To see the first post in the series, click HERE.
MYTH #2: “I hired a doula, so I don’t need any kind of childbirth class.”
More and more women are hearing about the benefits of having a doula on their birth team, and that is fantastic! As a doula, I would never do anything to dissuade a family from hiring a doula. However, just like her care provider, a woman’s doula should not be considered her primary source of comprehensive education. While many doulas are also childbirth educators, and are walking birth encyclopedias, there are many reasons that a birthing woman should look to a class for in-depth education.
1) Childbirth Educator is a different scope of practice and not the doula’s primary job.
A doula’s primary job is informational, emotional, and physical support throughout a woman’s pregnancy, labor, birth, and immediate postpartum period. Her scope is limited, and while some education will be a natural consequence of her relationship with her clients, it is not the primary objective. When it comes to the informational support, a doula’s primary role is to find out the individual needs of her client, then refer to resources relevant to her situation (including childbirth classes), so her client can educate herself.
2) Though a doula will spend time educating her clients, the education will not be comprehensive in nature.
Most doulas only offer two or three prenatals at about an hour each, but even if there are more than that, as well as phone and email support, it will not be enough to create a solid foundation of general birth knowledge for a client to base her decisions on. In contrast, a childbirth class is often 10 hours or more of hands-on education, creating that solid, needed base of information. Doulas build on this bedrock, tailoring their support to supplement your knowledge.
3) Even doulas who happen to be educators cannot provide all your education within framework of doula fee.
Doulas know that we can’t cover all the bases adequately within the bounds of our doula-client relationships. If our clients have taken a good comprehensive class, they benefit from being familiar with information so that in labor, they can recall that info for themselves with minor prompting from their doula. Doulas know that active labor is not the time for a 45-minute information bomb! It’s better if our clients have that information ahead of time, tucked away and ready to pull out when it’s actually needed.
Doulas who are educators often offer private or group classes at a discounted rate for this very reason.
4) Doulas know that childbirth classes are a key way to encourage active participation from the woman’s chosen birth partner, and making the birth team dynamic more effective.
Partners are more likely to be able to attend classes than they are to attend doula prenatals, and will learn more about their own place on the birth team through role-playing, relaxation exercises, labor practice, and hands-on support techniques. Doulas adjust their support to the needs of their clients, and an active, educated partner, makes the entire birth process go more smoothly, because the doula won’t have to educate on the fly during labor. She can just encourage and remind the birth partner of what they already know.
So, if you have hired a doula, fantastic! Ask her for recommendations in childbirth education, or ask if she offers classes for an additional fee. You will never regret having both a good class, and a doula.
Where did you find your childbirth classes, and how did they help you grow in your knowledge of birth, the process, and what you wanted for your birth experience? Did your doula encourage you to take classes?
Team Preparing For Birth