Thursday, January 22, 2009

Which birthing class to choose?

I know I still have about at least a month or two to think about this, but as it's ICLW I thought I might get a few more reactions than normal, which could help me with my choice (or make me even more confused).

In France, the state-run insurance covers 8 birthing classes of 45 minutes each. You have the choice to do these at 1) the hospital where you're going to deliver, 2) at the "protection maternelle et infantile" (PMI) department of the social services or 3) with an independent midwife. There are also three different methods to choose from: 1) Classic (Lamaze); 2) Haptonomy; 3) Sophrology.

I asked a few friends and two of them went to the same independent midwife, the first one did a more sophrology-based class with her and liked it, the second one did haptonomy and although she liked the method, she was not impressed with the midwife. It was her second pregnancy and she had done a classic birthing class with her first one, so it didn't matter too much that her second class was not such a success. At the information meeting in the hospital that I went to a month ago, the midwife there said that she wasn't convinced that haptonomy only would be enough to sufficiently prepare you for labor.

I went to the hospital on Tuesday to check out their information book about the various options. Their recommendations in choosing a birthing class were as follows:
  1. Keep in mind the distance between your home and the location of the class.
    In my case, hospital, PMI and independent midwife are all at walking/biking distance from my home (where the hospital is about a 30 minute walk and the midwife 10 minutes).
  2. If you've already done a birthing class once for a previous pregnancy, it might be nice to try a different method/location.
  3. If your husband wants to participate, it's better to go to an independent midwife (at the hospital husbands are only invited for one session).
    Hmm, we haven't really talked about this yet. He might want to, but he travels so much for work, that I doubt this is feasible.
  4. If you cannot come to all the sessions of a series, better go to an independent midwife.
    Well, I think that if it's just me and I don't have to depend on hubby's travel schedule, that I should be fine.
  5. If the planning for the series you wanted to take part in is fully booked, go to independent midwife or PMI.
    OK, so this depends on my own organization of when I go there to register, which should not be a problem.
  6. Choice of method.
    See above.
The hospital offers six 2-hour group sessions (of 10 participants max - 1 hr talking, 1 hr exercises) + one 'photo session' where they'll show photos of the maternity ward + one session on breastfeeding. The photo and breastfeeding sessions are also open to people who do their birthing classes elsewhere, and you don't need to register for those (husbands welcome as well). The sessions take place either on Tuesdays (mornings or afternoons) or Wednesdays (afternoons). That should be no problem for me as I'm currently not working and if the part-time job is going to happen at all, then I will be free on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

The PMI offers group classes on Tuesday afternoons. My neighbor went there for her birthing class and she was happy with it (and apparently it's free).

I've also called a midwife (not the one my two friends went to, because of the negative reaction of one of them) in my neighborhood. She's doing sessions with 2-3 people, you can choose if you go every week, or every two weeks. Also lots of flexibility in times (morning, afternoon, evening). I asked her what method she did but she talked so fast that I didn't understand (and I was too shy to ask again), but I think it's Lamaze.

The advantage of doing the one at the hospital is that I'll really get to know that place and its people, which might be comforting the moment we go there for the delivery. However, the part where they have their info sessions (and I assume also the birthing classes) is pretty old, so not a very nice place to be (the maternity ward itself was completely renovated, so that's much better).

The advantage of going to the independent midwife is that hubby might be able to join for a few sessions if he wants, it's more intimate (but also less chance to exchange experiences with other pregnant women...), and I will get to know that midwife which might be handy in case we decide to opt for the short hospital stay after delivery. Normally in France you stay in the hospital for three to four days after delivery, but if you feel up to it (and you have some extra help at home) there is an option to leave after 48 hours. In that case a midwife will come visit you for an hour at home for two more days. To qualify for this, you have to get a form at the hospital, fill it out together with the midwife and put it in the bag that you're going to take to the hospital for the delivery. If you and the baby get the medical OK to leave after 48 hours, you can then make your final decision at the last moment (so if you rather stay in the hospital, even though you've filled out the form etc, that's fine too).

And the PMI... well, I really hadn't considered it until I asked my neighbor and she told me she went there. Apparently you also go there after the baby is born for the first check-ups, so it might not hurt to get to know its services beforehand either...

Sorry this has become such a long post. I hope most of you stuck around until the end and have some advice for me on what to choose... Thanks!


notsofertilemyrtle said...

I have never been in your position, so I have absolutely no advice! I did want to offer my congratulation on your pregnancy, and best wishes for a smooth delivery.

Happy ICLW!

Sarah said...

well i am not familiar with the methods you mention, but i think you touched on a key issue. for me, the particular method wasn't as important to me as getting familiar with the hospital, where i would be going, and what to expect when i got there.

some women have very strong ideas about what they want from the whole experience, i personally was trying not to get too attached to any such notions only to have them not work out, and was mainly interested in delivering a healthy baby in whatever way best fit the circumstances and was safest for me and baby. i was very willing to put the experience in the hands of the OB and delivery nurses who do this every day.

so for me, the generic hospital class (i believe it was called the Bradley method?) worked out very well and made me feel totally prepared, at least for the parts you can prepare for. i'm sure the other options can be excellent too.

Sarah said...

oh and my class did also spend some time on lamaze methods, which i did find helpful.

Cara said...

Woah - have to admit, too many choices always confuses me! You know - paint colors, lighting fixture styles ...I could go on.

I say - go with the hospital. You will get a tour of the premisis and feel "right at home" when you get there to deliver.

Just my 2 sense...ilcw

punkiepie said...

Congratulations on your pregnancy! Thanks for stopping by my blog :) I can't wait to hear more about your baby.

I also say go with hospital, but that's just my two cents!

WiseGuy said...

Oops...I won't be much help here coz I have not been in your position (yet). Of the methods that you have talked about, I only know about Lamaze. An Independent midwife looks like a good idea though, because it perhaps has the greatest flexibility and you can squeeze in more of DH time in it. Since some of your hospital services do not require pre-registration, you can combine the midwife sessions and those. Feasible?

Thanks for stopping by my blog.

eyeheartinternet said...

I won't be of much help either, as I haven't ever been that far in a pregnancy... I think you have to follow your gut though, whichever one feels 'right'. Too bad you can't do a session of each to see which one you like the best !

~Jess said...

I have no advice either: Sorry. I would say go with whomever will be delivering your baby, who you feel comfortable with.

Thanks for your comment on my blog.


daega99 said...

I am not familiar with all of the methods but I did go to a 6 week class back in 2007 when I first started and was REALLy keen. I have my notes in my blog in the 2007 section (6 posts). Unofrtunately, I am not familiar with the all of the birthing methods you mentioned. I have done a lot of reading into doulas and midwives and will probably go with a doula along with our doctor when it is our time. We don't have midwives like the one you're talking about but I'd prefer a midwife.

*ICLW 66*

Annie said...

This was really interesting, a very different approach to childbirth classes than I have ever seen. I had to go look up haptonomy and sophrology. They both look really interesting, honestly I would probably want to explore all three of your options so I am no help in choosing!

I hope you can figure out which one is right for you!

Princess Jo said...

Wow! France really has it worked out!

Flexibility for women, which is just fantastic. Choice is always good, even though it can be a bit confusing!

You sound like you are working it all out slowly at your own pace. Which is only a good, positive thing for you and your baby!


Princess Jo said...

Thanks for the comment btw!

It's lovely hearing from people that live on the other side of the earth....Expanding my horizons!