Why do I need to take a childbirth class?

I was recently told that only 10 percent of first-time parents choose to take a birthing class. I was shocked, and a little discouraged, having recently taken my first step on the journey to become a certified Birthing from Within® mentor.

Let’s look at some of the reasons parents-to-be might not take a class.

  1. I can find out everything I need to know online or from books.

    That’s a lot of research! You also have to be careful where you read about something. If you start reading other peoples’ experiences on a birth forum because you are worried about something yourself, invariably, you will get a one-sided view. It’s always the dramatic events that get talked and written about. You may get the perspective that something is far more common than it is. 

    There are many great books on childbirth, but taking a class and seeing concepts come to life speak to many different ways of learning. Particularly in Birthing from Within classes, mentors do minimal lecturing and use visual aids, art and role plays to facilitate learning.

  2. The medical staff will tell me what to do during labor.

    Of course the staff have a lot of experience, but not having an informed opinion and the ability to talk through options knowledgeably may put you in a vulnerable position. You will remember the birth of your baby for the rest of your life. Even if you make a plan, birth can be unpredictable. Feeling that you made informed choices can make the difference between a positive birth experience and a traumatic one.

  3. I don’t have time.

    When your baby comes you will wonder what you did with your time before! Being busy at work can feel like the most important thing right now, but planning for the birth of your baby and spending time bonding with your partner in classes can be one of the greatest gifts you give your baby. Taking time out to really connect and find out what you both need to know – to give birth and be a strong partnership – will be invaluable. Taking group classes also gives you a chance to meet others giving birth at the same time, form strong bonds and a support network for after the baby is born. Many a playgroup were born from birth classes!

    For those short on time or who need something to fit into an irregular schedule, private classes are also an excellent option.

  4. I am planning to have an epidural. I don’t need to know how to cope with pain.

    Even if you have plan to have an epidural, in early labor you will still have to cope with the pain of contractions. Your labor may even progress so quickly that you have very intense contractions before you arrive at the hospital. In my birth classes, we highlight not only what you already use to cope with pain, but we also stress and practice different pain-coping techniques, positions and aids that will make you more comfortable and confident. We also work on reducing fear by having a deep understanding of the stages of labor so that when you are in it, you will recognize where you are every step of the way.  

Birth is a challenge, it is likened to running a marathon, needing physical and mental stamina to get you through.  It is a natural process and understanding the physiology of how your wonderful body works to birth your baby will give you confidence. 

Group classes are also a fantastic way to meet like-minded new parents who will be a support for you for many years after your baby is born.

There are many types of classes, each offering something different.  It may be beneficial to take more than one class to get a different perspective on birth. If you only have time for one, research carefully to choose one that sounds like it would be a good match for you.  Consider weekend intensive classes, weekly series classes over a number of weeks or a private class.