Local or Online Perinatal Classes?

First and foremost, a parent's decision should not be whether to take a class geared towards perinatal education, but which class should be the selection.   There are unlimited options for learning about the perinatal period - a different style and format to fit every personality.  Independent education is the optimal choice as the instructors are not limited on options and regulated by hospital or practice protocol.  In other words, in an independent course, students should be able to receive the pros and cons to perinatal choices rather than going through a "what to expect" checklist.

A lot of prospective students ask me what the better option is as far as Esali Birth courses - online or local (and don't forget webinar).  There are also misconceptions about online courses in that they're not complete.  Well, it really depends on your personal situation and what you're looking for out of the class, and EB online classes are almost identical to our local course - specifically to allow our students the ability to choose and fit a quality course within their modern lifestyle.

Some of the benefits of a local course include getting to interact with other couples.  You get to hear their thoughts, their wishes, their fears, their experiences, and their questions.  You get a chance to get away for an evening to focus only on you and your baby.  You get to interact with spontaneous discussions that spark interest and thought.  You have instant contact with the instructor for any questions.  You get commentary feedback during videos and you rely less on reading material.  You have the ability to create a bond with other parents who are having children close in age to your child.  The local course also includes the complete online course, so you get the benefits of both - which is also great if you have to miss a class or two during the 10-week series (plus review until you birth your baby).

In an online environment, you have the ability to "attend" class whenever it is convenient for you and your birth partner (and the rest of your family's schedule).  You can enroll anytime and have instant access to your course – there are no materials that need shipped, no extra costs or downloads necessary for software or materials.  This is a very “green” option for perinatal education – modern technology being utilized for today’s modern parents – while not skimping on quality of content.  (Note: the complete online series is available in a mailable CD format should someone have limited or no internet access on an as-needed basis).  You are able to review course sections multiple times in a self-paced format, and have this available until you birth your baby.  You are granted unlimited phone and e-mail support for any questions which means you may need to write down your questions as they come up, but you're still able to interact with the instructor.  You may require a little more self-discipline to be sure to go through the course, but all the information is the same in the local course as the online environment.  The main sections include the same "seminars" as the local course, so you even have the option of listening vs. reading everything.  It is not a complete work-book setting; there is a combination of reading, watching videos, listening to seminars, and providing feedback.  There are a few videos that are shown in the local series that are not available in the online format, but alternative options are chosen, and there are a lot of additional videos and supplemental articles available in the online course (which is also one of the benefits of having the online courses available even for local students).  You can also interact with others on the EB Community Forums.  You will need to print any handouts vs. getting them in a packet like in the local course - but all the information is there (and the online course is a lower cost option).  You do have the option of taking the full online series, or attending one or two sections if you're simply looking for a review or to supplement another course.  We also have a Breastfeeding Basics seminar (included in the standard series) that is available if you're just looking for breastfeeding information. 

Then, there is the webinar option.  The webinar is a 6-week series covering all the major topics.  We "meet" at a scheduled time weekly through an online conference program and talk w/ a headset (or over the phone).  We go through the same seminars as the local and standard online series and discuss just as we would in a local course, only we are not face-to-face.  Webinar students are also given access to the complete online course as a supplement for the other classes and for review until you birth your baby.  The webinar sort of gives parents the best of both.  You get to interact with other couples and the instructor in real-time, but don't have to leave your home.  You do need to schedule time weekly to attend, but you have the ability of reducing gas costs and not needing as much time getting to and from class (especially if work is a conflicting issue).  And, just like with the standard online series, you can attend anywhere there is an internet connection - so anyone wanting to take an EB course has the ability.

So how do the various courses add up in terms of cost? 
A local 10-week EB course is $150/couple (plus gas to class each week).  A 6-week webinar series is $125/couple.  The complete online course is $100/couple.  For local and webinar series options we offer a $25 early-registration discount (if registered at least one month prior to the start date).  We offer Military, Single-Mom, and Teen discounts for all our series options as well. 

So with an online Esali Birth course, it isn't like reading through various bits of information on the internet.  This is not a “Google” education!  You're getting a walk-through of perinatal education - the important information, and the same information as with our independent local course option.  It is the face-to-face connection that differs, and every parent varies on what their personal needs are.  Some moms are not comfortable learning in a small group setting.  Some moms need the one on one attention of phone and e-mail conversations.  Some dads are more likely to attend if they don’t have to sit in a small group setting as well.  Many parents have schedule conflicts that either don’t permit them to take local courses, or only give them the option of a crash course or hospital-based series lacking quality and content.  Don't miss out on quality education because of cost, location, or limited "methods" in your area.  You have options right here, and we would love to help you begin your journey to a beautiful birth experience!  Check out our free sample course at EB Online.