Dear MrDad: Every expectant couple I know is taking a Lamaze classes. Is that really necessary?
Armin answers: One of the advantages of taking a childbirth preparation class is that it'll give you and your wife the opportunity to ask questions about the pregnancy in a more relaxed setting than her doctor's office. You'll also get a chance to hang out with other expecting couples and listen to the women swap stories about how much weight they've gained, how much their joints hurt, how many times they get up to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night.
Seriously, though, most childbirth classes operate on the belief that the more you learn about pregnancy and birth from exercise and nutrition to the difference between an epidural and a spinal the more in control you'll feel and the less you'll have to fear.
Also, be careful: People have a tendency to use the word "Lamaze" as a synonym for "childbirth preparation class." But Lamaze is really only one of a number of very different approaches to dealing with labor and the pain associated with it. Here's a little background on three of the most common approaches:
Classes typically last five to nine weeks and usually run about $100 to $200. Most are offered either privately or through local hospitals so check with your wife's doctor or the maternity ward for a referral. Whichever approach you and your wife pick, get going on it as soon as you can. What you'll learn will do a lot to make the rest of the pregnancy calmer and less stressful for both of you.