Should you take a childbirth education class?
Long before I started teaching childbirth education classes myself, I have been recommending my doula clients take an independent, community-based, complete childbirth education class. Why do I recommend these specific types of classes?
They are not created/subsidized/controlled by a hospital. Most (not all!) hospital-based childbirth education classes are aimed more at creating compliant patients than at educating the students about their options, choices, and rights in childbirth.
Independent childbirth classes are fantastic at teaching you how to be an informed healthcare consumer. In other words, the skills you learn in childbirth class about asking questions about your health condition, your options, and the risks and benefits will be useful for every encounter you ever have in the healthcare system. Childbirth education teaches life skills in advocating for your own and your loved ones’ health.
Not only are self-advocacy skills applicable to your future in healthcare, but comfort measures and coping techniques are also valuable life skills that independent childbirth classes excel at teaching and reinforcing. I still use my Hypnobabies Peace cue for immediate relaxation and comfort every time I’m at the dentist. Whenever I stub a toe, I use gate control methods and relaxation breathing to cope and decrease my pain. I use accupressure points whenever I have a headache. My own father actually utilized Lamaze breathing to cope with chronic nerve pain, so even you birth partners will learn valuable life skills for coping with pain and discomfort!
It is the fastest, easiest, most reliable way to get quality information about childbirth. If your instructor maintains their knowledge base, whether with certification and recertification, regular continuing education, personal study, or other ways, you will benefit from their experience and expertise by taking their classes! Yes, you can find everything you need to know on the internet, but it will require your time and possibly monetary investment. You may also end up learning about options that are unavailable to you because online you often lack a local guide. For example, you may learn the risks and benefits of IV Fentanyl, Stadol, and Nubain in your online education, but during your labor discover that only Demerol is available in your hospital!
You have your own personal childbirth guide. Learning your options is step one. Step two is deciding what is right for you and your birth, and your childbirth educator is a fantastic resource for helping you evaluate and make your best decisions. Online and homestudy childbirth education often lacks this aspect of personal guidance and mentorship that is inherent in a class taught by a member of your community.
You receive complete education so you can navigate the unknown of childbirth with confidence. We all know that birth cannot be planned. Even if you schedule a planned induction or Cesarean birth, your baby and your body can change those plans on you, or an overwhelmed labor and delivery unit could even push your birth back on the schedule! Your childbirth education should include the information on all major interventions so you can decide how best to proceed if you encounter them during journey to your baby.
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I hope that explains the many benefits of taking a childbirth class in your community. Once you decide to take a class, choosing which one to take may be your next challenge! I will discuss this decision in my next blog.