©2012. Copyright Brandy Ferner. May be reproduced with full attribution and copyright. All rights reserved.
How to Choose a Birthing Class
By Brandy Ferner
Birthing From Within Childbirth Mentor
These days, when it comes to choosing a childbirth preparation class, couples can get easily overwhelmed
by the different options and methods out there – some familiar, some not. Parents today are asking
themselves: Do I want to be hypnotized during birth? Do I want to my husband to coach me? Do I want to
birth from this place called “within”? It can be hard to know which class will be a fit until you’ve signed up
and are sitting in it.
Here are some tips and things to think about when gathering information about potential birthing classes
so that you can make an informed, thoughtful decision. Be open. When most of us seek out birthing preparation,
we are usually drawn to classes that speak to what we already know and believe, what feels comfortable to us
and what backs up our fears and hopes about birth. But after we come out on the other side of birth, we may
find ourselves shocked at what we didn’t know or what we didn’t seek out. Hunting for a birthing class is the
perfect time to open yourself up to new ideas and possibilities.
Be yourself. Your family, friends and even strangers, are sure to have opinions about what you’re eating,
where you’re birthing and surely, what kind of birthing classes you’re taking. It can be tempting to choose
the same class as your friend who swears she never felt any pain or your family who may not want you
veering off the mainstream path, but at the end of the day – your labor day – is about what you need to
know to give birth, which could very well be different from your friend, your mother or the chatty checker
at Whole Foods. Listen to what you need from a birthing class.
Look for food for your right brain. A class that simply talks at you for hours may give the left brain plenty
of stats, facts and diagrams to devour, but when women give birth, they are in their right brain – that
flowy, creative, feminine place. Opting for a class that balances left brain material with right brain material
such as ritual, art, celebration or thoughtful discussion will help to flex that right brain before labor –
making it more familiar and easier to sink into during labor.
Look for variety in pain-coping methods. Nothing is one-size-fits-all. We each get through intense
moments in different ways. Some go inward, some look outward for help, some are quiet, some need to
get loud. What makes finding the right birth preparation tricky is that you won’t know if the tool you
learned will do the job until the very moment you need it. Having a variety of tools will support your
freedom in coping with what labor may throw your way, so you may want to think twice before settling on
just one methodology.
Beware of false promises. Most birthing classes talk about instilling you with the tools to have a birth
that’s “painless,” “easy,” “blissful,” “beautiful” or some other alluring word. These classes can surely help
us stack the deck in our favor to be able to handle the intensity of labor. But beware of a class that
promises or guarantees a certain alluring outcome – there is a difference between suggesting that birth can
be blissful, for example, and that it will be. This is a tough one because any pregnant woman is vulnerable
to these types of promises and wants to believe that she can just do XYZ and get the birth of her dreams.
But let’s be clear, there are no guarantees as to what your birth will look and feel like. Even Ina May
Gaskin herself didn’t receive a “painless, easy, blissful, beautiful birth” guarantee.
Dig deep to find out how you feel about birth fear. Some birthing preparation methodologies avoid
talking about your fears about birth. Before you subscribe to this theory, ask yourself this: in my life, when
I have avoided intense emotions, such as fear, has it really eradicated the fear or just put me in a state of
denial? Check in with yourself about your need to feel heard and if verbalizing, exploring and then moving
past these fears helps you to create a more prepared and peaceful mindset (hint: it does), then look for
classes that allow you to do so.
Be gentle on yourself. Just like many pregnancy and birthing decisions you have already made – and
about a million more parenting choices just around the bend – you cannot know beforehand if you’re
making the right choice. So, what’s a parent to do? Open up, get educated, get in tune with yourself and
lovingly move forward and make decisions knowing that you are doing the best you can. There’s nothing
more to be done.
Brandy Ferner wears a variety of hats – including mother – and lives in Denver, Colorado. Born from a passion for
helping moms find their own birthing and parenting style, she is a Birthing From Within Childbirth Mentor, offers
Birth Story Medicine workshops and hosts a non-judgmental and introspective group, the Mamas Circle. She can also
be found blogging for The Huffington Post on a range of subjects from birth (of course) to beards. You can reach her
at: 720-515-7545 or firstname.lastname@example.org or find her online at http://www.mothernurturedenver.com. For more
information about Birthing From Within®, please visit http://www.birthingfromwithin.com.