There are a lot of reasons birth education is undervalued. One of the more common is that the pregnant individual wants to attend a birth class but the spouse doesn’t see the point. There may be an additional layer of skepticism if the class is happening outside of the hospital. (But there could be even more value in the class if that’s the case!) In teaching birth prep to hundreds of families over the years, I want to offer a few tips for how to get your husband to come to birth class.
What I’ve noticed is that many husbands just want one thing: the safe arrival of their offspring with as little pain involved as possible! So the best thing we can do initially is acknowledge this as a logical and reasonable request. The truth is that when we don’t feel confident about a subject matter, we tend to resolve the matter by leaving it to the pros. Sometimes this can work out fine. But let’s take the example of a color blind person allowing a house painter with a poor track record to select paint colors. Your wife (who’s not color blind) might end up with purple walls when what she wanted was green. Everyone wants the same thing: a house to live in (or in this case, a healthy baby). But you don’t want your wife to have to stare at purple walls every day thinking about how much she dislikes the color. Birth stories are imprinted in our minds forever. Of course everyone wants a healthy baby. This is basic. But we also want and deserve a story that reflects a sense of ownership, one that feels special and personalized in addition to being safe. This is one reason you may be seeking a birth class but maybe you’re having a hard time figuring out how to communicate the importance of that to your spouse.
So I understand the comparison of the pro, in this case the doctor, to the house painter is not totally fair. Yes, doctors, midwives and nurses do have special knowledge and many will do their best to provide top-notch care. However, as consumers we need to understand the constraints of the system they’re working in which can sometimes lead to blind spots such as:
- Not enough time to provide individualized care
- Not enough time to stay current with research-based practices
- Not enough time to devote to labor support (nurses have many clinical tasks and spend less than 10% of their time providing hands-on labor support)
- Knowing their patient statistics: are their rates of Cesarean, induction, and other relevant data lower or higher than the average? If so, why?
Taking a great birth class outside of the hospital is like checking your blindspot. You’ll have the necessary information so that you can be your own best advocate and participate in your care in a meaningful way, which can increase safety, not get in the way of it.
In addition to this compelling call-to-action for consumers, birth classes give husbands new tools they can use to participate meaningfully in the birth of your child, rather than feeling like a deer caught in headlights. Some dads will naturally know just what to do and birth class is a way for them to gain confidence that their normal inclinations are right! (Very empowering.) Other dads just need a little bit of guidance and direction before they’re feeling great about how to help their wives during labor, whether it’s before, during, or after an epidural or whether you plan to use fewer or no medications. Everyone needs a little labor support and some need a lot of it! I hope this post helps you wrap your mind around how to get your husband to come to birth class. Give me a shout if you want to chat more about options!