A recent report from the World Health Organization set off alarm bells for many expectant parents. The report showed that newborns in 40 countries, including Cuba, South Korea and Poland, have a lower risk of death than newborns in the United States.
For expectant moms, one of the best, and often overlooked, ways of improving the odds of a safe and healthy birth is to take a good childbirth education class. But how do moms know whether they are choosing a class that will make a difference?
“A good childbirth education class can make the difference between feeling out of control and overwhelmed, and being able to handle the expected and unexpected on the day of your baby’s birth,” said Marilyn Curl, president of Lamaze International. “A really good class will also help moms-to-be avoid routine interventions like inductions and being confined to bed, which can actually increase the risks around birth.”
Here are some factors mothers-to-be should consider when selecting a childbirth education class:
1. Research the class curriculum
Ask to see the content covered in childbirth courses carefully before selecting one. There are a variety of curriculums, and different approaches may work better for different people. Some courses do little more than orient women to the procedures of the hospital, regardless of whether those protocols are backed by research findings.
Curl cautions that women should be wary of ‘patient obedience classes.’ “Any class that simply focuses on what women are or are not allowed to do according to the procedures of the institution is not going to equip them properly for labor and birth.” Curl said.
Expectant parents should consider what they want to gain from taking the class and make sure those points are part of the curriculum. Lamaze classes focus on educating parents about six safe and healthy birth practices that are based on extensive clinical research. “Women rarely receive all of the best care practices, so it is critical for parents to educate themselves about their options,” Curl said.