Childbirth Education Resources: online classes, videos, and books
I saw a post from a friend the other day that caught my eye. I haven't seen her in a long time and I just found out she is expecting! She posted that her doctor told her that she is in the point in her pregnancy that she would be scheduling childbirth classes and a hospital tour, but because of the pandemic she was told to "Google or YouTube it".
Now I understand that there is a pandemic and to reduce risk of spread people are being told to stay home and away from medical facilities unless it is vital to their well being. But seriously... the doctor couldn't do better than that?!
So I'm going to write about some childbirth resources for expecting moms. Because, mom and partner, I don't want you to go into this blind. Having a baby is a life changing experience. It can be traumatic even with the best laid plan. But knowing your options and having the information you need to help mom when she needs it most are vital to ensuring mom's safety and well being, mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually. Child birth is a delicate process, and no one should have to go into it blind.
1. What do you want.
First things first. What does mom want. Mom do you want an epidural? Do you want an un-medicated birth? Do you want some medications to ease pain but not be paralyzed from the waist down? This will impact your choices of materials and information going forward. In my childbirth class we were only given information pertaining to our choice to this question. I will say, it would be helpful to learn about your options (if this is what you need right now, proceed to step 3). One thing with childbirth is that things can change. You can get into the throes of contractions and discover that you would like something for pain, and knowing your options would be helpful at that time. I have had friends who planned on a vaginal birth and then ultimately delivered via Cesarean section. Knowing what this process involves would be helpful ahead of time, even if this is not your plan, just in case. Also, WHERE you are delivering can impact these choices. If you are delivering at a birthing center they may have limited options for pain management. Talk to your doctor or midwife about your options.
Take some time to write about what you want from your childbirth experience. How do you envision it. What do you dream of. In your ideal scenario, how do you see things going?
2. Make your plan.
In my experience, there comes a time in the labor process where I went inward. My eyes were closed, I shut everything out because I was focused on breathing and using my contractions to deliver my baby. I wasn't thinking about what the nurse was asking me, I wasn't able to answer questions, and at times I couldn't even open my eyes when asked. All this to say, make your plan known. Write it down. Talk to your birth partner about your plan and give them a copy. Bring a copy to your next doctor/midwife visit. Bring copies to the hospital to give to the people present at your birth. Just make sure that everyone is on the same page.
There are some resources online for writing your birth plan. I will list a few here:
1. The Bump's pdf birth plan worksheet
2. The Baby Center's pdf birth plan worksheet
3. Educate yourself
The last step is education. For you and your birth partner. There are different ways to gain information about birthing without having to physically attend a birth class.
Online birth classes
1. Lamaze International has a fabulous website. They also offer online pregnancy and childbirth classes here. Some are free and some are at a cost.
2. Kopa Birth has an online childbirth class for natural hospital birth here
3. Baby Center has childbirth class videos on their website for free! You can access it here. There are 7 different chapters for you to follow along at your own pace.
4.. I found an online class taught by a labor and delivery nurse named Hilary you can access here.
After researching I found a few sites that had a compilation of birth videos, so I will put some of those links here for you:
1. An article on Care.com titled "12 baby birth videos that (really) prepare you for the big day" you can access here. There are birth videos for basically every scenario... from natural birth to c-section to multiples.
2. YouTube has a page called "Childbirth Media Center" that has tons of videos on all different topics here.
- Ina May's Guide to Childbirth by Ina May Gaskin
I hired a doula for both of my births. She recommended the book Ina May's Guide to Childbirth which you can access here. It was such a wonderful resource for learning what the female body can do, and how to use your mind and body for you during the labor and birthing process. I did not read it before my first birth, but I wish I had. There are some tips for labor partners as well that can help.
-What to Expect When You're Expecting by Heidi Murkoff
I read this book in my first pregnancy, and then re-read it in my second pregnancy. You can access it here. It gives tons of great information about the week to week, month to month changes that you may experience in pregnancy. It details pregnancy, labor and delivery, and what to expect after the baby is born.
- The Mama Natural Week-by-Week Guide to Pregnancy and Childbirth by Genevieve Howland
I did not know about this book during my pregnancies, but I wish I did! Howland has a blog and YouTube channel that you can watch for her funny and informational videos. You can access her book here.
4. Get Ready
So now you've written in your journal about your dream birth experience, you've written your birth plan, you've educated yourself and your partner on your options and goals for birth. So now... it's time to get centered. Be in contact with your doctor or midwife about the policies at your birthing place and ask about any updated policies specific to Covid-19. Plan for what you can but try to be flexible. Information gives you power. Also, something my doulas reminded me of... women have been giving birth since the beginning of human existence. Your body is made for this. You know what to do, your body knows what to do, and your baby knows what to do.
And don't forget to breathe.