When I was pregnant with Little Smidge, Papa Junior and I were just a bit overwhelmed with the concept of labor and childbirth. And by overwhelmed, I mean utterly-clueless-out-of-our-minds-freaked-out-and-unsure-of-survival. So, we took a Childbirth Class. We’re not talking a one or two evenings where you just talk about breathing and epidural options, oh no! True to our research loving personalities, we signed up for a childbirth class the met once a week for 8 weeks, 3-4 hours each session. This was the mother of all childbirth classes.
We started with how to deal with morning sickness and ended with breastfeeding, babywearing, and general baby care. We learned about how to have a healthy pregnancy and how that greatly improved your chances of having a natural childbirth experience. We learned about the risks of medical induction, epidurals, and elective cesarean sections. We learned how totally messed up the general medical approach “childbirth is a health crisis to be handled” approach to birth that American medicine has fallen into. We learned how marvelously designed a woman and her baby are to work together through the labor a birth process. It was awesome.
After the last class session, we felt like we were equipped with the knowledge needed to face just about any birth situation with confidence, even if something unexpected happened and we had to stray from our “perfect” birth plan.
All of this to say, please, PLEASE, for the sake of you, your child, your partner… please look into taking a more extensive childbirth class than your local hospital’s Lamaze sessions. I’m not saying that Lamaze doesn’t have some great things to teach, but it is far from the comprehensive education that a more in-depth class will offer. Especially if you are a first-time parent, or if you have had a child an know that you don’t want the birth experience to be the same as last time – do your research, and take a class!
Childbirth classes can easily be the best thing that you do to mentally prepare for the process of birth. Ideally, a childbirth class will take place over a few weeks and will be taught by someone that at least somewhat shares your vision for childbirth.
Why should it take place over a few weeks? If a childbirth class covers everything that you really need to learn and consider before your labour and birth, it is going to contain WAY more information than you could possibly process in one or two class periods.
Why it should be taught by someone that shares your vision for childbirth is pretty self-explanatory: Why would you want to learn about childbirth from someone that doesn’t have the same outcome in mind. Obviously, the basic desired outcome is to have a healthy baby and mother, but how you get there can vary a lot.
If you want to have a natural labor (free of drugs and unnecessary monitoring) and natural birth (vaginal, without drugs, with as little intervention as possible), you don’t want to have a class that focuses on optimal scheduling of your c-section or induction and making sure that you get your epidural in time!
Some suggested resources as you research your childbirth class options -
If you can’t find a class in your area that seems comprehensive enough, take the best one possible and READ. I will be sharing a list of my favorite pregnancy/childbirth/newborn books in a future post. Whether you have your perfect natural childbirth, or whether everything goes differently than planned and you have a c-section or other intervention, the amount of time spent researching and reading will be well worth the calm, prepared feeling that you know what is happening with you and your baby during childbirth.