When to Start Lamaze Class (and, what you’ll learn)

Lamaze classes teach parents-to-be healthy birth practices for safe labor and childbirth.  Learn when you should start Lamaze class so you’re prepared for delivery.


Like most new parents, I wanted to learn everything I could about motherhood before having my first child. Towards the end of my pregnancy, I signed up for Lamaze class at my local hospital.

For those who are unfamiliar, Lamaze is a practice that helps pregnant women understand how to best cope with pain in ways that promote comfort and facilitate safe labor. Partners can also join the class to learn ways to support their pregnant counterparts throughout the strenuous labor and delivery process.

In Lamaze class I learned things that you wouldn’t find in an ordinary pregnancy book, such as pain relief isn’t a guarantee and it’s normal to puff up like a blowfish due to IV fluids administered during labor. Getting advice directly from a labor and delivery nurse helped dim many of my concerns about delivery.

While a Lamaze class can be taken at any point in pregnancy, you’ll want to wait until you’re closer to your due date so that the information is fresh in your mind when you go into labor. It’s wise to have your last class end by week 37, according to Obstetrician and Gynecologist Laura E. Stachel M.D. If you’re having twins, you may want to attend the class even sooner to anticipate for an early delivery.

What You’ll Learn in Class

Depending on the specific class you take, you can expect to hear about a wide range of pregnancy, labor, and delivery topics. In Lamaze class, you may learn the following:

  • Breathing techniques to help keep you calm during pregnancy
  • Labor positions that line up the baby with the pelvis and speed up delivery
  • The normal stages of labor and delivery
  • Complications that can develop during childbirth
  • Types of birth plans and labor assistance
  • Options for medical intervention if needed (C-section, induction, etc.)
  • Basics to care for your newborn baby such as breastfeeding

What the Experts Say

“Lamaze’s vision for the future is that formal childbirth education, in person and online, should start early in pregnancy. If you can attend a class early in your pregnancy, it will make choosing a caregiver and place of birth easier for you and will help you understand all the choices you have. Most importantly, if you are fearful, classes will help you let go of fear and increase your confidence in your ability to grow, birth, and nurture your baby.”

Giving Birth with Confidence, Judith Lothian, Charlotte DeVries

“There are lots of birthing classes available and several different ways to find them. You could ask your doctor for a recommendation. You could ask the hospital where you’re going to delivery, or you could ask a friend or family member who went to one. But be warned, even though there are many classes to take, you usually need to sign up for several weeks in advance in order to take it. The classes last about six weeks, and you shouldn’t start a class when you’re more than thirty-two weeks along.”

– Pregnancy Sucks, Joanne Kimes, Leslie Young MD

“To start with, what were once widely known as Lamaze classes are seldom actually called “Lamaze” anymore. They tend to go by more innocent and generic names like Childbirth Preparation or Birthing Readiness. The classes themselves vary greatly from instructor to instructor. The better instructors show a lot of films, go over breathing and relaxation techniques every week, talk a lot about pain, and otherwise provide down-and-dirty preparation.”

What to Expect When Your Wife is Expanding, Thomas Hill

“In addition to helping dads feel more connected to the pregnancy, prenatal classes are also great places to meet and commiserate with other first-time parents. Prenatal classes also offer concrete, usable advice and instructions on what to do on the day the baby decides to come out. Classes are actually spaced out over about six weeks, though you can take the crash course over the weekend, if you’ve got the stamina.”

Bringing Up Baby, Sam Martin

“Begin looking into classes that are offered in your area about halfway through the second trimester – around 20 weeks of pregnancy is a good point to start. Ask your doctor or the office nurse to recommend classes in your area, he or she should be pretty familiar with what is offered. Friends can also be good sources, or look in the yellow pages under “Childbirth Education.” You may have to sign up early. Classes should start by the beginning of the third trimester (about 27 weeks).”

Your Pregnancy for the Father-to-Be, Glade B. Curtis, Judith Schuler

As Lamaze classes can be quite popular, don’t wait until your third trimester to sign up. To ensure a spot, sign up before the end of your second trimester or around 20 weeks. As most classes span across four to six weeks, starting your Lamaze class at the start of your third trimester will give you sufficient time to finish before baby is born.

Liz Coyle

Liz is a Scottsdale-based writer and mom to a three-year old boy. She is a lover of cooking, travel, and racing hot wheels with her son. As the mom of an only child, Liz has a unique perspective on parenting. She loves to share her experiences of being a high strung, type a mom in an imperfect world.

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