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The Evolution of Childbirth Education

How women today prepare for childbirth

Preparing for Childbirth
July 2012

Back in the 1980s, childbirth education focused primarily on the methods of natural childbirth—how to breathe, relax and minimize pain—almost in a one-size-fits-all manner.

"I've been teaching classes since 1986," said Sharon Johns, RN, program supervisor of Perinatal Support Services at St.Vincent Women's Hospital. "When I first started, we taught almost as if there was a pre-scripted formula for childbirth."

But that's all changed.

"Today, there's a greater appreciation of childbirth as an individualized experience," said Johns. "And that very unique experience starts with how you prepare. We give expectant moms the information they need to make choices about the type of birth they want."

Choices include labor support activities such as massages, water tubs, music, and exercise balls. Moms are also advised to think about the people they want in the labor room and how those individuals can best support her.

While information is provided to help moms almost custom-design their birth experience, Johns says equal focus is placed on remaining fluid and flexible.

"Women should make decisions about what they want their baby's birth to be like," she said. "But we can't always guarantee that experience. About 30 percent of women end up having C-sections, so it's important to be prepared for the unexpected as well."

The best way to prepare is through early education—meeting with your healthcare provider, touring the hospital, and talking to a childbirth educator and others who are about to experience childbirth.

"When expectant moms have knowledge about the childbirth experience, they feel more confident and comfortable," Johns said.

As part of its Monogram Maternity program, St.Vincent Women's Hospital and St.Vincent Carmel Hospital offer several options to help moms gain that knowledge and build their confidence:

Childbirth Preparation eLearning: If traditional childbirth classes are not possible due to bed rest or scheduling conflicts, expectant moms can take the eLearning program with animated illustrations, videos and interactive learning.

Childbirth Preparation eLearning LIVE: Designed as a companion to the eLearning course, this one-time session offers a question-and-answer session, birth videos and information on labor support.

Childbirth Preparation Lamaze: This course offers interactive learning that prepares both mom and her support person for the challenges of labor and birth.

Childbirth Preparation Fast Track: This one-session program is designed for those who want a basic overview of labor and birth. Tour included.

Childbirth Preparation Weekend Option: In the convenience of one weekend, receive all of the information covered in a traditional class. Tour included.

For more information on childbirth education options, or how to personalize your birthing experience, visit www.monogrammaternity.com.

Tags: In This Issue, Maternity, Women's Health

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