When I tell people that I've had natural births, or I mention that I gave birth at home, I often get a shocked look in return. I swear, people, it's not that bad, or else I wouldn't have done it three times!!
Does that mean I think a home birth or a natural birth is the only way to go? Nope. Not even close!
I believe you should choose what's best for you, with one little caveat. I think it's important that you explore all your options. Don't make your choices out of fear. Don't let friends or family convince you to give birth their way. Find out for yourself.
All of my childbirth classes are focused exclusively on informed consent, on recognizing your own desires for your birth, and on making choices based on your unique situation.
The following three scenarios are based on real-life student experiences.
Consider: Hospital Policies Might Not Fit Your Plans
Hospitals often have minimum thresholds of active labor that you must meet before they'll give you an epidural. They don't want you in unnecessary pain, but they do want to make sure that you're really in labor before they'll call in for the anesthesiologist. For most people, this will mean at least a few hours of laboring without the aid of any medication, or without anything very strong. If you think you'd like to know some proven, solid techniques for coping with this time, or want to avoid the non-epidural pain medications, childbirth classes are for you!
Consider: Your Baby is Ready to Meet You - NOW!
Labor can sometimes be very quick (my second was 3.5 hours from the time I felt the first contraction to my son being born!) - in these cases it's not always possible to administer an epidural because you arrive at the hospital so deep in labor. Or, you arrive at the hospital nearly pushing, because you didn't think you were possibly birthing that quickly. Did I ever mention that classes talk about the best time to head in to your birthing place, too? ;-)
Consider: Your Partner Wants to Help but Doesn't Want to Ask
When we do introductions at our first meeting, I ask what interested you in classes. The pregnant woman usually has a long answer detailing all the reasons she wants to learn about birth, while her partner laughs and says, "I'm here because she made me come."
All joking aside, though, most partners are really interested in making sure labor goes well, and take their role at the birth very seriously. Nobody wants to feel useless, and it can be scary seeing someone you love in pain during labor and not feeling like there's anything you can do about it.
My childbirth classes, especially Bradley Method classes, put a big focus on how your partner or other birth support can best help you during labor. That means an easier time for both of you - always a good thing!
For some people, an un-medicated birth is exactly what's desired - and I'd love to help you make that happen!
For other people, the ideal birth means an epidural ASAP - and I'd love to help you make that birth happen, too! I will not pressure you or pester you into choosing a natural birth. In my childbirth classes you are presented with the facts about birth so you know exactly when you want to head in to the hospital and when to ask for the pain relief.
And if you're the type who wants to "keep her options open" and make the decision in the moment, then I REALLY recommend childbirth classes. What better way to make a good decision in the moment than to know all your options in advance?