If you’re pregnant and reading this, take a moment to imagine this: you’ve just given birth to your gorgeous baby. It was hard work, and you did it! You are transfixed by your baby’s tiny, beautiful body and newborn scent. You’re ready to rest, snuggle, and take your time learning how to feed and bond with this precious new life you made.
Now, welcome back to the present moment. There will be many more moments and decisions to make between today, and holding your baby. This article was born from my sincere desire for all birthing parents to have access to good quality information to navigate these choices. The information ahead may sound like a gory foreign language at first, with bloody show, colostrum and diastasis recti among its vernacular, while vernix caseosa sounds more like an incantation you’d hear from the likes of a sputtering Gandalf or Harry Potter, wands spitting golden, magical sparks to the sky. In our reality, this Latin-gore terminology can help empower you with information, clues, and guideposts as you approach this new, unknown landscape that is giving birth and becoming a parent.
Your best bet to guide you toward the birth of your dreams will be to invest in a cohesive, comprehensive childbirth course led by someone who can walk you through your options, explain what they are, when they might come up, and give you tools to make decisions that are right for you.
“But I’m overwhelmed with work, pregnancy exhaustion, insomnia, planning for a baby and the million other things that come with having this child!” I hear you. Now, I invite you to take one long, slow, deep breath, and consider this: in your life, what is the most expensive thing you’ve ever invested in? Your wedding? College? Rent or mortgage? A car? Surgery? While this is a list of important things that improve our lives or make us who we are, the things on this list generally affect us in a significant way.
Since becoming a parent myself, I now intimately live the fact that giving birth to a baby indeed has affected every part of my life: it starts with your physical body and your recovery journey after birth, to your mental and emotional self, to any relationships supporting you in new parenthood. All of these facets of “us” initiate a ripple effect that touches the rest of our postpartum life, and continues to affect all these aspects of our life…forever. *Cue that deep, long, slow breath cycle.*
“Ok, I get it. Birth is a big deal. I’m pregnant and anxious enough already, not to mention stressed about the finances of raising a child. So why do I need to spend even more money on info I can find for free on YouTube or for super cheap in my hospital birth class?”
- Reliability. Most hospital classes offer information in the context of how to be a good patient: how to follow hospital rules and protocols, walking you through the ins and outs of the narrow view of birth according to the majority of parents who walk through their doors for a planned epidural. Please hear me out: I have nothing against an epidural when used at the right time for the right person. I want you to have the chance to explore ALL of your options for your birth. Hollywood and mainstream media does not paint the picture that each parent is an autonomous human being who is a paying customer of healthcare services, employing the hospital staff and inviting them to your precious and unique birth experience of your child. This shift takes a mindset change, and a better understanding of your rights as a healthcare consumer and birthing person. A class can guide you to think differently about preparing for your birth, and help you discover all of your options, not just what birth at THAT hospital looks like, with their policies and regulations that are often 17-20 years behind current evidence based practices and recommendations.
- “I’m not sure if I can give birth without an epidural. So I’ll plan to get the epidural; I don’t need to take a class.” My challenge for you: do the hard, emotional, and sometimes grueling inner work of getting honest with yourself (and any support people you trust) and let a great quality childbirth education series walk you through, step by step, why you are set on that epidural. Give yourself the gift of exploring the ins and outs of the birth process, and learn your actual options in childbirth.
Every decision you make has pros and cons. If you only focus on the pros of the decisions your heart is currently set on, you are robbing yourself of the opportunity of a fully informed experience. What if you learn that a debilitating headache is a possible (not probable, but possible) side effect of getting that epidural? Maybe you’ve suffered from migraines in your life, and you want to steer clear and prevent this side effect from hijacking your beautiful birth experience. I deeply believe that the more information you have before your birth unfolds, the better equipped you will be to make an informed decision that is right for you and right for your family.
- Accountability. If you choose to pay for and sign-up for a childbirth education series, you are more likely to participate in the entire series and truly understand your options in birth. You’re committing to a set number of meetings or lessons in a childbirth education series, and when you pay money for something you are more likely to value it and see it through to the end instead of losing interest or thinking you’d rather watch Netflix than hear a random YouTuber talk about body fluids in labor. Go the extra mile, your birth, your body, your baby can only benefit from this investment of your time, energy, and money.
It’s true, there are a lot of decisions in any childbirth experience. And to be lovingly frank: welcome to parenthood! Birth is in every way an initiatory process, it often asks us to go deeper and discover parts of ourselves we have not yet met, and isn’t this true for most life-changing challenges and events? My wish for you is that you feel accomplished, triumphant even, having birthed your baby as the primary, active decision maker in your unique birthing process. Do you know why I want this for you? Parents who feel heard, listened to, and respected as unique decision makers in their birthing process are more likely to believe they had a positive experience. Rather than expecting all things to unfold according to your birth plan or expecting that you can control things, childbirth education can offer a sense of control in better understanding the myriad decisions that truly are yours to make at each step of your journey.
I hope you take time in your planning process to validate and affirm all the time and energy you’re investing in your preparations. If you’re reading this (I’m always happy to offer positive vibes) hurray for you! I hope resources like this blog and the Newmom.me resource platform support and uplift you in your journey. Amongst the plethora of skilled providers and available classes and consultations, you’re on your way to crafting the exact, supportive village you deserve as you give birth to yourself as the parent to this lucky child.
Online class recommendations for first time parents:
#1 Recommendation for understanding all of your options in birth: Evidence Based Birth, live via Zoom (Including planning your location & team; understanding your pain medication options & the epidural birth experience; non-pharmaceutical pain management tips such as breathing techniques, movement & position changes, acupressure, and loads of tips and tricks)
Plan for your physiologic, “natural” birth in any birth setting:
Self Paced: Intentional Birth
Live via Zoom: Badass Natural Birth
*Both include planning your location & team; non-pharmaceutical pain management tips such as breathing techniques, movement & position changes, acupressure, and loads of tips and tricks)
Robyn Comfort is a birth and postpartum doula and lactation educator counselor with a passion for helping families explore ALL of their options in childbirth. Robyn specializes in perinatal and pelvic floor yoga and passionately helps birthing parents reconnect to their breath, core and pelvic floor so they may redefine their power as parents and fully heal after any birth. She advocates for families having access to good quality information outside of the hospital monopoly on maternity care, and wishes parents access the best tools possible for any choices they desire. She wants families to know they have safe, empowering options with midwives in birth centers and at home, if they desire to explore the full spectrum of their human right to options in childbirth. Robyn is completely biased in that she had a wild and empowering homebirth. Giving birth reinforced for her that while birth is hard, we can do it with good tools and good support, and that everyone deserves to enjoy the right to make decisions that feel right for them for their one wild and precious life.