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“Looking for Childbirth Education Recommendations”

by Prince Of Petworth May 8, 2017 at 1:15 pm 35 Comments

baby classes
Photo by PoPville flickr user dcsplicer

“Hi! My husband and I are expecting our first child later this last fall. Does anyone have any recommendations on where to take classes in preparation? Specifically I’m looking for courses focused on the birthing process, how to care for/what to expect with a newborn, and breastfeeding.

Thanks in advance!”

  • Truxton Thomas

    We did a number of classes through Sibley Hospital for our first on all the topics listed. We’re doing the GW Midwives practice and classes through our doula group this time. I would think your hospital would have plenty to choose from and would want you to know about and attend the classes, assuming you’re using a hospital.

    • jim_ed

      Second this. Check with your delivery hospital first. We did this plus infant CPR at Washington Hospital Center and paired it with a tour of the delivery ward.

    • dcd

      We did the classes at Sibley as well, and it worked well for us.
      Just remember, in any childbirth class, you’re going to feel like you’ve stepped into an episode of the Sopranos – you’re going to be surrounded by lots of people with big bellies wearing track suits, many of whom will have short tempers.
      (When I made that comment sotto voce during our childbirth class, my wife rolled her eyes at me and chuckled, the expectant mothers on either side glared and/or snarled at me, and their partners prudently stifled their laughs.)

  • mtpresident

    Check out Susan Messina for childbirth classes. We delivered with the GW midwives, but went to Georgetown for an infant care/cpr class. If you are interested in working with a doula, Lynn Converse is absolutely amazing. Feel free to drop me a line at mtpresident.popville at gmail for more info on any of the above.

    • Shaw Neighbor

      Susan has retired, unfortunately. We loved her class. But I’d recommend that folks read “Natural Childbirth in a Hospital Setting” (the “textbook” for her class) if they’re interested in getting at her content. We found that her curriculum closely followed the book.

  • We did a half day baby care and breastfeeding class through Sweet Pea Childbirth Prep (21st and K). Enrolled for a separate Lamaze/childbirth session through Lamaze DC. The DC class we originally scheduled got cancelled, so they moved us to one in Chantilly with Jamie Mueller (https://www.birthingconfidence.com/). She was great and very non-judgmental about my strong preference for an epidural :) The partners feel very involved and she taught them some great massage/comfort moves. There was some overlap between the two classes (on breastfeeding). I’d say the Lamaze class was more worthwhile because it really gave us a lot of insight into the many ways labor could go, the decisions you’ll have to make, etc. The child care course was pretty basic (bathing, swaddling) and could probably be covered by any mom or YouTube. We learned from our maternity tour of Sibley that they also do offer classes there. In retrospect, we could have signed up with them and gotten in a couple more practice drives/routes to the hospital.

  • KingmanParkRes

    The GW Breastfeeding Center at 21st & K St NW has a great series of classes and can serve as a great resource. Their store has everything you could need, offer great consultations (both in-office and in-home) and the classes we took were very helpful.


    • mtpresident

      Absolutely. However, while they might tell you otherwise, it’s not uncommon for the lactation consultants to have a particular point of view that they are speaking from. So just be prepared to take certain things with a grain of salt.

      • InfantMom

        Second this. I loved the breastfeeding center — but they obviously are pro-breastfeeding and can be very opinionated and strong. When people tell you that breastfeeding doesn’t hurt, they’re big liars. Of course it hurts in the beginning – someone is sucking on your raw skin for hours everyday – and not somewhere with “rough” skin like your elbow.
        Also under the AMA, many insurance providers will pay for your lacatation consult. The staff is super helpful there and can help you navigate your insurance. Not sure how this will work in the months to come…

        • mtpresident

          Some of them are also pro co-sleeping, anti-swaddle, and very anti-sleep training (even past the 4-6 month range) if that sleep training might involve crying.

        • Truxton Thomas

          Agree with mtpresident and InfantMom 100 percent. Lactation consultants are definitely advocates. It can be a very hard and intimidating time, so find what works best for you.

          • mtpresident

            Just for balance–I also got a LOT from their classes, groups, and consultations. Just don’t feel like you need to take everything as gospel. And if you ever have the chance to work with Laura Emmons, take it–she’s fantastic.

          • Truxton Thomas

            Agree with this as well.

    • j

      i loved this place. the classes are great, and there is a breastfeeding mother’s group for after your baby is born – it’s a great desintation to get out of the house when the baby is little, where you can get support, and you’ll meet other parents (mostly moms, during the weekdays). i also recommend the babywearing class.

      as far as the lactation consultation, while they may have a point of view, i don’t think they were aggressive about it. i had latching issues, and the consultant was super supportive at helping me ensure my baby was fed, period, whether through breasfeeing, pumping or formula.

      • AB

        This was my experience. The lacatation consultant I saw ordered me to give my son more formula. My production was awful and she really helped with the fed is best.

        • mtpresident

          I didn’t have any issues on the feeding front–but got a horrified response from one when she learned that my baby was sleeping in another room because she was such a loud sleeper that I wasn’t sleeping–even when she was. And the person who led the breastfeeding support group said something nearly every week about not swaddling at all/past 8 weeks and often made recommendations regarding co-sleeping. I’ve also heard about recommendations regarding sleep training that were rather slanted. Some of them seem to have an attachment parenting philosophy in terms of the non-feeding advice that they are giving.

  • InfantMom

    We also did Sweet Pea birthing class — it was only a half a day and was informative. We learned about the different stages of labor, what happens when you get to the hospital, what happens to the baby after its born, and the different things that could go wrong (not necessarily wrong, but things that might happen that you aren’t expecting).

    In terms of breastfeeding, I can’t recommend the Breastfeeding Center of Washington enough. Their breastfeeding basics class is free, as is their pumping basics. They also have a breastfeeding for partners class, but I’m not sure if its free, or what it’s entailed. After my baby was born, I went to the nursing mothers group that they have on Tuesdays, and it really helped me through those first few months of terribleness of breastfeeding. People tell you that it’s hard, but you don’t really know how hard it is until you’re in the middle of it.

    Congratulations, and good luck!

    • LedroitTiger

      The breastfeeding for partners class IS free, but it fills up fast. I’ll be taking mine next month!

  • wobber

    No class or advice can prepare you for the sleeplessness nights and the odd places you will find poop moving forward. Just look forward to being able to drink again after the birth.

    Good luck.

    father of 3

    • Anonamom

      Bahahaha… co-signed as a mother of 3+steps

  • I’m not a parent but I’ve always thought that if I could actually get pregnant, I would do the Pregnancy Yoga class at Willow Street (I’m sure other studios have them too) and then they do a post-partum class too.

  • DCmom

    I would NOT recommend the Sibley class. The woman who taught it was not helpful or instructive and it was very long and expensive.

  • Anony

    STORK classes through Sibley are really good

  • Momof2

    I’d think about the birthing experience you want and then work backward to find the appropriate classes. I took classes through Sibley and was very unprepared to push (more than 5 hours before an emergency C). I had done an Ironman triathlon just before getting pregnant and really, really I had looked into hypnobirthing – from what I know it is very consistent with endurance athletics. With my second baby, I developed a huge complication and she was frank breech so repeat C, even with my strong desire and providers’ willingness for a VBAC. Sadly, given the high reoccurrence of the potentially fatal (for baby) complication, no more pregnancies for us…

    I wouldn’t bother with a breastfeeding class. It was so hypothetical and I got lots of lactation nurse hands-on practice post-birth at Sibley and our pediatrics practice.

  • Rukasu

    My wife and I took a class with Nicole from Capitol Hill Doulas at the JCC. Was great, a couple hours once a week over three or four weeks.


  • Kami

    I am a burn / trauma RN at Washington Hospital Center. There is no doubt about the birthing classes through Birth You Desire with Ursula Sukinik. She owns the company, and is a highly experienced and highly sought after doula. Additionally, both my wife and I breastfed, and she helped set us up with a breastfeeding specialist.

    • Christin

      Second the recommendation for Ursula (both as a doula and childbirth educator), particularly if you would like to attempt a medication-free birth experience. Even if not, we learned a tremendous amount about the stages of labor, coping techniques, and various interventions through the birthing classes. “Knowledge is power” really translated – I felt as prepared as possible for a (very, very, very long and exhausting) labor. My husband gained a lot through the classes, and the lactation consultant (Kathy McCue of Metropolitan Breastfeeding) Ursula brings in for a class is just wonderful. We used her as a resource before birth and postpartum as well. The BYD network is a powerful one!

      • DMB

        Another whole-hearted recommendation for Ursula and her “Birth You Desire” class. And get a doula. If not Ursula then a doula you trust and get along with.

  • Oldhouselover

    Skip birth class. Hire a doula. Or don’t skip birth class. Either way hire a doula. My wife and I took 2 different day-long birthing classes and I can’t remember any of it. However, having someone with us during the birth who actually knew what was happening was priceless. Also, being a new parent is utterly insane, but it gets better!

  • Libby

    Join a PACE group locally once your baby arrives—great support for new moms navigating their new world with young infants. http://www.pacemoms.org/

    • mamallama

      Join a PACE group BEFORE the baby arrives. When I had my baby I reached out to them and all the groups were “full.” I finally got a call back when my kid was 6 months old saying they had an opening in Fairfax for moms with kids 3 months and under.

  • mamallama

    We took a class at GW through MomEase which covered most of the basics in a day. It was a long day, but I thought I got enough information out of it that I knew what to expect. That said, you have to keep in mind that some of the advice won’t apply to you – we spent a good hour or two on labor coping techniques which I never got to use because I went from “we don’t think you’re ready to admit” to “oh, you’re 9 cm, if you want an epidural better have it now” in the space of an hour.

  • LMFB

    See if the hospital where you deliver does classes. I delivered at WHC, and the class was rolled into the hospital tour. It was nice to get to see the facilities…not that it really matters, but made me feel like I was preparing (ha). Honestly, all I remembered of the classes were the lactation consultant, the how to bathe a baby (that was the thing I was most worried about hahaha) and infant cpr. If you want a class about pushing and breathing, then check out something a bit more intense and formal. I did not bother with that though–you only have so many weekends left where you won’t have a baby, so you might try to enjoy them. And it may be that you need an intervention and there is nothing you can do about the month of weekends you spent couped up in a room. That said, do whatever you think will make you most comfortable with the process, and GOOD LUCK!

  • Eckingtonian

    +100 on the Breastfeeding center, both for a prep-class on nursing as well as the post-birth drop in sessions.

    Also recommend the Bradley Method. It offered a lot of good prep that went beyond just the actual what-to-expect-in-labor and included a lot of good coaching for general pregnancy, communication, and post-birth issues. It definitely helped me stay calm when nothing in our labor went “according to plan” yet we still felt very much in control and able to make good, informed decisions about what worked best for us. You can get reimbursed if you have a HSA.

  • anonamomma

    Another plug for Lamaze classes here! You can find certified Lamaze educators through their directory or through the DC Chapter. They also have online classes you can take, including a breastfeeding class that you could do before or after the baby actually arrives.
    I also really second what Momof2 said – think about the birthing experience you want and then work backwards from there, but not just for your childbirth classes – I would extend it to the facility and care provider you choose as well. There’s a lot of research that indicates the importance of your care provider and the impact it can have on your birth outcome.
    Congratulations – and good luck too!


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