Childbirth Education Classes are on the Decline

Recently, The NY Times published an article entitled The End of Childbirth 101. It is frightening.

Yes, many women are opting out of childbirth classes, nowadays (which is frightening, considering our stats as a nation)... The information that Jeannette Crenshaw, president of Lamaze International, gives is accurate: women have the mindset that they cannot give birth without medication, women do have busy schedules, and many women HAVE stopped taking CBE classes...

The information that Marjie Hathaway, co-director of the American Academy of Husband-Coached Childbirth, gives is accurate as well: women DO give more thought to prenatal testing, monitoring, and education....

Everything from then - on goes south...

The article states "Research shows that there’s no real difference in pain, labor interventions or birth outcomes among women who take childbirth classes and those who don’t".... Umm... sorry, that is so wrong. The AAHCC, alone, has a lower incidence of cesarean and medicated births than the national average. Whereas the national average for cesareans has been reported as upwards of 33% in some areas, the AAHCC reports THEIR students have an average of 10%. Also, the AAHCC has an average of 79% (teacher reported) unmedicated birth rates. Those of us in the NCB field know how very different and better outcomes of unmedicated births are.

I have a feeling they received their information from Hospital childbirth preparation classes - which we all know are classes designed to promote cooperation with hospital policies and procedures rather than education and advocacy. Independent and alternative childbirth education classes have a much better, much different result on average.

"Childbirth education started in the 1940s, after a British obstetrician published the book “Childbirth Without Fear,” advocating relaxation techniques to ease pain and fear during labor." - No, childbirth education started at the dawn of time when women attended women from an early age on through post-childbearing years during labor and birth and gave insight and wisdom as to natural, normal, and healthy labor and birth practices. Childbirth education continued in the 'New World' through lay-midwives and granny midwives to teach women of this widely-dispersed and uncolonized nation what their ancestors knew and did.

"French obstetrician Dr. Fernand Lamaze developed focused breathing techniques to help with the pain of childbirth." Actually, he took an already established method of natural childbirth pain management that was being practiced in Russia, called psychoprophylaxis, and introduced it to other parts of Europe and America. Obviously CBE was already being practiced.

"But today hospital-based classes tend to focus more on a tour of hospital facilities rather than techniques to cope with labor pain. The magazine argues that women’s declining interest in childbirth classes is worrisome because it’s happening even as childbirth has become more “medicalized'’ than ever. During childbirth, a number of variables can arise and women have to make informed decisions about procedures like epidurals, episiotomies, induction and C-sections. “That’s where you reap the dividends of having had a teacher who explained each possible intervention and showed you how to be your advocate,'’ the magazine reports."

And that, my friend, is hitting the nail on the head. What is even more frightening? The comments at the end of the article... Eeeigh!

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