If you're pregnant and you've been having second thoughts about signing up for childbirth classes, seminars, workshops, don't second guess and attend one. Science has proven it can give you an advantage once you step into motherhood.
Of course, these classes don't automatically transform you into a master of breastfeeding or even diaper changing — these skills take practice. And to learn how to manage contractions or to push a baby out in a classroom setting is way different than experiencing labor pains firsthand. But they do a lot in preparing you mentally; you gain confidence with the information you receive. It will show you what to expect at childbirth, help you understand what happens to your bodies, and the basics of newborn care.
A study published in BMJ Open showed prenatal education could help moms have a positive birth experience and save hospital bills as well. And, as a study published in the Journal of Maternal/Child Nursing noted, women who are satisfied with their childbirth experience are more likely to take care of herself and her family better.
Katherine Hinic, Ph.D., R.N.C., A.P.N., assistant professor at the College of Nursing in Seton Hall University in New Jersey, gathered more than a hundred new moms who gave birth to a healthy full-term baby and had plans of breastfeeding. They were asked to answer a survey about birth satisfaction, stress, and confidence in their nursing skills. She and her colleagues were able to identify factors that affected a mom's childbirth satisfactory ratings.
As expected, the shorter the labor, the more satisfactory was the birth experience. What was surprising, as highlighted in Popsugar's report of the study, was that "receiving pain management had no bearing on childbirth satisfaction. What did matter was whether the mother had the power to choose her method of pain medication.
Those who felt they had a choice gave moms a more positive childbirth experience and were more satisfied. They were also inclined to take up breastfeeding. These were women who took the extra time and effort to learn about childbirth, and they feel they made better and informed choices because of the proper information they sought and received.
Here's another finding from a study led by research specialist Dr. Kate Levett and her colleagues from the The University of Notre Dame Australia, The National Institute of Complementary Medicine, and Western Sydney University, in Australia. It showed that educating women about pregnancy and childbirth can help families save on hospital costs and even reduce cases that warrant medical interventions, specifically C-sections.
A prenatal education can teach the moms how to stay healthy while pregnant. And she will at least be informed if medical intervention is even necessary. If your labor is progressing normally, and you and your baby are in good condition, there should not be any need for intervention, according to the World Health Organization (WHO) in its new childbirth guidelines.
Childbirth classes offer you knowledge to make good choices for yourself and your baby. Use it to have the most positive birth experience, whether it's a natural delivery or a C-section because as Hinic points out, your mental health is paramount. A woman's birth experience stays with her and affects her ability to care for her baby. Better birth experiences are more likely to give birth to better moms, too.