Childbirth Education: Being Marginalized, Being Lost, and Making a Comeback
This presentation explores the present and potential contributions of childbirth education. Current scientific findings regarding effectiveness of childbirth education indicate little demonstrable benefit in improving obstetric outcomes. Why? First of all, the designs of the studies are inconsistent and too small to give meaningful results. A review of major childbirth education organizations and a survey of childbirth educators raises questions about their commitment to educating parents to deal with the challenges that face them with the new guidelines (i.e., later admission to hospital, less aggressive management of PROM at term, later dilation defining active labor, and more). Are parents really gaining mastery of comfort techniques in their childbirth classes? One might question whether parents are equipped to participate in the practices (such as confidence in laboring at home, employing appropriate comfort and labor enhancing techniques) that are known to improve outcomes. Without parents’ participation, ACOG’s recommendations are likely to bring far less benefit than with their participation. Ms. Simkin will discuss the essential information and skills that parents must have, along with a study design that would be adequate to demonstrate the usefulness if childbirth education in improving obstetric outcomes.