I find that instead of being reassuring and informative, prenatal classes often create anxieties. Lamaze and Bradley classes can make you apprehensive by detailing every possible hurdle and pitfall, especially when it comes to breast feeding. The information they offer is often too specific or technical. On the positive side, prenatal classes form natural support groups where you can meet other expectant couples. This can be a big help, especially the first time around.
The bottom line is that if you decide to give birth naturally, it will hurt. Anesthesia is no panacea either; it may not take, and if it does it can make you push less efficiently and, incidentally, cause a serious headache that lasts for days afterward. If you breathe deeply it’ll hurt a little less and you’ll push better. Learning to breathe through intense pain is not a trivial affair, however, and mothers report to me that prenatal yoga is very helpful for developing that skill.