When you think about labour and birth, ‘calm’ isn’t usually the word that springs to mind. We all know labour hurts like hell – it’s meant to. And no matter how much you plan for the birth of your dreams and will it to go the way you want, no one is in control of how your baby chooses to make its grand entrance.
And yet, we’ve probably all heard about Calm Birth classes.
So, can birth really be ‘calm’? Can you actually go into it – and through it – feeling calm? Or is this just pregnancy clickbait? Let’s explore what a Calm Birth class offers and whether it would suit you.
Why would you choose a Calm Birth class?
Calm Birth classes are about ‘reframing birth’, relieving fears and preparing emotionally and psychologically for it.
You may also have come across Hypnobirth classes, which use hypnotherapy and visualisation techniques, but Calm Birth is based on psychological practices like meditation. This makes it a great option for mums with anxiety, mums who experienced previous traumatic births or mums that are really terrified of giving birth. But it’s also suitable for anyone who wants to learn about the mechanics of labour and how to manage pain without intervention.
We asked the lovely Melanie why she chose a Calm Birth class. She said this:
“I felt it covered a lot of the questions I had around birth. I was really hoping for a natural, empowered birth and felt this course would provide me with the tools I needed to feel confident and able to advocate for my choices during my birth.”
What does a Calm Birth class cover?
Calm Birth is a 12-hour program run by certified midwives, doulas or trained birth professionals, which typically covers the following:
The process of birth
A lot of us know that the baby should come out of the vagina somehow, but Melanie was impressed with how her Calm Birth course covered “literally everything that happens to your body”.
Understanding the physical processes that are taking place while you’re in labour can help you stay calm and know that your body is doing what it’s meant to do (which you can forget about when you’re in the throes of labour pain).
“I felt much more informed when it came to the actual physiological event of birth,” Melanie shared.
How your partner can support you
Because partners are encouraged to join you for the birth class, they’ll pick up useful tips on how to play an active role in the labour process.
“My partner felt like he wasn’t as useless as he’d thought!” Mel said.
The mental aspect of birth
How you feel and the thoughts going through your head during labour are powerful. Calm Birth is sensitive to women’s psychological states, and aims to improve birth outcomes by teaching relaxation techniques. It claims to:
- Reduce rates of medical intervention
- Reduce the use of pain relief and epidurals during childbirth
- Reduce the impact of perinatal anxiety and postnatal depression in women after childbirth
- Create a positive birth experience, irrespective of how women birth.
The Calm Birth Australia website says:
“Calmbirth understands the mind-body connection in childbirth and how a woman’s emotional state influences the birth both mentally and physically.”
Creating a birth plan
While a lot of women are too terrified to think about their birth ahead of time, creating a birth plan has so many benefits. Calm Birth encourages it, and Mel said, “they literally give you a template” – so you’ll walk away ready to get planning.
Meditations and mantras
Calm Birth breathing meditations and mantras are provided for women to listen to in the lead-up to giving birth. These are designed to get you feeling zen and empowered for giving birth. As scary as it can be, it’s also an amazing experience.
Are there downsides to a Calm Birth class?
“I felt they didn’t do a great job of covering the ‘what if’ scenarios,” Mel said. “Like, what if your birth plan goes totally to sh*t? What are your rights? How do you advocate for yourself?”
While the class may mentally prepare you for an uncomplicated birth, your calm vibes may well go out the window if things don’t go to plan. So it’s a good idea to do your research and be prepared for any scenario that may play out. Attending a hospital birth class as well could be a good way to cover your bases.
Share this article with a mum-to-be who might benefit from a Calm Birth class.