Like childbirth itself, every childbirth class is a little different. Because of this, there is a lot of uncertainty about the necessity of the class itself. After all, your body knows what to do in labor, right? How necessary is a childbirth class?
The thing is, a childbirth class prepares you for more than just what your body will do in labor (which itself is something that is worth preparing for – more on that later). A comprehensive childbirth class will help you and your labor support partner create a birth plan and learn about the options you’ll have during labor and delivery. You’ll also prepare for the postpartum period and learn about newborn care.
Today, we are going to talk about three of the most common myths the Board Certified Nurse-Midwives at Baby+Co. report hearing about why parents are reluctant to take birth classes – and why we think that birth classes are still important to take.
Myth #1: Birth is a natural process, so my body will just know what to do.
While our bodies do give us signals, we need to learn how to interpret those signals and understand the response options available to us. Labor is hard work that requires preparation – just because bodies can labor doesn’t mean we shouldn’t prepare. (Our bodies are also capable of running marathons, but we need to train for them.)
Taking a comprehensive childbirth class will help you to understand what to expect, as well as offer the chance to practice techniques to help ease labor. During a class, the birthing parent and their partner or support person work together to really understand their options and create a birth plan in the class.
In addition to learning hands-on techniques like massage, classes help to clarify your preferences. Birthing parents learn to better understand how they respond to stress, fear, and pain, along with appropriate relaxation techniques. This is an important time for the birthing parent and support person to learn to work together. The support partner also learns a lot in the birth class, like about how to time contractions, how to massage, and about the preferences of the birthing parent.
Also? Sometimes, labor doesn’t go as naturally or easily. Labor isn’t just about learning how to give birth – it’s about understanding how to communicate with your care provider and understanding your choices ahead of time so that you’re not in labor while learning about some medication or procedure for the first time. A birth class empowers you to have a less stressful labor.
Myth #2: A childbirth class isn’t necessary if I am planning to have an epidural.
There are two reasons a birth class is a good idea even if you are planning to get an epidural!
First, it’s not advised to get an epidural the moment that labor begins. You will still go through early labor before being approved for an epidural, so it is a good idea for everyone to learn techniques and strategies to cope with what is happening. Also, sometimes the birthing parent ends up giving birth too quickly to actually receive an epidural!
Many people don’t realize that epidurals take time to insert – it’s not like getting blood drawn in your arm. There is prep required for the process, such as receiving IV fluids. It can take 30-45 minutes from when you request an epidural to when you actually get one, plus adding time based on provider availability in a hospital. Having a toolbox of techniques available for your comfort will help ease labor during that wait time.
Second, good birth classes also encompass postpartum and newborn care. The thing that parents most frequently report wishing they had spent more time preparing for prior to birth is understanding what life would be like after they brought home baby.
Myth #3: Childbirth classes are too time-consuming to fit into my schedule (“I don’t have time”).
You’re busy, and with a baby on the way, your schedule is bound to get even more full! Adding a class on top of everything can feel overwhelming. (We get it – we’re parents, too.)
That said, there are a lot of weekend-only birth classes, or condensed versions of classes. The care team at Baby+Co. strongly recommends making time to take some form of childbirth class with your partner or labor support person. It’s a great way to prepare for this exciting time in your life.
A birth class is also a self-care activity, as it’s not just about the clinical aspects of labor and delivery but also about understanding the emotional aspects of the process, and of how to take care of yourself postpartum.
Ultimately, taking a birth class helps you take an active role in your own birth. It helps you make decisions and understand how to actively work with your labor. Birth classes also teach parents-to-be how to maintain safety and comfort during labor.
It’s helpful to have a variety of movement, touch, and mind/body techniques in your toolkit when the big day comes, and to have had practice and instruction in using them.
At Baby+Co., we believe that education is the foundation of providing our parents-to-be with Complete Care. We are committed to educating, empowering, and supporting our families as you embark on your journey to parenthood. Our childbirth class, The Birth Journey, is a six-week long course that meets weekly. To sign up for the class at Baby+Co., click “Contact” in the upper right corner.