Most childbirth classes are held in a hospital environment. However, these classes tend to be uniform in content and reflect the hospital’s position on epidurals and medical procedures. This is sometimes challenging for the childbirth educator as her teaching philosophy may go against the grain of the hospital’s policies. For this reason, going to an outside source via a private class, or a class on the internet is a better option for expectant couples where information will not be withheld.

For example, it is well known that the cesarean rate has increased dramatically nationally. Yet, hospitals and physicians are not comfortable sharing their cesarean statistics with “patients”, nor are childbirth instructors encouraged to discuss this in a hospital based childbirth class (even though couples are well aware of the rising numbers).

The problem with hospital based childbirth education is this: The medical model of managing a woman’s pregnancy and labor is enforced. If a woman is guided towards a traditional obstetrician, she will be enveloped into a care model that may not embrace her personal wishes on how she would like to birth her baby. Once she is on this “medical” path her education about preparing for birth is limited to the education provided by hospital.

The Internet has provided a wealth of information in preparing for childbirth. Couples can find a variety of classes with different philosophies that meet their personal values online. Online childbirth education is much more informative and frees expectant families to really explore what they want and how to get it. Technology such as webinars, YouTube, conference calls, etc. make childbirth education not only more informative, but very accessible, even to the woman who is on bed-rest, or the mom who lives in a rural community and can’t get to a childbirth class. Online education provides incredible flexibility in when a couple may take a class. There is also the financial commitment. Certainly an online childbirth class will save time, money, and gas – three very important factors to consider during economical challenges.

Some couples when they go to a “live” class in a hospital, they like to meet other couples who are expecting also. It is a unique time of bonding and establishing the “I am not alone” feeling with other women. Also many classes may include a tour of their birthing facility which would not happen with an online class.

However, with the rise in social networking, sites devoted to just moms exchanging ideas, experiences, and wisdom, the live class may become obsolete. Yet the one most necessary factor that will always remain an important constant is human contact. The gentle, understanding touch on the arm — a message signaling everything will be alright, physical practice of techniques such as breathing, relaxation, and positioning, etc. Childbirth is physical and emotional. Hands-on practice prepares a couple for birth and challenges. One can read all they want on “preparing” for childbirth. But the reality is birth won’t happen through an iPod. While virtual support can be attained, it can not replace “live” human interaction.

Lesly Federici is an RN experienced in labor & delivery and has been teaching childbirth education to expectant parents for over eleven years. She wrote the e-book “The Quick What To Do During Labor Guide” available as an Kindle download, and on her website. Lesly is also the founder of Smartbirth, an online childbirth social network dedicated to providing free childbirth education to women world wide. She is also known as the Green RN. Lesly is certified in the following areas: Lamaze, Calm Birth, hypnosis, and is a Reiki Master. Lesly also hosts and produces her own radio show. She is on twitter and Facebook if you would like to follow her.

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