As soon as you announce your pregnancy you will doubtless have many well-meaning family, friends and random acquaintances telling you their birth stories. And it’s unlikely many of these will be positive, encouraging and making you feel more excited about the actual birth!
In amongst the stories will be tales of birth plans ‘going out of the window’, or maybe that no one looked at them when it came to actually having the baby. Sometimes it’s almost like a private joke amongst those who have had a baby – the naïve first time parents writing a plan.
Maybe you have spoken to people who approached birth with the attitude of ‘they will tell me what to do’. After all the midwives and doctors looking after you are the professionals, right? They do this every day and you might be doing this for the first or second time.
So why should you bother spending time and money on antenatal classes?
1.Understanding your choices
Often one of the most significant things people take away from my antenatal classes is that they have a choice. It’s really quite sad and concerning that hearing a vaginal examination can be accepted or declined is a revelation to so many. Of course, for some birthing people there are no concerns – yes it’s a bit uncomfortable and maybe embarrassing but it’s something we do. For others it’s a trigger and can result in real anxiety and fear around birth.
Anything that happens in your maternity care is yours to accept or decline. Some things you don’t need to think about too much you are happy to accept others you might want to research a bit more or find out more about pros and cons or chances of outcomes. Ultimately though it’s always your choice. Just make sure it’s your INFORMED choice. Ask enough questions to find out what you need to to weigh up both sides and then decide what’s best for you and your baby. We’re all different and our care needs to reflect that.
2. Understanding birth
Let’s face it if you don’t understand what is going on the chances are you aren’t well placed to make those choices.
Gaining a good understanding of the basics of birth – the hormones, how your body works, what helps, what hinders, how positions might help or why breathing and relaxation techniques can make a difference will help you figure out what to do if a curve ball comes your way. In the midst of labour you might not be best placed to do the thinking and ask the questions but if you already know the basics you’ll understand a bit more of what is happening so you can make quick decisions if you need to.
And if everything is going smoothly then chances are it’s because you are using that knowledge to keep you calm and in control, working with your body and your baby.
3. Knowing you have tools to help you
Even if you already plan to use medical pain relief there will be a good part of your labour where you will be using your own coping techniques before you are ready for the more medical options.
Knowing that you have breathing techniques for different stages of your labour, being confident that you can use positions or movement to make you more comfortable and help things progress, having practiced your relaxation so you can take yourself back there with your breathing and music will all help you approach birth feeling more positive and confident. Exactly what we want!
You will also be encouraged to think more about the anchors you will be using. If you attend Daisy Birthing classes our music, breathing, movement and dimly lit rooms are all part of the muscle memory learning and are all things you can easily bring into your birth room. Maybe you add in some partner massage or a room spray or even your favourite pillow to help you.
4. Partner support
Having a confident birth partner by your side can make so much difference to your birth experience. Many partners might feel anxious about birth. Unsure about seeing their partner in pain, unsure how they can do anything, not wanting to get in the way, say the wrong thing or maybe even worried about how squeamish they might be.
Coming along to an Active Birth Workshop or Daisy Parent course means that you learn about birth together and your birth partner knows all about how birth works too. They also will know the breathing, the positions and a whole host of ways to support and encourage you. Plus you’re learning together which means lots of chance to talk through the options. You can figure out together what is important to you, where you can compromise and where you can’t. Ultimately this means you have a strong advocate by your side. If your voice isn’t strong then your partner’s can be. Doing antenatal classes together helps partners feel so much more confident that they will be able to make suggestions, ask questions and help you.
Support in classes comes in two forms. When you join an antenatal class you are there with others pregnant in the same local area, due around the same time. These are the people you can journey with through pregnancy, birth and as far beyond as you want. They are the ones struggling with night feeds, not sure why their baby is crying, desperately trying to figure out this whole parenting thing and so much more besides. And who understands? They people right there in it with you. Having a class WhatsApp group means you have someone to call on anytime (I’ve seen the middle of the night messages!) and people who get it. Not there to judge but there to hear you and offer support and tips.
Secondly you are getting me! If you sign up for Daisy classes (anywhere in the country) you don’t just turn up for the classes and walk away at the end of it. All of our teachers are so invested in the people who come to classes, we get to know you, we care and we are always here. I’m still in many of the WhatsApp groups although I keep quiet a lot of the time, and I’m always happy to help well after your classes have ended. I get messages from people in labour, breastfeeding worries, all sorts and that is absolutely part of what I do.
So come and join us. The labour room isn’t the place to start learning breathing or about birth. You want to arrive confident, positive and knowing you know enough to make your choices.
Maybe you know that a labour room isn’t for you? Is your birth going to be a Cesarean birth?
That doesn’t mean you don’t have choices, there are still lots of things that you can choose for your birth. That’s one for another day but don’t dismiss being involved in your birth or attending antenatal classes – just make sure you choose ones that will help you prepare.