Group Childbirth Preparation Class: Celebrate Birth!

In this class you will learn about the four Ps of childbirth:
  1. passage
  2. passenger
  3. powers
  4. psyche

By understanding their role in natural birth, you can support the process of labor. Birth partners are taught how to follow the cues of the laboring mother, and help support her instinctual approaches to labor.

97% of past Celebrate Birth participants would recommend this class to their friends, family, doctor or midwife.

Our class sizes are kept intentionally small, around 10 families per series, to allow for questions and community building with other like-minded parents-to-be.  Classes meet at the the Birthways office.

Class content

Both our eight-week and weekend intensive series cover:

  • Understanding Prenatal Care
  • Stages of Labor
  • Recognizing Labor Patterns
  • Pushing: The Second Stage
  • Comfort Measures for the Stages of Labor
  • Understanding ‘Normal’ and Complications
  • Working with Your Doctor or Midwife: Advocacy Issues and Birth Plans
  • Breastfeeding and Newborn Care

Our weekend series cover newborn care and breastfeeding in less depth, and uses fewer videos. We recommend also adding our Breastfeeding 101 class to any of our class participants to get more comprehensive preparation.

When should I take a childbirth class? You are welcome to take this class at any point in your pregnancy. Most families take the series in the late second or early third trimester. We encourage families to, whenever possible, complete the class by the 36th week of pregnancy.

Are you not yet pregnant or in the first trimester and need guidance and information about optimal wellness, prenatal testing, choosing a practitioner? Consider our Consultation Services in addition to this group class.

Our 8 week series is $300 per couple (mom and birthing partner).

Our weekend intensive is $250 per couple (mom and birthing partner).


Common Questions/FAQs

How are these classes different than those offered by my hospital?
There can be wonderful perinatal educators who are teaching in a hospital setting and they can be the first to admit some of the limitations. The formats for most hospital classes are much shorter and cover far less information. Additionally, the educator must cater the content to the least informed participant, which can feel limiting for women and couples who have done some reading and are looking for something beyond the basics. Educators in hospital settings can feel that their hands are tied to discuss birth options, particularly ones not popular with the current administration or those that might encourage non-compliance. For instance, if the hospital has a policy that won’t let women get out of bed once they have ruptured membranes, the educator might leave out all the instruction on positions in labor to help fetal positioning or be free to talk about whether or not this practice has any benefit or risk for the family.

In a nutshell, a private educator should be familiar with the range of safe and evidence-based practices exercised by the health care providers and in the multiple birth facilities in your area. This broader view can help you get broader information—which can help you make informed choices appropriate for you. The class content assumes that you’re wanting to be an informed parent and will organize to supplement what you have likely read or learned on your own. The class is designed to not only share information but to expand awareness, cultivate confidence, and take you through a journey of preparation with other families.

While perhaps forgoing the hospital class, taking a tour to familiarize yourself with your birth facility and its policies and procedures can be very helpful. This, along with childbirth preparation with an independent private educator will help you feel prepared, informed and comfortable.

Will we learn how to do breathing techniques? Other techniques for comfort? Hypnobirthing?
Our classes are taught by experienced birth practitioners (midwives/doulas) who have witnessed and implemented a wide range of comfort strategies that are effective for women in labor. Instead of focusing on one ‘trick’—such as visualization, or a patterned breathing technique, the educators will help you explore:

  • comfort measures based on the physiological changes of labor (ie – massage and deep hip squeeze techniques for when baby is engaged in the pelvis)
  • learning universal tools (such as working with positioning and movement) and uncovering your own toolkit from your unique life’s experiences
  • why responding to your laboring partner more authentically than a scripted “coach” role may bring benefit to you both

If you’re taking one of our mindfulness based classes we will share the ways that practicing bare awareness is a powerful tool for working with any experience, especially labor and parenting. If you’ve been working with a tool such as Hypnobirthing, or reading Bradley books, our classes will nicely complement that content. Your instructor can guide you on exploring any additional resources that can be specifically useful for you.

I’m not sure if I’m going to have pain medication or not. Is this class a fit for me?
Many participants will be in this place. Openness and curiosity about what your experience will be is encouraged! Celebrate Birth (taught by Mary Sommers) is designed to connect participants with the confidence that birth is normal and an experience to celebrate and trust in. What you choose for yourself is always the right decision for you but we hope you experience an increase in confidence that you can do this any way you want to as you take the classes we offer. Taking a Celebrate Birth class will not review in detail what to expect from receiving pain medication (ie how to prepare for an epidural, how it’s administered, etc.) It’s easy enough to get this need met when you tour the hospital or in conversations with your doctor or your doula.

It’s just me. Is it ok to come alone to these classes?
If you’re a single mom or your partner can’t attend, you can certainly relax and feel at ease in our small, customized classes. However, if you are going to invite someone close to you to be with you in labor, they will be more effective if they can learn about the process to be the confident presence you’ll desire. Talk with us about doula care to make sure you get the support in labor that you’ll need.

We’re a same-sex family.
Birthways is founded by a same-sex mom. We include as much diversity in our images and teaching tools as we can but can be limited by what is available in the industry.

My mother/sister/friend is also interested in attending the class with me. Is this ok?
Let our registration coordinator know so that we are sure to make room in the class.

What is your refund policy?
Please sign up when you know you have found a class you want to reserve. We know that things can arise and can offer you options to fit into another class if we have room. Cancellations up to three weeks before the start of class are eligible for an 80% refund. Cancellations up to one week before the start of class are eligible for a 50% refund. Cancellations the week of class are not eligible for a refund unless we can fill your spot with another family on our waiting list, in which case are eligible for a 50% refund.

I don’t see a class that works for my due date.
If you sign up for our ‘wait list for all classes’ we may add a class if we have enough interest. We also offer private classes if you feel that your schedule just doesn’t fit into your schedules.

We are going to miss a class.
It’s a common question or concern. Just talk with your instructor. We may be able to give you some private education time to catch up on what you’ve missed.

Do we need to bring pillows or other things to the classes?
You are welcome to bring comfort items but there isn’t a pillow requirement!

Meal and snack breaks
We encourage you to be well nourished and hydrated. We have coffee and tea options, water and snacks that may comprise of items like granola bars, dried fruit, and fresh fruit. Feel free to bring your own or help yourself to what we have available. One of our instructors has a severe nut allergy. If you bring food of your own, please refrain from bringing any nuts. During the weekend intensives, there is a break to get lunch from the nearby restaurants or Trader Joes. The breaks are generally kept on the shorter side to allow you some downtime on the evenings of those intensives.

About seating and comfort.
Over the years we’ve invested in a range of seating solutions and the reality is that our bodies are just not going to be comfortable sitting in any chair for the duration of our classes! Even a non-pregnant body will need to stretch and change positions to be comfortable for more than 15 minutes at a time. We have enough cushioned club style chairs or sofas for our pregnant moms, a few birth balls that can be used for seating or a change of ‘seatery’ and padded chairs that have some ergonomic flexibility. We have a few stools for raising your legs and extra chairs if you need to elevate your feet further. Please feel free to make yourself at home and to get up and move around as you need to. There will be scheduled breaks but you can make your own body care breaks at any time.

I have a lot of reactions when I think about childbirth and worry about seeing videos.
Talk with us. We offer individual mindfulness based childbirth instruction and can go as slowly and as safely as you need in this format. If you end up choosing the group class and feel overwhelmed for any reason, check in with the instructor so that she can try to address your needs.

I’ve come home from the first (or second, or third) class and we’re feeling, well, maybe ‘freaked out’.
We know that the eight week classes are the ideal format to take in information, have time to process it a bit, and then to build on learning about what for many of us is an unfamiliar process. It’s not uncommon to have some unexpected emotion or fear or concern to come up and it is unique to every person.

Does insurance cover the cost of your classes?
Some insurance plans and some employee wellness plans offer coverage for childbirth preparation classes. You also might be able to use your Health Savings or Flexible Spending accounts to get reimbursed for the cost of class. If you have any of these options, let us know and we can send you a prepared receipt.

I’m a doula, nursing student or other professional looking to take a childbirth class for my training.
We have small classes and prioritize the experience of our expectant families. You can email our registration coordinator to inquire about options if you are prepared to invest in sitting in on the entire class and series. We do have occasional spaces for birth professionals. If you’re a nursing student looking to complete an observation of a single class, we encourage you to look into hospital classes and we would not be able to accommodate you.