Prepared childbirth can mean taking in an overwhelming amount of information. If you're hoping to get a good idea of how to prepare for entering parenthood (without reading 30 books), then a childbirth class is a smart idea.
There are typically two ways to take a birth class 1) through your hospital or 2) through an independent childbirth educator (this is also usually the type offered through midwifery centers).
Here are three reasons to go the extra mile to seek out a class taught by an independent childbirth educator...
Reason #3 Scope and Depth
Independent childbirth classes typically cover a multitude of helpful topics in more detail than one would ever hear about in a hospital-based class. This makes it easier for parents to form their own opinions and philosophies about birth, parenting styles, and healthcare as well as gain invaluable confidence.
Reason #2 Unbiased
By taking a hospital-based class, you will be able to get an idea of where things are in the hospital, what your hospital's policies or expectations might be, and have the opportunity to ask questions about the hospital. It is a good idea to keep in mind that instructors in the hospital are bound by their superiors on what they're "allowed" to tell you. A hospital employee may be putting her job on the line if she steps outside the bounds of the approved curriculum. An independent childbirth educator, on the other hand, can feel free to update the curriculum to latest research and has no vested interest to bend that curriculum to the hospital's whims. Most independent childbirth educators do not earn a full-time wage by teaching classes; they teach because they care deeply about women's birth experiences.
(I should certainly say that a great many hospital-based educators care just as much!)
Reason #1 Ongoing Support
Your comfort level with the independent educator in an intimate meeting setting is likely to be much higher than the comfort level with a hospital instructor in a hospital class setting. What will that mean for you when you have questions during the weeks or days leading up to the birth? After the baby arrives? With an independent childbirth educator, you can rest assured that you'll have her personal contact information and she will welcome your inquiries (wonderful for the questions that you don't quite feel you need to call the doctor about). Many independent childbirth educators do a follow-up phone call or home visit with parents during that uncertain time following the birth of the baby. Some childbirth educators have undergone additional training or certifications (labor doula, lactation counselor, postpartum doula, etc.) and offer package deals for these services.
To find an independent birth class in your area, I recommend searching professional listings with one of the many wonderful childbirth educator certifying organizations such as CAPPA, Lamaze, or ICEA.
Marcia prepares new parents through pregnancy, into babyhood. She also supports parenthood journeys in other ways; She is an artist, seamstress, Lemongrass Spa consultant, and CAPPA certified childbirth educator. Marcia lives in Colorado with her husband, four children, and their dog, Calamity Jane.