When I was expecting my first son I attended prenatal yoga classes from about 12 weeks until very late in pregnancy. I loved how they provided me with an opportunity to pause and connect with the life that was growing inside of me when my busy corporate role didn't let me do this very often. I learnt all about helpful breathing techniques, active birthing positions and it kept me moving. Other than that my husband and I attended the 'Having a baby' course at our hospital and to be fair it was a good public hospital (Royal Hospital for Women in Randwick) but still, other than protocols and policies and how epidurals are a godsend I don't remember much. With hindsight I know that I knew very little about the process of birth and most definitely had no clue about my options. I did what I was told. And so all I had was my trust in my innate ability to give birth which didn't help me much when we arrived at a medical induction of labour due to post dates. Panic, epidural, forceps...here I came.
If I had broadened my knowledge about birth, coping skills, induction through independent education I'm fairly certain my birth would have taken a different path. I would have built up my understanding and trust in what my body actually had to do during labour, my husband would have had a much better idea of how to support me (he felt lost pretty quickly), I would have had a BAG of practiced coping skills and not only my yoga breathing (which I forgot pretty quickly) and I would have understood a lot more about what it meant to agree to an induction. That this was the end of my wish for a 'natural' birt
When working with clients today I usually recommend to educate themselves from at least two different sources. Yes, attend the free hospital program if you're keen but be aware that of the limitations in that they'll only ever educate you within the hospital protocols and you'll likely not learn much about actually coping or 'working with' labour. You need to add to this with some independent education to broaden your AWARENESS, whether this is through your doula or attending another course. I have plenty of clients who besides having my support don't attend an actual class but thoroughly prepare through recommended books and even then I suggest to read at least two books with different approaches. When it comes to coping techniques, you don't want to place all your eggs in one basket so that if for whatever reason you find something isn't working for you on the big day then you still have other things to fall back on. Here on the Coast we are fortunate to have quite a few good options when it comes to independent birth education (Hypnobirthing, Birthing from Within, Lamaze, Calmbirth... just to name a few!) or you can book into one of my personal birth coaching sessions. Whatever you do, don't just place all your bets on one thing but really internalise the concept that 'knowledge is power!' which couldn't be more true when it comes to giving birth.
Women who haven't educated themselves at all about birth do go on to have low intervention births but in my experience this happens rarely and usually is down to pure luck. How these women feel emotionally during the birth is often a different matter. When I'm supporting a birth at hospital I can often hear a woman hysterically screaming in the corridor and then feel that urge to just run out, hold her and tell her she's safe because you can hear the panic and unpreparedness for the intensity in her voice. Birth can easily become emotionally traumatising when you don't understand what is happening and why and how you can work with your body. Give yourself the best chance of experiencing the power of birth in the most incredible and empowering way by educating yourself in every way you can!