.. what is important to you?
There is something that has been bothering me for a while, ever since I was pregnant with my oldest, actually, and taking natural childbirth classes to prepare for the unknown. Namely, the glut of natural childbirth methods that cater specifically to married couples while ignoring the fact that over half of all women giving birth are unmarried.
What does it say about a childbirth class that teaches, “You’re married, good! You deserve a great birth!” What is the corollary to that statement? “You aren’t married, too bad. Go figure it out for yourself. And if you can’t, tough. You should have thought of that before you got pregnant.”
I mean, seriously. Is that really a class that anyone, married or not, should be taking? I know that there are many of these classes that are very good – as long as you fit the exclusive criteria required for entry. But it marginalizes and ostracizes everyone else, and that is something I can’t tolerate.
In looking at my past doula clients and Lamaze students, I see women in a variety of life situations. Yes, some are married and wanting a doula because they see the value of having professional labor support even though their husband will be at the birth. Some are married and wanting classes because they are savvy enough to know how much they don’t know about birth (yet.) But plenty of my past clients and students have been single moms who are having a baby without a husband to coach them through it.
There’s only one way to fertilize an egg. But women come to pregnancy in a variety of ways, only one of which is get-married-then-decide-to-have-a-baby.
- Maybe the couple is engaged but decided to postpone a wedding until after the baby is born and the mama can fit into a smoking-hot wedding dress.
- Maybe it’s an on-again, off-again relationship with a man who is unsuitable for raising a child, so the mother chooses to have little or no involvement from the baby’s father.
- Maybe the baby’s father left her when she became pregnant.
- Maybe the mother has decided that she doesn’t want or won’t ever find “Mr Right”, but chooses to use a sperm donor so that she can still have a child.
- Maybe the mother was widowed during the pregnancy.
What about these women? Whether they chose to be single mothers, or whether the circumstance was forced on them, don’t they deserve their best possible birth too?
I believe that every woman deserves to know exactly what her birth options are, and the chance to knowingly choose what is right for her and her baby. Childbirth classes are a huge piece of this puzzle. Just reading a popular pregnancy book isn’t going to cut it. No Facebook page or birth blog can give women the same richness of information as a good childbirth class. Nothing can replace the human connection gained in a birth class – between teacher and student, between each woman and her birth team, and from one expectant mother to another. A birth professional’s local knowledge is invaluable. And the ability to reach out for information at any time you need it – I can’t even begin to think what that is worth.
Don’t all women deserve this? I think so, which is why my classes have the most diverse set of students of any non-hospital class in North Alabama. I love working with all mothers, whether their birth partner is their husband, boyfriend, sister, mother, or me as the doula. My goal is to give women the tools they need to achieve their safest and most satisfying birth possible.
*Disclaimer: Of course I teach Lamaze, which is not a method per se, but a philosophy of pregnancy, birth, and early parenting. By providing evidence-based information, Lamaze education empowers women to gain confidence in their bodies, trust their inner wisdom and to make informed decisions about pregnancy, birth, breastfeeding and parenting. All this without bias, pressure to birth a certain way, or judgement of your choices. If your childbirth class doesn’t do that, shouldn’t you look elsewhere?