Childbirth Studies - Childbirth History Education

During ancient and historical times pregnancy education and childbirth information was shared from generation to generation from mother to daughter. Sometimes other female relatives were involved in the teaching.

As childbirth and pregnancy became more of the domain of male doctors, this type of female-to-female education stopped in many western cultures. Women didn't know what to expect sexually when they got married, and they weren't educated about the process of pregnancy and childbirth. Many women didn't know they were pregnant until they saw a physician after not feeling well for some time. After the initial pregnancy, many women knew that a missed period could be the sign of another pregnancy.

Even with more of an intervention from science, there were still no such things as pregnancy research studies, pregnancy statistics or pregnancy surveys available to the expecting woman in the 1800s like they are today. Any education was often secretly done with discreet whisperings of deaths associated with giving birth, confinement (the month a woman typically stayed at home after childbirth) and general terms like "being in the family way."

Why Childbirth Classes?

Organized, public birth education classes are an invention of the modern world and have only been around for the 20th and 21st centuries. Pregnancy case studies showed that women who were expecting a baby were often confused about the entire process and weren't getting enough necessary information. Every woman, of course, had the option to direct any questions to her doctor, but doctors were often hurried and more interested in discussing the technical aspects of pregnancy and delivery.

First time mothers weren't getting the information they needed, the type of information that would be passed down from woman to woman in early centuries. By the 20th century, the medieval to 17th century practice of "churching," or teaching the new mother about caring for a new infant after birth, was also long gone. So childbirth classes were organized to help women through the emotional and physical changes in pregnancy as well provide some instruction on newborn care.

The History of Childbirth Education

What has morphed into modern childbirth education can be credited to British Dr. Grantly Dick-Read. In 1932 he wrote a book called Natural Childbirth which was the early beginning of pregnancy, labor and delivery studies. In 1944 he wrote another book called Childbirth Without Fear which stressed overcoming the fear of giving birth and the advantages of the type of physiologically normal childbirth pregnant women have had earlier in history.

By 1947 the book had become an international best seller and was gaining worldwide attention. The American Maternity Center Association invited Dr. Grantly Dick-Read to speak on "conscious, cooperative childbirth." Soon childbirth education groups were being formed and in 1960 the International Childbirth Education Association was formed. Four years later the organization was printing and selling books, films, manuals and other source material to pregnant women wanting more information about pregnancy and the birthing process. Training programs for educators were also established.

Modern Birthing Classes

Nowadays, there is a plethora of information available for the newly pregnant woman online and in printed materials. Still, childbirth preparation classes are popular and tend to fill up quickly. These types of classes clarify misconceptions and misinformation about pregnancy, labor and delivery using a combination of reading and interactive techniques. In these types of classes, the first-time mom can touch visual props like the uterus, placenta, plastic pelvis, or doll that represents the various stages of fetus growth.

Childbirth preparation classes encourage participation of the father which was first aggressively promoted in the 1960s by the International Childbirth Education Association. The instructors are specially trained to be birthing educators and have often worked in some aspect of obstetrics. They'll be able to answer any questions about pregnancy, newborn baby studies, early pregnancy topics like ectopic pregnancy studies, newborn baby care, and labor and delivery. If the instructor doesn't initially know the answer to a question, she'll have the resources to find the answer. And while most couples at a childbirth preparation class are happy to be there and have no wish to terminate their pregnancies, your instructor will still be able to also answer any questions about abortion or abortion studies if you have any.


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