So what can we do? How can we help to empower our expectant parents? Here's what I'd like to suggest:
It's hard to educate women who don't know what they don't know. I'm thinking that we need to add to our childbirth prep classes a birthing boot camp segment where we practice more self-advocacy skills in as many possible scenarios as we can. While you need a good overview of pregnancy, labor, and the coping skills to get you through I don't think we give enough time to practicing the what-if scenarios and scripting how you'll deal with them according to your personal belief systems. It's hard to go up against an authority figure especially in a potential crisis situation, not to mention while being hormonal, exhausted, and in pain. Through rehearsal you have the opportunity and the time to explore your beliefs and your risk-rewards without pressure.
I've been working on a new outline for a childbirth preparation class and I think I'm going to make this the focal point of the course. I've already been compiling a list of things nurses and doctors have said to patients that were negative, challenging, and disappointing. These all happened at various hospitals in the last couple of years. I plan on going above and beyond just the usual labor scenario practice into the realm of what-if and confront some of the more uncomfortable scenarios. I'm going to challenge my parents to confront their fears and work through them. It's just not enough to just teach the basics anymore. I'm going to step out, reach out, and tackle the tough stuff.