You may be deciding whether or not you need a childbirth education class. On one hand people have been having babies forever (and you’re busy) on the other hand you would really like to avoid a cesarean (if possible) and someone said class was a good idea! If you’re leaning towards taking a class you also have to decide which one is right for you. Private or group, one-day or series, at the hospital or at a studio? Like so much in pregnancy, it’s stress-inducing and we don’t want that! Our most-trusted childbirth educator, Ashely Brichter of Managing Overwhelming Moments, highlights three key considerations before deciding how to best prepare for birth!
Know that not all common hospital practices are best practices!
For example, it has long been thought that women should receive IV fluids in labor, in lieu of eating and drinking. It turns out, there is not sufficient evidence to prove that restricting food from a low-risk laboring women increases her or her baby’s safety. We also know that women who are allowed to eat and drink are more satisfied with their birthing experiences and that there are some negative side effects if a person receives unnecessary IV fluids. While doctors and midwives have medical preferences, you the ability to direct the course of action during your labor, barring a true and rare medical emergency. Understanding the nuances within medical interventions is essential in order to prepare to be your own-best advocate. Before choosing a childbirth class, think about how much you would like to learn about specific medical interventions. (This includes best practices around epidurals!)
2. There’s a difference between learning from an “expert” and learning from an educator.
Many hospitals offer their own childbirth preparation classes often taught by labor and delivery nurses and many labor and delivery nurses teach private childbirth education classes. While it is amazing to learn about birth from someone who has professional experience, it is also important to consider the perspective and style of your teacher. By “perspective” I am referring to consideration #1. Will your instructor teach you what to expect from common practices or teach you about best practices? Will she teach you what to expect from the hospital or how to thrive in the hospital? In terms of style, I am sure you can think about a teacher who you loved in school and a teacher who just fell flat. I am willing to bet that the teacher you loved did something other than lecture. If you’re going to invest time and money in a class, I think it is worth making sure the teacher has intentionally created an engaging learning environment.
3. Your partner can, and should step up!
Partners play a pivotal role in labor and delivery as well as the postpartum experience. Childbirth education classes can play a huge role in making them feel prepared and empowered to be an active team member and advocate! Has your partner had the chance to practice labor-massage techniques or learned what they should be keeping track of logistically so your process is a seamless as possible? Again, before choosing a class consider what knowledge and skills you would like our partner to come away with and how much time that will take!