Free (or cheap) Breastfeeding Classes? Really?

I have recently seen advertisements for VERY reduced rate (and even free) breastfeeding classes for expectant parents online, in large department stores and even in hospitals. While these classes may seem so tempting for many reasons, I would like to point out a few flaws in attending these classes.

But isn’t breastfeeding a natural and normal process? It should be easy, right? I shouldn’t even have to take a class for that. Well, isn’t childbirth a natural and normal process as well?

What could possibly be wrong with a free (or cheap) breastfeeding class?

  • Breastfeeding is as important as your birth. It deserves as much attention and respect as childbirth. Many moms-to-be spend countless hours preparing for their birth; attending 6 week class series, reading an average of 2 birth books, interviewing providers, taking fitness classes, researching birthing options, making a solid birth plan, and even composing the perfect playlist for their big day. Just as the placenta nourishes the baby in the womb, the breasts nourish the baby outside the womb. Shouldn’t the same amount of preparation one puts into birth be put into breastfeeding?
  • There is no such thing as a free lunch. Really, there isn’t. Believe me, I’ve been searching for quite some time! Who is producing these ‘free’ online classes? What messages are they trying to convey? Where are they putting in the advertisements and what are their interests? Someone has to benefit from these ‘free’ classes or it is just not profitable. If you think you are the only person benefitting, think again. It’s business.
  • You get what you pay for. A $10 breastfeeding class sounds tempting, but in order for that class to be profitable, there needs to be about 20 couples in that class and the class must last no longer than 2 hours. High volume is the key here. Can 20 couples really learn the basics of breastfeeding in 2 hours? One would expect a lecture, a video or two (so the instructor can catch their breath), plenty of coupons and/or advertisements in a goody bag, and no time for questions. Lecture and video? Feels like I’m back in college. How many dads/partners would fall asleep during THIS class?

Let’s discuss the benefits of an independent, competitively priced class.

  • A smaller class size and longer instruction time allows for optimal learning. This gives couples (especially pregnant ones) plenty of time to process the information as well as ask questions and receive a non-hurried, detailed answer. More one-on-one attention means that couples feel a part of the learning process. They come to find solutions on their own because they are given the time. Plus, dads/partners are less likely to doze off during class.
  • Multiple teaching methods are used in the class. The instructor will likely combine lecture, videos, games, hands on practice, discussion, quizzes, and maybe even stand up comedy to ensure you truly absorb the content being presented.
  • Competitive pricing means that the instructor has gone to great lengths to make sure you get your money’s worth. Instead of reading from a script, the instructor creates unique handouts,presentation slides, reviews notes, creates fun games (often rewarded with candy), makes sure all content reflects the latest research, and strives for your satisfaction in the class.
  • The independent instructor does not have any financial or undisclosed interest in products that are discussed in the class. All of the information given is the honest opinion of the honest instructor.  Working for a hospital, large baby store, or even a pharmaceutical company means the instructor has been told what to say (and what to NOT say).

I can understand the temptation to take a deeply discounted or free class. I really do. Financial times are tough on us all. So what do you do if you really cannot afford another expense?

My honest suggestion is to read a breastfeeding book if you cannot afford a quality class. With a book, you can process the information at your own speed, your partner can read along with you, and you can reference the material as many times as you need to. I highly recommend Breastfeeding Made Simple: 7 Natural Laws for Nursing Mothers by Kathleen Kendal-Tackett PhD, IBCLC and Nancy Mohrbacher IBCLC, FILCA. This book presents the material in an easy, scientific way that truly makes breastfeeding simple. It is also the reason I am a lactation consultant today.

By Meghan Garcia-Salas, CLC, CBS (Active Mama Milky Maven)

Meghan Garcia-Salas, CLC, CBS is a Certified Lactation Counselor and Certified Breastfeeding Specialist who owns and operates Village Lactation Services. She instructs childbirth professionals on breastfeeding issues as well as facilitates local breastfeeding support groups. She has spent over 1200 hours directly counseling Atlanta’s breastfeeding families and is an active member in ILCA, USLCA, SELCA, GBN, and AABP. She recently took the Board Certification Lactation Consultant Exam in July and is eagerly awaiting exam results.

Come meet her at: http://www.meetup.com/Active-Mamas/events/140615992/

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