Pregnant Women Know Little About Childbirth, New Study Finds

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Last week, we ran a piece on this site called “In Defense Of The Epidural.” As the title suggests, I am all about the epidural (just as I am all about taking an Advil when I have a headache). A close girlfriend, on the other hand, breaks out in hives if you even mention the word “epidural” – or the words “hospital” and “obstetrician,” too, for that matter. Each of us has done our research and each of us feels informed about our respective decision (I’ve already had my babies, though; she’s still pregnant).

But according to a new study published in the June issue of Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology Canada, fewer pregnant women are attending prenatal education classes and are apparently following whatever advice their doctor or midwife recommends. Researchers at the Child & Family Research Institute and University of British Columbia surveyed 1,318 healthy pregnant woman and found that many seemed unprepared to make their own decisions about delivery options (such as whether to have a natural childbirth or a c-section).

Less than 30 percent of the first time moms had attended prenatal classes, relying instead on books or the web as a source of information. And a high number couldn’t answer basic questions regarding the pros or cons (or safety issues) around epidurals, episiotomies, c-sections and so on. Also of note is that the women who received obstetrical care from midwives were more informed about their options compared with those receiving care from a medical doctor, according to an article in the L.A. Times.

In a time where women are more control-freaky than ever before (myself included), it’s surprising that so few pregnant ones are as knowledgeable as they should be about birthing options. Of course, we can’t ever control how our labor and delivery will actually turn out. But we should certainly be going in armed with information.

(Photo: Barry Austin)