A year and a half after giving birth for the first time, I will still say loud and clear that birthing classes—those that cover labor and delivery, along with newborn care—were a great introduction to parenting. It was my idea to take a birth class, and I urged Dan to sit through them (on Zoom) alongside with me.

A lot of couples decide to take birth classes, because—after all—birth is something that you can’t possibly know much about if you’ve never done it before.

But are classes worth it? I mean, putting out real money to take weeks of online or in-person classes about birth and babies? I’m going to say yes, but with an asterisk (*): read on to see why I think the classes are worth it, but only in some cases.

I might have an unpopular opinion

I think birthing classes were very worthwhile for me, as someone who had no idea what to expect when I was expecting. The classes Dan and I took were part of a multi-part series that touched on labor and delivery, postpartum care, newborn care, infant CPR and breastfeeding topics.

But did I have to invest a lot of money into these classes?

Actually, I found out about these particular classes from a friend. They turned out to be FREE, offered via a hospital in Texas (I live very far from Texas), with an amazing teacher and a free registration online.

It was fine that we became part of the class participants from afar; most of the attendees were either local to the hospital in Texas, or were based in Texas, but several, like us, had found out via word-of-mouth that anyone could attend the classes on Zoom.

So here’s my opinion: birthing classes are not for everyone, but if you can find free birth classes, then it is absolutely and 1000% worth your time as a new parent.

Are online birth classes worth it?

For me, and from my experience, yes: I took the bull by the horns during my classes and made them as interactive as possible with the teacher, who was teaching live via Zoom.

While other participants never made a peep and turned off their cameras, I made myself as engaged as possible in order to soak up all of the brand new information about birth, labor and delivery, as well as newborn care.

I asked questions, I put comments into the chat function and I even stayed through the Q&A session during each class, so that I could get one-on-one answers from the teacher when I had a thoughtful question.

Many people will compare online classes to in-person classes, and I know that pre-pandemic, in-person classes were way more popular.

Since the rise of “remote everything,” and with Zoom classes becoming even the norm, I thought that having a class via my laptop screen that I could sit through while on my couch eating dinner was fantastic.

Sure, we didn’t have in-person and hands-on coaching or acting out birth scenarios, but I think if you put in the effort and engage in every bit of info and teaching style your online class offers, it is just as good.

Should you pay a lot of money for birth classes?

I didn’t, and at the time, I was so overwhelmed with saving for a baby (the hospital bill, the things we essentials we had to get for our newborn, the upcoming pediatrician bills and anything unexpected) that I wanted to find a free class.

I was lucky I did.

The teaching quality we got from our free online birth class certainly paralleled the online classes taught by the for-profit organizations that provide birth classes online.

In fact, this list of the best birth classes from Babylist gives a rundown of costs for the most popular birth classes, and then at the end, lists a link for taking birth class videos on YouTube, for free!

So in essence, I did not pay a dime for birth classes. I paid for them with my time, and I was glad to invest that type of time into myself.

Are birthing classes necessary?

While I was in my second trimester, I reached out to every parent I knew at the time (mostly friends and a few family members who had recently given birth) and asked, “Which birth class did you do?”

I received quite a few different answers, and found that the most popular class among those I asked were the Tinyhood birth classes. I’m glad they worked for those friends and family members of mine. I just didn’t have the budget to drop on it during my pre-baby overwhelm.

But there were a few friends, maybe only one or two, who didn’t take any birth classes and didn’t prepare at all for giving birth. They said: “I just wanted to be surprised.” And actually, after learning “more than I needed to know” about C-sections, tears, epidurals, postpartum survival recovery, and the challenges of breastfeeding, I wondered if maybe I would’ve been safer not knowing the ins and outs of birth and delivery.

And here’s an unpopular opinion from Popsugar of someone who thinks birthing classes are not worth it at all because they’re not for everyone. I could actually see myself taking this route in the future, maybe if I could do it all over again, because there definitely is a part of me that could have been lower-stress in the weeks leading up to birth if I had had no idea what to expect.

Birthing classes are “necessary” if you’re the type of person who likes being informed.

Being as “Type A” as I am, I felt that I should cover my bases like learn exactly what to pack in a hospital bag, do everything I could to go into giving birth as educated as possible and also have a partner who could be cool, calm and collected, by my side in the delivery room, supporting me and voicing my needs in case something drastic happened.

If you are fine and more calm with flying by the seat of your pants, or really just taking care of things you need in the moment (enjoying and loving your pregnancy), then skip birthing classes.

Or do as I did, and find a free one, and attend it on Zoom. Attending one as a couple can be a way your partner can support you during pregnancy, which is how I felt about it.

Ways to find free childbirth classes online (virtual)

The more I look into it, the more that free childbirth classes are available these days. I took several free breastfeeding classes online from Aeroflow Breastpumps, and the quality was excellent, led by lactation consultants and attracting women from all around the US.

Companies like Pampers offers free childbirth classes online and Baby Center offers a large number of online videos, that are not live, but are detailed and focused on specific topics all throughout the birth process.

Other companies like hospitals and health insurance corporations may also offer helpful free online classes for childbirth. Check out Unity Point Health free online childbirth classes and the Motherly Birth Class, which is now free for viewers.