At a childbirth education class recently, a father-to-be asked a very thought-provoking question: If you have a great care provider (OB/midwife), why do we need to know any of this stuff? Why not just trust them to make the decisions for you? While not comprehensive, here are a few ideas why birth education matters.
Not Every Choice Is a Clinical Choice
For instance, all of the medical evidence says that breastfeeding is the best choice for both mothers and babies. But what if you don’t want to breastfeed? Maybe you experienced trauma in your past and it’s too triggering. Maybe you know you have to return to work immediately and feel bottle feeding is the best for your family. Regardless of the reason, you are the parent and get to make the choice, even if your doctor or midwife recommends something else.
One Size Doesn’t Fit All
Not every solution is the perfect one for every situation. For instance, one midwife may routinely administer prophylactic pitocin after every birth while another may be comfortable with an individualized approach. Your preference – especially when it comes to routine procedures – may be very influential to what is ultimately done.
Care Providers Are On-Call… and Sometimes Off-Call
Most OBs and midwives are part of a group practice these days, so while you may have 100% agreement with one doctor, that might not necessarily be the case with the other seven or eight who might be on call for your birth. Having some knowledge about the procedures that may take place will help you when a doctor you are not familiar with is caring for you.
Your Intuition Matters
When I was in labor with my first child, everything in my body told me I needed to be at the birth center NOW! My husband called the midwife and told her of my symptoms. She said we didn’t need to come in yet and call back in 2 hours. I got on the phone and (in between very painful contractions) told her something wasn’t right and we were coming in. Our baby was born less than 2 hours later!
The fact is that a lot of what happens in childbirth is a choice or preference. Childbirth education – comprehensive, interactive, non-judgmental classes – can provide you with the context needed to help you discover those choices or preferences for yourself.