No, you don't.
You don't need to take a childbirth class, just like you don't need to hire a doula, and you don't need to have someone you love with you when you give birth, and you don't need to pack a hospital bag, and you don't even need to let your mother-in-law know you're in labor (maybe).
You don't need any of those things to have a baby -- your baby will be born with or without them.
Wouldn't it be nice to know more about all of your options/choices in birth? And wouldn't it be great to learn how the presence of a loved one and/or doula positively affects your birth experience? And wouldn't you like to find out what's really necessary in a hospital bag? And wouldn't it be a relief to learn the tricks of the trade about things like how to have the hard discussions on who's going to be with you in the room during birth?
It's true that most things can be found on the internet. Show me a question and Google will show me 52,200,000 answers in about 0.46 seconds. You can learn a lot online about childbirth. But when you attend an in-person, live childbirth class, something different takes shape -- something you can't get from conversations with friends, messages in your online pregnancy group, or by watching the 47th birth video on YouTube.
When you attend a good childbirth class, you will find:
Answers - the right ones. A good childbirth class gives you answers to questions based on current, sound research. Not based on what's trendy, not based on standard hospital practices (hint: they aren't all evidence-based), and not based on what your sister/friend/mother thinks is "the only way to give birth." You can find these answers on Google, but you'll have to dig and play guessing games on who provides the most accurate information.
Reassurance. A good childbirth class builds your confidence, which, let's face it -- can be shaky at times during pregnancy and leading up to birth. A good childbirth class will give you the tools to make the best decisions for you and your family, and put the power and confidence to give birth back into your own hands.
Community. In a good group childbirth class -- especially in a series class that meets over the course of several weeks, you will meet others in the same stage of life as yourself. It's not uncommon for people to meet new, lifelong friends in a childbirth class, or at the very least, a person to connect with throughout the rest of pregnancy, after birth, and as your babies grow.
Resources. Remember my Google results example? What if someone waded through all 50 million results and hand-picked only the best, most relevant, and trustworthy ones? That's what you'll find in a good childbirth class. Not only will a good childbirth class provide you with reliable information about the process of birth, but you'll get good, local resources for other services or professionals you may need throughout the rest of your pregnancy and after birth.
Hands-on practice. In a good childbirth class, you'll be given time to go over and practice comfort measure techniques, breastfeeding techniques, baby care practices, and more. With an expert educator to guide you, you'll walk through useful tools and practices that you can use on the big day and beyond.
So yes -- you don't need a childbirth class to have a baby. But if you want a good, supported, informed birth experience (and who doesn't??), you'll want to attend a childbirth class.
Lamaze childbirth classes are built upon providing a foundation of trustworthy and evidence-based information, respect, and solid support. With Lamaze certified childbirth educators (LCCE) around the globe, you can find a Lamaze class just about anywhere.