During pregnancy, you may face a whirlwind of products and services advertised to you. Special bottles, breastpumps, childbirth classes, breastfeeding classes, doula services, and tons more.
But do you really need them?
Plenty of pregnant people are looking to keep costs low and only buy what is necessary. Babies are expensive – even at their minimum.
So the question is:
Do I really need to take a childbirth class?
In short – No!
Women have been giving birth long before childbirth educators and childbirth classes came along. Whether or not you take a childbirth class, that baby will be born. But it is your experience, your feelings, and your perception that may be different. The average pregnant person likely doesn’t even know all of the options, choices, and decisions they may have in their birthing experience.
When I was pregnant with my first child, I thought my options were limited to epidural vs. no epidural and circumcision vs. no circumcision (since I was having a boy). I had no idea that I could have a say in having an IV or not, wearing a hospital gown or not, being able to move freely or not. I showed up, listened to the hospital staff, and felt very out of control of the whole experience.
In the end, my baby was born, perfectly safe. Most people who hear my birthing story probably think of it as a positive one – I labored for 5.5 hours in total, no pain medications, physiological delivery. To a lot of people, that sounds like an ideal birth – short and simple.
But I did not feel that way.
So when I became pregnant with my second child, I knew I wanted things to be different. I read every book I could get my hands on, joined local pregnancy and birthing Facebook groups, read all the forums. I was determined to have a pleasant experience.
What I found was that the more I read, the more I learned about my options and heard positive birthing stories, the more confident and prepared I felt. I began to actually look forward to labor. I felt a sense of strength from within that I was eager and confident to use. When I went into labor, I didn’t feel fear – instead I felt calm and ready. My second birth went as perfect as I could ever imagine and not once did I feel scared, overwhelmed, or out of control.
A childbirth class can help prepare you for the many possibilities that can occur during birth.
It was after my second birth that I became involved in my local birthing community here in Nashville. I just wanted to help others achieve that sense of confidence and strength that I found in my second delivery. By the time I was pregnant with my third child, I figured I was an expert and would achieve another “perfect birth” (in my book, at least). But, instead, we faced complications, choices, and a lot of hard decisions.
Our anatomy ultrasound revealed a slight abnormality. We then had to choose whether or not to follow up on it with another ultrasound. That ultrasound confirmed that the abnormality was causing issues with the blood flow to the baby and we wasn’t growing properly anymore. From there, we started having bi-weekly ultrasounds with a high risk doctor, combined with non-stress tests with my midwife. My blood pressure started to become elevated and we feared that preeclampsia was setting in. I was missing 5+ hours of work every week for all these extra tests and scans, having to forfeit my lunch breaks. It was a constant blur.
Eventually, the baby’s weight was slowing even further, my blood pressure was continuously creeping up, and we needed to decide what to do. In my mind, an induction was one of the worst things that could happen. I prefer my births to be as natural as possible and feared what the additional medication, IV, monitoring, etc. would bring. But at 37 weeks and 4 days gestation, the placenta was starting to fail per an ultrasound and we decided to induce that day.
The difference was that I knew my options, I knew the various medications they were suggesting and the pros/cons of each.
This birth wasn’t my ideal birth. I felt defeated walking into the labor and delivery triage that evening to start my induction. I was scared. But being able to converse with the nurses, OB/GYN, midwife, and NICU team in a constructive way, without having to ask about each and every variable involved, made the process work much smoother and more efficiently.
I knew what it meant when we discussed my Bishop score.
I knew the differences between Cytotec and Pitocin when we discussed potential induction methods.
I wasn’t blind-sided by their suggestions or recommendations.
I felt part of my birthing team, I felt in control.
And that was the real difference that childbirth education made for me. I knew how things worked. I knew how my body worked in coordination with my baby. I understood the complication we were facing and why my midwife was suggesting an induction, despite it not being my ideal birthing situation.
And I won’t lie: parts of me were angry, parts of me still felt out of control.
It probably wasn’t until it was all said and over with and I was holding my small, but healthy baby, that I truly felt comfortable with it all. But compared to my first birth, I understood why things happened the way they did and I felt like I was a major player in the experience, instead of feeling like a bystander that things were happening to.
Why can’t I just read books?
What’s the benefit of taking a class?
Pregnancy and childbirth books also help prepare and educate you for what is to come. An added bonus is that a lot of books also contain positive birthing stories, which can help you feel more at ease and positive-minded. Furthermore, there are a multitude of books out there on specific birthing types – natural birth, cesarean birth, water birth, etc.
A certified childbirth educator has already read the books, done the research, taken a certification program or test, and stays current with medical recommendations. Similarly to school, the instructor may work out of a textbook, but brings the information to life using their professional knowledge, games, activities, and class participation! Books written years ago are often out-of-date in terms of their medical recommendations or advice because it is constantly evolving and changing.
The benefit of taking a childbirth class is that you are receiving the knowledge of multiple books, resources, and wisdom that you just can’t get from a book or two. The childbirth educator brings all the information together and presents it in an easy-to-understand format. Lectures, diagrams, videos, games, and class participation are all combined to ensure that you absorb and retain the information learned. I strongly encourage that all expecting parents read as many books as they can, but they should also take a childbirth class to bring all the information together and take place in a discussion about all the things they’ve learned.
A childbirth class can help you in exploring your options regarding your birth, some you probably don’t even know you have! This way, you can determine your birth preferences and what your ideal birth would look like. And if you are able to achieve your perfect birth, whatever that looks like to you, then all the better! And if you hit a snag along the way, you will be prepared with education and information to make quick decisions. You will walk away feeling more confident and empowered in your choices and decisions.
This is your birth – own it!
Join my childbirth class today to learn what you need to know to make informed and confident decisions during your birth!