Online Birthing, Lamaze & Lactation Classes for Pregnant Women in COVID-19 Outbreak
Part of the excitement of pregnancy is delving into the new tasks you’ll need to master when your sweetie arrives, including infant bathing, breastfeeding and those all-important breathing techniques you’ll use during labor. To learn all these new skills, you probably signed up for (and looked forward to) group classes.
But life has changed for everyone during the COVID-19 pandemic. Since pregnant women are more at risk for complications from COVID-19, it’s important to take precautions and get fully vaccinated as soon as possible. Still, as the highly contagious Omicron and BA.2.12.1 variants continue to spread, you may have decided to avoid in-person prenatal classes, particularly if you live in an area of high transmission.
The good news is that as long as you have internet access, your childbirth preparation doesn’t have to end. “Pregnant women can continue their birth education with online courses and gain a good understanding of the labor and birth process,” says Aaron Styer, M.D., a reproductive endocrinologist, co-medical director at CCRM Fertility Clinic in Boston, Mass. and member of the What to Expect Medical Review Board.
To help you get ready for your bundle of joy if you’ve decided to stick close to home, try tapping into some virtual classes. With the online courses and other materials below, you’ll obtain the knowledge you need for the healthiest delivery, which is the most important outcome of all.
Online birthing classes
There’s a wide range of online birthing courses out there, some of which are free. Virtual childbirth classes can cover everything from relaxation techniques (breathing, distraction) and the stages of labor and delivery to different labor positions and how to make a birth plan. Here are a few to consider:
- Lamaze. This long-established class series helps expectant mothers with breathing and pain management techniques, labor positions and the different ways a birth partner can help during labor and delivery. Lamaze offers tips for a drug-free birth as well as information about pain medication in their 12-hour online courses, some of which are free. (prices vary; lamaze.org)
- The Bradley Method. If you’re looking for a medication-free delivery, a Bradley method class may be for you. This course covers prenatal nutrition, exercise, deep breathing and relaxation tips, plus it teaches your partner how to become your birth coach. Search for the teacher nearest to you on their site to obtain information about virtual classes; online hybrid courses are also available on their Facebook page. (Prices vary; bradleybirth.com)
- Alexander. Feeling more in tune with your body is the point of this technique that’s been embraced by actors, dancers and moms-to-be all over the world. The Alexander Technique teaches women how to sit and squat for labor and avoid the natural reaction to tense the body during contractions. Listen to a podcast, join a Facebook group or learn virtually with an Alexander teacher who uses Zoom or Skype. (Prices vary; alexandertechnique.com)
- HypnoBirthing. The power of hypnosis is harnessed in these classes in order to help women release any fear or anxiety they may have about their upcoming labor and delivery. Expectant moms and their partners practice visualization and deep relaxation techniques with the goal of a low-tech, medication-free birth experience. HypnoBirthing International offers online prenatal and birth education courses you can complete right at home. (Prices vary; us.hypnobirthing.com)
- Mayo Clinic. Some major hospitals and medical centers offer online childbirth classes that cover topics like labor, delivery, parenting, health and wellness. The Mayo Clinic has a series called the Understand Birth eClass that includes birth stories, comfort techniques, information about Cesarean births and postpartum baby care. ($50; mayoclinic.com)
- Your hospital. Many hospitals hold their own childbirth classes that prepare parents-to-be for the process of labor and delivery. A class hosted by your specific hospital or birthing center can be especially helpful because they often help clarify hospital policies and procedures (such as exactly what happens when you check in). Ask your hospital about online prenatal classes.
Online infant CPR and baby care classes
Knowing how to swaddle or soothe an infant isn’t exactly innate. Luckily, the basics are often demonstrated at the hospital or birthing center before you’re discharged and include how to burp, feed, diaper, bathe and soothe your tot. Further instruction can also be found online.
- American Red Cross. Advanced preparation is critical should you be faced with an infant who’s having trouble breathing. Sign up for an online infant CPR class, which teaches chest compressions and mouth-to-mouth breathing techniques. ($35; redcross.org)
- Kaiser Permanente. Health care companies sometimes have video content that describes baby care tasks and answers postpartum questions. Kaiser Permanente’s well-researched site features information about bonding with your baby, common newborn conditions and dealing with the baby blues. (Free; healthy.kaiserpermanente.org)
- Evergreen Health. This Washington state hospital system’s video library instructs new moms in many tasks, including how to bathe a baby and soothe a crying infant, and offers tips for pumping and maximizing milk production. You also find courses on easing postnatal pain due to gas, an incision or at the perineum. (Free; evergreenhealth.com)
Online lactation classes
You can learn a lot about how to hold your baby and coax his little mouth to open by watching nursing videos. Here are a few to check out:
- La Leche League. Nursing classes are designed to teach you how to help your baby latch correctly, various ways to hold him while nursing, plus tips to troubleshoot any issues you might have — and all can be learned virtually at the mother of all nursing organizations, La Leche League. (Free; lllusa.org)
- Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Skin-to-skin care and pumping are especially recommended for premature babies. This hospital has two excellent online classes that are worth a look if you’re considering these options for your little one. (Starting at $45; chop.edu)
Online prenatal exercise classes
It can be hard to motivate yourself to exercise if you’re not going to in-person classes or the gym, but a virtual class can help.
- Prenatal Yoga Center. You can still reap the benefits of prenatal yoga at home. Some online classes at this New York City-based yoga center are even geared toward particular ailments, such as alleviating back pain and hip openers that’ll increase flexibility in the pelvic muscles that are needed during labor and delivery. (Pricing varies; prenatalyogacenter.com)
- MommaStrong. Expectant mothers can sign up for fast exercise plans (just 15 minutes or less) that begin with a “Momma to Be” program and continue with low-intensity interval workouts. After your tot’s birth (when your doctor gives you the go-ahead to start exercising again), you can ease into the “Hazy Days” section for some light stretching and release exercises. (Pricing varies; mommastrong.com)
- Glo. Mediation? Pilates? Vinyasa Flow? They’re all here in Glo’s extensive archive of more than 4,000 video classes. Focus on the mind-body connection with their prenatal options that sound fun even if you’re not expecting. ($18 per month; glo.com)
- Aaptiv. There are thousands of courses available on this popular workout app — from strength training to yoga to treadmill workouts — including a slew of great options for moms-to-be. (From $15 per month, or $100 for the year; aaptiv.com)
- Obé Fitness. Enjoy live and on-demand fitness classes in your living room via a friendly online atmosphere. Moms-to-be can pick from prenatal sculpt, pelvic floor workouts and yoga — and after your baby makes his debut, sign up for postnatal strength and mommy and me classes. ($27 per month; obefitness.com)
- What to Expect. Short on time? We teamed up with Obé Fitness to create a basic 10-minute prenatal yoga flow that you can do anywhere. (Free; whattoexpect.com)
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