Someone shared this meme on FaceBook and I totally loved it, because it was so true: (click here for full text)
I once heard someone say how when a wedding doesn't turn out as planned, when a detail doesn't work out the way you wanted or it pours down rain during your beautiful outdoor ceremony, people are sad for you. They express regret and sympathy for you that "your big day" might have somehow been marred. Yet, when your plans for childbirth are totally derailed or you feel that you were denied something during the process, they basically tell you to "deal with it!" or "Get over it, you don't get a medal!" "That's just the way it is, so what?"
They wouldn't tell you that if your bridesmaid ditched you a week before the wedding, or if the cake was the wrong flavor.
With a good childbirth class, it can not only help you prepare for that big day, but fully realize just what your body is capable of - as well as help you realize that sometimes, the routine practices in maternity care are not always evidenced-based, or the "best" thing for everyone.
Would you want a cake decorator to say, "You must have a chocolate cake. That is the only flavor that's any good, and even though you're allergic to chocolate and don't like the taste of it, I'm making you a chocolate wedding cake!"? Probably not. Just like flavors of a wedding cake, there are options in childbirth; you just have to know what they are.
There are all kinds of childbirth classes. Fortunately I had a great one with a nurse midwife who herself had had normal births and a VBAC. She discussed a wide range of options, the realities of choosing them, advantages and disadvantages. What she did not do was paint a picture that said, "You are a bad person for choosing to have an epidural!" Nor did she act like they were terrific and every woman should have them and no woman can ever make it without one.
I chose the long, six-week whatever class, because there was a lot to learn! Some choose the condensed, intense version that is over and done with in a few hours. Personally, when you consider that it seems like many women don't fully understand the process of childbirth and what it entails, it sounds like the long version might actually be a better option. It's hard to work that out with busy schedules and work, etc. but this is your body - and your baby - we're talking about here.
Would you buy a brand new car or go on a cruise without spending time and effort researching it? Hopefully not.
When it comes to birthing options, especially VBAC, it seems that not many women know they do have options. Studies have shown that women often choose the mode of delivery that's preferred by their doctors - which likely means a lot of physicians are influencing their patients to choose a repeat cesarean. Unfortunately, many are limited because of the hospital they plan to deliver at, where VBAC is either banned or there is a de facto ban (meaning, the hospital "lets you" attempt one but no doctor will agree to attend you. Especially with regards to cesarean section and induction, childbirth education can mean all the difference. What are the risk factors? What does the procedure entail? Sometimes you cannot always count on your doctor to tell you this information up front. And I can't even begin to tell you how many people I've heard say, I'm being induced tomorrow and I have no idea what to expect! Does their doctor not tell them anything? Do they do any of their own research?
I once sat in on a childbirth education class and was extremely disappointed to find people talking and chattering amongst themselves when the instructor mentioned risk factors for cesarean section. Ladies, don't ever think "This will never happen to me." Sometimes it happens for very necessary reasons that are beyond our control; sometimes it could have been avoided. I think prevention is key - and sometimes the very things we consent to in labor can often be risk factors in cesarean delivery. It's hard to focus on future births and how they might be impacted by decisions and choices you make today, but that's pretty much how it often works. How can you truly give informed consent when you aren't fully informed?
I don't ever want to blame a mother for not being "educated enough" about the process. Sometimes you have all the facts and it's still not enough to prevent something from happening. But being educated about the process and feeling capable of making informed choices and educated decisions can often help tremendously when it comes to accepting with the outcome.
Did you take a childbirth class? Did it help you or not?
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