The importance of antenatal education

You may be newly pregnant or having your second, third or sixth baby and wanting to change the way you parent and are raising children.  

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You want to learn about secure attachment, how to be empowered in your birthing process, what happens to your body when you give birth, how to set up a successful breastfeeding relationship among many other things.  You need to feel like you are entering into this new journey with your eyes open and fully engaged.  You are ready to learn, you are ready to surrender, you are ready to be guided by this new being that is about to enter your life.  Here are 5 great reasons you should do antenatal classes:

1. Research
Research shows that attending antenatal classes can reduce your fear of birth and increase your belief in yourself during the birth process and the likelihood of you having a natural birth.  One study illustrated that antenatal education needed to include more about parental attachment.  Another study showed the importance of childbirth education even before one gets pregnant - potentially as part of sex education in schools.

2. Reduce your chances of having a cesarean
The world’s current cesarean rates are too high according to the World Health Organisation, their recommended rate (which is more clinically necessary cesareans) is 10-15%, approximate 2014 rates are China 47%, Australia 33%, America 32%,  and New Zealand 26% and these seem to be increasing each year.  There is no sufficient research or data on how many of these cesareans are ‘unnecessary’.  

One research paper showed that attending antenatal education can increase your chance of having a vaginal birth and also of breastfeeding your baby.  The impacts of cesarean birth on our babies is available in research and include gut microbiota health, increased levels of autoimmune diseases, obesity, diabetes, asthma and eczema.  Another potential impact of the global increase of cesarean birth rate is the loss of our innate ability to not only birth naturally but also the impact on feeding our babies naturally.  

3. Increasing your birth support team numbers
Having midwife-led classes allow you to have one more person ‘on your side’ during your pregnancy and birth and may help you feel more confident in dealing with the medical model if you need to.

4. Tools
Doing antenatal education allows you to learn the pros and cons of various things and to increase the number of tools in your kit to achieve a natural birth.

5.  Build your tribe
Attending childbirth or parenting education allows you grow your tribe of like-minded people.  It helps you grow your support network whether that be in person or online.

So, experience, statistics, and research tell us if you do antenatal education and are empowered going into your birth journey, you can feel like you are the master of your own destiny even though birth is like the most divine practice of surrender.  

Claire Michelle