Women who book with me for care will know that I am a firm advocate of independent childbirth education classes. Why do I feel that these classes are so important? It’s not that I believe that women need to be taught how to give birth, because I know that women's bodies are designed to birth babies, and for the most part, women birth their babies without any help from anyone else. Yet I still believe these classes are important ... vital, even. This is because all pregnancies and births involve choice.
And to exercise our choices responsibly, we need to have knowledge.
It is that simple.
If we do not know what choices we have, we do not have any.
If we are aware of our choices but lack any information about the implications of each path, we may not make responsible choices that lead us to a healthy birth and baby.
We have choices around care providers, place of birth, testing in pregnancy, interventions in birth, type of birth, methods of feeding a baby, postnatal care issues and early parenting choices.
Labour and birth and early parenting are not the times to be learning new information for the very first time: these are times in our lives when we are not in a state to take in new information and assimilate it. This learning is best done in pregnancy, so that the time we get to labour, birth and baby, we are already aware of our options and our preferred choice.
Independent childbirth education classes cover more than basic hospital classes, in my opinion. They will teach you everything from late in pregnancy to labour, birth and caring for your new baby. They will provide all of the content of hospital-based classes and much more: more time, more resources and more attention.
The couples I have worked with over the years have been delighted with the classes they have attended, coming away feeling relaxed and calm, confident and knowledgeable. They have helped enormously with birth planning and preparing for birth and baby, and with choices and decision-making.
Melissa Maimann is an endorsed eligible midwife in private practice in Sydney. One of the first eligible midwives in Australia, Melissa now offers a range of care options for women including private midwifery care, antenatal shared care and birth support. Visit Melissa's website to learn more about her services.