Childbirth education classes have been around for 60-70 years, and various “methods” have continued to influence what is taught. Lamaze, Bradley, and Mongan (hypnobirthing) methods are the names most familiar to pregnant women. Over time, classes moved into the hospitals, and the goal of those classes became offering information on choices that were available to them… in that particular hospital. Such classes are appealing; they often come with a tour of the labor and delivery/maternity wings, sometimes they’re covered by insurance, and they’re recommended by the provider you’ve entrusted to care for you during pregnancy.
When I was pregnant with my first baby, my husband and I attended our local hospital’s childbirth class. When we left, I said to him, “I feel like I was just schooled on how to be a nice, agreeable patient.” We had learned what procedures and protocols the hospital needed to follow, and what would happen upon checking into the hospital, but felt grossly unprepared for the unmedicated birth were were planning. How would I cope through early labor? What if my labor was very long? What were my options in the hospital? Did I have any? What should I expect from my brand new baby? How would I feel? So many questions had gone entirely unanswered.
This was one of the main reasons my partner Liz and I created our own class that we began teaching early in 2018. Birthing women and partners deserve to be well-educated on their options for birth! Not only were we seeing our clients who’d attended a hospital childbirth education class come away feeling unprepared for labor, we also realized the absence of preparation for postpartum and caring for a newborn left our clients feeling lost, swept aside, and lacking confidence for parenthood. When we structured our classes, we made sure to devote as much time to preparing for postpartum and a new baby as we do to stages of labor and birth planning. Much like the founders of formal childbirth education did in the 1960’s, we have put a lot of time and energy into considering everything women need to know (not just about pregnancy, birth, and postpartum but also the inherent dangers in the current system of maternity care and how to create change.)
We are lucky to have a number of options for out-of-hospital childbirth education in Buffalo. When you’re researching which class is right for you, be sure to ask if postpartum prep and newborn care is included so you walk out of class feeling ready to meet your baby. Check out our next scheduled class, which will take place at the gorgeous new office/birth space of Fika Midwifery, the Coit House!