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Episode 26: Should You Take a Birth Class?

birth prep pregnancy Jan 06, 2022

Should you take a childbirth preparation class? It's something most pregnant people are trying to decide -- and my answer is obviously going to be biased.

In this video I decided to share some of the research evidence supporting birth education classes. It turns out that if six specific features are included, taking a birth education class is associated with lower cesarean rates, a shorter pushing stage, lower epidural use, lower rates of perineal trauma.

An effective childbirth education class should include (this is the language used in the research) yoga positions, breathing, massage, acupressure, guided imagery, and teach partner support. 

Purely descriptive classes (think, hospital birth classes) tend to be pretty low impact but hospital birth classes do have their place, and I do describe why I chose to take a hospital birth class in combination with other preparation, for my first pregnancy.

I always feel salesy sharing this information, and obviously I'd love it if you'd join the Brave Journey Birth Preparation Program, or sign up for a private course with me. However, there are so many options for childbirth education so feel free to look into childbirth education options in your community and seek out independent in-person classes taught by doulas and midwives that include these six features. 

See you next week!

Full Transcript:

hello, and welcome to your next free weekly Brave Journey Birth Preparation Videos where I pick a topic related to birth or postpartum. And I talk about it. This week we are talking about the evidence on childbirth education and what elements of childbirth education should be present in the class that you select in order to have a beneficial impact on your birth experience.

So first off I am coming at you from my backyard, and you may hear some sirens. You may hear some birds. You may hear a chicken. We have chickens. My back yard chickens.. I personally love being outside and I really love recording these videos outside, but I just wanted to give a disclaimer. You may hear some outside sounds cause we are outside.

So I partly picked this topic today because I was having a conversation recently with a couple expecting their second baby. And the truth is I mostly work with people who are expecting the first baby not exclusively, but I tend to have more of an opportunity to talk to couples, expecting their first. But this was a couple expecting their second. They didn't do a childbirth education class the first time. And they are a very highly educated and thoughtful couple and a very, um, intentional couple in how they were preparing to meet their child. But they didn't think it was important because they were doing their own research. And then through their birth experience, which went beautifully, they felt that there were so many holes and places where they could have better understood what was happening. And then they felt a sense of vulnerability looking back of where they could have been better prepared. And so they decided for the second to do at birth preparation class.

And in, in our conversations, I decided to look into some of the evidence and Evidence Based Birth has a summary on a good research study on the positive impacts that childbirth education classes can offer for a birth experience.

Well, one of the problems is that there's not a ton of good evidence on childbirth education because the quality and content of child birth education classes varies so widely. And most of the more basic childbirth education classes are mostly descriptive. And there is not good evidence that those descriptive, just describing what happens and procedures, will be, will have a positive impact on their own.

The one quality study that Evidence Based Birth cites said that there are six complimentary medicine techniques that should be taught in a childbirth education class in order to have positive impacts. So I'll start with what the positive impacts were. The positive impacts were a decrease in cesarean rate, a decrease in epidural rate, a shortened the second stage of labor, a shortened pushing stage of labor. And what was the last one? Oh yeah, less perineal trauma.

So those were the positive impacts, but in order for those impacts to be seen, the childbirth education class had to include these six complimentary medicine techniques and they were yoga positioning, breathing, massage, acupressure, guided imagery, and partner support, guiding the birth partner on how to provide partner support.

So if those six elements were present, then there was a statistically significant decrease in cesarean rate, decrease in epidural, decrease a perineal trauma, and decrease in the length of time the person spent pushing. So that's pretty great, but a big problem is that most of the birth classes in many, many communities are not offering all those complimentary techniques.

I personally, for my first, took a hospital-based class and I took it with the explicit intention, which was all I really got, of trying to understand how the hospital was going to approach things and also to get more familiar with showing up at the hospital, parking and getting inside. Now in this COVID era, I know a lot of pregnant expectant people are not wanting to go to the hospital for any reason other than actually needing to take to have their baby. So that may not be as motivating anymore, but I took it and really that's all I got. I learned how to be an excellent patient. I learned about how the hospital's going to approach things. And that was good for me to know, because that was the modern medical system that I was birthing in, but I needed to know so much more than that. And I was able to find it elsewhere.

But, but that's the problem. Those hospital-based classes, and a lot of really basic short classes are not offering all these complimentary techniques. However, in your community, you should be able to find whether you, this is where I was like, kind of hesitant to do this topic because it felt salesy.

And then I was like, no, no, no. There's a, so many different childbirth education classes. Yes, you can sign up with the brave journey, birth preparation program that I'm so excited about. And I can't stop talking about yes, you can, but also look in your community. If you'd really like to do an in-person class, there should be an independent person offering childbirth education in new.

Perhaps it's through a midwife or a local doula or a local birth center, even if you're birthing at the hospital, a birth center based class is going to be higher quality and give you these complimentary techniques in comparison to the hospital based class.

And I'll remind you, look for a class, whether it's my class online or class in your community, look for a class that has yoga positioning, breathing, massage. Acupressure, guided imagery, and partner support. Ensure that if you're finding a class in your community, that is, has those six techniques included. Um, and you should be good to go in terms of positively impacting your birth experience.

And then a final note, anytime we increase our knowledge about something, we have an opportunity to decrease the unknown, increase our confidence. In increasing confidence, and a decrease in fear of the unknown will positively impact your birth no matter what kind of a birth class it is, no matter what kind of birth preparation you do. Taking that intentional mindful time to learn, reflect, prepare, sit down with your birth partner and practice some labor positions. Sit down with your birth partner, talk about pain and pain, coping and opportunities for you to share your different perspectives on pain and how you might want to manage it when you're in labor. That work, no matter what the format is, will positively impact your labor by increasing your confidence, increasing your skillset, decreasing your fear, , and I talk about this in the birth preparation program, when we talk about hormones, but the more you can increase those positive hormones, the more your labor is going to progress.

So thank you for listening. It's nice to be back. If someone's watching this in the future. It's the first video of 2022. So happy new year. I'm happy to be making these videos again, and I will see you next week for the next weekly free brave journey birth preparation video. See you then.

Free Birth Plan Templates

While you can't 'plan' birth, creating a Birth Preferences document in collaboration with your OB or Midwife will help you get to know your care provider, learn your birth facility options, and practice being an active participant in your birth experience.

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Download "Birth Bag Packing List and Mini-Class"

This birth bag packing list pdf and mini-class video shows you what to pack for your birth and how to set the tone in your birth room.

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