Blog post courtesy Birth & Beyond Doula Services

Back in the day, traditional hospital childbirth education classes were just “something mothers did.” With changing societal expectations and increased individual and family responsibilities, many families are turning to Google – or even worse, Hollywood – to figure out what to expect during childbirth.

And as a doula, childbirth educator, family member, and human with a uterus – I get it – it is irritating to be expecting, and have your care provider tell you it is a “requirement” that you take a childbirth education course in order to give birth. Well, I have news – You get to give birth whether you take a childbirth education class or not.

Why has childbirth education class attendance dropped?

  • Time  –   There is only 24 hours in a day, and for many families, sleeping + getting ready + work + commute time equals over 2/3 of that 24 hours.  People do not wish to add childbirth education classes onto their list of things they don’t have time to get done.
  • Intimacy  –  Some people have a small (or large) circle of friends and/or family members who they prefer to get their information from. Others don’t have anyone they can go to for childbirth advice. Intimacy and trust are important and many hospital-based childbirth education classes do not allow for one on one interaction where trust is developed in an interpersonal relationship between a childbirth educator and a pregnant woman. Getting information from your mother or your friend is perfectly okay, however, there is a wealth of diverse information in childbirth education classes that you mother or your friend may not have first-hand experience with. No two births are the same, just as no two pregnancies are the same, and having several views on one piece of childbirth can allow a pregnant woman to use this information for empowerment.
  • Expectations  –  Hollywood and the Internet have given us some interesting childbirth expectations. Some women feel they need an epidural before they even hit the hospital door, while others want to give birth in a field of unicorns and glitter without a care provider. Nothing is wrong with either of these expectations, but what are these expectations based off of?
  • Stereotypes  –  Childbirth educators and pretty much all birth workers are categorized as these hippie-styled, magical unicorns flowing through the wind promoting no cesarean births, no epidurals, and everything natural from start to finish. While this may be true for some childbirth educators and doulas, it is not true for most. Childbirth education is meant to provide an expecting family with all of the information they need to make the best decisions for themselves and their new baby.

Here are reasons why childbirth education classes are (still) important:

  1. They prepare you: While childbirth is a naturally occurring event, there is only one thing for certain about it: it is unpredictable. Arming yourself with knowledge surrounding childbirth guarantees you a better experience. Good childbirth education classes provide you with all information regarding childbirth, and it allows you to choose what information you will utilize during your childbirth experience.
  2. They eliminate fake news: If you Google “epidural”, “cesarean section”, or “natural childbirth” you will get several million hits with conflicting information. Bad information is readily available and the Internet will tell you anything. In addition, as a pregnant person, many people assume you just want all kinds of information – from your mother-in-law, to your sister, to your coworker – even the lady checking out behind you in the grocery store. Childbirth education classes give you comprehensive, evidence-based information on birth, as opposed to hearing about your co-worker’s cesarean gone wrong.
  3. They can be personalized: While facility-based childbirth education classes still exist and are still very, very effective, private childbirth education has emerged and has been proven to be successful. Many childbirth educators, doulas, and other birth workers are offering private or small group childbirth education classes that are tailored to that person’s or group’s needs.

There’s a class for everything else – Investing 101, Intro to Hot Yoga, Beginner’s Meditation, Basics of Blogging, and so on. Childbirth education courses will equip you with the best tools that you and your family will need to achieve your most desirable birth experience.

Briana Smith is a great resource for virtual childbirth education in NC during this tricky pandemic time. Looking for something local to the Wilmington, NC area? Check out The Woman’s Place for more info on Childbirth Ed in the Cape Fear area.