Over the past 2 weeks, I have seen and had A LOT of expecting mums ask me “whats the difference between a hospital birth class and other birth classes?” and “why do I need to do a birth class?” So many of us question the need for it and many say “ it will happen how it happens” or “I don’t need to do a class – it’s a waste of money or time” or “I’ll just go with the flow” or “ my body will know what to do”.
Today we are lucky we have many options to choose from when it comes to birth education, but did you know when it comes to pregnancy, birth, and labour that you have choices and options? Or that there is also a huge difference between a hospital class and an independent class. However Choosing the right birth course can make all the difference between a positive and empowering experience and one that leaves you feeling disappointed at best, traumatised at worst. It's important to think about what you want in your birth in order to pick a course that is right for you.
There is so much time and thought put into planning a pregnancy, planning a nursery and researching prams, bounces, rockers, cots…….but why do we not research and invest time into preparing for labour and birth, why is this not on the to do list?
Birth education IS an investment – why, Its simple! When you take a class, you are investing in yourself, your baby, your labour, your birth and your choices – you are investing in your birth experience.
There was a small study done on independent childbirth education and, the results were startling: a 65% lower epidural rate and a 44% lower c-section rate than women offered a standard hospital birth course. There was also a significant reduction in augmentation of labour (having artificial oxytocin to speed up labour) and a shorter second stage of labour, meaning less time pushing. The study demonstrated how being informed can significantly reduce medical interventions.
Medical interventions are so common today, sadly most women have come to see them as the norm and are often unaware they may not be necessary or best practice or even that they have choices and options.
Hospital birth classes are usually run by midwives who are experienced in hospital birth and the policies and standards which guide how they do their job. Most courses are held over a few days and cover a lot of information about pregnancy, birth and baby care. The birth information focus is generally on when medical interventions will be necessary rather than on what normal birth is and how to cope. They will tend to steer the choices towards what will be easiest for the hospital and not what will necessarily benefit you, your labour and birth.
Many people think that out-of-hospital classes are only geared towards those desiring a natural birth. That they won't discuss or talk about pain medication at all when in reality they do discuss pain medication, as well as ways to decrease the likelihood of other interventions when getting medical pain relief. They also discuss ways to avoid the use of pain medications and choices and options for natural pain relief– Because they understand every woman is different! They also spend time on active involvement in labour and using natural comfort techniques, such as movement and a variety of positions and tools. Partners are also actively involved in classes because partners have a significant role in supporting and providing comfort to their labouring partner.
The stages of labour are taught and also highlight what your hormones are doing and the effects this will have on your body and why. Independent classes encourage the practice of positioning, counter-pressure, massage, the use of compresses, essential oils, relaxation and mindfulness techniques, and so much more.
Independent birth classes focus on far more than just how to cope with the discomforts of labour, independent birth classes will not only help you explore your options but also encourage you to find your voice for asserting your choices, and often empower birthing partners to be confident advocators in the decision-making that comes up along the way. birth classes provide expectant parents with the tools needed to be as in control of their birthing process as possible.
A good birth class will help you avoid “going with the flow” which really isn’t an option either, Think about that – who’s “flow” are you going with? Are you going with yours, or your Obstetrician, your partners, the midwife or nurse, the hospital, your mother in laws, sister or mum – the list is endless! An independent birth class with help you put a birth plan together and understand the importance of having one and putting it into action – so you don’t have to go with the flow!
Independent classes provide the birthing mother and partner with enough knowledge, confidence and power to positively approach their birth.
Choosing the right birth class is probably one of the most important choices you can make. What you learn about birth will help determine how your birth unfolds – not knowing your options means you have no options to choose from.
So look into doing a birth class, take the time to invest in education that can make a huge difference to how you give birth, I really believe that EVERY woman should take a birth class, and there are so many benefits to taking a class and it should be on your list of things to do before your baby arrives.