childbirth classes

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School is in session. Your teacher’s name is Mother Nature.

Tuesday, May 19th, 2009

Yes, contrary to our own basic instinct, I feel that women do need to learn to give birth naturally.  Faithfully, I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me but I am not so obedient in letting Him do His work.  I have a mortal enemy: my brain and it tends to get in the way of a lot of things.  I believe our own mental interference and relying on doctors too much inhibits our body’s natural processes and we need education, training and practice on how to let nature take it’s course.  That is why I am such a big proponent of childbirth classes.

In general, childbirth preparatory classes from hospitals (one 2-4 hour session) are fine to get some basics of labor and delivery, but in preparing for a natural childbirth, you will typically find childbirth courses taught (multi-week series t0 cover all topics surrounding pregnancy and birth).  Some people get turned off by the fee of such a course or the time commitment to it and they resort to an attitude of “I’ll just read the books”.  Who remembers their school days and examinations?  Was the material on the test only what was in the text book?  I have said it before, the investment in time and cost are immeasurable when you know you’ve given your baby the best start to life by making informed choices and avoiding medication.  I have never heard of a student of a natural childbirth class say it was a waste of money or time.  Many, myself included, marvel at what they didn’t know going in but now feel so prepared and empowered to give birth.

The content of many natural childbirth courses often includes nutrition and exercise, breastfeeding, anatomy, stages of labor and delivery, comfort measures for pregnancy, pain relief methods, complications and newborn and postpartum care.

One very important aspect to taking a natural childbirth class is that it allows you to feel confident in making decisions for your own medical care.  Even though, I support doctors and all that they do and God Bless them, they have done wonderful things to save mothers’ and babies’ lives, I feel that society defaults to whatever a doctor recommends.  Remember, they are human too and do not know it all.  We have every right to ask questions, challenge why, get second opinions and switch doctors if we are not getting the care we feel we should be.  This goes with all medical care, not just obstetric care.

I am a bit biased toward one natural childbirth class since I took it during my first pregnancy and now I teach The Bradley Method®.  It differentiates from others through it’s focus on relaxation techniques and promotion of having your husband as an active labor coach.  Dr. Bradley’s belief was the husband should be there to finish what he started and was pioneer on getting dads to be allowed in the labor and delivery room.  The course is 12 weeks which are needed to thoroughly cover the many topics as well as provide time for practice exercises.  I found these classes played right into my engineering, organizational mind as there were always repeated categories of topics (nutrition, exercise, communication, relaxation, coaching and labor rehearsal) each week to reinforce learning (I like structure).  I also really enjoyed the videos (I had never seen the “money shot” before my class) and games (ask my husband and family, I always win at cards and games) we played in class.  The most attractive part about the class, is over 86% of Bradley trained couples have unmedicated births!  So you see I am partial to The Bradley Method®, but if something ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

I am a list person (if you haven’t figured that out already) so I will wrap things up with the benefits of taking a natural childbirth class (in no particular order):

  • you learn how to be physcially comfortable carrying around a watermelon in your tummy
  • you get answers to common questions and clear up myths like heartburn means a hairy-headed baby
  • you receive information about concerns (and fear is caused by the unknown and fear causes tension)
  • you learn about how the baby got there, how it grows and what your lady parts are for
  • you learn about complications and abnormal symptoms 
  • you learn how to prevent premature labor through good nutrition and exercises 
  • you learn how to involve your family in your pregnancy and/or birth or you discover you want them far, far away (not even in the waiting room) 
  • you learn good communication skills and birth plans 
  • you learn how to recognize labor signs 
  • you learn about support options
  • you learn what to expect during labor and birth
  • you learn about pain management and pain relief methods
  • you learn about caring for your new baby and yourself after the birth 
  • you learn about the benefits of breastfeeding
  • you learn how to be a good consumer of medical care and understand all choices are yours to make for you
  • you learn self-confidence and that anyone can do it, even you