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Why pay for birth coaching? Choosing a birth prep program that will actually deliver results.

May 22, 2024

Hey, I get it. Having a baby comes with A LOT of expenses. And if it's your first time, you are setting up your nursery and likely already overwhelmed by the choices, options, and sheer inundation of "stuff" that comes with having a baby.

So, why pay for a birth preparation program?

This is the difference that makes the difference.

When I felt my first wave (contraction) I remember thinking, "I thought it was supposed to be like a period cramp! This is not a period cramp! This is not anything like anyone has told me it would be!". By the time I arrived at the birthing center I was doubled over, barely able to walk, already fatigued and giving up. By the time I got to 7cm I was sobbing, begging for an epidural, and past the point of breaking. I kept thinking, "why haven't I passed out yet?? This isn't fair, in normal circumstances I would have passed out by now!"

Let me tell you right now, I had thought I was prepared before that first moment. I was an experienced meditator, strong athlete, and had a solid pain tolerance due to a lifetime of migraines. I had also taken a birth class and read all the books on relaxation and how to "manage" labor. After that experience, I refused to do it again.

Thankfully I met Britney, a birth coach who opened my eyes to an entire world of birthing possibilities. I got pregnant again. I read new books (see below!) and TRAINED for birth like the intensive spiritual, emotional, and physical endurance event that it is, and I FELL IN LOVE WITH BIRTHING. My waves were comfortable and incredible. I was fully present and leading my birth. I had an amazing 3.5 hour birth and caught my own baby. I experienced connection to my strength and empowerment as a woman I had never known before. And my baby had the gentle birth experience I had hoped for. My physical recovery was practically non-existent, and I was able to move fluidly into our new family rhythms with confidence and joy unhindered by the after-effects of a painful birth experience.

Investing in solid birth preparation (training!) is quite honestly one of the most important things you can invest in before baby arrives (aside from a really great baby carrier!).

Think of it like your wedding day. You invest, plan, prepare, and create the mood and experience that you want at every level. The moment you give birth is the moment your duo becomes a family, or the day your family welcomes a new sister or brother home. You will remember this day forever, so prepare for a positive experience.

Why is this important?

In case this is your first time, or you're a little fuzzy on the details, a typical birth experience consists of some common elements:

  • Indescribable pain
  • Fear
  • A series of offered (pushed) interventions, commonly beginning with induction
  • Shock and overwhelm
  • Drama
  • Longer labors
  • Exhaustion
  • Uncomfortable or lengthy recovery
  • Lasting effects for mother and baby, including possible anxiety/depression, physical impairments, ptsd, learning difficulties, etc.
  • Lost sense of womanhood or connection to feminine power
  • Relief

My first birth left me feeling shaken and defeated going into motherhood despite everyone insisting that I "did amazing" and my body "was made for birth". It sure didn't feel like it to me.

In contrast, my second birth was a complete turn-around, a redemption, if you will. These are the elements of a Beyond Birthing prepared birth:

  • Positive experience
  • Low intervention
  • Feelings of Empowerment
  • Trust and love for your perfect body
  • Faster and easier recovery (if at all)
  • More energy to be with baby immediately after birth
  • Fully present with baby in those precious moments after birth
  • Deeper connection with baby
  • Stronger relationship with partner/husband throughout the process
  • Stronger discernment and voice for what you need and want for yourself & baby
  • Gentler entrance to world for baby (leads to better learning outcomes, etc. as children and adults)
  • Peace and calm throughout labor and delivery and postpartum
  • Triumph

I could go on, including a stronger sense of yourself as a woman, connection to the feminine, etc., but the difference in experience is stark.

For a lot of women, the second kind of experience not only seems unrealistic, but a luxury they cannot afford. But there are costs to winging-it in birth. So instead, we pay for our lack of preparation with pain, depleted energy, loss of precious moments we cannot recover with our babies, physical and emotional impairments that can cost us financially and strain our relationships and ability to show up to our lives and work long after birth is over, interventions that we didn't want that increase hospital stays and bills, etc.

The hidden cost of giving birth the way we "typically" do hits our wallets, our hearts, and countless other parts of our lives (and our baby's life) for years beyond birth.

It doesn't have to be this way!

Birth Preparation Resources

There are so many ways to receive birth coaching and improve your experience, and it doesn't have to break the bank. And while not all birth classes are created equal or will give you the experience you are truly looking for, here are a few suggestions organized by price point to get you started:

Books & Online Resources:

Childbirth Without Fear by Dr. Grantly Dick-Reed - an oldie, but by far one of the best birthing books out there. This book will give you the knowledge and background to understand that birth isn't actually meant to hurt and create a clear picture that your body is perfectly designed to birth your baby. Written by a brilliant and forward-thinking doctor from the early part of the last century whose messages and wisdom are the best out there to this day.

My critique is that while this book completely reframes the childbirth experience, there isn't a clear practical pathway to actively train for the birth you would like and given that actual practice is critical to changing your outcome, you will need additional resources to get you to where Dr. Dick-Reed is pointing.

Hypnobirthing The Mongan Method, Marie Mongan - this book is a great next read to deepen your understanding of how fear impacts birth. It's also written in a slightly more down to earth tone than Dr. Dick-Reed whose poetic and academic language may be a harder read for some (but well worth it!). Mongan also includes exercises for releasing tension, dropping into a state of relaxation, and other practical tools for labor.

My critique of Mongan's book, and this applies to hypnobirthing in general is that these methods and practices do not go deep or far enough. The part of your mind that these methods teach you to relax is the tip of the iceberg to the part of your mind that is actually steering the course of your labor. After taking a hypnobirthing course for a previous labor, one of my clients shared that hypnobirthing helped her maintain a deeper composure and appearance of calm on the outside, but inside she was still overwhelmed by the pain and experience. After going through the Beyond Birthing course (and addressing the rest of the iceberg) she was able to have the pain-free and calm birth experience she wanted. Ultimately, Mongan's book is a great relaxation tool, but you'll need something else to work with the fears and subconscious patterning directly (see below) to achieve a fully transformed experience.

Beyond Birthing Positive & Empowering Childbirth, Marin Phoenix (coming soon! Pre-request your copy!) - bridging the gap between knowledge and practice, this book takes you on a journey to understand not only the mechanism of labor, but also how to birth your baby without pain or overwhelm. The book addresses how to transform your fear into confidence, how to physically, mentally, and spiritually prepare your body for one of the most intense and transformative moments of your life, and how to navigate and lead your own birth despite the onslaught of pressures and unnecessary interventions that lead to typical undesirable birth outcomes.

Critique: It's not completed yet! Your encouragement is greatly helpful in pushing this along. Drop a comment below to show your interest, so I get the kick in the butt to keep moving!

The Natural Pregnancy Book, Aviva Jill Romm - I love this book, especially for first time mamas, particularly for the history of birth at the beginning and the succinct and sweet breakdown of the weeks. This book also includes herbal recommendations, diet diaries, a section on becoming a father and supporting your partner, pregnancy and birth as a rite of passage, and even a description of blessingways. This book paints a beautiful overview of pregnancy, birth, and the postpartum period as a deeply holistic and sacred process of bringing a child into the world.

This is a great overall book to have around and consult throughout pregnancy, however it does not include a process for preparing or training for giving birth.

Evidence-Based Birth, Rebecca Dekker - this is a fantastic online resource for evidence-based articles on every birth topic under the sun. Wondering if it's necessary to medically induce for low amniotic fluid in your 39th week? Or what the research says on receiving Pitocin to prevent hemorrhage immediately after birth? Rebecca presents a balanced view clearly stating the evidence for and against as well as studies that have been conducted and the reliability of the results.

This website does not provide birth preparation, but it is a great resource to have in your back pocket as you wade through the pressures and overwhelm of information on the internet and from your medical team.

Online Courses:

Faith-Based: Pain-Free Birth, Karen Welton - this class is a Christian faith-based online course focused on faith over fear with a ton of great tools and practices to get your mind, spirit, and body ready for a pain-free experience of birth. I haven't personally vetted this class, but I have followed Karen on Instagram for some time now and everything she puts out there is on point and the closest to what I do that I have found out there.

Beyond Birthing Self-Paced (coming this summer/fall) - this online, self-paced version of the beyond birthing program walks you through every aspect of the live course over 8-online modules loaded with video content, meditations, pdfs, and tools to fully prepare you for a positive and empowering birth experience.

Live Courses:

Hypnobirthing Courses - these have become very trendy in recent years with many women reaching for a more peaceful way to navigate labor and delivery. There are various live and online courses you can find on this website. As previously stated, these courses will help you move through birth more calmly, but they lack the deeper transformative work to shift the subconscious beliefs and patterning that automatically kick in during labor and direct our system into the fear-tension-pain cycle. The upside is these courses offer a less expensive (depending on the instructor) way to see some improvement in your birth experience.

Beyond Birthing Live Group Program - this is the gold standard for changing your birth outcomes and our signature course. Created by an ICEA Childbirth Educator and experienced Transformational Coach this program deals directly with the underlying fears and patterning that disrupt your body's natural birth process and lead to painful, overwhelming, and intervention laden birth outcomes. This course will transform the way you think about giving birth and instill you with the peace, confidence, and clarity to bring your dream birth into reality. Over the course of 8 live modules, we navigate the mechanics and stages of labor, eliminating fear and training deep relaxation for a comfortable birth at every level. This comprehensive program covers strategies and practical tools for birth, a full partner session, options and advocacy, special circumstances, and more. 

Beyond Birthing Personalized 1:1 Coaching: Whether you would like a more personalized experience of birth preparation or only have time for a few sessions, this is a great and flexible option for mamas who want to see a positive difference in their birth experience with one-on-one support. 

One last note, almost every birth program out there has some kind of payment plan option. At Beyond Birthing we believe in every woman having access to a positive birth experience, so if any of our prices are out of your budget, please send me a direct message to [email protected] and if I have the availability, I will happily work with you to find a sliding scale payment option or find other options to get you on a positive path. Additionally, FSA and HSA funds can be used to pay for Childbirth Classes, including Beyond Birthing, so please check with you plan provider as this is a great option for those who have this available. Your insurance may even cover and reimburse you for childbirth classes.

What to look for in a Birth Course/Program:

Not all birth programs and prep courses are created equal or will get you the results you are looking for. The price tag is not necessarily an accurate gauge of quality with some pricier birth courses masquerading as glorified versions of the free version at your local hospital, and other gems tucked away between the covers of a book that require more unpacking. So, how do you know if a birth course is going to deliver for you?

These are a few key aspects to look for if you want a program that will change your experience of labor and truly prepare you for a comfortable, positive, and empowering birth. You will find all of the elements and more in the Beyond Birthing course as well as the real testimonies of mothers who have tried other prep courses and experienced the beyond birthing difference.

Mechanics and Stages/Phases of Labor & Delivery: Every birth prep class should include an understanding of how your baby moves through your body and the phases of labor, even the free one at your hospital. So, the important thing to look for is how thorough a course is and how the material is being presented. You're looking for simple, clear, and easy to remember during labor. In beyond birthing, we learn about the arc of labor as an archetypical narrative because as you may have experienced yourself, when labor begins our minds process very differently. Trying to remember facts is nearly impossible, but a symbolic story can cue you to the appropriate steps and actions to keep you calm and focused.

Addressing Fears and Underlying Patterns that feed the Fear-Tension-Pain Cycle: This is the game changer. Many birth courses (including hypnobirthing) focus on pain management rather than transforming your birth experience. Pain management will teach you relaxation tools, mantras, and techniques so that when you get into labor you use these tools to feel better with varying success and outcomes. The pain management approach fails to address the underlying assumption that labor is scary and painful, when in fact it is not. When we address the underlying fears and beliefs, including letting go of generational patterns of birthing using skillful transformational coaching tools, we do not enter the fear-tension-pain cycle in the first place, which means you get to stay present and actually enjoy your birth.

Partner Preparation: Making sure you and your partner are on the same page is key to a peaceful and supported labor and eliminates quite a bit of tension both leading into birth and on the big day. The key elements that you want to look for in partner preparation are understanding the partner's role, clarifying expectations/hopes for both mom and dad/partner, and relieving fears. Part of this work should also include tools the partner can use to help with relaxation and support of mom through her journey and deepening your connection and bond. This has been one of our favorite sessions for beyond birthing mamas and partners!

Knowing your Options/Self-Advocacy: There are so many decision points throughout pregnancy and labor and delivery and many of them are confusing and/or not obvious. Getting clear on what your options are and how to advocate for yourself can make ALL the difference in creating the birth you want. This includes being informed about when induction is and is NOT necessary, what you can decline during labor, how to show up to labor in such a way that your medical team will defer to you rather than taking over and interfering with your process. 

Special Circumstances & How to Navigate Them: Every birth is different, even from pregnancy to pregnancy, and special circumstances can come up. These may include medically necessary induction or cesarean section, a baby that keeps turning into the breech position near term, or other situations that can complicate labor and delivery. A solid course will be able to offer guidance and tools for these situations, provide evidence-based research, and/or have guides and videos for common special circumstances that can arise. The advantage to having live weekly calls and support in Beyond Birthing is that you will get the tailored support for challenges as they arise in addition to videos within modules on common topics.

Relaxation Tool & Strategies: Learning and practicing relaxation techniques BEFORE giving birth is critical to creating an automatic relaxed and calm response in your body to the sensations of labor. When the first wave (contraction) begins our system makes a split second judgement whether this sensation is "good"/"safe" or "bad". If we go into a fear response at this point, we begin the negatively reinforcing process of the fear-tension-pain cycle. Alternatively, we can train our minds and body to relax in response to labor so that we stay present, calm, and surrendered from the get-go. Tools/strategies may include meditations, somatic release techniques such as EFT, the 3 R's, sensory specific triggers, etc.

Other aspects that are important to a successful birth program can include building a connection with your body and baby for a smoother birth, breathing techniques for different stages of labor, helpful positioning, etc.

I have found it rare to find all of the above in a comprehensive birthing program that addresses preparation at the mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual level. This is why I created Beyond Birthing, to make it easy for moms to prepare in a way that transforms your birth experience from painful and scary to positive and empowering. You can explore the Beyond Birthing program here.

Whether you start with reading one of the amazing books shared above, or dive right into a prep course, give yourself the time and space to prepare mentally, emotionally, and physically as if you would for a marathon, competition, or big event. Giving birth is one of the biggest events of your life! The time you put into your prep will have a positive impact for you AND for your baby now and far into the future.

Happy birthing!
Marin

Have questions? Email [email protected].
Want to know more about Marin? Check out her bio here.
Curious about Beyond Birthing? Get program details here.

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