When I was pregnant with my daughter in 1999 I was given a recommendation for a class by a friend and immediately signed up. (This was before the online age, so it never occurred to me to do research myself and not take a class.) My partner and I both loved the class and we felt prepared and confident about having a hospital birth.
The birth of a child is one of the most important moments in all new parents life. Yet more parents-to-be are opting out of childbirth education classes. Moms may think, “I’m getting an epidural, why do I need a class?”, “A friend recommended a great book/website which will be enough for me,” “Classes are only for moms who want an unmedicated vaginal birth,” “Classes take up too much time,” or “My partner doesn’t want to go.”
Childbirth education classes are about getting reliable information, understanding the birth process, avoiding unnecessary interventions, understanding the hospital environment, involving the partner, alleviating fear and avoiding a cesarean, to name just a few benefits. A good class will have a limited number of couples so they are able to ask questions freely. OB visits go quickly and class is a great forum to cover the unknown. Another couple may ask a question you never thought of but it applies to you.
If your hope is to get an epidural right away, class will be just as beneficial as if you are a mom hoping to have an unmedicated birth. It is recommended by most hospitals that moms are in active labor before they get an epidural – that means moms and partners need to understand what active labor is and how to cope with labor up to that point.
Parents-to-be need to have the education to make informed decisions about their birth. Partners need to learn how best to support moms-to-be and speak up in the hospital. Taking a class in a non-hospital setting is going to give parent-to be the best information because teachers are not influenced by hospital policies.
Childbirth education classes split into a series make it easier for parents-to-be to retain the information and make connections with other couples. Reading a book, searching online and watching birth videos may be helpful in preparing you to give birth but having a trained experienced childbirth educator will fully inform you on what it really means to give birth in today’s ever changing world.
By Lauren Ryan, SBCE (Supported Birth Childbirth Educator)