My two cents on why just using the internet and reading some books on birth might not cut it when it comes to your labor and birth...
As a mentor who leads childbirth preparation classes I definitely have a bias in thinking prenatal education is important, as a Doula, I find that families who have taken a prenatal class have more realistic expectations of labor and birth. In either role, it’s become more and more apparent to me that the key to this preparation is not just about learning the obstetrical events. Your care provider is there to monitor, guide and keep you and your baby safe, it’s important that THEY know these events inside and out. What’s important to the birthing family is how they will cope and how they will make it through.
Like any major life event, it can be less daunting when you have an understanding of what it will be like and what will be asked of you. Labor, birth and early parenting ARE a major life event, so why do so many default to “we’ll take it as it comes”? Leaving this event up to chance is an option, and some people make this choice unknowingly. The idea of “letting it unfold as it needs to” without knowing about the possibilities of what labor requires of you adds an element of risk. There may be surprises that come up in your birth and you’ll need to make decisions that will affect you and your baby. Making these decisions in the middle of labor is hard enough, but having to decipher and process the information you are being given is A LOT to ask of a laboring family.
And what about other sources of information like social media, TV and movies? How they portray labor and birth really depends on what they want the viewer to see and feel. Scenes of a laboring women are often dramatic and full of suspense. These theatrical scenes are not an accurate prediction of your individual labor. Unless you have the magical ability to write and execute your labor and birth like a movie script, then it’s worth looking into prenatal classes.
The laboring parent is not the only one to benefit from childbirth preparation. Unless your partner has attended births before and taken some kind of doula training, they may feel a little lost and unsure of how to support you in labor. Classes can give partners an understanding of what happens and what can be helpful and useful for them to do during labor. Because they know you best and love you more than anyone else in the room, giving them some knowledge about labor and birth can increase their confidence and allow them to be more present with you during your birth.
Another great benefit of taking a prenatal class is the camaraderie with other expectant families in your community. You’ll most likely be seeing these same families in baby groups around town after your birth, wouldn’t it be nice to see a familiar face? I welcome the families in my classes to support one another with meals for the early postpartum days or to gather after the babies are born. It’s never too soon to start building your village! These families can end up being friends for years to come!
There are options in how often you gather for classes, either a series of classes over a number of weeks, or a weekend immersion. I feel both are beneficial, the main difference is the time you have to take in the information. A weekly series allows your brain to take in smaller amounts of information at a time. The week in between the classes allows you to process and let that information settle, often prompting intelligent questions which help guide you in gathering the information that is important to your family. Weekend immersions can be intense, there’s a lot to learn in a limited amount of time, so I would encourage you to take notes and stay in touch with your instructor and fellow classmates should questions arise after the weekend is over. There are no limits to what we can learn about birth, if we went into detail with each piece we could spend years in prenatal classes! I’m always learning and I’ve been in birth work for many, many moons.
I look forward to answering questions about the classes I offer or recommending a class that seems better suited to your individual needs. Birthing From Within® classes are available in Squamish in both six week series and weekend immersions, class size is limited so register early to avoid disappointment.