Birth in the Know

Best Time to Prepare for Childbirth

Confident mom and dad

Is there a best time to prepare for childbirth? I have spoken and written about this topic before. When I see or hear questions about what practitioners do, or what happens in various hospitals in birth, it makes me wonder about the best timing for childbirth preparation classes.

It often seems like women are asking questions about practice and protocol late in the game, when preparing for childbirth.  For example, a woman is 7 months pregnant and takes a birthing class. She learns about the 10 Questions to Ask her provider. The answers are not exactly what she was looking for.

What happens next? Is it time to switch providers? Maybe it’s time to hire a doula? Does she go along with whatever her care provider says?

At 7 months pregnant, preparing for childbirth, it’s not the best time to change your caregiver. Yet, if you are seeking specific things for your birth, or wanting to avoid lots of interventions, and your doctor or midwife doesn’t do things that way, you get to make a choice.

hiring a doula isn’t necessarily the answer, even thouth doulas are awesome. they are not there to save you from a provider that has no intention of honoring your wishes.

You can go along with whatever your provider says, yet that doesn’t make any sense. It is like saying: “I am powerless and I give you permission to do what you want.” This is a scenario that plays out quite often in birth.

Getting back to the original question about preparing for childbirth, and the best timing for a childbirth class,  sometime during the first three months of pregnancy would be ideal. Typically this is when most women seek care. They can ask all the questions to several different providers. Then choose the best one for them.

The first thing to do is learn about what the questions are and about the various doctors and midwives, hospitals, birth centers, and homebirth options in your geographic location. What makes sense to you? Where would you feel safe? Do you have insurance? If so, what does it cover?

There is a lot to learn about. Birth has become so medicalized, and hospitals have become the place to go to give birth. Yet, the other options are also safe places. It is up to you to determine what you want. If you only watch mainstream media, and talk to friends or family that have had horrible experiences, you may become fearful.

According to a study that was conducted in 2015, the fear about childbirth develops in early adulthood or earlier, and affects the mode of birth. Particularly the fact that cesarean-section is over utilized, and is preferred by some women. Is the fear of birth contributing to that?  

I believe that addressing this fear and dispelling the myths and misinformation of childbirth would be best done even before pregnancy. The study concludes that more research is needed to see what the effects of childbirth education for young adults before pregnancy would do. Would this change the preference for mode of birth? Would it reduce the fear that contributes to that preference?

There is a lot we know and lot we don’t know. One universal thing is that childbirth is a transformative event. Fear contributes to choices and outcomes in birth, just as fear contributes to any other choice and outcome.

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