5 myths about birth classes

Virtually every mother in America has heard about birth preparation classes, yet less than half of mothers attend a class and very few of them are attending comprehensive classes (more on that later).  Why aren’t parents attending birth classes?  These are probably the top 5 reasons, all of which are myths:
Myth #1: Birth classes are only for women planning natural childbirth
Reality: Birth classes are for everyone.  Whether you’re planning a dolphin-assisted birth or a planned cesarean birth, there’s tons to learn about your options and choices.  We’ll discuss when you should contact your caregiver, how to tell the difference between real and false labor, when to go to Labor & Delivery, and more.  There’s a whole section on what your partner and support people can do to support you.  We’ll discuss all of your pain relief options including spinal, epidural, and IV narcotics along with dozens of drug-free options.  We’ll talk about when the best time is to get an epidural if you know you want one, and what is involved before you get one (hint: it’s not as easy as you think!).  Epidurals are notorious for not being able to adequately control the pain of late labor, so we’ll practice comfort measures you can use in conjunction with the epidural to give you the best pain relief.  If you’re planning a cesarean, we’ll discuss when to plan your cesarean birth, what to do if you go into labor before then, how to turn a cesarean surgery into a cesarean birth, and some tips for recovery.
Myth #2: Nothing can prepare me for the experience of labor
Reality: While you won’t truly understand labor until you’re in it, there’s a lot you can do now to prepare for it.  The best way to prepare for labor is to learn about it.  Taking a class probably won’t completely eliminate your fear of labor, but it will reduce your fear of the unknown when you understand how labor works and what’s happening to your body.  Another great way to prepare is to learn pain coping techniques.  No one should expect a pain-free birth (even with an epidural), so it’s important that you learn about how to manage that.  Finally, practice make perfect.  By practicing what you plan to do, like during the Labor Rehearsal workshop, you’ll work out the kinks long before the big day.  We’ll talk about where you might be and what you might be doing when labor begins, what you should do, and when you should contact your caregiver.  Then we’ll discuss comfort measures, techniques, and positions that you can use to cope with labor on your way to the hospital.  Whether or not you’re planning an epidural, we’ll discuss what you should do if you get one to reduce the side effects.
Myth #3: I can’t control what my body does during labor
Reality: You may not be able to control what your body does, but you have a LOT of control over what you do to your body.  Many women believe that they have no control over the length of labor, how intense their contractions are, or whether they tear or need a cesarean birth.  Fortunately, there are lots of things that you can do now and during labor to make labor shorter and easier and to reduce your risk of tearing or needing unplanned medical interventions.  For example, pushing on your back increases your risk for cesarean birth.  By simply turning onto your side to push, you’ll make it easier for your baby to pass through your pelvis.  Trust me, the whole class is full of tips and tricks like that.
Myth #4: Birth classes are only about birth
Reality: Even birth itself isn’t only about birth!  The easiest way to have a safer birth is to stay healthy and low-risk.  It may not seem like you have a lot of control over that but you do!  The foods you eat, the types of exercise you do, and the amount of excess stress in your life all impact how your labor will unfold.  Sometimes classes get a bad rep for leaving out important information about parenting.  Fortunately, I have a whole workshop called “Following the Birth” where we’ll discuss recovery, what’s normal for newborns, and how to care for your new baby.  I’ll share my best tips for breastfeeding and teach you how to properly prepare formula should you need it.
Myth #5: Free hospital birth classes are just as good as private ones that I have to pay for.
Reality: Hospital birth classes are great to teach you about what the hospital’s procedures are – things like how to get there in the middle of the night, when to call, what to expect when you arrive, what kinds of pain relief are offered, and what you have to do before you take your baby home.  Sometimes they even briefly cover some of the basics like the stages of labor or deep breathing.  Hospital classes are usually only 2-6 hours so the time constraint alone doesn’t allow the class to be comprehensive – meaning that families often don’t don’t feel much more prepared afterward.  There’s a lot to learn about actual childbirth that gets missed: Things like the pros and cons of different medical procedures, questions to ask when there’s a decision to be made, how your partner can actively support you, and more.  During a private class, you’ll discuss what you really need to know.  For example, you’ll learn not only what the stages of labor are, but what to expect in each one and what your partner can do to support you – and how to know when it’s time to go to the hospital (hint: it has nothing to do with timing your contractions).  We’ll discuss what your options are if your water breaks before labor begins, if you go overdue (and what overdue means – 99% of mothers-to-be don’t know!), or if you plan a cesarean birth (yes, there are options for planning a cesarean birth!).  You’ll even have time to practice comfort techniques and informed choices while your instructor coaches you on how you’re doing.  Techniques that you’ve probably never even heard of such as vocalization, positions, guided imagery, hypnosis, massage, hydrotherapy, essential oils, focal points, breath work, music, acupressure, and more using tools like birth balls, peanut balls, rebozos, birth bars, massagers, rolling pins, heat/ice packs, and more.  There’s a whole class dedicated to recovery and parenting.  We’ll talk about what you’ll look like and how you’ll feel in the weeks and months after birth, what your baby will look like and how he’ll feel, what to do when your baby cries (despite being clean, dry, and fed), and what to do if you run into some common breastfeeding difficulties.
Did you believe any of these myths?  Maya Angelou said, “Do the best you can until you know better.  Then, when you know better, do better.”  Sign up for a class today!