March 8, 2017, 2:00-3:00 PM ET
Childbirth Education: An Underutilized Asset in Maternity Care
Penny Simkin, PT
This presentation explores the present and potential contributions of childbirth education. Current scientific findings regarding effectiveness of childbirth education indicate little demonstrable benefit in improving obstetric outcomes.
Why? First of all, the designs of the studies are inconsistent and too small to give meaningful results. A review of major childbirth education organizations and a survey of childbirth educators raises questions about their commitment to educating parents to deal with the challenges that face them with the new guidelines (i.e., later admission to hospital, less aggressive management of PROM at term, later dilation defining active labor, and more).
Are parents really gaining mastery of comfort techniques in their childbirth classes? One might question whether parents are equipped to participate in the practices (such as confidence in laboring at home, employing appropriate comfort and labor enhancing techniques) that are known to improve outcomes. Without parents’ participation, ACOG’s recommendations are likely to bring far less benefit than with their participation. Ms. Simkin will discuss the essential information and skills that parents must have, along with a study design that would be adequate to demonstrate the usefulness if childbirth education in improving obstetric outcomes.
- Report findings of an informal survey of 100 plus childbirth educators.
- Discuss ACOG’s 2017 Committee Opinion, as it may relate to childbirth education.
- List evidence-based recommendations in the Committee Opinion that may be more successful in improving obstetric outcomes if knowledgeable parents participate actively.
Penny Simkin, PT, is a physical therapist who has specialized in childbirth education and labor support since 1968. She estimates she has prepared over 13,000 women, couples, and siblings for childbirth. She has assisted hundreds of women and couples through childbirth as a doula. She is author or co-author of books for both parents and professionals, including “The Labor Progress Handbook;” “Pregnancy, Childbirth, and the Newborn: The Complete Guide;” “When Survivors Give Birth: Understanding and Healing the Effects of Early Sexual Abuse on Childbearing Women;” “The Birth Partner: A Complete Guide to Childbirth for Dads, Doulas, and All Other Labor Companions,” She has developed teaching materials for birth classes and produced several videos for educators, doulas, and families , the latest of which is for siblings-to-be, “There’s a Baby.” She is co-founder of DONA International (formerly Doulas of North America) and PATTCh (Prevention and Treatment of Traumatic Childbirth).
Currently, she serves on the editorial board of the journal, Birth: Issues in Perinatal Care, and serves on the senior faculty of the Simkin Center for Allied Birth Vocations at Bastyr University, which was named in her honor.
Continuing Education Units
One (1) ICEA Continuing Education Credit
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