Where Did Our Village Go? (And Why It Matters For Birth)
Throughout history, long before the rise of technology and the decline of community, women gave birth in a village. The old saying, “it takes a village,” was life. The more experienced women would help with the births while the family of the laboring woman would help wherever they were needed. They relied on each other.
Over time, things began to change. Doctors began to attend births and less women came together within the village. Soon, hospitals become more business-like and births moved out of the home. More interventions and procedures were developed, and birth became more like something that needs to be maintained rather than observed.
Because of this movement, from the village to the hospital, women were unable to witness birth like they used to. In the village, it was a part of life. They saw firsthand what physical and emotional changes would occur. They got to witness the different paths of labor and the different ways to respond to each one.
Within the hospital, birth became something mysterious, unknown, and often feared. It was managed by doctors that barely knew their patients, let alone their families. Husbands were restricted from entering the delivery room and visitors were limited, if even allowed. The village was gone.
With women no longer witnessing birth firsthand, the media became the only source of birth information, or misinformation. Hollywood began dramatizing birth. From the bag of waters always spontaneously breaking to the frantically screaming moms and fainting dads, the ideas about birth became more and more inaccurate.
With a lack of experience helping others through labor, women have lost their sense of confidence in themselves. The misconceptions from the media only adds to the fear and uncertainty. How to work with labor is no longer common knowledge. This has created a demand for birth education.
Childbirth classes work to restore the confidence of knowing how to work with your body during the unpredictable process of labor.
There is a need in our culture to return to our villages and expel some of the lingering myths around birth. Taking a comprehensive childbirth class can help you sort through the facts and the fiction. Below are three common childbirth education myths to help you get started.
Myth #1: My body knows what to do, there is nothing to prepare for.
Women have been birthing babies since the dawn of time (or really since Eve got us kicked out of the garden- yeah, thanks girl). Just because birth might be in your genes doesn’t mean you are going to know what to do when the time comes. Just think, Michael Phelps still taught his kids how to swim regardless of how many medals he won in the pool.
The truth is, labor is unpredictable. You may labor intensely for hours or your progression may go almost unnoticed until it’s time to push. You may need to make a split decision on an intervention, or you may miss an opportunity you didn’t even know was there.
How can you make confident decisions for options you don’t even know you have?
Classes will help you explore your options. From comfort measures to birthing positions, there are plenty of them available to you, you just have to know what they are. If labor doesn’t go as planned, you will also need to know what medical interventions are being presented to you. Learning the benefits and risks associated with these interventions will help you be to be informed consumers, making the right decisions for your family in the birthing room and throughout the rest of your life.
A comprehensive childbirth class will guide you and your partner through the unknown. It will walk you through the different stages of labor and give you time to practice comfort measures for each stage. You will work on enhancing your relationship with your partner and creating a positive line of communication with your birth team.
Myth #2 I have already given birth before, I don’t need to take a class on it.
Just because you gave birth doesn’t mean you know how to work with birth. Knowing what your body will do during labor and birth is vital to knowing how to work with your body through the stages. Learning the physical and emotional cues can help you identify where you may be in the process and what comfort measure will work best.
Most people don’t realize that working with your body, instead of against it, can decrease pain and discomfort.
Each pregnancy is different. Each labor is different. Each birth is different. Childbirth education classes often have second- or third-time mothers attending because they didn’t like how their previous birth(s) went. These mothers seek education to enhance their next experience with birth.
If you have already taken a comprehensive course in childbirth education, you may not need an entire series again. Often educators will offer a refresher course to parents who have already taken their series in the past. If you fit this criterion, ask your previous instructor about a short refresher course to brush up on the important points.
Myth #3 Taking a class isn’t necessary if I am planning on having an epidural.
To some people’s disbelief, epidurals are not recommended at the early onset of labor. Getting an epidural before active labor (5cm) can slow labor down and increase your risk of a c-section. It would be wise to learn how to work with your body during those early stages until the epidural can be administered.
Once the epidural is requested it can take time to get it. Depending on where the anesthesiologist is in the hospital, it can take up to an hour or more for the doctor to arrive and insert it. Once inserted, it can take up to 30 minutes for the medication to start working. Learning different relaxation techniques can ease the discomfort in the meantime.
Lastly, epidurals increase the risk of intervention. If interventions are needed during labor, childbirth education classes will help you understand the risks and benefits before you are put on the spot. Educating yourself ahead of time will help you make the right choices for your family with confidence.
Taking a comprehensive childbirth class is like taking a drivers ed course in high school. Sure, you can get behind the wheel and wing it. You can try to figure everything out on the road- what the pedals are for, what each knob does, and what the signs mean. You may even be right a few times but wow, wouldn’t that be stressful?
Why not educate yourself before you get behind the driver’s wheel? Your drive will be much smoother knowing confidently which pedal is the gas, which knob is the blinker, and what all those street signs are telling you.
Your Next Steps
Find a childbirth education class that fits your needs! Start introspectively: What kind of birth do you want? Who do you want to be your biggest support in the birthing room? Does your prospective class support your goals? Has the teacher gone through any training to teach this class? Does your teacher have hands on experiencing using this method in birth.
Looking for a class? Check out one of our childbirth classes today!