Prepared childbirth classes are worth every penny. Over the 14 years I have been a doula and childbirth educator I’ve had the opportunity to investigate several methods of childbirth education and sit in on several local class styles and was always impressed with the information being presented. When I was pregnant with my daughter I chose to take The Bradley Method of Childbirth. I think at the time we paid something like $150 and a materials fee for 12 weeks of instruction. 12 weeks! Of a few hours of time with the childbirth instructor each week. The education we received in that class was priceless. I value the time and commitment that our instructor poured into us while taking time away from her own family. It is still a fond memory 17 years later and the knowledge gained is still with me today.
I have created a list of FAQ about classes:
How will I fit it into our schedule?
Lives are so busy now with work, family, and play time. Many people are working different schedules that include travel or weekend hours. This can make it hard to make it to a class, especially a long series. While I emphatically recommend a series of classes to maximize your retention of important information we have to acknowledge that many couples cannot commit to a 12 week series of classes or even a 6 week series. A Comfort Measures Class or a Super Saturday style class may be all you can or are willing to fit in. Start your search early on for classes in your city so as to not miss out on joining one at the start date the educators set. Some educators offer private classes for those with nearly impossible schedules to navigate but do not count on this being an option.
What will the classes do for us?
Childbirth classes will help you navigate your pregnancy and labor experience. Classes will not guarantee a certain birth outcome. Education will present your options and help you to feel confident in making the best decisions for you. It is possible you will make some long term friends with other couples who are near your due date. You will feel invested in your birth and calmer with the knowledge you receive. Educators often know local and national resources to recommend for new parents, too. Examples would be daycare recommendations, breast pump rental facilities, lactation consultants, postpartum depression support, etc.
What about the cost?
All education comes with a cost even if it is limited to time investment. Some hospitals or birth centers offer “free” classes and you can take advantage of those with the caveat to see what type of instruction is being offered. Is the instructor a certified childbirth educator or an employee of the center who will mostly be talking you through a tour of the hospital? Is the style of instruction commiserate with your goals for birth? How many couples are in the classes and will there be time for any individualized answers to questions about your very personal experience? If you end up seeking a private class do not be surprised if there is an additional fee as childbirth educators count on enough attendance to cover their gas, time, educational materials, rental cost of a facility and more. Independent childbirth educators are not being paid by a hospital or facility. Several insurance companies cover all or a portion of your childbirth education classes provided it is with a certified childbirth educator. Place a simple phone call to your insurance and ask them if it is covered, how much, and the steps to be reimbursed. Set aside a few dollars each month if you need to save up for a class.
What if my partner does not want to attend classes?
Most childbirth educators have been trained to deal with the scenario of a partner finding a class with other couples awkward. Our society has not been proactive about highlighting the importance of education and wisdom about the female body. Talk to different instructors about their suggestions and ask how they engage the partner. In my series of classes we do some “ice breaker” activities to ensure everyone feels comfortable. If your partner absolutely won’t budge bring a friend, family member, or your doula. Single women take classes, too. If that makes you feel uncomfortable speak to the instructor about your situation. They will probably have a solution.
Good luck on finding the childbirth education right for you and happy birthing!
All Rights Reserved, Knoxville Doula, Kimberly Sebeck 2014