Empower Your Birth Experience: Find the Childbirth Prep Class that is Best For YOU

by Kelly Swails, ERYT, RPYT, CCCE

Many couples wonder what childbirth education is, why it’s important, and how it will actually help them during the labor process. There are many options out there for childbirth preparation. Unfortunately, many couples are not aware of the range of options, or the differences and similarities between the approaches. Worse yet, some couples are told that childbirth and breastfeeding preparation classes are unnecessary. But nothing could be further from the truth. 

Simply put, childbirth education helps couples gain a full understanding of the process of birth and what happens for both mom and baby before, during and immediately after labor. A good childbirth preparation course should also be experiential, offering some personalized guidance for couples according to their vision for birth. This is an important element, and not one that can be gained from books or online classes.

To some degree, all approaches to childbirth education cover common medical procedures. While these may, or may not be necessary on the day of your labor, it is good to know about them. Beyond that, your class should also include various options that may be open to you, as well as important questions to ask your medical provider. You should expect to get the answers to your burning questions such as: the signs of labor, stages of labor, and when to go to the hospital. 

However, if you’re looking for something more (and you should), the topics will not end there. Not all childbirth preparation courses are exactly the same and emphasis may be placed on different elements of the birth process. It is important to have a general idea of what you want to learn, and then to find out what you’re signing up for.  As mentioned, there are many approaches available to suit your interests and vision of birth. If you’re on the lookout for something a bit more, there are three main components that help pave the way to a more informed and empowered birth experience. Let’s take a closer look.

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1 - Normalize Birth and Renew Trust of the Body

Holistic childbirth education approaches are well-rooted in the premise that women instinctively know how to give birth. Why? Well, let’s face it… generally speaking, our society does not believe in this concept. From early in life, many American women are exposed to subtle (and not so subtle) messages that can erode confidence in oneself. As a result, women are at higher risk of losing sight of their innate power and abilities, particularly when it comes to birth. This can disrupt a woman’s instinctive urges which are absolutely necessary for a more easeful birth experience.

One of the key goals of a course operating from this premise is to help women reconnect with their bodies and instinctual wisdom. A woman who enters birth and motherhood informed, calm and believing in herself will generally have a much easier time regardless of the mode of delivery.


2 - Practical Ways to Naturally Reduce Pain and Facilitate Labor 

Childbirth classes designed to empower the birth experience offer more than just information, facts and videos. Such courses also provide ample opportunity to practice a full range of effective coping strategies, including movement, breath, propping methods and body/mind approaches. But…  it is not enough to just know a laundry list of coping strategies for labor. Ideally, couples learn how the techniques actually work, and receive guidance in ways to embody the strategies. In this way, women have a deeper understanding of how to work with the power of the laboring body when the time comes. Partners should expect guidance in their role throughout the birth experience and come away with a sense of confidence as well as a toolbox of practical and effective ways to provide support and advocacy.

3 - Create A Social Network of New Parents

Meeting and talking with other couples is a huge benefit of childbirth education. Talking as a group, asking questions and learning from each other creates bonds and connections with other new parents in the community. This is an invaluable, far reaching benefit that is not gained by reading books, online classes or surfing the Internet. Meeting other couples in your community is the best way to build an ongoing social network of parents. Numerous friendships, parent get-togethers, breastfeeding support groups, and play dates have their roots in the connections made during childbirth education class.

As you can see, it is worth doing a little research before signing up for your childbirth education course. It is time well-spent. 

Kelly Swails