak up and ask important questions. There will be times during pregnancy and delivery when parents need to ask questions and advocate for themselves and/or their child; childbirth preparation classes offer the tools and information necessary for parents to ask those questions.
Amity Kramer is a doula and Birthing From Within mentor. She lives and teaches classes in the Queen Anne area. When not chasing her three children, she likes to spend time encouraging pregnant women to take childbirth classes, digging in the dirt attempting to grow food and perfecting her monkey-bar skills.
Parent Trust for Washington Children, Seattle: Great Starts birth and parenting preparation classes including a comprehensive series called the Great Starts Full Series. Other classes offered include Conscious Fathering, Hypnobirthing, Lamaze, Expecting Multiples and Baby Care for the Adopting Family. Parent Trust also partners with Group Health and UW Medical Centers to offer classes to patients and families. parenttrust.org
Local hospitals/birth centers
Swedish Hospital, Seattle: Offers a variety of classes individually including Childbirth Preparation, OB Speed Dating, Newborn Care, Conscious Fathering and Breastfeeding. Also offers classes grouped together into a Welcome Baby Package. swedish.org
Children’s Hospital, Seattle: BabySafe is a class for new and expecting parents. Class, which covers infant development, baby safety and injury prevention, is a partnership effort between Children’s Hospital and the Parent Trust of Washington Children. seattlechildrens.org
Birth Centers at MultiCare Auburn Medical Center, MultiCare Good Samaritan Hospital and MultiCare Tacoma General Hospital: Birth and parenting preparation classes available in five-week and intensive weekend formats. multicare.org/fbc
Evergreen Health Center, Kirkland and Monroe: Childbirth and parenting preparation classes offered individually and in group packages; Evergreen offers pregnancy and postpartum options. evergreenhealth.com
CHI Franciscan Health Centers, numerous Puget Sound locations: Birth and parenting preparation classes available individually and packaged into a group. Also offers an online birth preparation class. chifranciscan.org
Overlake Medical Center, Bellevue: Birth and parenting preparation classes, including an online class. overlakehospital.org
Providence Regional Medical Center, Everett: Childbirth and parenting preparation classes. Offers additional classes including Childbirth Refresher and Your Planned Caesarean Birth. washington.providence.org
Birth Zone, Redmond: Offers a seven-week childbirth class focused on achieving a low-intervention birth as well as a refresher class for families birthing again. birthzone.com
Carrie Coello, Bellevue and Renton: Offers 12-week-long Bradley method birth preparation classes. bradleybirth.com/carriecoello
Full Moon Birth, various Eastside locations: Offers Birthing From Within childbirth preparation classes as well as private, in-home instruction. fullmoonbirth.net
Lauren Pineda, Seattle: Offers 12-week-long Bradley method birth classes as well as private birth instruction for families birthing again. laurenpinedabirth.com
MAIA Midwifery and Fertility, Seattle: MAIA offers childbirth preparation classes for LGBTQ families in a condensed weekend format. Topics covered include intentional family building, gender identity and expression and the role of the nongestational parents. maiamidwifery.com
Newborn Sole Birth Services, Sammamish: Offers Birthing From Within childbirth preparation classes during all-day Saturday/Sunday weekend classes in Duvall, Washington, as well as private, in-home instruction. newbornsole.com
NW Mindful Birthing and Parenting, Seattle: Offers a mindfulness-based childbirth and parenting class in a nine-week series or weekend-intensive format. Also offers The Mind in Labor workshop, intended to provide tools for coping with fear and pain during labor. nwmindfulbirthing.com
Penny Simkin, Seattle: Offers childbirth classes in conjunction with Great Starts (see above) as well as a seven-class Home & Birth Center Childbirth Education Series taught by Simkin or one of her partners, April Bolding or Sharon Muza. pennysimkin.com
Rosenberg Childbirth Services, Everett: Offers five-week-long series called The Prepared Birth, an experiential class based on the idea that a woman instinctively knows how to give birth. rosenbergchildbirth.com
Seattle Birth Services: Five-week introduction to childbirth class that combines Birthing from Within and Lamaze methodologies. seattlebirthservices.com
Seattle Holistic Center: Offers childbirth prep workshops — I Can Birth: A Childbirth Preparation Program and Couples Yoga & Massage for Labor. Workshops focus on mind-body connection during childbirth, the roles hormones play and the functions that the body performs during labor. seattleholisticcenter.com
Seattle Hypnobirthing: Offers a five-week HypnoBirthing instruction in the Mongan Method, utilizing self-hypnosis techniques. Also offered: HypnoMothering class for moms who have already completed some HypnoBirthing instruction. seattlehypnobirthing.com
Sharon Muza, Seattle: Offers group and private birth classes. Offerings include Caesarean YOUR Way: Creating An Optimal Experience, Labor YOUR Way: Labor Techniques That Work and VBAC YOUR Way classes. sharonmuza.com
Stephanie and Jason Harwood, Seattle: Offers 12-week Bradley method birth preparation classes. bradleybirth.com/stephanieharwood
Thresholds, Seattle: Amity Kramer offers Birthing from Within childbirth preparation classes, both for first-time parents and families birthing again. Offers six-week-long evening classes as well as weekend immersion sessions. thresholds.info
Your Birth Your Story, King and Snohomish counties: Offers a five-week HypnoBirthing class with both group and and private instruction available. yourbirthyourstory.com
You may spend as much time researching car seats as you will colleges. Your source for all things related to car seats is The Washington Safety Restraint Coalition. Its website has information on current car-seat laws, how to choose a car seat, where to get your car seat inspected once installed and an updated list of car-seat recalls. 800bucklup.org