Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Not sure if this is bad news or not

Until last week I was not aware that enrollment in childbirth education classes is dropping. I didn't see any researched explanation for the decline.

If it is for any of these reasons, I take the decline as a bad indicator of current birth culture:
  • Women do not want to learn about birth
  • Women cannot afford (financially) to learn about birth
  • Women feel learning about birth will not affect the outcome, so back to the first reason...
  • Women are learning about birth from television (Baby Story, etc.) or books (What to Expect...)
  • Women are learning about birth through informal networks of women who've birthed "normally" (i.e. the usual medical/crisis/interventionist birth).
If, however, the decline is for any of these reasons, then I'm not as worried:
  • Women are learning about birth from their midwives, doulas, friends who've birthed from a position of empowerment.
  • Women are forming their own birth "study groups," informed by a variety of written materials and videos (e.g. Birth in the Squatting Position).
I suspect it is the former reasons, not the latter. But the traditional class format is not for everyone. For my first birth I ended up relying primarily on Natural Childbirth the Bradley Way and Mind Over Labor. My spouse and I worked together on the exercises in both books and, lo and behold, it was exactly the preparation we needed to labor through a great, unmedicated birth together. I think we actually learned more about working together by practicing in the quiet of our own home than we would have in a group setting, where my spouse would have been especially inhibited.

Every pregnant woman should have some sort of balanced, honest, childbirth education. The format of the education should match her and her support network's style of learning and preparing...



Blogger cooler*doula said...

So interesting. Like you, I fear it's probably more likely the former than the latter.

Mind you - if I think about it - I am constantly surprised at how few of my friends seem to have had any childbirth classes. Reasons included not bothering because an epidural was planned, so what was there to learn? Lack of time. All available classes being full. And just not getting round to it.

8:25 PM  
Blogger Rachel said...

I was looking around in the birthing blog community and found you. What a great blog! Thanks!
Rachel, midwife, nyc

12:06 AM  
Blogger cooler*doula said...

Oh lookie: here's a message board discussion. Lots 'of epidural planned - no point.'


9:19 AM  

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