Why should I take an independent childbirth class? The one in the hospital is less expensive.
There are a couple of things you should know about hospital childbirth classes.
Hospital classes are only allowed to include information that is approved by every practitioner who delivers there. For example, if Dr. X gives all his moms episiotomies, you will not learn in a class at the hospital where Dr. X works that you do not have to have an episiotomy.
Hospital classes teach you only those options that are routinely used at that hospital. You will not learn about the benefits and risks of routine procedures. Rather, you will learn "how we do it here". You will learn what to expect, in terms of their rules and expectations of you.
Hospital classes are notorious for teaching breathing patterns as a coping technique. Most women do not find such techniques helpful.
An independent childbirth class is a good way to become familiar with possibilities. A good class will teach you what is and is not negotiable, as well as how to negotiate to get what you want. You will learn a variety of coping techniques and your partner will learn a variety of comfort measures. Most independent classes prepare you for your birth whether you are birthing at home, in a birth center or hospital.
It is my opinion that many people who begin their birth planning do so by deciding what they do not want. "I don't want a cesarean." "I don't want an episiotomy." "I don't want drugs." I think that it is important that we move toward something positive, rather than away from negatives, when we plan. I want you to be prepared to plan toward, rather than away from. My classes encourage this mind set and prepare you to choose from among many positive possibilities.
Why did you design and develop your own childbirth class curriculum?
We took hospital classes when I was pregnant with my first child. I learned a lot from her birth, but not a lot from that class. So, we took Bradley classes during my second pregnancy. They were much better, but still not quite right.
It is my opinion that many of the packaged curriculums out there are inadequate in one area or another. Some have a heavy emphasis on consumerism (knowing the risks and benefits of interventions and learning to make good decisions about their use), but are very light on the emotional and psychological aspects of birth that I know are so very important. Others emphasize emotional and psychological aspects, but at the expense of good information about interventions. Others I judge as being too medical in their approach.
I know that one size does not fit all in anything: not in marriage, not in parenting, not in labor and not in birth. I provide classes with a variety of tools to help you navigate the unforeseeable waters of labor. I want husbands to know how to support their wives. I want to show your husband things that I have learned as a doula that will serve him while he serves you. I want to teach him what to expect from a laboring woman. I want to teach women that they can, that their bodies are strong enough and wise enough to do the work of labor. I want you to know what it feels like to be IN labor and how to cope as your labor progresses. I want your husband to know what it is like to be AT labor and how to support you as you move toward delivering your baby.
So, I chose an organization that would allow me to develop my own curriculum. Many of the packaged curriculums consist of a script from which no deviation is allowed. (NOTE: Most educators of these methods do deviate from the script, but technically they have agreed to not do so.) I do not wish to be bound by what I consider to be inadequate curriculum. I also want to be able to alter my class to include current trends and research, as well as to incorporate things I learn by attending births.
What do you think are the best things about your childbirth classes?
My favorite thing about my classes is something I did not plan for. I expected that women would be happy to spend time talking about their cervix and uterus. What I did not expect, but am very proud of, is that men seem to enjoy the classes. I think it is because they leave knowing exactly what is expected of them during labor.
A close second is the fact that we have fun in my classes. I believe that we learn best when we are open and enjoying ourselves, rather than looking at the clock and doing how-long-til-we're-done algebra.
I am very proud that some midwives make my classes a requirement for their clients. Midwives tell me that they chose my classes because the couples who come to them after taking the class know what to expect and are prepared for the work of labor.
When should I take my childbirth class?
I recommend classes sooner, rather than later. I've even had couples take my classes before they were pregnant.
Many caregivers recommend that you take classes in your fifth or sixth month. By that time, your plans are pretty much locked in. It is possible to make caregiver changes at this point, but it is much more difficult. All the best caregivers are booked by that time and many caregivers will not take you on past 28 weeks pregnancy. Many good classes are booked by that time, as are many of our community's best doulas.
I like for couples to take their classes sooner than that for a few reasons.
When you are better informed, you will make better decisions about caregivers and birth plans and doula selection and all the other plans you're making. The earlier you arm yourself with information, the better off you'll be.
I know that most husbands are three months less pregnant than their wives. Men just don't know as much as women know about labor. Taking the classes helps your man "catch up", equipping him AND you with vocabulary and skills to have productive conversations about the decisions you're making. One of things I am most proud of about my classes is that women call me all excited because she and her husband are TALKING about the baby and their plans!
I find that women tend to exhale, relax a bit after the classes: they know what to expect, they feel prepared to make their plans, their husbands are informed and prepared and they can just relax and enjoy their pregnancy.
Copyright 2013 and after. Debbie Hull. All rights reserved.