When I was pregnant with my oldest son, I knew it all just by reading a couple books. In the end I had a horrible birth experience, and ended up with a c-section, something I never planned, and never wanted.
In the years after my first birth, I became inspired to learn more about childbirth, and further my career into the field itself, I just didn’t know which way I wanted to at that point. I toyed around with the idea of becoming a midwife, but with two small children at home the hours were not something we could fit into our schedule, even with the great childcare we have.
And it was around January of last year that I was inspired to become a childbirth education teacher after reading a great piece written about the true need for childbirth education in our society today. The piece, by an amazing Midwife Amy Romano was on Science & Sensibility which is an amazing resource on childbirth in general. The piece was called Childbirth Literacy: What We’re Up Against. And it broke down a survey about childbirth conducted by the insurance company United Healthcare.
The women ranged in age, ethnicity, and background but consisted of 650 insured women who had given birth to their first child within the previous 18 months.
The numbers that came out of the survey were alarming, and showed how little women really knew about pregnancy and childbirth in general.
The question of: “At what gestational age do you believe the baby is considered full term?” was asked… and the results were upsetting…
25% chose 34–36 weeks
50% 37–38 weeks
25% chose 39–40 weeks
The next question was: “What is the earliest point in the pregnancy that it is safe to deliver the baby, should there be no other medical complications requiring early delivery?”
52% chose 34 to 36 weeks
while fewer than 10% chose 39–40 weeks
Yikes! This goes back to the lack of understanding when it comes to delivering so early, even at the end of pregnancy, which I posted about last week.
Amy further broke it down by saying:
The researchers did not report which women took childbirth education classes and whether responses were more accurate among women who did. But another research team has reported that childbirth classes that include specific content focusing on risks of elective induction are effective at reducing demand for such inductions. Now that hospitals face Joint Commission core quality measures for perinatal care that include refraining from elective deliveries prior to 39 weeks, the results of UnitedHealthcare’s survey strongly suggest that educating women about the risks of cutting a healthy pregnancy short will play an important role in helping hospitals comply.
With all said and done, it inspired me not only to write my own post on my website, but start to truly peruse the education I needed to start my journey into becoming a childbirth education teacher. Later on in the spring I booked a workshop to become a Lamaze Teacher, which was the first step. I would have sat for my certification this month, but my very unexpected pregnancy has pushed it back a little bit.
Then my own experience, as well as friends and family, and perfect strangers I have talked to made me start to think about how little importance we place on really becoming educated when it comes to pregnancy and birth. Lets face it… the 10 minute prenatal check ups most women are having once a month for most of their pregnancy aren’t going to be telling them everything they need to know, and most women are sitting in a waiting room longer than they are actually talking to their provider. We cannot expect providers to be providing the comprehensive education women need in order to make informed and educated decisions.
You simply cannot learn everything you need to know in one 8 hour childbirth education class a hospital or center may provide. If you are truly interested in learning, and being truly prepared for your experience, make the time for a 6 week long course. Heck, if my good friend who is a pediatrician in her own solo practice can make time for a 12 week course, what are the excuses some others have?
All-in-all if you want to be prepared for everything that can happen, ideally that is your best option, and I learned that the hard way after a bad birth experience, and having no one to blame but myself for not learning more.
Research, look for different teachers, different backgrounds, different kinds of classes and find what suits you best, and what you want for your experience. If someone is telling you that you will know everything you need to in 8 hours, run screaming…