11 Best Online Birthing and Parenting Classes for All Moms and Dads-to-Be
When I found out I was pregnant a year ago, I had idyllic, albeit somewhat cliche ideas of what the next nine months would look like: leisurely shopping for maternity clothes at the mall, going to ultrasound appointments with my husband, indulging in prenatal massages and pedicures, having a big, joyous baby shower, and taking childbirth prep classes at the nearby parenting center. Of course, none of this has happened. Due to the current state of the world, pregnant women, like myself, have had to make some unexpected changes to their birthing plans because as many of us have learned, a baby waits for no one—not even a global pandemic.
I am not complaining. While the experience hasn't been entirely ideal, I'm grateful to have spent time comfortably at home. I also found I had more access than ever to parenting information at my fingertips and (thankfully!) it seems there are endless virtual support groups and ways to connect with doctors, midwives, and doulas.
It may not feel the same as the real, in-person thing, but taking an online course can still be effective and beneficial, according to Mia Di Julio, M.D., an OB-GYN at Providence Saint John's Health Center in Santa Monica, California.
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"Even though your prenatal experience is likely not what you planned for, there are many ways to safely be connected and informed. [Online courses] can reduce stress and anxiety and help you feel more empowered and excited going into your birth experience," says Dr. Di Julio. "I encourage every family to creatively utilize the many resources available and maintain active communication with your doctor or midwife to support you along the way."
There are constantly new options available to parents-to-be. But whether you just found out you're expecting or you're due any day now, these online childbirth and parenting classes will at the very least help you feel a little more prepared for welcoming your little one into the world.
Tinyhood was founded by two engineer moms who were frustrated by the lack of clear parental guidance available to expecting parents. This prompted them to start Tinyhood, a curated collection of online courses focused on the essential topics you need to know as a new mom or dad, taught by certified experts. The Baby 101 course (now $49) consists of 15 different classes that cover everything from common breastfeeding challenges and establishing sleep habits to infant CPR and tummy time tutorials. And because of the COVID-19 outbreak, they are currently offering their breastfeeding classes for free.
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If you've done any research about parenting resources, you've probably stumbled upon Erica Chidi. She has more than a decade of experience as a birth and postpartum doula, beginning her career volunteering within the San Francisco prison system and helping pregnant inmates. Since then, she's written Nurture: A Modern Guide to Pregnancy, Birth and Early Motherhood, which quickly became a best-seller, and began offering her services online, helping thousands of women across the country through her online course.
Nurture: The Online Birth Course ($95) is a comprehensive prenatal and postpartum guide that will not only teach you the basics, but will also help you prepare emotionally, exploring how your relationships, career, and lifestyle will change with your baby's arrival. In addition to the 26 information-packed videos, you'll also receive printable worksheets and access to a monthly webinar where you can chat with Chidi herself. In support of #BlackLivesMatter, 25 percent of proceeds from this course will go to support the work of Black Mamas Matter Alliance. And if that's not enough, Chidi also co-founded Loom, a sexual and reproductive health center in Los Angeles.
Worried about sleep training? New moms swear by Taking Cara Babies' online courses. After all, founder Cara Dumaplin knows what she's doing—she's a mom of four, a neonatal nurse, and married to a pediatrician. Since launching Taking Cara Babies in 2013, Dumaplin has helped thousands of parents get their babies to establish 10 to 12 hours of independent sleep by 5 months of age. She offers different courses: The Newborn Class ($79)—also called "Will I Ever Sleep Again?"—will give you the tools to set up a solid sleep foundation and "love the newborn stage," as one testimonial stated. The 5-24 months class ($179 to 319, depending on the package) —also called "The ABCs of Sleep"—includes a 90-minute multi-segment video course and phone consults with a certified sleep expert.
If you're the type of person that learns best during live sessions where you can interact with a teacher and your classmates, WeeHuman's class offerings might be the best fit for you. WeeHuman offers live instructor-led, small class programs for parents in childbirth, parenthood, and early childhood development. In addition to its interactive online classes with educators and experts (held via Zoom), participants also have access to an expert-built resource library, chat support, and community Q&A. The Modern Childbirth class ($79), for example, is 46 lessons meant to empower and prepare expecting parents.
Pampers has teamed up with the Childbirth Education Association to offer free childbirth education classes. The nine-part video series, led by clinical childbirth experts, provides in-depth information for every stage of the childbirth journey. The videos are quick (no longer than about 15 minutes) and promise to address all of your basic questions, including what every step of labor looks like and what to expect right after birth.
Interested in Lamaze? While you could normally find a bunch of in-person local classes to learn the technique, which focuses on deep breathing, you'll have to settle for online during the pandemic instead. And hey, that's A-OK because there are even more options available on the internet. Lamaze International has developed online classes drawing from evidence-based research and with the help of experienced Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educators. You can search for classes by trimester or category (pregnancy, labor and birth, breastfeeding, baby care, and parenting) and learn things beyond breathing exercises, like how to successfully parent together or how to prepare to go back to work when breastfeeding. Each class is $29.95 or $34.95, with the option of buying in bundles.
Kopa Birth is an excellent source for mothers looking to have a drug-free birth in a hospital setting. The online course was developed by a registered nurse and Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educator in hopes of helping women feel strong and comfortable having a baby with minimal medical intervention. The prepared essentials course ($195) includes 12 hours of video classes, meditations, and a mock labor experience. There's also a bonus package ($245) which includes meal plans, a fitness program, and some other extras.
If you're looking for a more medical approach to birthing and breastfeeding, check out John Hopkins' online childbirth education class ($50) held by its gynecology and obstetrics department. There are eight chapters to its program that'll better help you understand pregnancy and labor and different relaxation and comfort techniques.
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic—and many moms-to-be being forced to look online for birth and parenting classes—Motherly made their online birth class completely free. Taught by Diana Spalding, a certified nurse-midwife and author of The Motherly Guide to Becoming Mama, it's a course that supports you through and prepares you for the birth experience you're looking for. If you fill out the form here, you'll get access to the class for free within 24 hours.
Think of Robyn as a wellness specialist database for prenatal and postpartum practitioners. Via the site, you can find specialists trained in the perinatal period, including doulas, fitness trainers, pelvic floor therapists, mental health therapists, coaches, acupuncturists, and others. On top of that, the company offers its own childbirth prep and education course (virtual, of course) for $49. The course encompasses prepping for birth, birth, and postpartum, answering common questions like, "What happens at appointments with my OB or midwife," "What happens right after birth?" and "How do you feed your baby?" It's also a course that recognizes that every path to parenthood is different.
Those who are looking to have an unmedicated birth will want to consider Mama Natural's super popular virtual birth class ($264), which covers everything from pregnancy nutrition and natural remedies for swelling or heartburn to the practical tools you'll need to ensure a peaceful birth and how to assemble the best support team. A new module "Coronavirus and Pregnancy" also covers everything you need to know about pregnancy and birth during the COVID-19 pandemic. It's hosted by Genevieve Howland, the founder of Mama Natural and author of The Mama Natural Week-by-Week Guide to Pregnancy & Childbirth as well as Maura Winkler, who's a certified nurse-midwife, nurse, doula, and board-certified lactation consultant (IBCLC).