I teach prenatal classes so of course you are going to hear yes from me, but I would like to share why I think this.
Shortly after I started working in labour and delivery I noticed that there was a great need for education. As a labour and delivery nurse I am with a woman during one of the most personal and intimate moments of her life. I really pride myself in helping to make this experience a really great one. But what I have seen over the years is that in general most women do not come to their birth prepared for what is to come and this can make them scared, hinders their coping ability and severely affects their birth experience in general.
To start I would like to make the point that your body knows what to do, so whether you attend childbirth classes or not you will labour and birth your baby. This is not what classes do for you. We do not teach you how to labour or birth your baby because your body knows quite well how to do that on its own. What I hope people walk away with after prenatal classes is what to expect of the process of birth (what is normal, what is not, an idea of what labour will look like), how to avoid unnecessary interventions, how to go with the flow and trust your body and instincts, and of course some tricks and tools to make labour more manageable. It is this kind of insight that can decrease fear, help with coping, and improve birth satisfaction.
Lastly, I think that good prenatal classes can help bring people down to reality. Often people only get information from the media; which can include a lot of fear tactics for comic relief. Other unreliable sources include US websites and media which depict a very different healthcare system than ours and put fear in women about how they will be demeaned and manhandled by having a hospital birth. Prenatal classes provide up to date, relevant information specific to your country and or birth area if not specifics about where you will be delivering. Classes give you an opportunity to ask questions and confirm or disprove things that you have heard or read.
In the end, classes are not mandatory nor are they a pre-requisite to birth. They are simply a tool to help you be best prepared for the amazing challenge ahead of you. Our role as educators is to prepare you; to help you learn how to work with your body. We want to see you succeed and will do our best to give you the best chance possible. Whether you take my classes or someone else’s, I guarantee your experience will be improved by having had them.