I was talking with a friend the other day about her fairly fast and intense birth experience. She told me how, though she had taken a class, the birth went so quickly that she really did not use a lot of the knowledge she gained from taking a birth class. She did not take time for many comfort measures and because she was able to birth out of the hospital as planned, she did not use some of the information about what to do in the case of a transfer.
But she was still so glad she took the class, for several reasons:
1. Even though she didn’t use a lot of the information during the birth, a lot of the knowledge gave her comfort in the weeks and days leading up to the birth.
She learned about how to eat and exercise to stay low-risk in pregnancy. She learned about what physically happens during labor so that she could envision her body changing and her baby moving during birth.
She also had a backup plan if things did not go as planned and though she did not use it for this pregnancy, it could be useful information for a future pregnancy or even to share with loved ones who could use it. Some of that information is kind of like insurance, you hope you don’t need it, but you gain peace of mind by having it!
Birth was no longer a mysterious subject- she was confident she was prepared. The less we know about birth, the easier it is to be fearful and fear creates tension and pain in labor. Knowledge is powerful!
2. The class confirmed that she chose the right care provider.
She learned about policies that impact the birth process and had good questions to ask her care provider at her appointments. She gained trust as they discussed her knowledge and her goals, assured that her midwife was experienced and compassionate. She was comforted knowing that policies would not interfere unexpectedly with her birth plan.
3. Her husband needed the information.
While women may poll friends and relatives about their childbirth experiences or read books to gather information, men rarely know anything about birth before they witness their children being born.
Sometimes men are able to ask questions in a classroom setting they would not otherwise be comfortable asking or they glean information from the discussion in class that they did not think to ask. Setting aside time as a couple to prepare is reassuring for both parents and is much easier to do if the time is set and paid for.
4. She felt more prepared to defend her choices.
When you go against the norm, often friends and family question your judgement. This friend learned evidence-based practices and was able to communicate clearly why she believed her decisions were the safest and best for herself and her baby. She also knew that because she put in time and effort to learning about birth and knew her options, she was able to pass that along to other expectant mothers.
5. She gained a community of like-minded mamas.
I love seeing my students making connections, getting together and sharing ideas and questions during pregnancy and beyond. Sometimes motherhood is a lonely place and knowing that there are other women with the same goals and values to reach out to can be a lifeline. Even if they don’t become close friends, just knowing they are not alone in their choices can be a great comfort.
Yes, birth classes cost money and take time. But the information and support gained can last a lifetime. The sacrifice is well worth it!
photo credit: Birth Boot Camp, used with permission