For most of my clients, I recommend they take a Childbirth Education course of some kind. Be it in person or online, just so long as it's not Dr. Google or the dramatize (unrealistic) movies/TV. I said "for most" because there are a few exceptions to this rule: if you've taken a class recently for a previous birth, for example, you might not need to retake a class. But overall, childbirth education classes are beneficial no matter what kind of birth experience you hope to have (non-medicated, epidural, planned cesarean, etc.).
So, what do you even learn at a childbirth education class that could be so important? You'll learning all kinds of things from the stages of labor, to common medical terms and interventions, to techniques and options during the intensity that is birth.
Many classes give you a crash course (sometimes longer) in coping techniques for labor. These will vary depending on the class/instructor, but in general they'll give you (and me!) a starting point to talk about breathing, relaxation, self-hypnotism, heat/cold, counter-pressure, vocalizing, dancing, etc. [For more information on my one day, intensive childbirth classes that focus on comfort and coping during labor, go here.] Coping mechanisms are tools you can use to relax, refocus, and promote your comfort. These in turn promote the progression of labor by releasing more oxytocin into your system, something that stress hormones prevent. The added benefit? Relaxation also promotes endorphins which reduces your pain.
Many classes encourage you to bring your birthing partner, be it your spouse, life partner, relative, or friend. Your birthing partner can benefit from the same knowledge. Understanding what has to happen during labor and what to expect can take some of the fear out of the experience for them as well as give them tools for how best to support you. This support comes from the knowledge as they can help you ask questions and comfort techniques as you learn together some you may never have thought to try before.
In short, Childbirth Education Classes give you a jumping off point to empowerment. They give you basic knowledge and information on how to get more. As a doula, I'm here to fill in the gaps and/or help you dive in deeper. My services don't replace a class and your own research; they complement them.
I'm the owner of Sage Roots. Woman, wife, mother, doula, writer, bookworm, hiker, gamer, and Christian.