Why Take Childbirth Education?

 Photograph courtesy of  Cradled Creations

Photograph courtesy of Cradled Creations

Now that you know what childbirth preparation is, why should you take it? There are plenty of good reasons, ranging from bolstering your confidence in “what you will do” when the big day comes to ensuring you receive the best evidence based care.

Pretend for a moment that you’re planning your new baby’s future wedding. Chances are that you will be an informed consumer. You’ll shop around to see what venues and caterers and decorators are available, look for the best deals, collect references, and generally learn about your options. Preparing for a wedding is a big deal!

So is preparing for birth.

Many professional organizations recommend you take childbirth education, including March of Dimes, What to Expect, Mayo Clinic and the American Pregnancy Association. Most doctors and midwives recommend you do so, as well. Are you planning to shop around for your care provider and hospital? I hope that you will. And shouldn’t you explore the options those care providers and hospitals are offering you by becoming an informed, educated consumer? If you’ve had a baby before, you’re probably nodding your head right now.

Beyond being recommended by leading authorities on the subject, many studies have been done on the benefits of childbirth education. One study concluded that, “increased knowledge about childbirth and experiences of confirmation during childbirth contributed to a good or better experience than expected.” Another says that, “...childbirth education creates preparedness for birth and fatherhood…” A study done on women in Spain said that, “...women who had attended AE [antenatal education] classes experienced less anxiety during birth than those who had not.” An article on PsychCentral says, “Of class attendees, the majority (74 percent) believed the education helped prepare them for childbirth. Nearly half (40 percent) thought the classes helped prepare them for early parenthood.” Birth classes can do a lot more than just prepare you for labor and delivery. The best ones help you to understand the whole process of pregnancy and birth, and teach you what to expect in the postpartum period as well.

These classes aren’t just for women, either - childbirth classes help husbands, too. The same article from PsychCentral goes on to say that, “a study from Australia found that men believed that antenatal classes had prepared them for childbirth. A large majority (89 percent) agreed that the classes helped them feel more confident during labor, and more confident in their role as a support person.” Most men have never really thought about what the experience of birth is going to be like, but a good birth class makes them an active part of the process. A laboring woman needs a partner who is ready and able to support her, so look for a class that spends some time on this.

Okay, all of that science aside, there are also some great personal reasons to take childbirth education classes. Close your eyes for a second. Now envision what birth looks like. What do you see? A screaming, wild, out of control woman - the kind of thing you see in the movies? Or maybe an easy, completely discomfort free - or even “orgasmic” - event?

Neither idea is realistic. Childbirth preparation helps to give you a down-to-earth idea of what most births look like. Yes, your birth will probably cause you discomfort and it won’t be easy, but it’s not a choice being pure suffering and total numbness. Childbirth classes will teach you what a normal birth looks like - and it’s nothing like you see in the movies or on Youtube!

Now let’s talk about the state of maternity health care in the United States. Nine in ten women will have an intervention during their pregnancy or birth. One in three women gives birth via cesarean section. Both the World Health Organization and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recognize that this is too high. There are many, many factors that contribute to these numbers, and medically-indicated interventions are necessary and life-saving. Unfortunately, many unscientific practices are influenced by policy and procedure, legal concerns, and the way medical staff are trained. If you educate yourself on what truly evidence based care looks like (something a good childbirth class teaches), then you’ll be equipped to make the care decisions that will lead to a better birth outcome.

Regardless of the kind of birth you want, it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with the general physical process and what your options are. Knowing what is available and what to expect will help to bolster your confidence so that you achieve a happy, satisfying birth experience.

Special thanks to Cradled Creations for allowing the use of their fabulous picture! Check them out on Facebook and their website! And if you are in the Lincoln, NE area, check out the calendar of classes and enroll today!