If you are pregnant, taking childbirth education classes will help you know what to expect during labor and delivery. BMC offers a variety of classes, including some free-of-charge, for moms-to-be to better prepare themselves for the arrival of their new baby.

In this podcast, you will learn about the importance of childbirth education classes and key information that can help lessen any anxiety you might be having about what to expect during labor and birth. Joining the show is Anitra Anderson. She is the childbirth education coordinator at BMC.

Featured Speaker:

Anitra Anderson

Anitra Anderson

Anitra Anderson is the childbirth education coordinator at BMC.


Melanie Cole (Host): If you’re pregnant, taking childbirth education classes can really help you know what to expect during labor and delivery. BMC offers a variety of classes including some free of charge for moms to be to better prepare themselves for the arrival of their new baby. My guest today, is Anitra Anderson. She’s the Childbirth Education Coordinator at BMC. Welcome to the show, Anitra. What are childbirth, classes? What will people learn from them, and who are they for?

Anitra Anderson (Guest): Childbirth classes are classes for pregnant moms, and you don’t have to be a first-time mom to attend them. Childbirth classes are for people to be prepared for childbirth.

Melanie: So, if somebody takes a childbirth class, what are these classes like, and are there different types of classes?

Anitra: Yes, there are different types of classes. What we offer here at Boston Medical Center is unique because we offer what’s called a drop-in class. A drop-in class is for most of our Millennials. Our Millennials are very busy, and so we keep an open drop-in class where they can come in between a morning session and an afternoon session where they can get all of the information they require. They can be in early pregnancy, middle of their pregnancy, or at the end of their pregnancy, and they can also get a tour of labor and delivery. That’s one type of class.

The second kind of class is a Tuesday evening, six-week series. What happens there is each week -- those people who have time in the evenings -- from 6:00 in the evening until 8:00, everything is scheduled by topic from anatomy and physiology, preparing for labor and stages of labor. We talk about comfort measures, breathing, and relaxation, and then we talk about medical interventions, things that happen in the hospital; we talk about breastfeeding, postpartum, and newborn care. It’s all-inclusive. It has a charge, and that’s a cost to people who do not deliver at Boston Medical Center for $100, but we give our patients at BMC a discount for 50% off, so they only pay $50 for six weeks. Isn’t that awesome?

Melanie: That is awesome. Do you have a certain philosophy for childbirth classes? Is there something you tell the couples that can help ease some of their fears of impending labor and new baby?

Anitra: Number one, be prepared. I like to quote a Chinese Proverb that says: “Tell me, and I’ll forget. Show me, and I may remember. Involve me, and I understand.” I think that it helps when you are present somewhere where you can talk face-to-face with somebody and talk about your fears. We all have them even if it’s not our first time having a baby. Sometimes we have bad experiences, or someone shared a bad experience, so we want to make sure we deal with that before we embark on labor. I talk to them about that first, their fears of labor, and what to expect in the hospital.

Melanie: How soon after you learn you’re pregnant do you start these classes?

Anitra: For our drop-in class, you can start as soon as you find out that you’re pregnant because there’s a lot of things to prepare for. You want to know what to expect when expecting – and that’s the book I’m quoting. What to expect when you’re expecting – when you’re expecting to come into your appointments. How many appointments am I going to go to? When is my ultrasound? Some people just want to know, “what’s going to happen to my body in the next few months?” A childbirth class, like I discussed earlier, drop-in – excuse me – a Tuesday evening or a Saturday, one-day workshop, you probably want to be in your third trimester, so somewhere between 26-weeks and beyond is good.

Melanie: Do both partners attend these classes? What if it’s a non-traditional family? Will they feel comfortable in your classes as well? 

Anitra: Absolutely. We have all kinds of couples, single people, people who are – I guess if you will, non-traditional. Nowadays, non-traditional could mean anything. I don’t really necessarily use the word non-traditional because we all come in all kinds of shapes and sizes. Somebody decided they wanted to have a baby by theirself and that’s the way they want it. Having a baby is universal to me. Yes, people come by theirselves, sometimes they come with a friend, sometimes they come with a partner. Absolutely, they’ll feel welcomed there. We use open terms. We don’t say, husband unless it’s appropriate – or boyfriend, unless it’s appropriate. We use words like a partner or your support team to make sure that everybody feels comfortable. 

Melanie: So, what’s the difference between parenting classes and childbirth education? We’ve all seen on TV shows of people learning how to swaddle a baby, and change diapers and that sort of thing is that what they learn or is this mostly about pregnancy and then delivery in a separate class is available for parenting and learning new baby stuff?

Anitra: Yeah, the difference between a parenting class and a newborn class that’s associated with a childbirth education class is that a newborn class is just going to focus on the first few weeks after the baby is born. That includes how to change your baby’s diaper, how to hold your baby, what are some the normal appearances of your baby, what’s normal behavior, things like that – and when and how to feed your baby. A parenting class does focus on the same thing, but more so how to manage yourself as a parent, and how to manage being a parent for the first time, and how to manage your baby, and what to expect in the next few months -- and sometimes few years. Parenting is a bit different than having a newborn class and a postpartum class where we’re just focused on the first few weeks not the next few months of the baby’s life.

Melanie: You mentioned a tour of BMC’s newly renovated labor and delivery suites. Speak about that tour and what are the suites like?

Anitra: Well, Boston Medical Center has a state-of-the-art labor and delivery and NICU. They are beautiful. We just opened 2015 of this year – excuse me, I’m sorry – 2015, two years ago and we are very excited to show our women our wall-to-wall windows. They are beautiful. They bring in so much light and so much space. They are huge. We have a lot of things that we implement now, which is skin-to-skin, so you get to stay with your baby. Staying with your baby is so much healthier than having a baby whisked off to the nursery for three hours when you have a healthy mom and healthy baby.

You’ll also expect the nurses to teach you how to breastfeed your baby, so if you’re a breastfeeding mama, you’ll be able to have all of the help that you need immediately at the delivery so you won’t wonder, “Am I doing it right?” Someone will be there with you. 

The Pediatricians are waiting before they examine the baby, especially when the baby’s being healthy after delivery. The baby is not being examined for one and a half hours, and if that concerns you, don’t worry, everybody is already checking the baby right after delivery, so they already know the baby’s doing well. The nurses check in with you and the baby throughout. 

That’s just one part. The room itself has an on suite bathroom and shower. Some of our rooms will have bathtubs where you can soak in the tub and soothes some of those contractions away. We have a shower room that’s big enough for your support team to come in and help out. You can have three people in the room, and there’s ample space for medical staff, family, and friends to hang out and give support throughout the labor. They’re absolutely gorgeous. I can’t wait until everybody comes to see them.

Melanie: Tell us what you say, as a wrap-up and summary, to new mothers-to-be and new couples. What do you tell them when they are just so scared if it’s the first baby? If it’s second or third baby, people pretty much kind of know what to expect, but everybody’s a little nervous when they’re about to have a baby. What do you say to ease their fears about that in your childbirth education and tell people where they can find out more information?

Anitra: Well, you can find out more information by emailing me at ChildbirthEd@BMC.org. Or, you can go on our website at BMC.org and look under Childbirth Education, and you’ll find my contact information, which is (617) 414-3875, is my direct line. Also, what I do tell new parents who are afraid of this process is number one, is that your first step was to be prepared and come into a class. That’s the first thing I say that you have succeeded. Getting the information and feeling like you understand the process, what’s happening to your body, you understand what happens in the hospital when you’re delivering your baby. We do the rest. Everything that they’re going to learn in class is going to help give them tools to make their experience a better experience, no matter what.

Melanie: Thank you so much, Anitra, for being with us today. This is Boston Med Talks with Boston Medical Center. For more information on Childbirth Education Classes at Boston Medical Center, you can go to BMC.org, that’s BMC.org. This is Melanie Cole. Thanks so much for listening.