The value of childbirth classes
Edward Szmuc, MD, is an Ob/Gyn practicing at Banner Desert Medical Center in Mesa, Ariz.
Question: I am five months pregnant. Is it important that I take a childbirth class? What are they going to teach me that I can’t learn in books?
Answer: I really encourage all my expectant mothers, both first-time deliveries and those adding to their families, to take a prenatal class.
These classes are specifically designed to familiarize the patient and their support partner with the hospital, while also giving tips on things that the mother can do to make the birthing experience easier and more comfortable.
From my experience as an OB physician, patients who take a childbirth class seem to be much more relaxed and prepared then those who opt not to take a class.
Educating yourself is great, don’t get me wrong. However, many people are under the misconception that the role of the nurses and physicians in the hospital is to tell you what to do during labor. While your clinical professionals are there to provide support and guidance, they can do a much better job if you already have some idea of how you want your labor to go. For instance, do you want an epidural? What kinds of breathing and relaxation exercises work for you? What happens if your birth plan doesn’t go as planned?
These are questions you want answered BEFORE coming to the hospital and the prenatal classes will offer you this insight. By attending a class, you get to practice the techniques that will help you while you are laboring and see what may work for you and what may not.
I also find that expectant mothers who take a class are less apt to come to the hospital too soon and often labor longer in the comfort of their own home.
Reviewed March 2011