Yes, yes, resounding yes. You are setting yourself up for failure if you don’t take a prenatal class. I know that sounds harsh, but this is too important of a topic to tiptoe around.
I know what you’re thinking: “well of course you would say that, you teach prenatal classes!” True! But, why do I teach them? Because I truly believe they are necessary. They are the #1, (yes, NUMBER 1) factor that leads to improved birther satisfaction surrounding birth. I’d argue that how satisfied you are with your birth experience is pretty important. And yes, I make money teaching them, but if you keep scrolling you will find a link to a free online class- this isn’t about financial gains for me. Here’s why this really matters:
1 in 4 birthers in the UK and 1 in 3 in the US, describe their birth as traumatic. (Unfortunately, we don’t have stats in Canada). Not just hard, not just tiring, long or painful, but traumatic. The birth of your baby should not be a traumatic experience. Even if there are unexpected circumstances, you should not come away from your birth feeling traumatized. It has always been my goal to reduce this statistic.
It honestly shocked me when at a recent conference, the presenter reported that only about 50% of pregnant families in the GTA take prenatal classes. But, I understand why this happens.
1. You’ve been told childbirth is natural, unpredictable and the doctor will tell you what to do
All of this is true. But, in a good prenatal class you learn techniques that help you cope with the marathon that labour can be. Being prepared makes things easier to cope with, even when unexpected things arise. Every birther is an individual and really truly does have their own unique labour. But, there is a benefit to knowing what to expect. Even explorers had a compass in unknown lands. Your doctor is definitely an important resource but they are usually absent until you are ready to birth your baby. Unless there are complications. Your birth is more likely to be normal than not, which means you do not have the constant support and reassurance you may be hoping for. It’s also likely that many of the recommendations from your nurses and even your OB will not be evidence based. Many things are just hospital policy. On average it takes about 20 years (yup) for policy to catch up to the evidence. In our medical system it is up to you, as the patient, to come armed with knowledge, questions and the ability to advocate for yourself.
2. Hospital classes are embarrassingly awkward, slow and you don’t have the time to commit to the hours they ask.
And maybe, you don’t want to sit in a group environment where people are asking questions that are not relevant to you, or you don’t want to hear them talk endlessly about their stories - you want the information quick and efficient and tailored to you.
I get it, you have all the access to all the information you could ever dream of on the internet. However, it takes time to filter all of it and do you know what to look for? As much as I’m totally behind Matt Damon in Good Will Hunting - you can definitely teach yourself without paying big bucks. But, it is way easier for someone to present it to you concisely, be able to answer your questions and find answers for you. Plus, do you really want to sort through every birth vlog out there to find relevant and accurate information? If group classes and their group schedules don’t work for you - consider online courses or private courses. Personally, most of the classes I teach nowadays are private. Both the client and I seem to prefer this. I’m able to individualize information and they have their preferred times and the convenience of the class coming to them.
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3. Birth has basically been a terrifying mystery your whole life.
I remember the initial joy I had about learning about birth in medical school. I finally understood what goes on, from implantation to birth. It resonated with me, my intuition, it was normal - I didn’t have to be afraid of it. My education empowered me. However, the joy was quickly followed by frustration. Why did it take a medical degree to learn this, why didn’t I know in my prime “child bearing age” anything about birth outside of the dramatized ER births on television. Most people are very afraid of giving birth, and don’t really want to think about it. But knowledge truly is power. The more you know, the less you will be afraid.
Ok, so prenatal classes are essential. How do you figure out which class to take? Not all classes are equal - do your research - what matters to you? Do you just need the basic information? Do you want as many tips and tricks as you can get? Most cities offer FREE ONLINE courses, see Toronto’s : https://www.toronto.ca/community-people/children-parenting/pregnancy-and-parenting/pregnancy/during-pregnancy/prenatal-programs/welcome-to-parenting/
Yes, that’s right, I'd rather you take ANY prenatal class, even if it’s not mine.
Also, prenatal education doesn’t just focus on birth but on breastfeeding and post-natal care too. Labour is hard but it ends, breastfeeding, if you chose to, is ongoing - it helps to get a head start. I want families to feel empowered, feel confident, feel calm and feel supported. Getting educated and having resources helps. I teach classes because I LOVE sharing all the wonderful, interesting, mind-blowing things that your body does in labour and how you can help it do its job easier.