I'd like to think I know a thing or two about birth. I've attended dozens of births, read hundreds of birth books, and observed a number of birth classes. In fact, I wrote my undergraduate thesis on how what "we" say to pregnant women can affect their perception of the outcome of their labor.
So when students ask me what kind of birth class to take, I have a few opinions on the subject.
Consider the benefits of live, in-person childbirth classes:
- In contrast to books and media classes, live classes are interactive which means you get your questions answered, but also those of other students. Questions you didn't even know you had!
- You get to move around. Rather than just looking at pictures or video of birth positions, you can actually move and get feedback from the instructor.
- Accountability to attend each class for you and possibly your partner, too. Even the best-laid plans to read books or finish seminars at an individual pace can quickly be usurped by the parts of birth preparation you think are more fun, like baby registries, showers, and assembling baby furniture.
Five reasons to look beyond the hospital (for class):
Sometimes hospitals offer a very inclusive and tremendous birth class, but often they are short and focus on the hospital procedure rather than the robust variety of topics and perspectives you're likely to get at an independent childbirth class.
1. You learn about birth (which is a normal thing, BTW). Literally everyone walking around out there was born, so this happens.... every day! You will learn about how your body will move through different stages of labor, learn tricks and tips to make yourself as comfortable as possible, and so will your partner.
2. You will meet other couples who you will get to know for many weeks. Most hospital-based classes are a little shorter and much larger in numbers than the other classes, which means you don't get the opportunity to connect with the other couples. This is great for partners who don't get the connection at prenatal yoga, and often don't seek out other parents-to-be. Many times these childbirth classes hold reunions a year later. If you don't yet have a village, this may be a great place to start forming yours.
3. Lending Library. Your hospital may also have a lending library, and certainly your local library has hundreds of books about birth. How will you choose? An out-of-hospital childbirth instructor often has a few go-to books that they know students appreciate and will typically lend them to their current students at no additional cost.
4. Personalization. Hospital classes typically need to cover a list of particular objectives, which may or may not be relevant to you. Independent childbirth classes are more fluid and customizable. Depending on where you live, you can find classes for high-risk mamas, first-time mamas, single mamas, mamas of multiples, lesbian mamas and more. Even if your class isn't specific for a particular group, your instructor will quickly learn about your values and help offer the information you're looking for.
5. They acknowledge that birth can happen outside of the hospital. They will not force an out-of-hospital agenda on you, but if you are the kind of person who is curious about the differences, they will share them with you. I know several mamas who planned their births in the hospital and wound up spontaneously delivering outside of the hospital because they could not transport in time. An independent childbirth class prepares you for the spectrum of birth possibilities.
Questions to ask the teacher:
Do you have any preference about where I choose to birth my baby?
Can I ask you questions outside of class, via email or phone?
Do you have a lending library that I can use?
How many mamas/couples will you accept in a particular class?
What is your birth-background?
Where were you trained as a childbirth educator?
How to tell if the teacher is one of your people:
Do you welcome same-sex couples?
Is there a faith background that you utilize in your teaching?
Will I be uncomfortable in your classes if I do not share your faith?
Will we be using art in this class?
Kari Kwinn, ERYT500, RPYT, Doula, Midwife's Assistant is one of Enso's co-owners.
Most doulas travel to each birth with a bag that is similar to the one that was carried by Mary Poppins. Of course it doesn’t look like the Mary Poppins bag, but the items that your doula might pull from it will begin to remind you of the scene from the Mary Poppins movie, where the kids watch with their jaws dropped as Mary Poppins pulls out a lamp, a mirror, a coat rack, and a tape measure!
The items in my doula bag get pulled out as they become necessary to support the birthing woman. A mini crock pot, a wooden rolling pin, a wooden lady bug and some essential oils are a good start. One item in my bag that I never touched was the rebozo. This was something that gnawed at me. Is it possible that I have this amazing tool at my disposal but it sits because of my ignorance? So when I heard of Gena Kirby I was so excited!
Gena went on about how this simple piece of fabric could change relationships and could help shape the parents a couple will become. It all sounded great in theory, but the engineer in me needed to see it with her own eyes. So I began to use it right away. I found that each rebozo holds within it a little piece of magic that has the power to change situations.
They existed in the world of labor together: husband, wife and the bridge that kept them bound together, the rebozo, until their baby was born.
“It is not just a piece of fabric!” Each time her eyes filling with tears.
It is so much more. It has so much more power!
Every one of my clients, since my experience with Gena, has received as a gift of a rebozo and the magic it holds for their journey. I will never attend a birth without one again. Her class and her magic piece of fabric has forever changed who I am as a doula and I am thankful!
Bea Wilds is a registered yoga teacher, a trained prenatal yoga teacher, a certified labor doula, and Enso co-owner. She teaches prenatal yoga, Mom & Me yoga, and Superhero Birth Partner, where she teaches partners how to use tools to support labor, including the rebozo.
This blog is not intended to be a source of medical information or advice. Please discuss all of your concerns with your care provider.