Screw birthing classes, what we really need are parenting classes

Posted in Newborn.

There’s no denying that birthing classes have their advantages.

Do we really have control?

You learn about the different ways to birth a child, what may happen in the delivery suite or operating theatre, pain relief options and how to support your partner through the birth. You may also make some delightful friends, and you may, like us, see them around the maternity ward, having all given birth within a few days of each other.

But do we really have control over our birth experience?

It’s like that old saying, if you want to make god laugh, tell him your plans.

For many people out there, birth is straightforward. It’s not easy, but it’s straightforward. But for many others, there’s simply no choice in the matter. Whether it’s intervention due to prolonged labour, an emergency C-section due to baby or maternal distress, or the need to take pain relief, most of the time, we simply have no control over how we give birth. There’s a little baby in there who seems to make many of the decisions for us.

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So, do those birthing classes really help?

While they give us a hell of a lot of information when the process gets started and throughout the birthing experience, does anyone really remember what Linda said in week one of prenatal class? Probably not. And the fact of the matter is, there’s a whole team of medical professionals surrounding you to help you out. 

What we do need, however, is parenting classes. Parenting, after all, is one of the toughest jobs we’ll ever have and there is absolutely no training for it.

How to deal with the lack of sleep, how to curtail the tantrums, how to handle the fussy eater and the child who won’t listen, how to implement rules around a routine or screen time. And how to handle strangers who tell you how to parent. There are experts out there who can help us through these issues.

Because in the middle of the night, when the baby starts to cry or the five-year-old runs into your room after a bad dream, you need to have a game plan.

All of the opinions

Let’s face it. Everyone has an opinion on the best way to do things. Whether it’s a stranger on Facebook telling you that you’re not dressing your child appropriately or a family member explaining how best to discipline your toddler, there’s no doubt about it: when you become a parent, your decisions automatically become communal.

Having strategies in place to combat these opinions, which are usually never asked for, could be a huge help. Not to mention, some tips for functioning when sleep deprived would be priceless.

Tricks of the trade

There is so much children face nowadays that, as parents, we need to prepare for and we need to prepare them for. As toddlers grow into children who grow into teenagers, each new stage of development brings new issues to deal with. Whether it’s an infant who struggles to sleep, a child who is being bullied or a teenager who is facing peer pressure to drink or do drugs.

From learning strategies to help with tantrums to how to encourage healthy (and realistic) eating habits from a young age, having open and honest conversations around the trials and tribulations of parenthood can be a huge advantage. Learning some anger management and conflict resolution techniques can help both you and your child. It can help you, as there are bound to be times that your child will frustrate you. It can help your child, especially as they grow, as you can teach them how to best express their emotions. Classes may also help with stress management, disciplining your kids depending on their age requirements and what signs to look out for to tell if your child is distressed. They can even cover medical things like CPR, how to recognise certain illnesses and what to do if parents detect the symptoms.

Can you really learn how to parent?

It can be argued, however, that it’s impossible to learn how to parent. It is, ultimately, the biggest and best example of ‘on the job training’. Add to this that every child is different, and it’s questionable whether a parenting class will even help.

The way you parent your first child may be wildly different from the way you parent your second and so on. However, even if it’s just some discussions that you have with each other, with other parents or a psychologist or other experts, it’s still important to have these discussions. Why? Because at the end of the day, these conversations will determine how you parent as a team, despite the type of child you have. Remember, you are a team and you need to have each other’s backs. It’s how you’ll get through parenting as unscathed as possible.

If nothing else, parenting classes can help raise your confidence. This parenting gig is tough. It can be isolating, scary and beautiful all in one go and there’s no doubt about the fact that there are new pressures that arise every single day.

Although there is no full-proof way to prepare, it’s important to remember that giving birth does not automatically make us all parents. We will always be learning on the go. But wouldn’t it be handy to have some expert advice and strategies to lean on? 


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