fbpx The Keys to Pregnancy Preparation Without Information Overload

The Keys to Pregnancy Preparation Without Information Overload

When it comes to classes, books and online resources, more isn't always better.
Britany Robinson
Written by

Britany Robinson

If you've seen pretty much any romantic comedy featuring a pregnant character, chances are you're familiar with Lamaze class, in which expecting parents fumble through breathing exercises with wide eyes, clumsily trying to prepare to give birth—and that experience isn't limited to media. People are taking Lamaze class and feeling unprepared in real life, too.

But there are also an endless number of options for prep work that don't often make it into the movies, including webinars, books, apps, in-person and online classes.

Lamaze is just one of several birthing techniques you might learn about in a birthing class; others include hypnobirthing, The Alexander Technique and The Bradley Method. These are all different approaches to pain management and relaxation during labor and delivery—and some of them include a more comprehensive education on pregnancy and parenting.

Birthing classes might also include instruction on breastfeeding and infant care. Other classes expecting parents might consider include birth boot camp, newborn care, lactation education, infant CPR and postpartum prep.

Then there are the books (Nurture, Expecting Better, Mayo Clinic Guide to a Healthy Pregnancy), the apps (The Bump, WebMD Pregnancy, Hello Belly), the podcasts (Pregnancy Podcast, Birth Stories in Color, Preggie Pals), the Facebook groups, webinars, websites—and let's not forget the rabbit hole of whatever resource Google leads you to.

You've likely heard about many of these resources, so we'll skip the explaining and ranking. Instead, let's discuss how the heck you're supposed to budget your limited time and energy with all of these options. What do you really need to learn, and how should you go about learning it?

Narrow down your options

When Krystal Covington was pregnant with her son, she signed up for a slew of online resources. Every day, she was receiving multiple emails with educational information about pregnancy, delivery and parenthood. By the time her son arrived, she felt overwhelmed and paranoid by all the things she'd read and googled.

Being mindful about which resources you consume and pay for is a good thing to focus on from the start. Otherwise, you can quickly find yourself buried in so much information, you won't know where to begin.

If you're looking for birthing classes, be mindful of the following:

  • Start with your hospital or birthing center where the available resources are most likely to be covered by your insurance.
  • Before you default to what's available, do a little research to make sure the class is a good fit for your needs.
  • Read reviews, ask questions of your doctor and/or the instructor, and know what types of birthing techniques and settings (at-home, water birth, hospitals) they'll cover.

And if that all sounds like too much, focus first on finding a good healthcare provider. If you find a doctor or doula you click with, chances are good they'll be able to guide you to classes and resources that will also be in line with your lifestyle and preferences.

It might also be helpful to ask loved ones who are parents for their advice on what kinds of classes to take and what resources they found most helpful. New moms probably still have a stack of pregnancy books to share, and having recently gone through it, they can share their own experiences and advice.

But Covington found parents of kids who are 7 and up were actually the most helpful. In her experience, new moms tended to be a little more paranoid and concerned with impressing others when sharing their wisdom. But more seasoned parents have had enough time and space from their own experiences. "They told me all their mistakes and reassured me of my choices in a more human way."

Find the right teachers


"You don't know what you don't know," said Elizabeth King, a certified fertility coach. That's why trusting your teachers is so important. Whether they're leading a webinar or teaching a class in-person, these educators will guide you to the questions you didn't even know to ask.

King said it's crucial to find someone who is accessible and who you feel comfortable going to with all of your questions. "You want to feel that you can still get those questions answered, even if it falls outside of your time together."

If you choose an online class or webinar, look for ones with an instructor who is available for communication via email, messaging or video calls.

The questions and curiosity you'll have during pregnancy are endless. And you'll likely want to ask questions of everyone with experience and knowledge to share—including your doctor, doula, friends and family. Their expertise is important, but so is their impact on your emotional and mental state. Some people, even with the best intentions, might not deliver advice in a way that resonates. Just as you would select only certain books to read and certain classes to take, be selective with your teachers, too. (Even the informal ones.)

"You want to feel empowered and confident after you work with that teacher or coach or doula—not confused and anxious," King said. "Take some time to research them and see if they are in alignment with you."

Consider online versus in-person


In-person classes can offer a sense of connection and community that's absent when you're turning to books and online resources. While they might offer similar information, meeting other parents in person can open the door to friendships and the comfort of people going through pregnancy and birth around the same time as you.

That said, there are lots of comprehensive online resources that are often cheaper and more convenient than attending something in-person.

Whether you choose in-person or online resources, involving your partner can be an important bonding experience. Covington's husband signed up for emails from What to Expect, which made him feel more connected to everything she was going through. Weekly emails kept him updated on what symptoms Covington might be experiencing, and helped him know what to ask about. "He said it made him feel more connected to the process."

Minimize stress and over-preparation

There is a good chance someone has already told you to keep your stress levels low during pregnancy. Which—thanks, but no thanks. Being told to not stress out is actually very stressful.

But when you're collecting materials and signing up for classes during pregnancy, you might find comfort in keeping your resources manageable so you don't get overwhelmed. Seek comfort in a less-is-more mentality to avoid a stress-inducing pile of unread books or googled horror stories.

There is always going to be more to know, and trial and error will be the best education for so many things. (Though not everything—King recommends an infant CPR class to all of her coaching clients, which is not something you want to learn on the fly.)

For Covington, human connections were the most helpful. "Those people who could reassure me that my choices will work out fine and tell me stories of the crazy things that happened to them as parents." They all got through it, and hearing from them assured Covington she would, too.

If you do feel like you've gotten in too deep with books, emails, classes and advice, King recommends resetting with some healthy boundaries around how much time you spend on research. "Set a timer, ask your partner to hold you accountable, or research and prep only on certain days."