Knowledge is power. This is especially true when it comes to giving birth and having a baby. Especially first time parents often feel completely overwhelmed and unprepared. Attending an antenatal class can go a long way in helping new parents to make decisions and to deal with the challenges in this time of their lives.
However, not all antenatal classes are presented in the same way. You need to make sure that you attend a class that is up-to-date, comfortable and that teaches an approach to parenting that supports your own philosophies.
This last point is especially important as there is not one correct way in which to raise a child; how could there be, with such vast differences in culture, family structure and personalities of both parents and children?
You need to find a class that is realistic and true, but that also supports gentle parenting methods and that respects your right to choose what would work best for your family. At Parentwood Baby and Family Wellness Centre this is what we aim for in our Antenatal Workshop.
Below are 5 facts that are often missed and that we strongly feel should be included in every antenatal class.
- You really should have a birth plan
Birth plans are often not encouraged, as they tend to rock the boat. Especially classes linked to a birth facility will often aim to prepare a mom for what is going to happen to her when she is admitted. Instead antenatal education should focus on giving a mom all the options and in helping her choose what she wants for her body, her baby and her birth. This may unfortunately be a bit different from how things are routinely done in a facility or by a specific doctor.
There are many birth plan templates available online. Using one of these to set your own birth plan will also help you to make sure that you are aware of the pitfalls and the things that you should be making decisions about.
- Even if you have a birth plan, your birth team is the most important determining factor
The most important decision that you will make regarding your birth is where and with which doctor or midwife you plan to deliver your baby. If a facility/practitioner does things in a way that is completely opposite to what you want, you should seriously consider moving elsewhere.
Once again, there is not one correct way of doing things. The fact that it worked well for a friend or relative does not mean that it will be right for you.
The idea is not that you have to fight every step of the way to get the care that you want. You need a practitioner that you feel comfortable to communicate with and who respects your choices.
- That even if you make all the right choices, no one can guarantee the outcome that you want
The very first lesson that birth often teaches new parents is that some things are simply beyond our control. Yes you should be well informed and should take positive steps to help you reach your goals (whatever they may be). But you should also be open minded and should know that there is a chance that things may turn out differently than planned.
Keep your eye on the ultimate goal which is a healthy mom and baby. Sometimes you may reach that goal on a different path that anticipated.
- That your body is equipped with powerful tools to help you deal with childbirth
So many antenatal classes miss this point. They either teach all these amazing coping skills that will basically eliminate labour pain, or they scare moms even more and discourage them from choosing birth without intervention. As a species we have lost believe in our body’s ability to give birth.
The truth is that women have been giving birth for centuries and that our bodies have innate coping skills that we do not even fully understand yet. No one is saying that birth is not painful. In fact, it may well be the most challenging thing that you will ever do. But you should never doubt that you can do it! With the right support and environment you will amaze yourself.
- That you are the best person to make decisions for your baby
No one loves your baby more than you do. Not a grandparent or an auntie or a stranger in the mall. Not a Facebook group. Most certainly not a clinic sister or a paediatrician, who sometimes do most harm because parents believe that they should know best.
Your baby was given to you because you are the best parent there is for him or her. So many parents feel confused and intimidated by contradicting advice from all over.
Trust your instinct and listen to your gut. Gather information, but don’t be scared to cast aside that which is not working well for you.