Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Pregnant? Don’t Wait To Become Educated

You JUST found out you’re pregnant. Congratulations! I could say the same cliche lines that most people give, like everything will change, or you’ll have your hands full or something to that extent. All those things are true, however, my sage advice is this:

Learn as much as you can - and start now.

Most couples wait until they are at the very end of their pregnancies to take a childbirth education class. And truthfully, that makes sense. It is called childBIRTH education after all. However, I think the term “pregnancy, birth, and postpartum education” is more fitting when you’re talking about a quality childbirth education class.

The majority of information that we get about birth in today’s culture comes from our friends, the media, or the internet. Obviously, those are not always reliable sources. Yet they drastically form our opinions about pregnancy and birth, many times in devastatingly deceptive ways.

Your best chance at becoming well educated about this major life transition you’re embarking on is to take a privately taught childbirth education class much earlier in your pregnancy - ideally when you’re around 20 weeks. That way, you do spend the final days and weeks of your pregnancy trying to unlearn false beliefs that you’ve built up for your entire pregnancy.

There is SO much to know about pregnancy, birthing, and the postpartum period. Trying to ingest it all in the last few weeks of pregnancy as you’re already getting ready for baby can feel like too much. Furthermore, there is a lot of valuable information for you to use DURING your pregnancy that you’d feel like you missed out on by waiting until the last minute.

Some people think that they don’t even NEED to take a childbirth education class - they think their doctor or midwife will tell them everything they need to know. So, let’s discuss that. Do you REALLY need to take a childbirth education class?

The average childbirth education class sits at around 8-10 hours of instruction. More thorough courses can be as much as 24-26 hours of instruction, and moderate classes can fall anywhere in between.

Ask any childbirth educator and they will tell you what a challenge it is to fit everything that you should know about the biggest life change you and your body will ever experience, into 8 hours. Most of them will tell you that a full 3 credit-hour semester long class would feel inadequate.

How much time can your doctor spend educating you about your upcoming birth? Let’s do the math.  

The average time that an OB spends with their patient is 5-7 minutes per visit. Monthly visits usually don’t start until 12 weeks. Then you have biweekly visits starting around 35 weeks, then weekly visits from 38 weeks until the birth, you end up with an average of approximately 1 hour of time spent with your OB prior to birth.

Midwives can spend between 30 minutes to an hour with their clients, which amounts to a conservative average of 6 hours you spend with them prior to birth.

Whether you have an OB or a midwife, their job is to be your healthcare provider and to monitor you for medical safety during pregnancy and birth. Their job is not to educate you.

Remember: how many hours was the childbirth education class? A minimum of 8 hours, right? How could they possibly give you thorough, comprehensive childbirth education in an hour prior to birth? Or even 6? Is it fair to assume that your provider is also going to take the role of educator when that’s not their job? Of course not!

It’s your job to become educated, and the sooner you start, the better! Early in your pregnancy, you can start reading. Here are a few good suggestions:

  • Ina May’s Guide To Childbirth by Ina May Gaskin
  • Birthing From Within by Pam England
  • Childbirth Without Fear  by Grantly Dick Read
  • The Birth Book by Dr William Sears
  • The Complete Book Of Pregnancy and Childbirth by Sheila Kitzinger
  • The Birth Partner by Penny Simkin

You’re going to have a baby - this is the most exciting season of your life! Learn as much about it as you can. Ask me about referrals for local educators, as there are many great ones to choose from.

To Your Health,
Dr. Felicia Conner

Sponsored by:
Flutterby Birth Services

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