Study finds most women don’t know childbirth options

A study was recently published which found that women don’t know their options when it comes to childbirth.  Many don’t even know they have options.  This may be surprising to the general population, but ask any childbirth educator and doula, and they’ll tell you it’s no shock to them.  Another study a few years ago found that only 11% of women take a childbirth class while pregnant, and many of those take only the class offered by the hospital.  Those classes tend to focus on how women should behave as patients, and less on actual information on the risks and benefits of various procedures they may run into during labor.

It does seem that more women are hiring doulas, and this is great news!  However, a doula is not a substitute for a good childbirth class.  To have the best and safest birth possible, take a class and hire a doula.

If you think you know enough already and don’t need a class, ask yourself if you know these things:

  • What the stages of labor are, how to recognize them, and comfort measures for each stage
  • How to stay comfortable during labor without drugs
  • How to speed up a slow labor
  • How to turn a baby into the best position for birth
  • When the best time is to leave for the hospital, if you’re planning a hospital birth
  • What to do if your baby comes too fast, and you’re unable to make it to your birth place
  • How to evaluate whether your birth attendant practices evidence-based medicine
  • What questions to ask about any procedure you’re offered to make sure it’s the right choice for you
  • How to make the most of a cesarean birth, should you need one
  • How to determine if you truly do need a cesarean birth, if it’s offered
  • How best to stay low-risk to increase the chances of a safe and uneventful pregnancy and birth

You should also ask yourself if you know the risks and benefits of each of these procedures:

  • Antibiotics for Group B Strep colonization
  • Vaginal exams, both during pregnancy and labor
  • Inducing labor
  • Stress or non-stress tests
  • Augmentation of labor
  • Intravenous fluids during labor
  • The three types of fetal monitoring, and continuous versus intermittent
  • Restricted food or drink during labor
  • Lying on your back during labor
  • Artificial rupture of membranes
  • Epidurals & narcotics for pain management
  • Local anesthetic during pushing
  • Episiotomy
  • Vacuum or forceps delivery
  • Time limits on your pushing stage
  • Immediate cord clamping and cutting
  • Intramuscular Pitocin following the birth
  • Separation from your baby following birth
  • Hepatitis B vaccination, vitamin K, erythromycin, PKU testing, and circumcision of the newborn

You should also ask yourself if you know whether each of these possible occurrences during labor and birth are complications or not, and how they can best be dealt with and/or avoided:

  • Being past-due
  • Premature rupture of membranes
  • Herpes
  • Occiput posterior baby
  • Breech or transverse baby
  • Fast or slow labor
  • Reverse dilation
  • Arrested labor
  • Failure to progress
  • Very painful labor
  • Meconium
  • Cephalopelvic disproportion
  • Fetal distress
  • Birthing multiples
  • Periurethral tears
  • Shoulder dystocia
  • Failed induction
  • Fetal heart decelerations

These are all things that you absolutely should learn about well before your labor begins.  What you don’t know can hurt you.  Hire a doula, and take a good childbirth class.  Don’t become a statistic.  Click here for information about Baby Steps childbirth classes.

Baby Steps offers natural and prepared childbirth classes, breastfeeding classes and support, and doula services in the metro Atlanta area.  Current locations include Alpharetta, Buckhead, Douglasville, Marietta,  Midtown, Sandy Springs, Smyrna, and Decatur.  If these locations are not convenient for you we also offer private, in-home classes on your schedule and virtual classes from the comfort of your own home.  Contact us for more information.