Are birthing classes worth it?
Many people wonder:
"Do I really need to take a birthing class? Can't I just research labor and birth online?"
But there are huge benefits to taking an in-person childbirth education class with a certified childbirth educator. You just can't get these 10 benefits from going down the google rabbit hole:
It is possible to lower your risk of medical interventions including a cesarean birth by taking a comprehensive birthing class that teaches strong coping techniques for labor and birth. A recent randomized trial revealed that pregnant people who took a more comprehensive birth class instead of a standard hospital class were more likely to have a normal vaginal birth and were less likely to use an epidural, have any perineal trauma, require augmentation (e.g. use drugs such as Pitocin), or need a cesarean. Moreover, their babies were less likely to need resuscitation.1
A certified childbirth educator means you get a trusted resource that can answer your specific questions without sending your anxiety through the roof. As much as there is some fantastic information out there, the internet is full of conflicting advice and misinformation.
6 is the new 4. What does this mean? In 2017, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists changed its recommendation about when the start of active labor begins from 4cm dilated to 6cm dilated.2This means that even if you are planning on having an epidural, you will spend more of your labor at home before the hospital is likely to admit you. With more labor at home, those natural comfort measures become oh so important.
A birthing class can help you overcome a fear of birth. Overcoming the fear of childbirth can be hard in isolation, especially as google tends to increase rather than decrease anxiety (at least, it does for me anyway!). But in a childbirth class common fears can be shared, normalized, and released. Birthing classes usually teach the normal physiology of birth, so that you can feel confident that in most cases birth works - babies are born - birth is normal.
In a birth class, you meet other expectant parents with similar due dates. By building your parenting tribe in pregnancy, you will already know who to text when the night feels endless at 3:00am, or you need recommendations for diaper cream.
You get time to connect. Let's face it, you are busy and it can be hard to dedicate time to yourself. I get that. Opting for a birthing class means that you get focused time each week to dedicated to connecting with yourself, your body, your baby, and your partner.
A good childbirth class will help you to know what to expect postpartum. In the US, we spend a lot of time preparing for childbirth, thinking about our pain management options, and wondering when is the right time to go to the hospital, but what about after the baby arrives? Do you have a plan in place for support through the early postpartum days?
In a childbirth class, you learn important strategies to stay in the driver's seat of your birth. This is your pregnancy, your body, and your birth. You have the right to make informed decisions. This includes the right of informed refusal as well as consent. Ever wonder whether you have to have all those vaginal exams at the end of pregnancy? A birthing class can help you feel confident in your ability to communicate effectively with your medical team, safe asking questions, and powerful advocating for the care you want.
Even though you are taking the time to sift through online articles to understand your options and learn how to cope with labor, your partner might not be. Learning together means that he or she will be along side you, learning what they can do to support and hold space for you as you give birth. Did you know that how well you were supported during your birth is a strong predictor of whether you experience your birth in a positive or negative light?
Receive emotional support. Your experience and emotional well-being can affect what you need and/or your decisions about your pregnancy and birth. Sometimes things from our past come up “out of context” during pregnancy, birth, or postpartum and it can be so helpful to find a safe and supportive community to share.
That’s my top 10 reasons to take a prenatal childbirth class. Did I miss anything out? Let me know in the comments
1. Levett, K. M., Smith, C. A, Bensoussan, A., et al. (2016). Complementary therapies for labour and birth study: a randomised controlled trial of antenatal integrative medicine for pain management in labour. BMJ Open;6: e010691.
2. ACOG. (2017). Committee Opinion. Approaches to Limit Intervention During Labor and Birth. https://www.acog.org/-/media/Committee-Opinions/Committee-on-Obstetric-Practice/co687.pdf?dmc=1&ts=20181202T1636444137