On Childbirth Education: I don’t know why I expected differently.


We’re attending a childbirthing class- Extended Prepared Childbirth, to be precise. The idea behind the class is to provide parents with a full range of their options so they can make informed decisions during and before labor and delivery.

I don’t know why I expected a class that is put on by a hospital to offer all the facts and figures about interventions.

So really, my fury last night was my own fault.

It began within ten minutes, when the PowerPoint presentation said that “EFM (external fetal monitoring) is only used when medically necessary” and the teacher followed it up with how it’s ‘routine’ in every hospital. So, naturally, I raised my hand and inquired why the presentation says it’s only when needed, but hospitals do it as routine care? The teacher informed me that usually, Mama is monitored for ten or twenty minutes out of the hour. Since that didn’t answer my question, I clarified. “Why does the presentation say it’s only used when medically necessary, but our local hospitals use it as a routine procedure instead of when indicated by medical need?” The teacher’s reply?

“EFM is medically necessary in every single birth.”

…. it took a few deep breaths to calm down after that one, but since EFM doesn’t actually do anything to the body (most of it’s ‘side effects’ are psychological or caused by the restricted movement, not by any actual interference in the body’s processes) I didn’t want to raise a fuss.

My next near explosion came from her comment about Cesarean birth- namely, the comment that it was ‘relatively safe’ (compared to what? She never did say), and her comment about how VBAC (vaginal birth after Cesarean) was much, much more dangerous than having a repeat Cesarean. 

There was no mention anywhere about alternatives to C-births. No mention that when your baby is having fetal heart tone changes, a position change could ease it, no mention that when s/he gets stuck at the shoulders (a rare condition called shoulder dystocia) instead of a C-birth, you could just roll onto all fours to widen the pelvic area…

There was also some discussion about how going past your due date is dangerous and worth scheduling a planned C-birth for, some talk about CPD (cephalopelvic disproportion, where the baby’s head is too big to fit through the mother’s pelvis bones) with no mention that the only women who really have issues with CPD are ones with rickets or a similar bone warping disease or injury.

We were given all the wonderful reasons why an epidural is completely safe, with no mention of how it lowers the infant Apgar scores, and increases your chance of surgery by 50% (if given too early in labor) or the side effects of having a catheter inserted into your spine.

We heard a lot of “There may be rare other side effects, talk to your doctor” but no mention of the common ones- headaches, drops in blood pressure (mentioned but then poo-pooh’d away- with a literal wave of her hand!) and the increased need for forceps or vacuum assisted delivery.

I should have known better than to attend a class on ‘interventions’ at a hospital sponsored birthing class.


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