Childbirth and Parenting Classes Reduce Stress

Kathy Greenberg, R.N. Feb. 2, 2009

Many expecting parents believe that childbirth classes are only designed to prepare them for labor and the birth of their baby. However, after they attend classes, most are quite surprised and thrilled they learned a great deal more than they originally anticipated.

There is no one book, brochure, movie, Web site or chat room that can completely prepare or equip new parents for the thrilling, yet sometimes challenging time that follows the birth of a new baby. In their excitement about the upcoming changes in their lives, expecting parents can sometimes forget that their baby’s birth is just the beginning of their experience as parents. Childbirth and parenting classes can prepare them for the unforgettable experiences of childbirth and holding their precious baby for the first time, as well as for the changes and transitions that occur in the days, months and years that follow.

There are many concerns expecting parents of all ages face. It is not unusual for stress to take on an entirely different meaning in the household of a new family. Amidst the incredible joy they may find themselves facing many concerns about how and when to breastfeed; how to obtain adequate rest, sleep and nutrition; ways to bond with their newborn; financial concerns and work schedule changes; how to soothe a fussy or colicky baby; ways to promote healthy care and development of their infant; securing and scheduling the help and support that they need from family and friends; and creating a safe and healthy home environment for the new family.

For those parents whose baby arrives a bit earlier than expected or whose baby may be experiencing some health or developmental concerns, additional challenges may be experienced.

Childbirth and parenting classes, taught by specially trained healthcare professionals and parenting experts, many of whom are parents themselves, offers expecting parents vital and practical information about the expected as well as the unexpected. One of the most important things parents learn is how to recognize and effectively manage stress to remain healthy and happy in the midst of change. Breathing and relaxation techniques, comfort measures and partner communication skills can be used during labor as well as after birth when potentially stressful situations may occur. If used to manage the stress when it first arises, parents can avoid the effects of accumulated stress that can cause insomnia, postpartum depression and delayed healing. Additionally, these classes provide expecting parents with valuable information about how to care for their new baby and themselves.

Ten childbirth and parenting classes are offered at Flagstaff Medical Center as well as support groups for parents of infants and toddlers. If you would like more information about these programs, call 773-2309 or visit

Kathy Greenberg, R.N., is the Childbirth Education Coordinator at Flagstaff Medical Center. Is there a health topic you’d like to know more about? Please write to Mountain Medicine, c/o Flagstaff Medical Center, Public Relations, 1200 N. Beaver Street, Flagstaff, AZ 86001, or visit FMC’s Web site at