This is a question that every pregnant mother asks herself. From my experience in medical field, I realized that childbirth preparation is a very abstract concept in India. While in most of the developed countries, childbirth education is seen as a mandatory thing, we in India still rely on our mothers and grandmothers to guide us through this. I do not doubt ancient wisdom, it might be great but it nowhere prepares you mentally and physically for the journey you are about to embark. Labour is not discussed until the very last minute when you have to rush to the hospital. Yes, there is a plethora of information but for someone with no background in childbirth it might be difficult to grasp. Also, Time is a huge constraint with working mothers and they are not able to gather enough information to make an informed decision.
This is where these classes really help.
They cater to a wide range of mothers and their pregnancy issues,
They teach birthing and breathing techniques,
They talk about post-partum and new born care and
most of all, they help create a community of informed mothers who can help each other out in time of need.
I will outline some very important reasons why you should do take pregnancy preparations seriously
1. Connect to your partner
A lot of the times, couples find disconnect between themselves during pregnancy. A lot of it has to do with the fact that men cannot experience what women experience. Pregnancy classes usually have couple sessions where partners get a chance to bond; may it be feeling the baby, or breathing together or working out together. They get a sense of oneness and support which improves their bond with the baby as well.
2. Address your fears
One of the main reasons for complications before and during labour is fear.
We need oxytocin (and a lot of it) to initiate, maintain and end labour. But unfortunately (or fortunately) it is a feel good hormone (1). It releases only when you are calm and relaxed. Fear on the other hand releases adrenalin and nor-adrenalin which not only hinders with normal progression of labour but also suppresses the release of oxytocin. Pregnancy preparation is the best way to address your fears and learn coping mechanisms to calm down your mind during this time.
3. Learn about natural pain relief
We are equipped by nature to give birth and we have enough hormones to help us cope with the pain. No doubt drug induced pain relief (like gas, epidural) has its place in obstetrics, but they also increase chances of instrumental delivery (suction/ forceps) or c-section (2). Breathing techniques, music, slow dance, meditation or hypno-birthing are some of the techniques that can be used for pain relief. The bottom line is to be calm and let the hormones do their job.
4. Understanding medical interventions and complications
A lot of parents are not aware of the consequences of medical interventions and they agree to undergo them. On the contrary, I have also heard mothers say that they felt violated because they had the intervention without their consent. These classes explain you the necessity of interventions and how to give informed consent for those. When the couple is aware, hospitals are less likely to take advantage of them.
5. Learn nutrition and exercises
A lot of classes (not all) focus in depth on nutrition and exercises during pregnancy. These help your body cope with the changes in the most natural way possible.
6. Building support and community
Probably the most important thing that these classes give you is community. You can meet like-minded parents, share experiences and support each other when in need. Nothing can replace this kind of a support structure.
7. Post-partum care
No one (literally no one) talks about post partum care. Mothers deal with breastfeeding issues, post-partum depression, anxiety, sleeplessness, back pain and a host of other issues post childbirth. These classes give you a good environment to discuss these issues and take help as well when the time comes.
Well! I think I have given you some solid reasons to go and register for a pregnancy class today.