International Childbirth Education Week – 25-31 January

Why It’s so Important

Ever since I became a Doula in 2018, one of the things I have been most passionate about is education. Not just my own ongoing education in the support of mums and bubs, but the education of my clients. This is why I believe International Childbirth Education Week is so important.

Study after study has shown that women’s satisfaction with their labour and birthing experience impacts both their health, and their relationship with their baby. It only makes sense, then, to ensure you are armed with all the information you need to make the right choices for you.

That’s not to say everything will always go according to your plans. But the better informed you are, the more able you are to change direction if necessary, and make different decisions with purpose and power, rather than from a place of fear or uncertainty.

Benefits of Childbirth Education

Some of the key practical benefits of good childbirth education are:

  • Increased maternal confidence during labour, delivery and postpartum. Knowledge is power, and when a mother knows what to expect, and how she might be able to approach it, she is more confident and empowered in her choices.
  • Decreased fear and anxiety about childbirth. Fear and anxiety have been shown to increase complications during labour and birth.
  • Lower levels of medical intervention, including induction, use of analgesics and labour interventions like forceps, vacuum delivery and emergency caesareans.
  • Better navigation of the maternity care system. Knowing what your viable options are allows you to take control of how your labour and birth will be handled.
  • Increased likelihood of vaginal delivery. Whilst having a c-section is sometimes necessary, vaginal delivery has been shown to not only positively impact the health of the baby, but leads to shorter hospital stays, less likelihood of infections, and faster healing times.
  • Better understanding of pain management, and the impact on mother and baby, allowing for informed decision making.
  • Increased likelihood of breastfeeding, which has benefits for both mum and baby, not to mention the convenience it allows.

What Do I Mean Education

These days, there are an infinite number of ways you can educate yourself on just about any subject, including pregnancy, labour, birth and postpartum.

When I talk about education, I don’t just mean attending Childbirth Classes at the hospital or Baby Health Clinic. Some of the important things you need to understand include:

  • What happens to your body, and that of your baby, during each stage of labour, birth and the postpartum period.
  • The difference between the biomedical model and the humanised model of childbirth, and their relative merits.
  • What your options are in terms of the type of birth you would like. Gone are the days when women went to hospital and were told what to do. These days there are myriad options, from the full biomedical model, to birthing centres, home births, water births, free births and more.
  • Understanding your options in pain management and potential interventions.
  • Knowing the medical and technical terms for what is happening to your body, so you can understand what is happening and what the potential impacts may be on your labour, delivery and postpartum.
  • Being in a position of knowledge from which to choose the support people around you during your birth.

The most important thing is to choose reliable sources for your research. Some resources I would recommend include:

And there are a couple of great podcasts you can check out: 

The Importance of Caregivers

According to a recent study from Spain the factors most important in influencing satisfaction with the experience of childbirth are:

  • Personal expectations
  • Caregiver support
  • Quality of caregiver-mother relationship
  • Involvement in decision-making[i]

This shows how important finding the right caregivers – whether that be a doctor, midwife or doula – is to the experience of childbirth. Your caregivers should not only be experienced and qualified, but should share your philosophy on labour, birth and the postpartum experience.

So while researching childbirth, research caregivers as well, and don’t be afraid to ‘interview’ them – after all, they will have a vital role to play in one of the most important times of your life. A good place to start is professional organisations, as well as friends and family who have recently had babies.

If you would like more information about how a doula can help you gain the knowledge you need to make informed choices about your labour, birth and postpartum journey, I would love to chat. Give me a call on 0422 258 771, or contact me here.

[i] Hodnett, E. Pain and women’s satisfaction with the experience of childbirth: a systematic review.