childbirth preparation classes

as I’m entering my final four months of pregnancy, I’ve been advised by books, doctors, etc that this is the time to sign up for childbirth preparation classes.  I’ve briefly looked into the options at the hospital I’m planning on delivering the baby at, and not only are the courses pretty expensive but they also span 4 to 6 weeks!  {not sure if that’s normal, but it seems like one class would be enough.}

so, this might be a silly question, but are childbirth prep classes really necessary?  I can understand them being extremely helpful especially since I really don’t know what to expect from childbirth, but I have a feeling that when it comes right down to it, and I’m in labor and focusing on trying to get through each contraction, that all I’ve learned and focused on might just end up going out the window.  I’m planning on a natural vaginal birth with no pain medication or unnecessary interventions and Levi and I have discussed hiring a doula.  seems like with the {significantly hirer} amount of money that I’m paying for a doula that I don’t really need the 4 week prep class.  plus, I’ve been reading through my stack of pregnancy books and feel like I’m as prepared as I’m going to be, at least at this point.  part of me thinks any additional preparation will be helpful, but the other part of me thinks spending that money on one of the other thousand things I still need to purchase for this baby might be the wiser choice, but I’d love to hear your thoughts.


  1. 17


    Allison said:

    I took a birth prep class and I am quite glad I did.

    Hubby and I took classes on the Bradley Method – 12 weeks, 3 hours per week – and yes, it’s a lot of info. I can’t say that I recalled much when I was in labor, but my husband did and said all the things he learned to do, so that was a huge comfort to me.

    The Bradley method emphasizes “husband coached” childbirth and touts unmedicated, vaginal birth as the best way to have a healthy mother and baby. In my opinion having a very educated husband/coach AND a doula would be too much, so I chose to educate my husband. But, if you found and love a doula Bradley classes would probably be a waste of time/money.

    I ended up having a vaginal delivery with no epidural and I think taking the classes played some part in that. Hope I helped!

  2. 17


    Tammy said:

    I would say that if you plan on hiring a doula, have her come meet with you both well in advance (or maybe a couple meetings) to discuss childbirth and what you would want if everything ran smoothly.

    Though, we took childbirth classes and loved them! It was really good for my husband to hear what would happen and sympathize with me a bit more. He came out much more prepared because of it.

    We also had a doula with my first and it was amazing to have her there. I tried as long as I could to go without meds, but after 30+ hours of labor and 5 hours of being at an 8 and couldn’t take it anymore and asked for the epidural. She was there to comfort me and let me know that I didn’t fail because I got one. I didn’t have a doula with my most recent birth (3 weeks ago) and I felt really out of control, asked for an epidural as soon as we were admitted, and clung to the rail of my bed crying until I got one over an hour later. She was a great advocate for me and what I wanted to happen.

    So I would say if you have to choose between spending money on classes or a doula, go with the doula.

    Another snip-it of advice. Do you plan on having a doctor or midwife deliver your babe? I had a doctor with my first, and felt so much pressure to have my water broken and every other intervention to speed things. The doula helped keep us on track with my plan though. Then the doctor only showed up to catch him, and let a resident do it, as well as sew up some tearing (and she did it wrong!) With the birth 3 weeks ago, I had a midwife and she was there as soon as she could. She walked in as I was getting the epidural, but she was very reassuring and wonderful the entire time.

  3. 17


    Flora said:

    Alyson, I did not take any class, I just had the 4 2-hour HypnoBirthing classes and that was enough. I had an aquagym class everyweek which was great, but all the women there seemed quite anxious, full of fears about the birth when I was not. I knew I would meet them if I took a classical preparation class, so I stayed away as I didn’t want to immerge in their fears. I think the doula option is a great one, we thought about it but didn’t take one. She will tell you all you need to know without passing on all the fears one may have about birth. All you need to remember is to relax, that’s the key, the baby and everyone around you will take care of the rest :)

  4. 17


    Hmm.. difficult question. I am pregnant with my second and my husband and I attended a 4 week (1 hour per week) birth class at a private birth school (not run by the hospital) that focused on natural birth when I was pregnant with number 1.. we found it incredibly helpful and I actually made some really good friends in the class who were all having babies around the same time and lived close by.

    I had a wonderful, natural, drug free birth and I really put that down to all the reading I did. (books like new active birth etc.)

    As for a doula, we had considered it, but didnt end up using one in the end.. and I am sooo glad that I didnt. My husband and the midwife was all the support I needed and I was so focused on the labour that there could have been a marching band playing in the room while I was in labour and I would not have noticed. Many books describe it like being on drugs.. totally zoned out. So for me personally, it would have been a big waste of money.

    However, if you feel that you would benefit from it then do it. And my only advice would be to write down a birth plan (if you want a drug free birth etc.) but be prepared to go with the flow on the day.. the most important thing is that there is a healthy mother and healthy baby at the end.. no matter what happens.

  5. 17


    Hana K. said:

    I’m on week 33 and I haven’t/don’t plan on taking any classes. I’ve prepared myself by reading through the Bradley book as well as Hypnobirthing book (and other birth books!) and everything in it seems very natural and obvious to both me and my husband so we don’t think it’s necessary. We’ve been practicing different labor positions and reviewing on our own as the time draws nearer and it doesn’t seem necessary to spend so much money on something we feel comfortable with. I’m sure there’s more to learn in the classes but I know myself and the way I cope with pain and I have a gut feeling that I will be OK during labor as long as my husband is at my side and my midwife will be there to help too.

    As long as you feel comfortable and prepare (well as much as you can anyway) by reading up on relaxation techniques or whatever you feel you need, it’ll be fine without them and yeah, that money could definitely go to other things!

  6. 17


    Andrea said:

    Birth classes were a must for us. We planned a natural childbirth and took a Hypnobabies class that was 4 hours a week for 6 weeks. It not only helped me prepare for the natural birth but it completley helped my husband know what to expect and how to help me. He was INCREDIBLE when I was in labor and I firmly believe that that was 100% thanks to the birthing classes that we took together.

    Doulas are an amazing support during natural childbirth and I think if you aren’t planning to do the course then you should for sure hire the doula. In my experience, the doula basically helps you do all the things that the class would teach you.

    But, lastly, let me say…NO ONE knows whats best for you, your birth and your family better than YOU and DLB. So whatever you decide is perfect. :)

  7. 17


    Shannon said:

    Hi Alyson,
    Here is my two cents-

    Birth classes are for the guys. Ok, be honest with yourself, is your husband reading the books? Because mine always said he would and never got around to it. We took an eight week Lemaze class through the local hospital (it was cheap here in Florida) and only met once a week. I HATED it, it stressed me out unnecessarily and the videos were terrifying! I just felt like I didn’t connect with any of the other moms, but my husband on the other hand learned alot, and I think it helped him to keep a clear head while i was in labor.
    I didn’t have a doula, although I would really like one for my second child, I hear they are amazing. I think if I had had a doula I would not have been so quick to jump on the epidural bandwagon.
    Also I had a midwife, and she was amazing, although I delivered in a hospital it was overall a great experience. My midwife was paired with an OBGYN so in the event of a complication or an emergency the OBGYN would be called in, that also made me feel better.

    Good luck!
    P.S. You should really watch the film “The Business of Being Born” you can find it instant on Netflix and I learned so much more from that than from the classes, I was actually crying at some parts!

  8. 17


    jocelyn said:

    the childbirth classes i’m taking includes a couple of post-birth meetups with the other parents. everyone is telling me that they’re a great way to make friends.

  9. 17


    ann said:

    I had natural childbirth with my first child in October. We did not attend classes or hire a doula and the birth was amazing! Wouldn’t have changed a thing. I had in my head that I was going natural and my body knew what to do, although I read lots of birth stories as preparation. “Spiritual Midwifery” is a book I would recommend. My husband and I were more comfortable with just the two of us without adding a doula to hang around while the midwife wasn’t there.

  10. 17


    Claudia said:

    I must admit that I’m a believer in prenatal class. However, finding the right teacher is key. I had 2 options : “boring” public (free) classes that I would not take (I could learn much more by reading books) or private classes given by a doula company (3 weeks preparation, readings and exercises).

    We started with a doula last week and I really liked it. Here, most doulas won’t work with a couple unless they took prenatal classes. And I really understand why after last week class…so much to learn (especially since I want to try a natural birth with no unnecessary interventions).

    I’m an event planner (my job) so I like to know exactly what is going on to be efficient and take proper decisions. The more I’m prepared the easier it will be. And if things get difficult (like, shit, I need a medical intervention), well, I will have all the information to be smart about it. And for me, reading about it was one thing but talking about it with the doula made it very real…very special.

    On the other hand, most women is Africa don’t get prenatal classes and they do a pretty good job at giving birth.

    Anyway, childbirth is full of very personal decisions. As long as you are comfortable with what you do, well, things will be ok.

  11. 17


    franny.glass said:

    we skipped the classes and the doula. the class would be a good place to make connections with people having babies at the same time though!

  12. 17


    Dana said:

    We took a 6-week prep class offered by the hospital we delivered at and thought it was really helpful. Especially for my husband. After the class, we both felt like we had a good handle on what to expect, what our choices were, and strategies for dealing with the pain. It was a really great prompt for discussions between my husband and I about what our expectations are, what we were worried about, what kind of experience we wanted. The other benefit was that I was able to create a mama group with the ladies in the class. We met weekly all through our maternity leaves. Since I am the first among my friends to have a baby, meeting other women who were going through the same incredible (at incredibly difficult, at times) experiences as I was was really fantastic.

  13. 17


    stacy said:

    attending classes won’t necessarily help you know what to expect (how can you really know until you’ve experienced it?) but they will help you understand what is going on with your body which helps you cope during birth. i took hypnobirthing classes and i honestly think just knowing what the contractions were actually doing to help get the baby down, basically having learned how birth works anatomically helped me so much. it helped me let my body do what it needed to do and not fight against it. so that is my advice – learn as much as you can about natural birth so you will feel empowered instead of scared going into it… (my #2 is coming in about 7 more weeks, this was a good reminder that i need to freshen up on things!)

  14. 18


    kate so said:

    Hire a doula! I’m due in three weeks and with everything that I’ve read your chances of having the birth you wish GREATLY go up when a doula is present. We’ve met with our doula three times in preparation for the birth. She had me read, “Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth.” And she had my husband read, “The Birth Partner,” by Penny Simkin. We also took an 8 week childbirth class through BABS (Bloomington Area Birth Services.) We loved it and felt like we have really benefited from it already. But if you decide not to take a class I highly recommend reading up on breastfeeding…that is if you are planning on breastfeeding. It’s not part of the birthing process so it can easily get overlooked. However, it is the first thing you will be doing once the baby is in the world. I’ve had so many friends tell me that they did so much preparation for the birth, but didn’t even think to read up on breastfeeding. Breastfeeding ended up being pretty difficult for them.

  15. 18


    sinisterspark said:

    I took a prenatal class and I hated it. I think it’s not for everyone. If you’re a social person who likes to meet new people or do group exercises and stuff, then go do it. I’m personally not like this, so I found it excruciatingly tedious, boring and expensive. Having read so much about childbirth and birth stories and all that, it also seemed to just repeat what other books/websites/comments have said. It was also a bit more of a waste on my end because it seems like the recommendations of my prenatal class instructor were at odds with my doctor’s preferences/methodologies, and frankly I trust my ob-gyn more than the prenatal class instructor (this is on things like birth position, episiotomies, epidurals, etc.).

    I don’t know if there are free public classes in your area, but I found these more helpful than the paid ones, simply because they’re shorter and they involve less class participation (did I mention I hated that? haha). Trust your gut on this – if it seems like an activity you will not enjoy, then do not spend any money for it. The Babycenter website, a good pregnancy book, and a thorough discussion with your ob-gyn might help you more than a class like this.

  16. 18


    lyn said:

    f you have had any experience with children – i’d skip most of the classes…we found some classes (at a different hospital) that were just one day (an all day saturday class)…the two that helped me out were the birthing class and the breastfeeding class. the newborn class i already knew everything – or was at least aware. but i had no clue what the stages of labor were – that did help me in the birthing class..and if you’re going to breastfeed…all the information in the world won’t “help” you until you’re actually doing it, but i think it made it less scary for me! good luck! also if there’s an infant cpr class i’d recommend that – never hurts to be up to date on that info!

  17. 18


    mjb said:

    We went to a one-day 8-hour birth class. It didn’t provide too much besides watching a video, and it felt cheesy to do all of the positions as a group and practice breathing & relaxation, but I don’t think my husband would have taken the time to watch the video and learn the stuff at home on our own. He came away from the class convinced that we could make it without pain drugs and was totally empowered to be a great coach, which he was. I also read the Bradley book and shared the helpful parts with him (some of it was completely crazy) and we talked to everyone we knew who’d had a drug-free birth to find out what was helpful and worked for them. For us, it was the peanut-shaped birthing ball, and having him apply counter-pressure on my hips and back. When the doctor was stitching up my tears she commented that a lot of people think they can go drug-free without having any idea of what childbirth is actually like. I don’t think you necessarily have to go to certain classes, but be prepared for the experience, however it goes, and it’ll be much better!

  18. 18


    jamie said:

    my thoughts have been mirroring yours exactly. we talked to our midwife about it last week, and she was fine with us just reading up and skipping the classes. i think that is what we will end up doing.

    we are not hiring a doula, because i think for us (planning a homebirth attended by a midwife) our midwife kind of fills that role. {she is there advocating for our rights, so to speak (really important to have someone doing this, it seems, if you are planning a natural birth in a hospital environment, someone to help keep interventions at bay while you are busy laboring?)} and she and her back up midwife will both be there for constant support, as a doula would be in a hospital setting. So, if we were planning a hospital birth i would probably hire a doula. maybe start interviewing some, and if you find one get their opinion on classes? you want to be on the same page….

    blah blah. ;) good luck!

  19. 18


    peggy said:

    Hire a doula! My husband and I are very private people and we really did not see the point of having a stranger in the room for the delivery, so we opted not to get a doula (even though everyone I knew recommended it). But now having ended up with one of the worst hospital experiences ever, I completely see the benefit. Having someone there that you trust but who is also educated on childbirth and has been present at many deliveries, is worth every cent. This person will be your advocate and cheerleader and will help to make you feel safe and in control of your birth experience.

    As for the childbirth classes, I agree that it is more for the husband and a great place to meet other local couples. we took a 7 week class, but I think a weekend class would be just as good. What I do recommend though is taking a cpr and breastfeeding class (these were part of our 7 week course). those I found to be invaluable.

  20. 18


    alyson said:

    seriously ladies, you are awesome. I’m so happy to have all your comments and words of encouragement!! thank you, thank you!

  21. 18


    courtney said:

    the best thing about birth class for us was watching births. natural birth is so different from what you’ve seen in movies all your life, and if you haven’t seen a bunch of them so that you know what’s normal you can be tricked into thinking things are going wrong. that’s when you end up with unnecessary interventions that will of course bring you a safe mom and baby, but might interfere with bonding, breastfeeding, and all sorts of things that make life harder in the beginning. it’s also so much fun to sit with other couples and hear a little bit about their lives and plans as you prepare to change so drastically.

    we took 8 weeks of classes outside of the hospital, and we are working with a doula, and i couldn’t feel safer or more secure about our upcoming, midwife-attended, hospital birth.

  22. 18


    Amy Nieto said:

    I’m lliking all these responses and I’m not even pregnant. So great to reach out and receive amazing support!!

  23. 18


    andrea said:

    I had a wonderful vaginal/drug-free birth in a supportive hospital (UCLA) with an amazing midwife/nurse team and that made all the difference. I took a childbirth prep class that I found to be helpful for both me and my husband. I also had a doula who was unfortunately a disappointment and I wish we could get our money back from that.

  24. 19


    lindel said:

    I had a natural midwife assisted birth in a birth centre attached to a hospital. To prepare I read a book about the Bradley Method, practiced those excercises and attended hospital classes. Both were excellent and even though i already knew pretty much everything that was discussed in the 6 week course, it was still great to hear it from the midwife, practice things and listen to the other couples. The other thing which really helped was that the classes were held in the hospital/birth centre so by the time I gave birth I was really comfortable with the place. Comfort in all its dimensions is everything!

  25. 20


    Monica S. said:

    We took a class called Birthing from Within. It really focused on natural childbirth, assessing your fears and giving meditation techniques for coping with labor. It was extremely valuable for me emotionally, and I went into labor without any apprehension or baggage. It was as granola as could be, we painted, we journaled, we learned massage techniques, and we had group sessions and it was a blast. I would recommend this to ANYONE who has the intention of natural birth, especially if you are going to be in a hospital setting. It also was only 2 days long over a weekend, so not a major commitment ;)

    I had a midwife throughout my pregnancy as my primary caregiver, and it was wonderful to have her by my side despite all the medical hoopla that surrounds birth now, so a doula would be a wonderful sidekick, she may give you all the birth prep you need.

    The most important thing to remember is that the end result is the same whether you get an epideral, ceserean or achieve natural birth. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself, and just trust that your body will do what it can handle. I was determined to have an all natural birth no matter what, but after 20 hours of hard labor, no progress and cesarean being whispered by the nurses; an epideral and pitcocin was a much better option. But whole heartedly, because I took the Birthing from Within course, I was emotionally prepared to deal with that and I never felt like I failed.

    Hope this helps!

  26. 20


    coral said:

    I had my first baby this fall. In retrospect, most of what I needed to know I learned from books. But my husband didn’t read them. I wholeheartedly agree with other ladies here that said the class (We took a marathon 1-day one) was basically to teach my husband what to do and help prompt discussions between us. They also talked quite a bit about all of the post-partum stuff you go through, which I actually found quite a bit more difficult mentally to deal with.
    Also, you just can’t know what labor is like until you’re in the midst of it, but in those last weeks of pregnancy it was really comforting to me to at least know I did all I could to prepare.

  27. 20


    i had a natural vaginal birth (no pain meds) in a hospital with a doula (not very experienced.) three books that i relied on were 1. creating your birth plan by marsden wagner is THE MOST informative book you will read. hands down. 2. dr. gowri motha’s gentle birth method. i recorded her ‘birth scripts’ which are kind of like meditations and they helped tremendously. 3. the bradley method – i didn’t follow the technique but found it’s explanation of what was happening during contractions to really be to the point and help me visualize what was happening.

    the only benefit of the birth classes for me were the connections i made with other moms to be (i am still friends with a couple) and the knowledge that i should perhaps have a lactation consultant lined up (the hospital where i gave birth didn’t have good ones) and the doula i had was not experienced enough to help me latch.

    you will do great!

  28. 21


    Amanda said:

    I took Bradley classes and found them very useful, and I read a few books, but what I would say was the most crucial thing was taking the time to practice relaxation and breathing. Being informed is one thing, but being physically ready is another. During the difficult parts of my labor I was so grateful to be able to relax completely and immediately. A bad class probably would be a waste of time, but a good one could really make your birth better. Plus it is a chance to connect with other moms.

  29. 23


    Shelby Rice said:

    I love that you are planning a natural delivery! Obviously I am biased (as I am a doula myself), but I HIGHLY recommend using a doula. I also HIGHLY recommend interviewing a couple of them before making you decision. You will quickly find what makes you feel most comfortable…and this is very important! Please feel free to visit my website (ricedoulaservices.com), I have a resource page that you may find helpful. As far as classes are concerned, I do recommend taking one. I think it is very helpful not only for the actual information, but also for the camaraderie provided with others in the class, and additional information/tips the trainer will be able to provide. Congrats!

  30. 23


    Ashleigh said:

    Hiring a doula is such a smart move. That will be so helpful. Next make sure your OB (or midwife) is supportive of your birthing preferences (and ask about their Cesarean rate if you don’t know). Have you seen The Business of Being Born? Highly recommend. Anyway, we did Hypnobirthing and enjoyed it. I also recommend The Birth Partner by Penny Simkin.

  31. 23


    rebecca said:

    you’ve already got so many great responses to consider. just a couple thoughts… with our first we did the 12-week bradley course. it was just the right thing for us. all the information – it was so empowering for my husband. you’re right that it all kind of goes out the window for us mamas when labor rolls around (well, kind of but not really,) but it was invaluable for my husband to be as informed as he was… so prepared to advocate for us and so determined to endure the twists and turns of labor by my side for however long it took.

    the second time around we had a fabulous midwife and didn’t do any classes – just some reading up and preparation for our 4 year old. (“welcome with love” and the video “birth day” were perfect.) but so much of the confidence to have a homebirth and not do classes came from our experiences during and education prior to calder’s birth.

    i’m glad you’re enjoying your pregnancy. it’s such a unique and special time.

  32. 24


    Chris said:

    Congratulations Alyson! Thank you for prompting this insightful dialogue, it’s wonderful to read so many different perspectives on such a charged topic – I’m a birth doula and personally can’t get enough of these kinds of discussions:) I suppose my two cents of advice depend on what exactly you’re hoping to glean from either childbirth ed or a doula. It sounds like you’ve been reading a lot and may not be looking for more intellectual material on birth? In which case I’d recommend focusing on preparing your body in whatever way you intuitively feel would be best. That could be prenatal yoga, hypnobirthing classes, childbirth ed, working individually with a doula, etc. In my experience, the more trust the woman (and partner) has in her body, the more she can allow her “thinking mind” to take a back seat to her “instinctual mind” and allow her body to do what it is capable of – naturally birth a healthy baby! If you’re already comfortable during the prenatal period with visualization, deep breathing, and sensation awareness, it can be a much more peaceful and empowering transition as labor becomes more intense. If you give your body the chance to practice positions and breathing techniques, muscle memory can be a pretty powerful thing, and you can feel that, regardless of what arises, you have these tools to help you. That being said, childbirth ed at the hospital where you’re planning to give birth could be a great peek into their philosophy of childbirth, and an opportunity to meet a supportive community of women and families. If you do decide to go the doula route, I highly recommend meeting with more than one and going with your gut instinct. Hope this helps. Enjoy the process!

  33. 4


    eliza said:

    4-6 weeks is totally normal length for a birth class. I love all things birthing related so that actually seems too short for me! For anyone, however, I think they can help you feel calmer and more confident in preparation for birth and new mamahood. If you are going for a natural birth, Bradley can be a good bet, but they are longer. They also cover medical interventions. If you have a good doula that you meet with at least a few times in advance, they classes might not be necessary. It’s good to physically practice some breathing, body positioning techniques in advance.

  34. 4


    eliza said:

    And birth classes can also be a great way to meet local parents who resonate with your lifestyle! Many people stay in touch afterward!

  35. 6


    sonya said:

    you don’t need them.

    the doula is a spectacular move. i would never give birth without one. be aware, however, that a doula cannot legally advise you medically during birth. you must be able to make the decisions. a doula can highlight options, statistics, and can help you be calm and centered enough to make the calls you need to make, and that’s a huge deal, but she cannot run the show.

    i gave birth at a hospital. nearly all my friends gave/give birth at home. i liked my hospital birth quite a lot and wouldn’t have done it differently. BUT. hospital births get a bad rap for a reason. issues with possible malpractice suits arising mean that, in a situation where a medical intervention (anything from continuous fetal monitoring to pitocin to cesarian) is *maybe warranted and maybe not*, the doctor may want to “play it safe” (read: cover his butt). you may find yourself in a situation where you are being pressured to have the intervention. it may not even be presented as a choice. (don’t be fooled. it *is* a choice.) a doula cannot legally interfere with the medical care provider’s communication with you. if you are being bullied by a doctor, a doula cannot call the doctor on it.

    it sounds like you want to avoid unnecessary interventions with your birth. you need to let your doula know that, and meet with her in advance to discuss common medical interventions, why they are preformed, and decide together on what you will try before resorting to a medical intervention in a non-emergent situation. for instance, if babe is having late decels (heartrate not coming back up “quickly enough” after a contraction), you may be told that the baby is in fetal distress and you must consent to a c-section or the baby could die. be aware that the baby *may* be in fetal distress, but is much more likely positioned in such a way that he is laying on his umbilical cord, restricting the flow of oxygen. if you move your body around (get on your hands and knees and rock, for instance) the baby will probably shift position and the issue will be resolved.

    you want to have a plan about stuff like this so you’re not caught with your pants down. if a doctor tells you your baby might die, you will likely have a visceral reaction (duh). you may not be able to effectively problem solve with your doula if you’re worrying that every second you spend considering options your baby’s life hangs in the balance (duh). so do it before hand, when you are calm and can think clearly.

    call the hospital and set up a time to tour labor and delivery, and recovery. this is the one part of a hospital childbirth class that can be helpful, but the hospital will be happy to show you and levi around for free, so you can get the lay of the land beforehand.

  36. 14


    Courtney said:

    just found your blog and LOVE it. OK, I agree with anyone who said: just get a doula. I wish I’d registered for my doula over anything! she allowed my husband to be there for me emotionally and she got me through the natural birth (mostly at home) and then the delivery with my midwife (planned in a hospital). The biggest thing I wish I’d known is to not focus on the birth plan so much as the 90 First Days of Mommyhood plan. I didn’t organize enough support–don’t you love breastfeeding while peeing?–and I got PPD. Ugh. If I’d had more people around, I think we’d caught it sooner. So I hope you have someone with you–from friend to neighbor–taking care of *you* for that first 3 months. Really, I think all families need that!