As a teacher at heart and a moderate-to-severe birth nerd, I am a huge proponent of childbirth education. Our culture is saturated with ridiculous misinformation about birth and birthing options, which undermines moms’ confidence and makes it harder for us to choose what’s best for us. No matter how you you want to birth, it is so important to understand how birth works so you can make informed choices that can help you avoid regrets down the line. That being said, let’s be real: there are certain things no one actually wants to do in birthing class, even though some of them may, eventually, be fairly useful.
Every birth is different, and all birth is different from the cartoonish depictions we frequently see in the mass media. So going in with the mindset that “Oh, it’s natural, so I’ll just let things happen,” or “Oh, I’m just gonna get the drugs, so I don’t need to know anything” could be a really bad idea. Unchecked misunderstandings about birth might cause a person to panic once birth starts in real life, and could interfere with a person’s ability to birth the way they hoped. Or they might end up having a way faster or different labor than they expected, and not have time to get the pain meds they planned on receiving. For anyone who’s planning to have someone (a partner, a friend, whoever) in the room, it’s an especially good idea for them to learn how to be a good birth partner, supporting and advocating for you if you have any issues with your care provider(s). Well-informed childbirth educators can give you both a broad base of solid information so you can adjust if things don’t go as you imagine they will, which can help you avoid unnecessary fear and even trauma.
So yes, birthing classes have my full endorsement. No matter which kind you choose, if you have the time and/or money (if the one you like actually charges; some are free) please do yourself a favor and make the time to attend a class that aligns with your values and the way you want to birth. Just know in advance that there may be some awkwardness involved. In my opinion, though, awkwardness is ultimately a small price to pay for the personal power that comes with knowledge, so it’s still worth it even if you end up doing any of the following.