By Michelle Schnaars
June 13, 2007
Previously printed in the CAPPA Quarterly
Expectant parents usually have a lot of questions about the process of labor and childbirth. One of the best ways to prepare for the birth of your baby is to enroll in a childbirth preparation class.
Childbirth Education Classes teach relaxation techniques, labor positions, and various coping methods that help make the event as positive as possible. The classes will also give you an overview of the physical and emotional aspects of each stage of labor and birth, the various kinds of pain relief most commonly used, and possible complications.
Most instructors encourage the use of a labor support person, which can be the father of the baby, but can be a relative, friend or a professional known as a labor doula. Among the media used in class are videos of childbirth which depict hospital birth, cesarean birth and un-medicated birth. Often instructors have an extensive library available for class participants to borrow including books and videos.
Childbirth education enhances a woman’s confidence in her innate ability to give birth. It fosters a positive feeling toward the birth and her baby. Understanding the process of childbirth and the sensations and emotional changes that occur can help to decrease the need for drugs such as epidural, and reduce the need for a cesarean section, and reduce anxieties. Childbirth education also facilitates positive birth outcomes and sets the stage for the successful initiation of breastfeeding and adjustment to new parenthood.
During the series parents have the opportunity to practice a variety of birth tools including birth balls and massage tools. Parents also learn about the benefits of different labor and birth positions that will bring about comfort and help facilitate the baby’s birth.
Childbirth education classes are designed to provide information and tools for expectant mothers and their partners so they can strive for as normal a labor and birth as possible. Moms learn ways to remain healthy and low risk throughout pregnancy by exercising and eating healthy foods. Parents are encouraged to ask questions and become a part of the decision making process.
Childbirth education classes help to relieve some of the fears and anxieties that expectant parents may have. You can discuss your fears about labor and birth with the instructor and other couples with the same concerns. Your partner will learn how to support you during labor. Many couples find that attending childbirth classes together helps create a special bond. Expectant parents also gain a support group through childbirth education classes. Often couples form lasting friendships.
Childbirth education classes provide an opportunity to become familiar with community resources including local breastfeeding educators and counselors, postpartum doulas, and baby nurses. Parents have the benefit of learning breastfeeding positions, and newborn care such as bathing, diapering and alternative feeding methods. Often classes include a ‘meet the expert night’ and you can hear from and meet lactation educators, baby wearing instructors, diapering experts, and doulas.
Studies show a women’s confidence in her ability to birth positively is increased when she has attended a childbirth education class.