Should You Take Parenting Classes Before Your First Child?

Oh the pregnancy stage, it’s an exciting time isn’t it?  Getting ready for a new little boy or girl, or if you’re lucky….twins….Sure there’s some pre-baby stress and morning sickness and doctor’s appointments and ultrasounds and more doctor’s appointments and picking out baby furniture, but it’s all part of the fun.  As the due date gets closer and closer, the stress probably starts to mount a little more and you may deal with it great or you may have some breakdowns now and then and find yourself yelling at a poor old customer service lady at a furniture store because your baby furniture got delayed.  Either way you handle the stress, the baby is coming no matter what.  But then, you hear that parenting classes are being offered in your area and you think to yourself, well maybe this will help ease mine and my partner’s stress.  Before you register for every class that you can, here’s some pros and cons of these famous…or infamous..parenting classes.

pregnant woman wearing white dress

Pro: They are pretty helpful when it comes to setting your expectations

If you’re a first time parent, for the most part, you really won’t have a clue as to what to expect when it comes to the days leading up to childbirth and the days after.  Many of these classes are great at setting expecations as to what signs you should be looking for as to when to head to the hospital and how your partner can help in that process.  They also give you a general idea of how to care for a baby the first few days you are home from the hospital.  My personal favorite lesson was on the colors of poop you should look for and how much poop and pee you should be expecting.  A few of the colors I didn’t even realize were a thing.  Anyway, these types of classes are definitely helpful and give you some nice booklets to take home and look at to brush up on as you get close to the big day.

Con: Every situation is different. 

As much as you think you can read up and prepare for childbirth, no two experiences go exactly the same.  For weeks I was all ready to find my wife’s water gushing down the stairs and through the house and then scooping her up and throwing her in the car and driving to the hospital like it was my favorite restaurants last few minutes of being open and I had to get there for my last meal.  Well that didn’t happen, and all of my weeks of preparing went out the window when we found out she was being induced.  On top of that, you learn about changing diapers, and how to get your baby to sleep and how to give a bottle.  All of these things sound great and easy on paper but when you come home and it’s just you and the baby the books kind of go out the window, or get puked on.  It’s like spending months preparing for a boxing match, you can prep all you want, but when you step in the ring and get punched in the mouth and lose some teeth, you go from prep mode to survival mode real fast.  I should say being home with a newborn baby and watching Dr. Phil probably isn’t as bad as a boxing match…probably.

Pro: You can make meaningful connections and develop a strong support group.

Remember your first day of college orientation when you were wide-eyed and filled with butterflies?  That’s kind of how being in these classes feels like.  You find comfort in knowing that there are other people in your shoes dealing with the same type of nervousness and stress about what’s going to happen.  You’ll get the opportunity to talk about questions you have and things that are making you nervous with a moderator who is usually a very experienced healthcare professional and peers in your shoes.  It helps to relieve the stress and loosen things up for the time being and can help you to make friends that you may develop long term friendships with.

optimistic mother with black baby in hands

Con: Classes can cost you money that you may not have.

Now, there are a ton of free classes that you can take, which in that case, will only cost you your time, so only you can decide how valuable that is.  Other classes might cost you money, they can range anywhere from $20 to $100 bucks or even more depending on the types of classes you are taking.  Everyone’s financial status is different, but thinking that the more you pay for a class the better parent you’ll be probably isn’t the best line of thinking.  You and your partner have to look at your budget and decide if spending money on classes is right for you, but you should realize that a majority of people do just fine without taking any of these classes.

With all that being said, I took a couple classes, and while they were informative, I personally don’t think they really changed my life as a new parent.  We basically took them because we had some time and wanted to see what they were all about.  Do I remember anything from the classes?  Besides the poop color scale, no, not really.  A ton of this stuff you learn as you go, which is completely normal.  You learn how to put a diaper on a toddler who would rather stand up and watch tv rather than lay down and make things easy, or how to rock your baby to sleep singing “Sweet Child O’ Mine”, stuff like that.  So should you spend money on parenting classes, probably not, but will they make you feel any better in the moment?  Possibly.  And if you still can’t decide, leave it up to the person carrying the baby, that’s always the safest bet.

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