The question of if and how families benefit from childbirth classes is complex. Despite some research in this area, there is wide variation among curriculum, instructors, duration and settings. Instead of drastically impacting the physiological outcomes of birth, I found that classes help families prepare mentally to “complete an important developmental milestone” (Koehn 2008) and “expand the social network of new parents” (Fabian et. al. 2005).
How do Cooperative Childbirth Education classes vary from other classes?
- Cooperative childbirth education is based on the experiences of women, not named after a male doctor who made a “discovery” through observation. While I can’t ignore the work of my male predecessors, such as Lamaze, Bradley and Grantly Dick-Read, my education was based on the writings of women in the field, such as Ina May Gaskin, Sheila Kitzinger and others.
- I write my own entire curriculum and do not follow anything copywrited. This means that I can update the information I present at will or tailor it to fit the needs of my students, without having to receive permission or approval from a certifying agency.
- Unlike hospital classes, in which the instructor, usually a Registered Nurse, is an employee of the hospital, I am independent and self-employed. Hospital classes are sometimes criticized for creating more compliant patients instead of empowered consumers.
- I have no agenda. Most classes center around “natural” or “unmedicated” childbirth as their goal. While most people seek out classes to achieve an unmedicated birth, I want families to have enough information to make the right decisions for them.
- As the Cooperative Childbirth Education website states, we are trained to be “passionate consumer advocates.” I’m not just doing a job, I’m a part of a movement. Many movements in fact, all working toward the shared goal of increasing access to childbearing options for all families.
I hope you will join me at an upcoming class, where you can prepare for your birth quest and connect with other parents!
Fabian, Helena M., Ingela J. Rådestad, and Ulla Waldenström. “Childbirth and parenthood education classes in Sweden. Women’s opinion and possible outcomes.” Acta obstetricia et gynecologica Scandinavica 84.5 (2005): 436-443.
Koehn, Mary. “Contemporary women’s perceptions of childbirth education.” The Journal of perinatal education 17.1 (2008): 11.