In today’s world of easy access to information, parents often wonder if they need to take a childbirth preparation class. Nationally, only about 10% of first time parents take formal childbirth preparation classes, while in the 1970’s, a majority of first time parents took classes.
When today’s parents ask friends, family or even health care professionals if they should take a childbirth preparation class, they often hear “it’s not worth it”. Parents sometimes report that the class they took didn’t actually help them when it came time to having their baby. Time is precious and parents are looking to use the final weeks of preparing for baby wisely.
Preparing for baby takes many forms >
There is the physical preparation, such as creating a space in the home for baby and gathering necessary items such as clothes, blankets and diapers. Often, because of the influence of our culture, marketing and excitement around baby showers, physical preparation for the baby can get the most energy and attention from the parents-to-be.
The months of pregnancy offer the mother and father, time to reflect, be curious about the changes to come and prepare themselves for the challenges and joys of birth and parenting.
Preparing to birth and parent is likely the most significant preparation period of an adult’s life, yet in our culture, we often fail to provide adequate preparation, leaving out preparation of the heart, preparation for the changes in relationships and preparation for the intensity and diversity of experiences that come with birth and parenting.
For most of human history, however, preparation for labor, birth and early postpartum were the areas of focus for the mother-to-be.
So how can parents prepare themselves, beyond the nursery?
The first thing parents will often do is load themselves with lots of information from books. And while this is an important way to be informed and understand the process of labor and birth in our culture, it is important to not stop there. Parents can ask each other questions about what they need and want in labor, birth and parenting, discuss what is important to them, journal, create something special, draw or paint, spend time in nature and practice mindfulness. These are all ways that parents can begin to connect with their wishes and worries and build on their coping, flexibility and resourcefulness.
What about a childbirth class?
Some childbirth preparation classes may help as well. While some will focus mostly on what to expect in the hospital, or just natural birth, or information you can get from a book, other classes, such as Birthing From Within™ prepare parents holistically, encouraging them to be self- reflective, to build their communication, determination, flexibility and resourcefulness for the journey ahead.
When considering if a childbirth preparation class is right for you, here are some questions that may help you decide:
- Is the class giving you an opportunity to prepare for labor, birth and parenting beyond the information you can get from a book, online information or an app?
- Birth is a heartfelt experience, emotional experience, physical experience, mental experience and sometimes spiritual experience. Will the class help you prepare your body, mind and heart, instead of just focusing on facts and information?
- Does the class give you the chance to learn about the experience of birth in our culture and at the hospital where you are going to have your baby? Does the class encourage you to ask questions of your health care team and yourself to gain clarity about what is best for you and your baby?
- Will the class help you learn about new ways to cope with making decisions and help you learn things about birth that you may be worried about, make you uncomfortable or you may not agree with?
- Will the class help you to reflect on how you feel about different aspects of birth, the beliefs you have about birth and if those beliefs still serve you?
- Will you learn about medications as well as other ways to cope with the experience?
- Will the class give you a chance to practice coping with the physical and emotional intensity of the experience?
- Will the class give your partner opportunities to learn new ways to cope with their own experience of birth and ways to support you through your experience?
- Will the class foster your relationship with your partner or support person and encourage strengthening that relationship?
- Will the class include preparation for the postpartum experience of the journey, visitors after birth and changes to family relationships that occur after baby is born?