Is a Birth Class Really Necessary?
Sep 04, 2020
We often get asked...
- At what point in my pregnancy should I take a birth class?
- What kind of birth course is best for me?
- What should a birth course cover?
- Do I really need one if I plan on getting an epidural?
But before we answer those great questions, will you indulge us for a minute? We've gotta get this off our chest first...
The truth of the matter is that when it comes to birth, you don't know what you don't know. And if you're reading this post or listening to the podcast, you're likely the kind of person who wants to be in-the-know! That's awesome because our entire goal is to empower you & give you the skills, confidence, and knowledge necessary before your birth.
Speaking from very personal experience, failing to prepare can often lead to a poor experience, regrets, and then (hopefully!) a fierce determination to make things better the next time! We want to find you and help you before that next time!
Birth is a natural event, but when we moved birth from the home to the hospital, we did the next generations a huge disservice because the knowledge that comes from observing & supporting mothers through birth vanished. Today, all people really see (until they are actually giving birth themselves) is that a pregnant lady leaves the house and comes back with a baby. That leaves a major gap in knowledge!
We encourage you to be the woman in your family that breaks that knowledge gap cycle! Get educated on birth. Take a birth class, watch all the YouTube birth videos you can! Birth IS magical, but let's demystify it a bit. Let's model empowered birth and then pass that knowledge and confidence onto our children, and those around us.
So! Back to those ^^ questions!
THINGS A GOOD BIRTH COURSE SHOULD COVER
- How to stay healthy & low-risk so that all the options are available to you. Example: without a solid education on nutrition & exercise during pregnancy, a mama could develop things like gestational diabetes and hypertension...and then have birthing options limited.
- Incredible support. There should be a place where you can ask questions day or night, get 1-1 help, and find a community of moms to help you along your journey into motherhood! We LOVE the My Essential Birth course private members group for this very reason! It's been awesome to be able to offer additional instruction and support- that was such a huge blessing when COVID hit because we were able to get new information out quickly to our mamas.
- How to turn your spouse or birth partner into your personal doula! If the birth class you're looking into doesn't have something that's going to teach your partner how to support you (and not just mentally emotionally- which is very important) but also the physical stuff, then it's incomplete. You need to be able to walk into birth not doing this by yourself, but with the love and compassion and support of the person that got you pregnant. Your partner needs to be equally confident in their role and in the knowledge of how your body works during birth and how to handle unexpected scenarios.
- Interactive assignments- we're talking prenatal exercises, labor rehearsals, communication exercises, all of it! Knowledge has little value unless you put it into practice.
- How to set yourself up for success. A good birth course will teach you how to vet a really great provider, how to find the best birthplace for YOU (and there isn't a one-size-fits-all answer to this), and how to advocate effectively for yourself and your baby.
- How to work with your body during labor on a physical, mental, and emotional level- it should walk you through the stages of labor (and the stages within the stages!). When you don't know what your body needs during each stage, you probably won't know how to help it along, and that can add pain and time to your labor.
- A great birth course will cover all those "what-ifs"...and not only mention them but actually educate you on what to do if one of those "what it" curveballs gets thrown your way during pregnancy or birth. This is actually where we see the most inconsistency in different birth courses. You'll get some instructors that are active doulas and they are right there, in the thick of birth often, and they usually have lots of added insights that help give you and your partner a great birthing education. But you'll also get childbirth educators that are far-removed from birth, and this disparity between instructors can create inconsistencies within different birthing methods. (That's actually one of the nice things about taking our online birth course...the pre-recorded videos provide a ton of evidence-based & peer-reviewed information so that you know it's the same all the time.)
- A great birth course will cover postpartum care & breastfeeding. It should follow you throughout your entire pregnancy, have a heavy emphasis on the birth process, and then follow you into postpartum care for mom and also breastfeeding and care for baby. That's another great plus of an online birth course- you can go back and rewatch our videos on postpartum care and breastfeeding videos, even after you've had your baby!
THE BEST TIME TO TAKE A BIRTH COURSE
The short answer: as soon as you are pregnant! There's information that's really beneficial for you to have as early as possible in your pregnancy- things like nutrition and exercise. Another reason why it's great to have access to a birth course as soon as you decide that you want one is for that extra support & community. A place where you can go and have all your questions answered. And finding a good provider and being prepared with great questions during your prenatal visits? The earlier you have that knowledge, the better!
With an online birth course, you don't have to worry about forgetting info because you took a class too soon. You can go back and work through or re-watch videos throughout your pregnancy, but especially in those weeks leading up to birth.
DO I REALLY NEED TO TAKE A BIRTH CLASS?
Um, YES!! Interesting fact: many midwives and birth centers require their clients to take a birth course. The reason being- they noticed that couples that did not take a birth class had higher intervention rates, and the couples that did take a birth class, had lower intervention rates and their cesarean rates went down.
It really doesn't matter how you are choosing to birth...unmedicated, with pain meds, cesarean...knowing too much, practicing too much, IT'S IMPOSSIBLE TO DO! But, you absolutely need to make sure that the birth course you are choosing is supportive of how YOU want to birth.
Many courses assume you are going to a hospital and getting an epidural, so they don't even scratch the surface on how to really work with your body & partner through contractions, yet getting as far as possible without an epidural absolutely cuts down on intervention & cesarean birth rates.
Conversely, other courses are militant about only teaching how to have an unmedicated birth, and they make you feel bad for choosing pain meds during birth. Keep in mind that these types of courses often withhold information about things like the best time to get an epidural and how to keep birth progressing after you've received one.
That's one of the goals we had when we created The My Essential Birth course- we wanted to show up, without judgment, and simply give you ALL you need to achieve the birth of your dreams, whether that's a homebirth, an epidural birth, and everything in between!
SO! If you'v been thinking about jumping into a birth course, jump into the My Essential Birth course! We are excitedly ready and waiting to welcome you into the course.
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