So you’re pregnant, want the very best birth for you and your baby and want to get your hands on as much information as possible! Here’s 9 great reasons why independent childbirth education is going to help give you the best chance possible at the most positive experience. So, why should you choose independent childbirth education? Because…
1. Independent Educators Are Specialists In What They Do
When you choose an independent educator, they are trained specifically in birth education. Some are also skilled in other areas including midwifery, birth attendants (doulas), natural therapists and more. Birth education is a major component of an independent educator’s work, compared to a hospital which may or may not have specialised educators. Many hospitals rotate midwives and/or physiotherapists into the job of running birth education classes, so you never know who you’ll get, what their philosophies and attitudes towards birth are and let’s face it – they may not even like presenting birth education. It may be a part of their job they are required to do. Either way, educators as passionate about education.
Independent educators know the right way to encourage both yourself and your partner to feel comfortable and engaged. You don’t want a presenter to start a session with something like this (said in a smug fashion), “You all probably want a natural birth right now, but around 40% of you are going to end up with caesareans anyway.” This is what one of my clients told me happened in their classes. Nice positive way to start the session! Sure it might be true (some of our hospitals have caesarean rates even higher than this) but negativity is catching and it’s all in how you present it. The class apparently went downhill from there so my clients walked out soon after. They went on to have one on one independent education and loved it.
Even if you’ve had a bad experience before, great birth education is so important, so don’t give up – find something better! Don’t settle for maccas when you can have a lamb roast with all the trimmings! There’s lots more you can learn from independent education that you’ve not heard in hospital based classes.
2. Information is Not Hospital Policy Biased
Hospitals all have varying maternity policies (and know that policy is not law, so you don’t have to legally do anything they tell you) so whoever makes the decisions can influence what you hear and what you can and can’t do.
Policies can be/are based on reducing potential legislation, making birth progress to their own time preferences so there are beds available, making things easier or ‘safe’ for staff – even if it’s not in the mother’s best interest. Yes that sounds strange, but in a leading Melbourne private hospital, I have seen midwives refuse to let women birth on the floor (on a mat/squatting etc) because of occupational health and safety apparently (the midwife also said she didn’t want to stand on her head to ‘deliver’ her baby). She then went on to repeatedly tell the mother to lie on her back and get off her hands and knees to make it easier. Luckily dad firmly said no.
If you’ve had hospital education (or believe what you see on t.v.!), you might think that’s just how you’re supposed to do it – “Ahhhh, I need to get on the bed and lie down my back!” which in labour becomes, “Gees it’s really painful in this position and I don’t know if I can cope anymore.” I had my two children in a private hospital and thinking about this bed issue later I found it curious that I had unconsciously gravitated towards the bed when I arrived. I guess it happened because the bed is in the centre of an empty room and I felt clueless and unsure of what to do, with no tools or decent knowledge under my belt. Lucky I know better since my births.
Most hospitals like you to be compliant and on the bed most of the time, when it’s the last place you want to be for a good labour. However, if you’ve had independent education, you would know that pushing while on your back is not only more painful, but much less effective – in fact it’s THE least productive position to push in. Why? Because your uterus which normally contracts away (or upwards if you’re lying down) from your body, which means it will be working against gravity if you are lying down. Women in labour naturally want to lean forward – something your pelvis does when it contracts, so it makes sense to work with it. Your pelvis is also least open when on your back, whereas squatting gives you up to 30% more pelvic space. Thats something pretty neat I learnt after I had given birth – but not what you’ll hear in hospital classes. And if you end up in a private hospital like the one I mentioned, you might not even be able to do that, further reason why they do not have their hospital built with the premise of helping you have the best/easiest birth possible.
Remember a hospital is a business and has business issues to consider firstly and foremostly. They don’t open with the premise to give women the best experience possible, but to have a functioning maternity unit and to succeed as a business.