There are so many things to prepare for when you are pregnant – a new (temporary) wardrobe, a nursery, washing and folding precious, itty-bitty clothes. But what about childbirth? Can you really prepare for labor? Aren’t childbirth classes a little “old fashioned?”
Nurses, midwives, and doctors across the United States have reported a decline in prenatal class participation. The most common reason women give for not attending is that they can find all the information they need on the Internet. While it may be true that there is a great deal of information available (for free, no less) on the Internet, not all of it is true, helpful, accurate, or best suited to receive in such an impersonal setting.
Prenatal classes began decades ago in an attempt to move away from highly medicated deliveries to a more personally involved procedure. For many years, mothers were given high doses of medication that practically knocked them out during delivery. These mothers had no recollection of really giving birth, they simply woke up to a new baby. Fathers were also not typically allowed in the delivery room because it was considered a “medical procedure” to deliver a baby, and the doctors were in control of the situation.
Many things regarding labor and delivery have drastically changed in just a few decades. Mothers and fathers are both encouraged to fully participate in delivery. Many mothers choose to have a completely natural childbirth, avoiding all medication and intervention unless absolutely medically necessary for child or mother. However, even with the knowledge that women have regarding the benefits of participating in their labor and delivery, fewer women are attending prenatal classes.
Childbirth is unlike anything a woman (or a man) will ever experience, and going into it blindly can cause extreme stress. During prenatal classes, expectant parents are given vital information beforehand so that they can make major decisions together before being in the stressful environment of childbirth. Prenatal classes are designed to help parents feel more prepared and less fearful of childbirth because parents are presented with helpful and accurate information ahead of time. Are prenatal classes worth it? Yes. They provide helpful content with accurate information in order to help you prepare for real-life scenarios. They will help you come up with a plan (or multiple plans) for how your delivery could go. Prior knowledge helps mothers and fathers remain calm so that they can make the best decisions during times when they need to be made.