Surveys reveal that the number of parents taking childbirth classes today is in the minority. Reasons for this lack of interest in classes are likely to be varied from parents’ busy schedules to limited finances and even the lack of childbirth classes available. The truth is that there are many good reasons to take childbirth classes today whether it is your first or later baby.
Are Childbirth Classes a Waste of Time?
Childbirth classes are frequently offered in institutional settings with large groups participating in primarily lecture-style classes. The fact that parents sometimes report that “childbirth classes are a waste of time” could very well be true if they cannot remember anything. When adults do not have the opportunity to participate, practice and review hands-on comfort measures or work together in small groups, they are less likely to remember what was taught.
Are Childbirth Classes Just for Moms Planning Natural Childbirth?
Mothers who are planning to have an epidural may also assume childbirth classes are just for those women planning to have a natural childbirth. They may also be fearful that a childbirth educator might project a negative view toward getting pain medication. As a result, mothers might be concerned that they may feel a level of guilt associated with their plan to use an epidural. This is of course is also not a good learning environment for expectant mothers. The key is choosing a class that is right for your needs.
If you are wavering on whether or not classes are right for you, consider the following reasons to take childbirth classes:
- Childbirth classes offer a host of information aside from the issue of pain medication. Some of these include how to find relief from pregnancy discomforts, how to identify signs of labor, tips for the labor partner, ways to keep labor progressing, effective pushing techniques, breastfeeding issues, and postpartum adjustment.
- Childbirth classes will help you be better prepared for the timing of pain medication, including when to get an epidural and the use of comfort measures prior to receiving pain medication.
- Pain medication is rarely 100% effective to remove all of the mother’s discomfort. Chances are high that expectant parents will still need to use additional comfort measures in conjunction with pain medication.
- Labor pain is only one aspect of the challenges during childbirth. If your baby needs to rotate or descend more effectively or your contractions are slowing down, taking a class will help you be better prepared to manage those physiological challenges.
- Fears about childbirth may or may not be reduced after getting pain medication. Learning more about working through those fears with your childbirth educator or birth doula as well as having a birth partner prepared to provide emotional support can be a huge benefit from taking childbirth classes.
- There is no way to predict the environment in the labor and delivery floor the day you go into labor. Will the anesthesiologist be busy with other patients at the time you want an epidural? Will you have other comfort measures in place to use in the even that you have to wait before receiving an epidural? A childbirth class will better prepare you with a tool box of these comfort measures.
Choosing the Right Childbirth Classes for You
One of the most important things to consider when registering for classes is finding the right class to suit your needs. If you are planning to have a natural childbirth, a Lamaze, Bradley or Birthworks method class will all be appropriate. If you plan to use an epidural, find a class that discusses both pain medications and non-medical comfort measures for pain. These are important reasons to take the childbirth class that best meets your needs.
If you are leaving your options open and want to wait until labor to decide about medication, a Lamaze or Birthworks course will also be a good fit since these classes typically encourage parents to decide which birth options are right for them.
If you want to take your course with a small group with a lot of hands-on practice, do not register for classes at your local hospital since they will often pack 10 or more couples into each class.
Be sure to supplement your class with additional reading. There are also several online courses if you need additional information.