The Need for Early Comprehensive Childbirth Preparation
“I went to the hospital to give birth as a low risk pregnancy and by the time I left I had become high risk. What happened?” say too many birthing parents today. Many birthing parents today think that not preparing for childbirth, or even just taking a typical hospital prep class, is adequate. They remain mostly uninformed about what really matters in birth such as the importance of the mother’s state of mind, feeling safe, and optimal positions for birth which can result in shorter labors and fewer interventions.
In many places, well-care trends surrounding birth are not good
Historically, midwifery was banned in the USA. Consequently, birth was held in a patriarchal system with a positivistic, western view of medicine. Births which had traditionally taken place in homes moved to the hospital, where mothers were subjected to a clinical approach with medical technology. Hospitals, a place for severely ill people, are typically a place parents are to go through the natural, healthy process of having a baby! Today, there is a trend towards more certified nurse midwives (CNMs) in hospitals and certified professional midwives (CPMs) at homes, who have a natural and more holistic philosophy about birth. However, many more are needed.
Better births lead to babies’ exceptionally significant neurodevelopment
We now know what happens in a newborn’s first moments after birth, matters the most! A newborn baby expects to remain close to his mother when born. This creates set points for the baby's balanced nervous system and ideal brain development. Instead, the baby is often separated either after a cesarean, prematurity, or drugs from interventions that are in a baby's system and which hamper the potential natural path to health. Mother/baby skin-to-skin contact results in happier and healthier mother/baby relationships which equates to higher latch success plus early and ongoing breastfeeding - assuring optimal, personalized nutrition for the baby.
Parents need courage to take action for their own and their babies’ well-being.
Taking time and care early in pregnancy to understand the value of evidence-based, early childbirth preparation, is absolutely key to being empowered for birth. Too often, hospital classes share minimal information and focus on what to expect from hospital policies… the minimum you may want to know; but not adequate to create ideal ease and health for the experience of birth.
Birthing parents have a choice in preparation for birth for themselves and their babies:
- Decide to invest in excellent, comprehensive consumer oriented, evidence based childbirth classes in the first or second trimester… OR
- Take none or minimal childbirth preparation for the birth of their babies.
This means forfeiting the best possibilities for labor and birth, their own safety, baby’s health and family ease after birth.
Well-trained childbirth educators and doulas know how to inform parents, provide physical and emotional support and quietly facilitate the unfolding potential for a joyous birth. They put smart decision making in the parents hands, creating confidence by building the mother’s faith in herself and baby. They trust parents in becoming the potential to bring a new soul into the world. We need birth workers who really know themselves, can listen actively to parents’ needs, offer support from a strong evidence-base, and come from values like trust and love.
- We need birth workers who prioritize the mother-baby as one, with zero separation, focusing on safety and long-term wellness for them both.
- Most mothers (~90%), with low-risk pregnancies, deserve to give birth in a place where they feel safe, and where the birth team has trust and faith in the mother’s innate ability to give birth.
- We need more birthing parents to be aware of the impact high quality, holistic, comprehensive, evidence based childbirth education can have on the outcome of their births.
Good news: Mothers are asking for more homebirth and midwifery care, but in many local areas the options for midwifery or birth centers are quite minimal.
The pandemic brought to the forefront many broken pieces in medical systems. Institutions and workers were beyond pressured to manage covid and resources lessened for other priorities. For hospital births, mothers felt less safe than before - partly because essential supporters for mothers (doulas or a trusted female friend or family member) were not allowed. Adequate preparation for childbirth, including understanding informed consent and very typical cascading interventions in hospitals (and the accumulating risks to mom and baby) are key.
The last years also brought to light more deep issues of mother and infant mortality related to race and other factors that weave a complex intersectionality that may need decades to dismantle. This validates even more the value of childbirth preparation, for those impacted groups.
Preparation and looking inward takes deep courage and includes:
- connecting with feelings and beliefs about birth and choosing those that serve best
- working through past grief and future fears, to allow moms to relax to be present through labor and with baby
- understanding human values - to trust that our bodies to birth and the little human coming
The long-term value of being parents who are well prepared for birth is priceless since memories of our births last a lifetime. Comprehensive childbirth preparation that integrates the mind, body, and spirit through the practice of human values empower and transform a mother, and prepares her for the early weeks of parenting. These impact health outcomes and well-being and future development of our babies.If you are pregnant now, be wise and take time in your busy schedules to become informed about what to anticipate and expect in birth. Learn about optimal pelvic positioning, human values in birth, and primal health to name a few. Find yourself with more confidence and decreased fear about birth. Become empowered as parents and impact the well-being of future generations, by signing up for our workshops now. It is never too late and the experience is worth its weight in gold.