The Problem With Childbirth Education Classes

(And Solutions That Will Help You Properly Prepare For Birth)

If you are considering taking a childbirth education class, you’re likely wondering, is it really worth my time? Will it actually make birth safer for me and baby? What if I don’t enjoy it? What if I don’t end up with the birth I want? Even after investing all that time and money into it? 

The purpose of this article is to with full disclosure talk about the drawbacks of taking a childbirth class… but I won’t leave you there.

We will also talk about the causes of those problems and how you the mother can avoid them. Don’t worry! These problems aren’t common and they can usually be prevented by simply choosing the course that best suits you.

At She Births Bravely, we are passionate about the benefits of childbirth education. In fact, we’ve made it our goal to be the most effective childbirth educators in the world. We have a comprehensive childbirth course that helps moms become confident about birth. By learning the skills and tools you need for birth you can:

  1. Feel more confident about birth and approach it without fear
  2. Reduce your risks for interventions and C-sections
  3. Meet the baby you love with a calm and happy precense

Aer you ready to get started?

We Believe In Creating Beautiful Beginnings And Healthy Babies!

As a doula, I’ve walked by the side of hundreds of mothers giving birth. The truth is, not every birth went perfectly.

Because of the number of births I’ve been a part of, and the stories mothers all around the world have told me about their birth experiences, I have an intimate knowledge of the challenges, difficulties and dangers  associated with birth and where the methods of preparing for birth fail to help moms prepare for these moments. 

Now, I can share that information with you. My hope is for you to have the best birth possible. I beleive that a high quality childbirth class can help you have that. Whether that is my class or not.

Let’s get into it!


They Say Birth Is Hard… But It Doesn’t Have To Be

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The 11 Worst Things About Birth + Exactly What To Do About Them


The Most Common Childbirth Education Problems And Solutions 

  1. A childbirth class cannot make birth pain free.  
  2. Short classes leave moms feeling pushed into options they didn’t want.
  3. Too much information that is hard to turn into action.
  4. No class can guarantee an outcome, it’s still possible for your birth plan to change.
  5. Childbirth classes are more expensive than free information on the internet.

Problem 1: A Childbirth Class Cannot Make Birth Pain Free 

A pain free birth is a common promise to laboring women. Unfortunately, labor is called labor for a reason. There is a real sense of work and accomplishment that comes with it. Some classes promise moms that specific strategies will take away the pain and give moms a pain free birth. This is nearly impossible. 

This is especially bad for moms who want a natural birth. Moms promised a pain-free labor can be caught off guard by it’s intensity. They are left feeling disenchanted about the birth process in general. In a very poor class, where a mom is told she ‘should’ or ‘HAS’ to give birth naturally to be a ‘good mom’, she may feel disappointed in herself or her body if she decides on an epidural or other medical pain relief. Even when that was the best decision for her. 

Solution: 

There is a strong difference between the work of labor and the pain you feel during an injury. You should never feel that you are suffering during birth. 

Have you ever felt strong, capable and like you can do anything after a challenging workout? Then you can likely understand why many women report feeling invulnerable and stronger than ever after a natural childbirth. 

In our childbirth classes, we help moms understand how to work with and accept the process of labor, develop an understanding of what is happening and why, as well as practice skills that will help them maintain their sense of calm, focus and presence as they give birth. 

These doesn’t lead to a ‘pain-free’ birth but a birth that is manageable and rewarding.

We one hundred percent believe that any mom who wants a natural birth can do it. And we equip moms to do so better than anyone else. We also help moms understand what the risks and benefits of medical pain relief are and how to minimize the risks if they decide that is the best decision for them.

Always remember, this is YOUR birth and YOU decide what is most important to you.

Natural births are amazing! If you want a natural birth we’ve got you!

Births with epidural are also amazing! If you’re considering an epidural we will help you avoid a cascace of interventions and havea beatuiful beggining as well!

Problem: Classes that promise a pain free birth set moms up to be surprised by the intensity of birth, and either disappointed in themselves or their bodies if things don’t go the way they plan. 

Solution: A balanced approach to childbirth that fully equips moms with the tools to have a natural childbirth without telling them that is what they have to do. A chidbirth course should give effective tools for reducing pain and keeping it manageable. It should also help moms understand and reduce the risk of medical pain relief such as an epidural so that they can have the safest and most rewarding natural or medicated birth possible.

Problem 2: Short Classes That Give A Hospital Tour But Don’t Teach Coping Skills 

While classes taught by instructors firmly planted in natural ideology can make birth seem too easy, overly medicalized classes can cause problems as well. 

Some classes taught at hospitals are labeled “Lamaze classes” while not offering a single tool for coping with pain or teaching the 6 basics that Lamaze is founded on. 

Often these short classes give a tour of the hospital, tell you when to come in and then prepare you to get the epidural as soon as possible. Hospital childbirth educators themselves report that they are often pressured to NOT give a full range of options when it comes to pain management in labor.

While an epidural can be the right decision for some moms, these classes certainly do not teach moms that epidurals can increase your chances of having a c-section by 2.5 times or that there are things you can do to minimize that risk. 

Of an even greater importance is the fact that these classes teach moms to become more and more dependent on the hospital to succeed with their birth. While natural birth classes can come off as ‘this is going to be so easy once you take our class’ birth classes at medical institutions can come off as ‘birth is so hard, too hard actually. Let us do it for you. You won’t be able to handle it otherwise.’ Often women leave these classes fearing any kind of pain and as if they are players in someone else’s show instead of their own birth. 

Solution 

Childbirth is a life changing event in many ways. And the hospital is a great place to have a baby! But it doesn’t always mean it’s the best place to get your childbirth education.

Birth classes should expand a woman’s ability to adapt and cope as well as ground them in the reality that this is THEIR event. That means that they can absolutely use the tools available, both medical and non medical. 

It is absolutely a smart decision to choose a childbirth class from an independent childbirth instructor. This person is hired by you and has you as their top priority. Not the systems and procedures at their given location. 

In my class, I love helping moms slow down to speed up so to speak. Education can lead to a sense of being in charge and feeling empowered in this big event. That way, when my moms interact with their medical team, they can do it on their own terms and not in a way that feels like they are handing their birth and their body to a medical establishment. This is why so many of my moms are successful with both natural and medical births within hospitals, and not just birth centers. 

Problem: Short, overly medicalized classes can leave a mom feeling like she is handing her birth and body to a medical establishment because she hasn’t learned how to adapt and cope with labor and doesn’t really understand what to expect while giving birth. Instead of being empowered by birth, she becomes disempowered by it. 

Solution: In my classes, I love educating moms about their choices and helping them gain confidence in making the decisions that are right for them. 

Problem 3: Too Much Information That Is Hard To Turn Into Action 

Some classes are ten or more hours long. They talk about every detail of what could go wrong and give moms excessive amounts of information. The problem is that information is different from action. 

Skills are developed, not by knowing about them, but by practicing them. Just as a soccer player has to know how to kick a ball, spending time actually on the field kicking the ball back and forth and practicing scoring is critical to a player’s success. 

Classes that take too long sometimes give so much information that a mom does not know what to practice and has a lot of heady knowledge, but no muscle memory of skills that could help them relax during labor if they had practiced ahead of time. 

Solutions:

Classes should help moms gain knowledge about the process of birth and the changes that are happening in their body. They should also provide moms with tangible skills that will help them cope with contractions. 

So often, I am at a birth where a mom is struggling to cope with contractions. A well meaning person in the room will look at her and say ‘relax’. Yes, they are cuing her to do what she needs to do, but she would already be doing it if she knew how. 

One of the arts of a support person is to be able to guide a woman into relaxation. One of the jobs of a pregnant woman is to learn to complete stress cycles so that her body and mind can be relaxed, even within the intensity of birth. 

In my course, I give moms an entire toolbox of tools to help them cope with labor. One of the most useful is guided meditations and hypnosis. Finding space between contractions and learning to release when your body itself is working, is something that most of us need to practice before labor begins. 

Problem: many childbirth classes give moms too much information that leaves them feeling overwhelmed and makes it hard to implement

Solution: find a class that has prioritized teaching the most effective tools and creates a system so you know exactly what to practice before labor begins.  

Problem 4: A Class Cannot Guarantee A Birth Outcome

Some women feel that childbirth educators live in a world where birth is always simple and easy and that everything always goes as planned. The truth is that some births are not as easy as others, and that is not because mothers are lazy, it is because birth is by nature unpredictable and challenging.

There are a lot of variables that can change during labor. And women do need to be able to make informed choices along the way. 

Given that you can never control everything when it comes to your birth, is it even worth it to take a class? 

A study published in 2020 showed that moms who take childbirth classes are less likely to have c-sections or need vacuum assistance. That’s very very good!! 

But, not every mom who took a childbirth class avoided a c section. 

In the study 80 percent of women who took a class were able to have a vaginal birth while only 54 percent of women who did not take a class were able to avoid a C-section. 

Only 7 percent of women who took a class needed vacuum assistance where 22 percent of women who skipped a class needed vacuum assistance with their birth. 

It is clear that while the classes included in this study did help most moms, some moms still ended up with births that were different than their plan. 

Solution:

In my opinion, many childbirth educators miss opportunities to help moms overcome challenges and have the births they want in a few ways. Most of the complications my doula clients have faced have been the cause of medical complications or babies in difficult positions. These things are not 100 percent preventable. But, they often are by using nutrition and exercise. Unfortunately, many birth classes entirely skip prevention. They don’t realize how important it is that a woman prepare her body and mind for birth. 

That is why we teach the nutrition and exercises that help keep a mom healthy and safe in the first place. We then add some motivation to put your knowledge into action by offering giveaways for things like strollers, baby carriers and even a years worth of diapers when you share pictures of which things you are doing from the class. 

Problem: taking a birth class cannot guarantee and outcome 

Solution: choosing a class that teaches prevention through exercise and nutrition as well as the birth process itself will help a mom reduce her risks for C-sections and other interventions. 

Problem 5: Childbirth Classes Are More Expensive Than Information Available For Free On The Internet 

It’s true, childbirth classes are time consuming and not always cheap. There is more information about birth available for free on the internet now than at any time in the past. The downside of information on the internet is that while some of it is high quality, much of it glosses over many of the important things. It can also take much more time to find answers, as you may have to read or listen to several pieces of content to get a quality answer.

Another problem with gathering information from the internet is you could end up with what I call the chopped recipe problem. Can you imagine if you go to cook spaghettin and first you throw the noodles into the pan, then you turn the stove on, then you take the noodles out, then you add water?

You di all the right things, but in the wrong order, and so your meal was a disaster. This is a huge problem with free info from the web. But… there’s still the problem of cost.

Also, since many women don’t know what they don’t know, they aren’t asking all the questions that would be covered in a high quality class and may end up with gaps in their education that could have helped them. 

Solution: 

Costs of childcare education classes can be prohibitive to some. It is good to know that many insurances cover some or part of childbirth classes. You can also use your Health Savings Accounts or Flexible Spending Accounts to pay for classes as well. I always save space in my class for a few scholarships for moms who really need education but do not have the funds. Please email me at contact@shebirthsbravely.com for the application if you need it. 

Problem: Childbirth classes require an investment of time and money. Free information can leave moms confused and lacking information that they need.

Solution: Check if you insurance will reimburse you for some or all of the costs, use a HSA for FSA account if you have one.

What Will A Childbirth Education Class Do For You?

I have seen both sides of birth, many times. Personally, I’ve experienced the birth that had intervention after intervention and ended in an unwanted C-section in the middle of the night. I’ve also had the birth that went so perfectly it felt like a dream. 

As a doula, I have walked both paths with moms. I do feel that in general, I see that students of high quality childbirth classes differ in a few ways than those who decide to skip the education part of preparing for birth. 

They have a strong belief in the process of birth and in themselves. By this I mean that they understand the process they are a part of, and are able to embrace it with joy and wonder instead of fear and anxiety.

They are able to ask questions that help them make informed decisions along the way.

They are full of awe at the work involved in giving birth and the partnerships they formed with each other as they birth their babies.

And above all, they see it as their right to have a positive and beautiful beginning.

Birth is challenging, it can also be wonderful.

If you are feeling anxiety about giving birth, I would love to see you inside my class, Birth Undone where we help you undo your fear, undo your risk, and undo pain. Come take a peek.