What is childbirth preparation?
The term “childbirth preparation” encompasses a range of tools that help parents-to-be prepare for the birth of their child from the start of pregnancy. They usually take the form of talks providing information about foetal development and medical check-ups; psychological aspects of pregnancy, birth and the postpartum period; what happens during childbirth; breastfeeding etc. In practical sessions, a specialised instructor shows pregnant women postures and exercises that will help make muscle structures more elastic in order to facilitate childbirth, as well as breathing and relaxation techniques to provide them with better self-control during labour contractions.
Why is it done?
Pregnancy is a period of major adaptation for future parents, who should be aware that they are nurturing a new life and that they are responsible for their future child’s health and wellbeing, and they should be informed about the changes that the mother will experience and that pregnancy is ultimately an enriching experience. It also helps future mothers be better prepared during delivery, by working on elasticity, better postures for childbirth and control of contractions.
What does preparation for childbirth involve?
Childbirth preparation sessions are imparted by a specialist in obstetrics and gynaecology at hospitals, social and educational facilities or health centres. The pregnant woman can attend by herself or with their partner or companion. Sessions are usually between 1 and 2 hours. They are held over a period of 5 to 8 weeks, usually from the first trimester.
There are theoretical and practical sessions:
- Theoretical sessions : the pregnant women receive information about the changes they will undergo during pregnancy, types of childbirth, and in general what they will experience in each of the phases of childbirth.
- Practical sessions : postural exercises, breathing and relaxation techniques for childbirth.
What you need to know before childbirth preparation
Pregnant women should obtain information about the various childbirth preparation courses available to them, as well as the techniques to be done in them. Childbirth preparation courses are based on several techniques, of which the most commonly used are:
- The Bradley method: places emphasis on avoiding as much as possible the administration of medications, taking care of one’s diet, physical activity and relaxation, and also involving the partner in the process.
- The Lamaze method : places emphasis on supporting the pregnant woman with words of encouragement, massages, tactile and visual stimulation, that help her feel confident about the pregnancy and delivery. The partner plays a fundamental role in supporting the woman.
Alternatives to childbirth preparation
Childbirth preparation is not compulsory. It is undertaken by future parents who want to be better informed and prepared for pregnancy and delivery. Alongside the childbirth preparation course, the pregnant woman must also be under the care of a specialist in obstetrics and gynaecology who will monitor her pregnancy and provide individualised care.