Got a pregnancy or birth question at 3am? Type it into Google and away you go. Who has time for a class anyway?
Or maybe you think class is super hippie dippy like in the movies (it's not always!), or that we're going to make you practice 1970's Lamaze style breathing (I promise I won't!).
Even in the age of the internet, when families are crunched for time and answers are seemingly just a click away, there are lots of reasons that in-person childbirth education is still worth the effort. As a mom, a doula, and a childbirth educator, these are my Top 10 reasons to get yourself to birth class:
1. The information you get from a certified childbirth educator is credible.
Google might give you a thousand pages of answers, but don't you really want just ONE answer you can trust? A good childbirth educator is trained, certified, experienced, and open to any birth plan your family desires. She is obligated to provide unbiased, evidence-based information. And after the quick answer, she can point you to other credible sources like books and articles that might interest you.
2. Childbirth educators are familiar with common practices in your region and birthplace.
Even within a small region like ours here in Western Mass, maternity care varies. Hospitals and practices vary. An experienced childbirth educator can tailor her curriculum to you - providing more or less information on a given topic depending on where you're birthing and how likely you are to be offered a given intervention. She can even compare and contrast practices with you if you aren't sure where you want to have your baby (see #1: unbiased!).
3. You get to be around other pregnant families and other pregnant bodies.
Your body changes throughout your pregnancy, and so does your family. It's healthy to see other pregnant bodies, and talk to other families as you prepare to welcome your baby. It helps to know that half the women in your class have a hard time sleeping, and the other half have hip pain, and you're not the only one with heartburn. It's so good to know you aren't alone - empathy helps a lot!
4. You can ask your questions and talk through scenarios as they apply to you.
Got a specific concern? Want to really talk through what happens if your water breaks before contractions begin? Or know how crazy it is *really* to drive 45 minutes to your chosen hospital? (Psst - it's not!) We get to do this in class, and not only do you get the expertise of your teacher, you get to discuss these kinds of things with your classmates. I often stick around at the end of class to chat privately with people too.
5. You and your partner get your heads in the game and get on the same page.
Just being in the same place at the same time hearing the same information is a big benefit of childbirth class. Carving out a little time every week, or on a couple of weekends, to think about labor, and prepare to bring your baby home is so worth the effort. You and your partner develop a common knowledge base and vocabulary to talk about issues that might arise, and the conversations you'll have on the drive home are priceless.
6. You get familiar with your chosen birthplace.
People are sometimes skeptical about hospital-based classes, but I love teaching independent classes at my local hospital. When you spend time in your birthplace before labor, you get a feel for the culture there. You meet some nurses, and see some midwives and doctors at work. Maybe you hear a family in labor next door. You get a tour and see what options are available to you. When you arrive in labor, you know where you're going and feel a lot more comfortable.
7. Childbirth educators are the best source of local referrals.
Looking for a chiropractor? A great prenatal massage? Yoga class? A doula? Want to know where the local breastfeeding support groups are? Your childbirth educator can give you a million referrals based on her students' personal experiences. (Want to see my referral list? It's over here.)
8. You can see, touch, and practice using different tools and comfort measures.
Sure you can order a birth ball on Amazon, but in class you will learn - and practice - many different ways of using it. You'll get down on the floor and your partner will learn exactly how to provide strong counter pressure for achy hips in labor. In my class we even unpack my doula bag and students learn my favorite doula tricks and tips - including tons of supplies you can easily gather yourself. Nothing beats hands on learning!
9. You'll learn about common procedures, medicines, and interventions, just in case.
This isn't about becoming an expert, it's about developing a familiarity with the language and options, so when someone suggests starting an induction with a foley catheter, you know what they are talking about - or at least you know what kind of questions to ask. We spend time in class dispelling myths about Pitocin, and going step by step through what a cesarean is like. The unknown is usually the thing that scares people the most, so we face those fears head on and conquer them with information.
10. You'll make friends.
This one is maybe my favorite. It's hard making friends when you're an adult, and never do you need friends more than in the early stage of parenting. Very often, the families in my classes bond, and continue learning and growing together long after class ends. They bring each other dinner when the babies arrive, hang out together afterward, and become each others first family friends. This part of an in-person class is invaluable. Just look at those cute babies!
P.S. Class might not cost you a dime!
Most insurance companies reimburse for childbirth classes! So even though you pay for class up front, there is a good chance that you can get most or all of your money back in the end. As if you needed another reason :)