I was in the checkout at the grocery store and while, as a rule, I never ask if someone is pregnant (unless I know them personally, they’ve already invited me to their shower, told me the baby’s name, and shown me the picture of their ultrasound — you get the idea…) it was pretty obvious that this tiny little Momma was very pregnant! Her store clerk apron was doing nothing in hiding her beautiful belly.
“Are you having a baby?” I asked. She smiled, in on the joke that she might respond with, “Nope! Just had one too many beers over the weekend!” and replied, “Yes —I’m due in about a month!”
Of course, I told her I was a Childbirth Educator… I can’t shut up about the passion I have for my work just because I’m trying to pay for my groceries! She looked at me quizzically and asked, “Do you do the tours? You look familiar.”
(Aha! I had an in! She looked familiar to me too, and not just because she was pregnant. I’m notoriously bad for forgetting names and needing to meet someone approximately 25 times before committing their name to memory — but a face? I’ll never forget it. I’ve been known to recognize a former student of mine from 10 years before… )
“Have you taken any classes yet?” I asked. She answered quickly, “No, I should really get on that. I don’t have much time left.”
So then, of course, I encouraged her to take my classes.
Given the fact that she was already too late to take a 4-week series, I grabbed my phone and let her know when the next Saturday Express class would be happening prior to her due date.
Then I asked, “What kind of a birth are you hoping to have?” She answered, “A water birth.” “That’s great! You should really think about taking my Comfort and Coping for Labor class as well. It’s a great addition to the one-day class, because you’ll get even more hands-on practice which will really help you stay in a coping mindset if you’re planning on going as far as you can or all the way without medication.”
There might be some of you reading this right now thinking, “Wow! I didn’t realize Barb was so smarmy hustling virtual strangers into her classes!” But seriously, that’s not it. I feel like every person should attend a LIVE Childbirth Preparation class no matter what type of a birth they’re hoping to have: medication and intervention-free, an epidural as soon as possible, or a scheduled Cesarean.
In the end, it’s not the mode of delivery that matters as much as learning current, evidence-based information, being encouraged to use a shared-decision making model with members of the birth team, and having realistic expectations about what labor, birth and new parenting really looks like.
I know, believe me I know, that folks are able to find a ton of information about this online. The irony that I’m writing about the case for LIVE classes online and you’re reading about this online is not lost on me! But even if I recorded myself teaching a 4-week series, packaged it up and sold it as an online e-class, it wouldn’t match what happens during a LIVE educational experience. (And I’m pretty good on video, if I do say so myself…)
The opportunity of finding community with others in a very similar life experience as you — becoming parents — cannot be understated. Some of my families met each other in my classes and have remained close friends for decades!
There’s a collective pool of wisdom when you get more than one expectant parent in a room together. They’ve all been reading, watching, talking to and connecting with others as they begin their parenting journey. And they have lots of great, practical information that they’ve learned in their own search and are happy to share with the assembled group — who tend to be all ears.
Nothing feels better to a nervous, expectant parent than offering valuable information to one of their peers. It’s moments like this that can really encourage confidence in the choices you’ve made. Also, realizing that your own intense feelings of vulnerability are shared by everyone else in the room, can be so normalizing and comforting.
Unbiased, Current, Evidence-Based, Information
Yes, there’s an insane amount of information available online for expectant parents — all at the touch of a button. Yes, a Google search for anything you would want to know about, will result in millions of hits in less than a second.
But how much of that information is actually sound? What results can you trust? It might be nice to find information that backs your own opinion… but is it unbiased and evidence-based information? If not, then what help is it to you?
Taking a LIVE class with a certified Childbirth Educator should mean that the information they share with you is unbiased and evidence-based. There are those that would like to tell you that hospital-based educators are only mouthpieces for the institutions they work for. This is not true for me or any of the other wonderful educators that I’ve worked with in my 20+ years of teaching. (And this issue is enough of an irritation to me, that it deserves its own blogpost… Look for it, soon.)
The LIVE education you receive, in any setting that you choose, should have a curriculum that includes: the normal, physiological process of birth and how best to support this process with coping tools and techniques. It should also contain information about the benefits, alternatives and risks of any medications and interventions that might become a part of the birth process. And it should also speak to Cesarean Birth and what to expect if this becomes the way your baby comes into this world. Anything less than this is not complete information and can lead to unnecessary birth trauma due to misinformation or not knowing what to expect.
(Obviously, there are many other things in the curriculum that are important as well: signs and symptoms of labor, the mind-body connection in birth, the importance and support of the partner, ways to strengthen the couple relationship, and how to have a positive, empowering experience no matter how the birth unfolds, just to name a few.)
Asking Questions/Getting Answers
It’s so important to be able to ask your questions and get them answered in real time! Some of those questions might be asked by others in the class, or they might actually get answered throughout the course of the classes you attend, but having an expert LIVE and on-site so you can give voice to whatever makes you feel most vulnerable on this parenting journey is invaluable.
And having a few private moments during breaks, before or after class, or even via email or text once your relationship has been established can make all the difference between heading into your birth from a place of fear and dread, to a place of confidence and excitement instead!
So, smarmy or not — I’m going to continue to encourage expectant parents and their partners to take a LIVE Childbirth Preparation Class. When they’re done with those, I’ll encourage them to take Becoming Us classes as well.
And then, once they’re sitting in my classes, I’m going to make sure that they feel that it was a truly valuable experience for them. In a world where it’s too easy to feel like spending hours on Childbirth Preparation or Parenting classes will be a waste of their time, it’s on me (and every other educator out there — another blogpost coming your way soon!) to make sure that students leave the classroom as ambassadors for attending classes in-person. We want them to tell their friends, family, co-workers — even strangers —“Run, don’t walk to a LIVE Childbirth or Parenting Prep class! You’ll be so glad that you did!”
If you’ve been a longtime reader of mine, this won’t be a surprise to you — I love music and I might have actually sung this one at a Karaoke from Hell show in the past! So imagine how happy I was to be able to find this LIVE version of Bryan Adams’ song “Run to You” to accompany this blog. Enjoy!