Pregnancy education

Posted by Saraline , Thursday, August 28, 2008 7:46 AM

Since becoming pregnant, I've taken measures to educate myself on what to expect. I've been reading books, reading blogs, and asking lots of questions while talking to women who have had babies.

While I was reading books on the subject of pregnancy and giving birth, I found out about getting an episiotomy. (For those of you not familiar with pregnancy lingo, an episiotomy is when they cut your vagina open to make it bigger when you're giving birth.) How come nobody told me about this? I had never heard about this before. There was no mention of an episiotomy in the "angry vagina" monologue in The Vagina Monologues or in the monologue about giving birth, for that matter. In sex ed in high school, we learned about the reproductive system and different forms of birth control, but there was nothing in the curriculum about actually giving birth let alone getting an episiotomy. My handy spell check tool doesn't even want to accept the word.

Ever since I found out about this type of surgery, I've been asking a lot of moms if they had it when they had their kids. It turns out that everyone I've asked had episiotomies. Maybe nobody thought to mention it to me because it's so commonplace.

There are many other things that I wouldn't have thought about in regards to pregnancy if it hadn't been for books: mucous plugs, the first bowel movement after giving birth, the fact that the drugs could be dangerous, artificial rupture of membranes (breaking the water), etc.

All of this would be terrifying if it were to happen without the pregnant woman knowing about it beforehand. What about people who don't have the books or the patience to read them? What about people who are scared to ask a lot of questions of people who have already gone through the experience? The CLSCs in Quebec offer free pre-natal classes, but I have to pay to take the classes at the Royal Victoria Hospital because my local CLSC only offers these classes in French. What about women who are in my situation who can't afford to pay for the classes?

Pregnancy must be especially scary for teenage mothers. As I mentioned earlier, giving birth wasn't covered in the sex ed curriculum at my high school. There has been debate about whether teaching about birth control or teaching abstinence only sex ed is more effective when trying to stop teen pregnancy. Although I'm on the birth control side, I know that neither method of teaching will stop teen pregnancy entirely.

It would be more fair to young expectant mothers to have a general idea of what will happen to them once they start going into labour. They should know the pros and cons of having an epidural, having a c-section or an episiotomy, being hooked up to an iv for fluids, etc. so that they can make their own decisions about whether or not they want these things when they're giving birth. Why not fit the basics into a high school sex ed class?

4 Response to "Pregnancy education"

Anonymous Says:

I agree 100%. So much about pregnancy and childbirth is veiled in mystery, even for me (a woman). I imagine there's enough to overwhelm you emotionally as a pregnant woman that all the new information must be, um, even more overwhelming?

Anonymous Says:

I remember learning about episiotomies in high school, but I'm pretty sure it was in a parenting class. I was pretty horrified when I heard it though.... ewww

Kate Says:

I kind of disagree. There is no way that we can teach our kids everything they need to know about every life stage. What about menopause? Breast self-exams? Getting pregnant intentionally? Not to mention, these things change. Not fundamentally of course but the medical approach changes. I was very knowledgeable about birth control in college but since then they've invented depo-provera, hormonal IUDs and (official) period-free pills. Pregnancy probably does rank more of a treatment than it gets, but I wouldn't suggest that a course that is thorough enough that you don't have to read up/take a class/ask your mom at the time is realistic.

Ideally you teach kids how to look stuff up rather than all the facts they'll ever need to know.

Saraline Says:

Kate: I'm not saying that they should spend half a semester on pregnancy and child birth. Just like one class out of the semester to cover the basics so they know what kind of questions to ask later.

ieatants: I never took a parenting class in high school so I didn't know that episiotomies were covered there.