Saturday, January 5, 2008
Childbirth Classes - Not Too Popular
I remember the "60's" and one of the off shoots from the women's movement was women getting in touch with their bodies and reproduction. It is hard to imagine now, when Brittany is flashing her bare crotch to photographers and soft porn is on family time TV, but back then women actually came together in "feminist" groups to learn about their bodies. An entire industry of prenatal "Childbirth Classes" sprang up to prepare moms and dads for giving birth.
When I had my daughter in the late 1960's we had no such prenatal education. I don't remember ever being told about childbirth classes so I presume they weren't mainstream, if offered at all. Questions I asked my OB about childbirth were waved off with the admonition "We'll see about that when the time comes". Anyone who has had a baby knows that during labor is not the time to ask questions or get any reliable education. It's like learning the basics of atmospheric pressure during a hurricane. Or learning oceanography as a tsunami is approaching.
So I found it interesting to read a report in the New York Times, that pregnant women aren't attending childbirth classes anymore. What? giving birth for the first time and not wanting to learn about labor, epidurals, breathing and how the coach should give a back rub? No more practice panting? How did everyone get so well informed?
It might be that women are working right up to the time of labor and just don't have time. It might be that they expect an epidural when the first "ouch" hits and so the other techniques aren't important. It might be that the ultrasounds showing the baby waving and that cute cleft in the chin have just taken the mystery away. Or maybe, women have seen childbirth so many times on the Discovery Channel , that they know exactly what to expect.
I was excited to have the opportunity to attend a childbirth class for my 2nd baby. Even though by this time I was an experienced doctor and had delivered babies myself, I wanted the experience of being in a room with my husband and a group of other budging belly couples and hearing what the instructor had to say. But like the article points out...I was too busy and skipped the lesson on "C-sections" thinking "Oh, I know all about that". That is the lesson I should have attended.
Posted by Toni Brayer, MD at 5:02 PM