One of the most common questions I hear from birthing families is “Should I take a childbirth class?” The best answer I can give is this,
Don’t waste your time on a childbirth class if you:
1. Don’t want to know the options available to you.
There are so many decisions that go along with having a baby; how do you know what’s important to you if you don’t know what options are available? Such decisions can be a source of extreme anxiety if you are someone who likes the comfort of having a plan. Even if you are a ‘go with the flow’ type of person, wouldn’t it be nice to know where that flow might take you?
Things like choosing an OB or midwife or whether you prefer a hospital, birth center or home birth, or even figuring out how you want to labor, what coping methods can make your labor more manageable and what to expect at each stage in the process go a long way in making your birth experience a more enjoyable one.
2. Don’t plan on having a natural birth, medicated birth, epidural, planned cesarean, induction, multiples, VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean), waterbirth or any other kind of birth
So basically if you are giving birth to a tiny human in any fashion, a childbirth class can prepare you for the road ahead. A good, evidence based class (such as this Baby Steps Intuitive Birth class) will walk you through any birth scenario, pros and cons, normal procedures, what happens when things don’t go as planned and techniques for coping and deciding between the options that are available to you at any given time.
Medical jargon can be like a foreign language, especially when you’re in the middle of handling your contractions (like a rock star)! The last thing you want is to try to decipher instructions in the moment that will likely sound like that teacher from the Charlie Brown cartoons: “Woomp woomp wooooommmppp.”
3. Don’t want to know how to have an awesome and empowered birth experience
Knowledge is power. Yes, birth is unpredictable and every labor/ birth is different. If it’s your first birth or your fourth birth, I guarantee there’s something new you can learn. Maybe you’ve never had a baby before and you’re not even sure how to tell if you’re actually in labor. No one likes to show up at their birth place only to be told “you’re not in labor, go home.” Maybe you had a cesarean birth the first time around and would like to attempt a VBAC (vaginal birth after a cesarean). It would probably benefit you to know how to find a supportive practice or find out a few tips to increase the chances of success. Maybe you’re having twins or multiples. Mazel tov! You may want to know the pros and cons of birthing vaginally or via Cesarean. You may not have known vaginal birth was even an option.
No matter how your birth experience unfolds, it can be such an empowering feeling to be an active participant in the decision making process. Childbirth is a dance; a partnership between all parties involved. Like any good partner, your birth should leave you feeling supported, empowered and ready to tackle or embrace whatever comes your way. Preparing yourself with a childbirth class can be that first step towards having an enjoyable and empowered birthing experience.
For help in navigating through the myriad of decisions involved in birth and parenting, please feel free to contact A Beautiful Creation Doula!
Jennifer Rivera, owner of A Beautiful Creation Doula, is a labor and postpartum doula, childbirth educator, pregnancy consultant, herbalist and Reiki practitioner serving the Greater Atlanta area.