Knowledge is the key to a safe, successful pregnancy, birth and parenting experience. At the very least childbirth education will improve your birth experience, and at best it can save your life. Of the million plus women who become pregnant in South Africa each year, those who receive antenatal care and quality childbirth education are the most likely to experience a healthy pregnancy and birth. Ideally all pregnant parents would attend childbirth education classes, which cover all aspects of pregnancy and birth as well as how to care for the newborn baby. However only about 5% of expectant parents do.
There are some good online courses available. However, attending classes – which are usually held in the evenings or over a weekend – are more recommended; the interaction with the childbirth educator and other pregnant couples in the class is invaluable. Often lifelong friendships are formed.
Typically childbirth education classes will cover:
- Pregnancy – physical and emotional changes
- Birth options
- Labour – breathing, water, massage, relaxation, visualisation
- Pain relief options
- Birth plan
- Care of the new born baby
- Postnatal depression
To help find the right childbirth educator for you and your partner ask the following:
- What are her qualifications? Ideally your childbirth educator is a qualified midwife and has completed a post-graduate diploma in Childbirth Education.
- Is she a member of the Childbirth Educator Professional Forum?
- Is she a mother?
- Which birthing methods are covered in the course and which are emphasised?
- What are her ideals of labour and do they match yours?
- Can partners attend? Ideally dad will be involved in some or all of the classes too!
- Are practical techniques taught e.g. breathing and positions for labour, massage, relaxation and visualisation?
There is a list of qualified childbirth educators in the Expectant Mothers Guide or online on www.expectantmothersguide.co.za.