Science guy says: "Our conclusion is that natural childbirth preparation with psychoprophylaxis does not reduce the need for epidural analgesia or improve the birth experience, when compared with the standard form of antenatal education." Translation: watch the labor scene in any rom-com!
Before we get into the actual, you know, issue, a brief note: how annoying is the portrayal of childbirth in rom-coms? You know the drill: Knocked Up, Nine Months, She's Having A Baby, Father if the Bride 2: hilarious antics ensue! Particularly annoying is when the crazed mom-to-be starts screeching about how much she hates the guy for knocking her up! LOL! Here's an egregious and typical example of the genre, from the classic Fools Rush In. Start at 6:20.
Anyhoo. Many of said films feature a 'natural birth plan' which then leaves the woman screaming for drugs midway through. And a new Swedish study claims to give the lie to "natural is better" - or, at any rate, claims that natural childbirth classes are fairly useless. Says the Beeb,
More than 1,000 mothers-to-be took part in the Swedish trial, thought to be the first major analysis of the efficacy of such preparation for childbirth....They attended one of two classes: the first taught natural coping methods, the other emphasised pain relief. but the BJOG study found no difference in the use of epidurals between the women when they went into labour. Just over half the women in each group ultimately opted for the spinal analgesia which reduces or eliminates the pain of contractions.
While one natural-birth advocate claims this is no argument against antenatal education - which, at the very least, fosters partner cooperation and can lead to a sense of relaxation and control, a spokesman for the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists says, rather smugly, that "this research may temper the statements of the more pro-natural people."
It was our general impression that women who opted for natural childbirth - or indeed took prenatal classses - did so not because they were under the impression that lamaze could simulate the numbing effects of an epidural, but rather because they wanted to experience the birth sans drugs, or didn't wish to expose the infant to them. If a woman went into natural childbirth expecting a pain-free cakewalk, well, sure, that would be a pretty rude awakening. Doesn't everyone know that childbirth in the post-infant-mortality modern west is a warm-hearted farce in which the mother is temporarily transformed into a pain-crazed clown prior to the father's transformation upon holding his child for the first time? Clearly the "pro-natural people" need a dose of Matthew Perry-style reality (with amusing paramedics, of course!), stat.
Natural Birth Classes Questions [BBC]
Fools Rush In [YouTube]