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Many hospitals and birth centers offer general childbirth preparation classes that teach a combination of several relaxation methods, guided imagery, aromatherapy, massage techniques, and other coping tools to use in labor. They also provide information on pain medication and epidural anesthesia.
The locations and schedules for the classes are nearly as varied as the techniques themselves. Classes may be held at the hospital or birthing center, at a private facility or in your home. There are even birth preparation videotapes and DVDs available to watch in the privacy of your own home and at your convenience. There are special classes for parents expecting multiples, women who are attempting a vaginal birth after a cesarean section (VBAC), and refresher classes for second or third-time mothers. Classes are usually held in the evenings during the week or all-day classes on the weekends and generally run from a couple of weeks up to 12 weeks.
Any class you choose should explain the stages and characteristics of labor, relaxation and breathing techniques, as well as some information on breastfeeding and newborn care. To find childbirth classes in your area, ask your health provider, hospital, or birthing center, or get referrals from friends and relatives.
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