Skip Hospital Classes And Learn About ALL Your Birth Options
Think all childbirth education classes are created equal? Think again.
Along with choosing a baby name, registering for cute onesies and deciding whether to find out the sex of Baby or not, taking a childbirth class is one of the most important decisions to make during pregnancy.
Why I vote for independent classes
OK, I may be just a little biased since I'm a childbirth educator, but the reason I became one is because as a first-time mom who knew absolutely nothing about what to expect during labor and delivery, my Lamaze teacher gave me the information and confidence I needed.
Chances are your hospital offers childbirth classes, and chances are those classes may be comprehensive. However, chances are they may not be. What does that mean, exactly?
Some hospital classes include instruction about childbirth preparation like the signs and stages of labor and equal time given to natural comfort and coping techniques as well as pain medications, epidural anesthesia and C-sections. Others may include just a brief overview of those topics and spend more time explaining what happens in the hospital.
It's important to learn about all your options
I'm a big believer in independent childbirth classes that focus on the former. Women and their partners deserve to know all the options. You may be thinking, "I am positive I'm getting an epidural, so who cares about all that breathing stuff, anyway?" Or, "I am natural-birth-minded all the way, so why waste my time learning about C-sections?"
Here's the thing: No one, not even your doctor or midwife, knows what will happen during labor and delivery. That's not meant to scare you, that's just a fact. Sometimes the best laid plans go to rest, which is why it's very important to learn everything you can. You can't truly prepare (again, that whole unpredictability factor) but you'll want to, at the very least, understand the basic benefits, risks and alternatives to the choices in childbirth you may be faced with when the time comes.
Independent childbirth educators aren't beholden to hospital protocol. It may be hard to believe, but some hospital-based educators are told what they can and can't teach. For example, why talk about hydrotherapy if labor and birth tubs aren't available? Or, for hospitals with high epidural rates (some in my area hover around 90 percent), not a lot of time is spent on natural comfort measures like breathing or positions for labor.
An independent class will provide you with all of the options so you can make informed decisions during labor and delivery. You may be able to call or email the instructor ahead of time to ask questions about her credentials and experience. Ask the questions that are important to you. Birth is not a one-size-fits-all experience and it's worth taking time to learn a lot of different things so you can make the choices that feel right for you and your baby.