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Parenting 101: Classes for Parents, Siblings and More

By Jeana Lee Tahnk

There are so many things parents need to learn when preparing for a baby, especially when it's the first baby. I remember years ago attending a childbirth class and sitting on the floor, just laughing to myself at what was so reminiscent of scenes I had seen numerous times in movies: Woman with big belly, sitting on floor. Husband sitting behind her and both practicing "heeeee huuuuuu" deep breathing. It was a great way for us to get familiar with the hospital, learn breathing techniques (which I don't remember actually using when it came to the actual birth), learn infant CPR and prepare mentally for what was to come.

Through three pregnancies and labors, that first childbirth class was the only one I ever attended. After you go through labor once, you have more of an idea of what to expect for future experiences. Though that being said, no two labors are alike.

But aside from childbirth classes, there are other fun classes you can take to prepare yourself for the little bundle. And after the bundle arrives as well.

Last summer, when I was pregnant with No. 3, I signed up my two older kids for a "sibling preparation" class. Because they were older, they understood (as much as possible) the changes that were about to happen, and so we read books together about new siblings and how they could help.

Even though they pretty much got it, the class was a great opportunity for them to see the baby ward at the hospital, practice diapering a doll (truly comical) and visit a hospital room so it would be at least a little familiar when they came to visit, all to help them get prepared for the arrival of a new baby sibling. I'd definitely recommend such a class for younger kids who are going to be a big brother or big sister; sometimes it helps to hear from someone outside the family what it'll be like.

After baby is born there are fun classes you can attend, including infant massage, nursing and baby care, which usually are held at your local hospital or child-centric establishments. Not only are they a great information resource for learning about your baby, but they're also a great way to meet other parents. And more often than not, other parents often are the best resource.

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