Why to Take a Private Childbirth Education Class
As a birth doula, pregnant parents frequently ask me: "should I attend a childbirth education class?"
The answer is always an enthusiastic, "Yes!"
"Even if I'm hiring a doula?"
Information is power. We've heard that saying time and time again and it is particularly true in childbirth. One of the surest ways to enhance your birth experience is to make sure that you're educated and well-informed about your options. Knowing what to expect during labor and childbirth can help you and your birth partner prepare emotionally and physically for the event.
"Where should I take a childbirth class?" is usually the next question I receive. To which I answer...
There are several options one has in enrolling in a childbirth education course: private classes, hospital classes, and online classes. While the latter certainly offers the benefit of working at one's own leisure, I personally recommend attending an in-person class if possible. Not only will you meet other expectant parents in your community (and networking with new parents is important!), but you will be able to immerse yourself more fully in the experience, enhancing your learning and preparation.
Private childbirth classes are likely to vary greatly from hospital classes. While hospital workshops can be a great resource and give you an idea of what to expect at that particular facility, there are some reasons why you should consider working with a private educator.
Here are my top five reasons for attending a private childbirth education class:
1. Personal Connection
Consider my quick personal anecdote to illustrate this point: during my first pregnancy I attended a six-week childbirth course through a local hospital. I loved my instructor and, to this day, I remember her name and face. After having my son, as I was being discharged from the hospital, I saw my instructor in the hallway. Elated to see her and to show off my baby, I called to her by name. There was no trace of recognition in her face. As kind as she was, it was deflating to not be remembered. Large facilities frequently have a few trainers who offer childbirth classes in bulk. They follow a script, teaching hundreds of parents throughout the year and once the course ends, so does your relationship with the instructor.
Private instructors tend to offer smaller, more intimate classes which allows them to get to know you as an individual and address your personal concerns. Many are available to you via email or phone should questions arise outside of class. Some private childbirth educators offer postpartum support groups or events so that their care extends beyond the prenatal period.
2. Alternative Perspectives
Hospitals provide care for a plethora of people daily. Therefore, they are designed to be efficient. Because epidurals are frequently used in hospital births, many hospitals design their labor care protocol around the requirements of epidurals. In turn, hospital childbirth classes may be taught from that policy perspective. A local participant of a hospital class recently shared with me "the course teaches you how to be a good patient." While that scenario may not always be the case in hospital classes, the courses are typically designed from a hospital's perspective.
Private childbirth educators are not restricted in their teachings by hospital policies. A good educator will be familiar with policies so their students know what to expect, but can also offer alternative ways of preparing for birth. Many private educators are able to incorporate a variety of curricula into lessons. They also tend to be familiar with both hospital and out-of-hospital births, making them equipped to support parents regardless of their birthing location.
3. Familiar with Community Resources
Expectant and new parents have a myriad of needs that can frequently be served by local organizations and businesses. Ideally, your childbirth educator will be familiar with these resources and can help you find ones that will be the best fit for you. While hospitals tend to offer a variety of priceless pregnancy and postpartum services, they are not exhaustive--for example, hospitals do not usually sell cloth diapers or offer prenatal yoga classes. While some hospital childbirth educators may be able to suggest where to buy those diapers or take a yoga class, they're also frequently required to only promote specific hospital support services rather than those that may compete with them. They'll be able to tell you about the hospital's lactation services, but won't necessarily be able to recommend a private IBCLC who will come to your home after Baby has been born. I once asked a local hospital to include the Charlottesville Doulas page on their "community resources" webpage, but was turned down because doing so was against their policy.
A private childbirth educator is not restricted in their recommendations and frequently have personal knowledge of those resources available to a community. They can connect you with the resources that will best suit your unique needs.
4. Diversified Offerings
When you look for a private childbirth educator, you're likely to find more variety in offerings and their trainings. You may find someone who offers a series of group lessons or someone who can provide one-on-one instructor in your home. They could be specialized in particular birthing methods like Bradley or Hypnobirthing, or perhaps they are trained to offer more inclusive and specialized care, such as care for teen parents, people of color, LGBTQ+ parents, and families preparing for adoption (side note: I support all birthing persons).
5. You're Supporting a Small Business
When you choose to hire a private childbirth educator, you choose to support a small business, which in turn supports a local family and your community. Many private childbirth educators have built and run their own businesses and your financial investment directly supports that person. When you decide to work with me, you are directly supporting me, my husband, my two children, my eight chickens, my two cats, and my dog--and we all thank you!
I will be offering a variety of private childbirth education classes as of Fall 2018.
Feel free to reach out with your questions!