So You’ve Taken a Childbirth Class… Now What??

Congratulations — you’ve successfully completed a childbirth class! Good for you. Hopefully you’re feeling more confident and prepared for the labor and birth experience. Even if you do nothing else between the end of your class and the beginning of labor (no more articles, books, or practicing relaxation methods), you’ll still be better informed and feel more ready for birth. But if you want to make the most out of what you’ve learned and help ensure you can recall information when you need it, try some of these proven post-childbirth class knowledge retention tactics.  

Learning Retention Strategies to Use After Taking a Childbirth Class

Teach what you’ve learned to others – A proven way to make stick new information you’ve learned. While you may not need to formally “teach” others, do find ways to bring up in conversations the new things you learned about labor and birth. Or, call a good friend or sibling (or both) and ask them to be your student/audience while you practice teaching them about some of the best coping techniques for back labor, for example. You can also use this technique with your partner/birth support person — take turns “teaching” each other different topics from the class. 

Relate what you’ve learned to existing knowledge – What do you already know about decision making? Can you apply the new decision-making technique you learned in class to other areas in your life (say, deciding to get a dog/cat)? If you learned BRAIN, it definitely works! This is a good strategy for coping techniques too — many of the labor coping techniques work well for everyday encounters with pain and discomfort. Build on what you already do in those moments with the new methods you learned. 

Practice makes permanent – Reinforce your learning through practice. This applies to breathing and relaxation techniques, rehearsing contractions , and even role-playing possible scenarios and conversations with medical staff and your care provider. Incorporate different kinds of practice sessions weekly (or even daily!) leading up to your birth. 

When you forget something, look it up – Don’t hesitate looking up answers to something you learned in class but forgot. Looking up the answer will not only jog your memory, but help you better retain the information for recall in labor and birth! 

Use childbirth videos to identify key learnings – The best approach to learning is a multimedia one. Visual aids, like childbirth videos, can help you better understand birth and apply what you’ve learned. Watch childbirth videos after taking a childbirth class with a different approach than before: see if you can identify good coping techniques, the use of rhythm and ritual during labor, and areas where the birthing family/support team could have done more or perhaps, should have done less. Also, make note of the things you see that you want to try during labor and birth. 

Read out loud, write by hand – Research shows that reading something out loud and writing something out by hand helps you better remember. Read out loud parts of your notes and handouts/texts from your childbirth class. Write out by hand the most critical things you hope to remember to use in labor and birth. Make it a weekly practice! 

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