Are Birth Classes For Women Planning An Epidural?
One thing that we as a company and our fabulous birth instructors get asked on occasion is this:
“Are birth classes for women planning an epidural?”
The short answer is a surprising yes. And we aren’t just saying that because we sell birth classes. No matter what kind of birth you are planning, we highly recommend that you take a comprehensive class of some sort. Yes, our classes certainly do focus on preparing you for a natural birth, but they are so much more than that.
Here are some reasons why a birth class is right for women and their partners, even those planning a medicated birth.
-You will still labor-
Yes, it is true, you can’t get the epidural at the very first contraction. Providers vary, but typically you won’t be given an epidural until at least four centimeters dilation and you will probably need to be showing some signs of active labor (ie, contractions are regular and steady and your body is working pretty hard.)
This means that even if you WANT an epidural, you will likely have to wait to get it. What do you do in the meantime? Having some tools at your disposal will help both you and your partner make the time in early labor fun and exciting rather than scary and excruciating.
In class you will learn to relax with your partner. You will learn to work together. You will even learn when an epidural is appropriate and when it isn’t as well as some of the other options available to you. Even if you aren't planning a homebirth or a natural birth, you will learn there are lots of tools that can prepare you to have the kind of birth you want.
-Avoiding a c-section-
Your class can also help you avoid a c-section. (Our class graduates have significantly lower c-section rates than the national average.) Authorities like ACOG (American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists) even recommend that women have non-pharmaceutical coping tools in order to lower the c-section rate.
“Increasing women’s access to nonmedical interventions during labor, such as continuous labor and delivery support, also has been shown to reduce cesarean birth rates.”
In class, your partner will learn how better to provide that “continuous labor and delivery support” and you will learn about other people on your birth team that can also help reduce your chance of cesarean.
The same ACOG statement mentioned above also lists the main reasons for primary c-section. Number one is “labor dystocia” which means basically a “slow labor.” You will be amazed the things you will learn in class that will enable you to speed your labor, as well as feel more empowered when it comes to avoiding many other things you may not want. Knowledge helps remove fear and helps you make decisions you feel comfortable with in the moment and years down the road.
Another thing you will learn in your class concerns induction and the various drugs, like Cytotec and Pitocin,often used in inductions. Because induction greatly increases the c-section rate in first-time mothers, this information is important to all women whether planning a medicated or unmedicated birth.
-Strengthening your relationship as a couple-
As an instructor myself, I find that the thing I most love about class is watching couples grow closer together as they attend. This can happen in both online or in-person classes. Giving birth is a big deal and it can be stressful on a relationship with all the changes, hormones and expectations. Your class isn’t just about the epidural, it is about communication with each other, learning to touch each other, understanding what the other person wants and needs and just preparing together for your baby.
No matter how you plan your birth, a stronger relationship will benefit you as a couple and your birth and baby. There are many more decisions that will come during this time besides just epidural or not--your class will bring up these issues and give you time to decide together what works best for you so you aren't surprised later on.
Check out this video about the benefits of live classes. You can see that no matter your birth choices, a class can grow your relationship.
-There are other topics covered besides natural birth in your class-
If you start looking around at birth classes you will find that many hospitals and birth centers are offering a “buffet” style of birth class. You can choose to take a breastfeeding class, a baby wearing class, a nutrition class, a relaxation class, and so on. You pay per class and get only what you pay for.
Conversely, our classes are called “comprehensive” for a reason. We include all of those things, and then some, in one single fee. (Our online birth classes and most of our live instructors charge around 300 dollars for a 10 week series.) Your class will cover everything from exhaustive nutrition and exercise information developed just for pregnant women like you, baby care and newborn procedures, breastfeeding (including a 2 disk DVD specifically about breastfeeding), babywearing, and loads more. Why not get that information in one place, with a teacher you love and with people you have grown to know?
When it comes down to it, a childbirth class does much more than just focus on natural birth. Coping techniques, understanding what happens in the body, exercise and nutrition, friendship and a special date night to focus on the baby are all wonderful things that can be brought into your life through your attendance. A great birth class covers so much more than just birth. Check it out; you won’t regret it.
ACOG Safe Prevention of Primary C-Sections-
Cesarean risk doubled by induction in the first time mother-