I occasionally get phone calls from pregnant women who say,” I’m due in 3 weeks and I’m looking for a childbirth class. Do you have a class coming up?” To be honest, I really want to reach through the phone and slap that person or maybe shake her up a bit and ask her why she waited so long! It’s a good thing that’s not possible. Yes. I know. That’s not very yoga-like. Ahimsa is the Sanskrit word for non-violence. I shouldn’t even think like that but well, I’m human.
Why is it that pregnant women think they can learn whatever they need to know in 10 hours or less? Why is this important little tidbit of information not common knowledge?
That little tidbit of information requires a big loud announcement! So here goes:
“If you want a safe birth and a healthy birth for your baby, start taking your childbirth class in your 5th month! Preparing for labor and birth is like preparing for a marathon. You must prepare physically and mentally!”
Since I’ve been a Bradley Method ® teacher for 20 years, I am partial to the Bradley Method of Natural Childbirth®. But honestly, I just want you to take any childbirth class. At the very MINIMUM the childbirth class you take should be no less than 10 hours long- MINIMUM! You just can’t learn all you need to know to be ready and here are 9 reasons why:
- Physical preparation requires doing daily exercises that strengthen and stretch your body so that the marathon of labor doesn’t exhaust you. By doing daily exercises (there are 5 specific exercises taught in the Bradley® classes plus walking swimming or yoga). You will not only help labor to go more smoothly but you will also find yourself more comfortable during your pregnancy.
- Confidence will grow as you learn more and more about the normal and natural process of labor and birth. When you learn why and how your body grows and then births your baby, you will be amazed. The education you get will replace that fear and anxiety with knowledge and confidence.
- Practice, practice, practice. It’s not only important to practice the daily physical exercises but you will learn 12 different relaxation techniques in Bradley® classes. When you practice your relaxation techniques during those last 3-4 months of your pregnancy, your body and mind will be able to stimulate the relaxation response in labor whenever you need it. The key to natural birth is mastering relaxation techniques and abdominal breathing, and knowing which positions will make you more comfortable and help your baby descend.
- Nutrition is so important in having a healthy pregnancy and getting your baby off to a good start in life. That’s why we really emphasize excellent nutrition in our Bradley Method® classes. The first important lesson we teach is getting adequate protein. The majority of my students are not eating enough protein. When you learn that every cell is formed from protein, you are motivated to eat the best diet for your baby.
- Relaxation, like I wrote above in # 3 is the key to labor. Once you learn the techniques, you practice. then you can begin to see yourself confident and relaxed during the stresses of labor.
- Education. Without even knowing the curriculum of a class, how much more do you think you would learn in a curriculum that takes 24 hours compared to one that teaches 10 hours of content? Here is what one mom said after taking the Bradley Method® class, “Thanks for everything. It was a GREAT class. Very informative and interesting and, as Jonny expressed, ought to be mandatory for all expectant parents!”
- If you begin in your 5th month or even your 6th month, that gives you 3 months at least to mentally prepare and physically prepare. You would give at least that amount of time to prepare for a big important certification test, or a marathon.
- Most dads, given the knowledge and confidence, would rather be a full participant in the birth of their child rather than an observer. One dad said, ” Without your classes to educate me and give me an understanding of everything that was going to happen, I would not have had any confidence and I certainly would’ve felt more like an observer than someone with decision-making abilities participating in this amazing process.” Bryan M.
- A curriculum that teaches 24 hours of information works because it gives parents not only the knowledge and understanding of the birth process, but also the right questions to ask in the event that unexpected things occur. It works! 90% of Bradley students who give birth vaginally do so without medication.