Fewer pregnant women and their partners are attending prenatal education classes these days and appear to be quietly following whatever advice the doctor or midwife recommends, researchers said Monday.
Doctors, led by Dr. Michael Klein of the Child & Family Research Institute and University of British Columbia, surveyed 1,318 healthy pregnant women. They found many seemingly unprepared to make their own decisions regarding childbirth options, such as whether to have natural childbirth or a Cesarean section.
Fewer than 30% of the women, all first-time mothers, said they had attended prenatal childbirth classes. Many said they used the Internet or books to become informed about childbirth. Still, a shockingly high number could not answer basic questions regarding the pros, cons or safety issues associated with epidurals, episiotomies, Cesareans and other childbirth options. The women who were receiving obstetrical care from midwives tended to be more informed about their options compared with women receiving care from a medical doctor.
"[E]ven late in pregnancy, many women reported uncertainty about benefits and risks of common procedures used in childbirth," Klein said in a news release. "This is worrisome because a lack of knowledge affects their ability to engage in informed discussions with their caregivers."