Childbirth Education Class - Is It Worth It?
You're pregnant. You've been reading all the books. Listening to all the podcasts. Doing all the things to prepare for your birth. Now you're asking yourself, "Do I really need to take a childbirth education class?".
The quick answer.
There are so many benefits of childbirth education, and here are a few.
1. Know Your Options
What are your options for birth? Who will deliver your baby, and where? How do you know when labor has started? And when should you head to the hospital (if that's where you plan to birth)? Under what circumstances do you have to be induced? What are your options for managing pain? When should you get an epidural, if you want one? What positions can you use for laboring? And in what positions can you push?
Childbirth educators can answer these questions with evidence-based information. Which is exactly what it sounds like. Information that is proven. We all love Google, but you don't always know what you're getting. With a good CBE class, this is not an issue.
2. Understand the Physiology of Birth
You can read as many books as you want, but understanding how a baby navigates his way through the birth canal is mind-blowing. Your instructor will likely have a model pelvis and a cute baby doll to demonstrate the baby's passage into the world. She will show the different positions your baby may be in (anterior, posterior, breech, etc.), and provide suggestions for getting her into an optimal position for birth. Ever heard of Spinning Babies?
3. Address Your Fears
For many people, the thought of delivering a baby can be frightening. Up until now, birth might not have been prominent in your life. Maybe you're the first of your friends to have a baby. You may be coming into the experience with past trauma or loss. Or maybe you're prone to anxiety. Even though birth is a natural, physiological process, that doesn't mean it can't be scary. The unknown is always scary. But a good childbirth educator will help you to identify your fears and anxieties, and meet them head on. You will be able to arm yourself with the knowledge and tools to combat the negative thoughts that may creep in when you're most vulnerable.
4. Learn Hands-On Comfort Techniques
Even if you're planning to get an epidural or to use other pain relief, you'll likely experience discomfort at some point during labor. Childbirth classes almost always cover comfort measures for labor -- non-medical tools you can use for pain relief. Some of these tools include positioning, massage, acupressure, hydrotherapy, counter-pressure, etc. You will be able to connect with your partner as you learn and practice these different techniques.
5. Hear First Person Experiences
Your class will be taught by someone experienced in birth. Someone who has likely witnesses many births, of all different kinds. And who can share with you anecdotes of the different kinds of births they've witnessed. Additionally, if you take a group class, the discussions that will arise will be both intriguing and informative, raising more questions that can be addressed by your instructor.
6. Build a Community
An added benefit of a CBE class is community. By default, you're surrounded by others sharing a similar experience. Especially if this is your first baby, your life is changing, and quickly. It's easy to lose sight of who you are when you're literally sharing your body with another human. It's nice to have the a tribe of other people going through the same thing to connect with. Your children will be around the same age and it’s great to have other parents around for support, especially when things get tough.
7. Address the What-If's
A CBE class is the perfect opportunity to ask questions. What if my water breaks and contractions don't start? What if I go to 41 weeks and haven't gone into labor? What if I lose my mucus plug? What if I don't know how to push? What if I don't want to see the placenta? What if my labor is really long? What if my labor goes really quickly? There are so many what-if's, but your class is a safe, non-judgmental space for addressing them.
What a Great Childbirth Education Class Should Provide
When you and your partner, or doula or support person leave the childbirth education class, you should feel prepared to be an active participant in your birth. You should feel confident to make decisions and to ask for more information when necessary. You should leave with the confidence that if your birth experience doesn't go quite as planned, that you have the knowledge and tools to navigate your birth experience and face obstacles as they arise.