Monday, August 1, 2011

Benefits of a Birthing Class

Before I married my husband I knew I was interested in trying natural childbirth. When I got pregnant shortly after getting married, I knew that I wanted us to take birthing class together.
My husband was very reluctant. He didn't see the need to take a class on something as fundamental as giving birth. He was also enrolled in a maternity nursing class at the time and figured that a childbirth class would just be repeat of his college course. He even said it would be silly to pay for the same class twice.

After much persuading and explaining what I saw the benefits to be. he agreed to go to the first class.

We went to the first class where we sat in the instructor's living room on the floor with seven other couples. We sat for two hours listening to the instructor, asking questions and sharing experiences. I loved it! But I wasn't sure what my husband thought.

I nervously asked him, on our way back to the car, what he thought of the class. His response was simple, "Why didn't you tell me that this class was all about husband coached childbirth!" He was very excited to hear that this class was just as much, if not more, for him than me. He was excited to go to class with me every week after that for all 12 weeks.

Our birthing classes (yes, we have taken more than one class) prepared for the deliveries of our two children, helped us learn how to work together and has shaped, in a small part, to how we parent.

Let me explain. I will share the three main benefits, as I see them, of taking a birthing class.

#1 - To learn how to cope with the pain.
It is easy to read about and learn about relaxation techniques on your own, but come show time it is really hard to remember them. The more practice you get, with someone to guide you, the more likely you are to remember them.  Remember: Dads need practice too! As moms-to-be we often read all the information out there on pregnancy and delivery, but not many dads I know do the same thing. A birthing class is a time for them to focus just on the upcoming labor and delivery without any distractions. They get a chance to learn what is coming and how to help you.

In class, you also learn how to deal with different scenarios. Coping with a long labor looks very different than coping with a fast labor. The mom has different needs and it helps dad to have an idea what to do to support the mom. Also, there are some techniques that can help lessen the pain if a mom is going through back labor.

Of course, you can learn techniques during labor from nurses, but wouldn't it be nice if you knew them beforehand so you could have them in your arsenal. The more tools you have at your disposal, the more prepared you will be for the expected and unexpected.

#2 - Birthing classes open a dialogue between you and your husband about your views on childbirth and parenting issues.
I loved taking classes with my husband because we were able to go to class together each week (our class was a 12 week course). My favorite part of the class was our car ride home. We discussed what had been covered in class. The class brought up topics that we had never thought to discuss, but because of the class we were able to talk about them and come to a consensus.

When I went into labor we were confident about our desires and knew how to communicate with each other because we had done so much preparation before.

Parenting issues (breastfeeding, co-sleeping, babywearing, vaccines, etc.) were also discussed in our different classes. I know that the topics we covered in our birthing classes have helped to shape our views on parenting. Not necessarily because the class told us what to do, but because the class provided a forum for those kinds of discussions.

#3 - Learning was is "normal" for labor and delivery empowers you and your husband to be advocates for you and your baby.
This is, to me, the most important benefit of a childbirthing class. If you know what is norml for labor and delivery, you are better able to play an active role in any decision making. YOU know your body better than anyone else. Labor is a natural process, but it helps to know what that natural process is supposed to look like. The more you know, the better able you are to make decisions.

In the end, this is YOUR baby and YOUR delivery. YOU need to be an active and informed participant in all decisions. Labor and delivery nurses do this day in and day out, but the day you deliver a baby is special to you. Please don't let them treat you like  you are just a routine patient and they know better. No one knows better than you what is important to you.

I believe that childbirth classes are important for every couple. Even if you have kids, you can still learn. I learned more in our second class during our second pregnancy than I did in our first because I had a better idea of what to expect.

An article I read recently summed up the benefits that come from a quality childbirth class.

 Is birth actually something you can "prepare" for? A really good class will help give you the knowledge you need to make informed decisions, help you keep an open mind, prepare for the unpredictable, and give you a number of tools to pull out depending on how you feel at the time. Because what you need more than anything, going into your birth, is permission to react to the situation in the way you, personally, see fit at the time — not what Dr. Lamaze, Dr. Bradley, your yoga teacher, the Church of Scientology, the lady down the street or any other childbirth instructor believes is best.

Labor and delivery can be scary. It is hard work. But, I truly, truly believe in the scripture that says

"If ye are prepared ye shall not fear." (D&C 38:30)



BECKY said...

nice post. i had a natural birth too and all the reading in preparation definitely helped ease my fear because i knew (for the most part) what to expect. I can't say that I wasn't scared at all because we have to add faith to that equation, but the Lord blesses those who do their part.
I feel so blessed to have had a natural birth. I have other friends who have prepared and prepared and after hours of pushing had to have a c because the baby was too big or another friend who never progressed past a one after a week of active labor.
the Lord has plans for us no matter what our plans our, but preparation is huge into helping make things bearable.

Megan said...

I was so grateful for our child birth class we took with my first child. When I felt I had to push way earlier than any of the nurses thought, my husband was able to them exactly what I needed and forced them to check me to see how dilated I was and lo and behold I was at a 10 after only 2 1/2 hours of labor. If we hadn't taken the class there was no way he would have known what to tell the nurse and to be able to communicate my needs. With my second we took a refresher course and I'm so glad that we did. I don't think I would have made it without the epidural if my husband and I hadn't had a refresher on the relaxation techniques that he led me through. I was grateful for all education and preparation that the childbirth class gave me.

Tannie Datwyler said...

I think that childbirth classes aren't just beneficial for those who want to do natural childbirth. Even if you are planning on an epidural taking a class the first time is awesome and helps you know what your body is going through.

Lisa said...

I totally agree with you Tannie. I think it is important to educate yourself regardless of what kind of delivery you are having (natural, epidural or c-section). The more you know the more active a participant you can be any decision making.