Preparing for a Wedding vs. Preparing to Give Birth: How Much Time Do You Invest?

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I read a tweet this week by Kristen (@OmahaBabyLady) that made me take pause. She said, "Why will people plan for a year for their wedding but 12 weeks of childbirth classes is too long? WTF?"

I'd never thought of it in that way before, but it resonated with me. Many people spend a year or longer planning and preparing for their wedding, but how much time do they spend preparing for the life-changing and life-giving event of giving birth to their child?

Kristen, who is a Bradley childbirth educator and doula, was prompted to tweet and blog about this after a potential client reacted to the news that the birth classes Kristen offered would be 12 weeks long.

"Twelve weeks!" she exclaimed. “You expect me to spend 12 weeks on something so simple as giving birth?”

Kristen was at a loss for words, and reflected on this for a few days before she made the analogy between preparing for a wedding and preparing for a birth. She said on her blog, Baby's Best Beginning, that she planned for her wedding for more than 15 months, including visiting wedding message boards, interviewing people and spending "countless hours agonizing" over all of the details. She says most of the people she knows did/do the same:

"Of course at the end of the day all that really matters is that they are able to marry their partner but very few people say ‘well, the minister/priest/rabbi etc. is the expert on marriage I will just do whatever they say in regards to my wedding,’ yet when it comes to birth so many couples simply defer to whatever their doctor tells them is best even when there is no medical evidence supporting those choices."

So is 12 weeks too long to spend preparing to give birth? Kristen obviously doesn't believe so. She feels, "When it comes to bringing your child into the world this is truly not a case of less is more."


Not everyone agrees, though. @SybilRyan argues that the two events (wedding and birth) are "not even remotely similar" and shouldn't be compared. Genevieve is taking Bradley classes now; she thinks 12 weeks is too long, but eight weeks would be perfect. "I love my teacher, the other parents, etc., but 12 weeks is a really long commitment when you have so much else to do to prepare for your baby."

@Reecemg, who blogs at Metagestation, said she took an eight-week class and it was the perfect length. Others, such as Heather, who blogs at Christian Stay At Home Moms, thinks an intensive four-to-six-hour, one-day class would be good, as "it's difficult to find time to go to a class 1x per week for 12 weeks."

Mary, who blogs at One Perfect Mess, said on Twitter: "The length [of the class] probably depends on the quality. For us four meetings was plenty."

Merry With Children also commented on Twitter, saying, "I know there are things to learn but so much of it [birth] is going to go how its going to go. Too much info is just scary."

Rebecca thinks people put more time preparing for their wedding than childbirth for exactly that reason -- fear. She commented on Twitter, a "wedding is fun, childbirth is scary. 'Experts' will take care of everything when you show up at hospital."

Andi, who blogs at Confessions of a Judgmental Hippy, agrees with Kristen, saying, "if a woman can commit to 12 prenatal appointments (average) then 12 weeks (sessions) of [childbirth education] should be easy."

Whitney blogs at The (Un)balancing Act of Motherhood. She took Bradley classes, and thinks the length of time was "perfect," though she admits she gave birth before attending the last two classes. She added, "I can't imagine learning about what happens in birth, what to expect, what to do, etc. in one class or even four classes. But like I said, that's just me. Others would be fine with one or four classes."

What do you think? Can the two events -- a wedding and a birth -- be compared? What is the "right" amount of time to prepare for giving birth?

I planned for more than a year for my wedding, and although I didn't attend a 12-week Bradley Method session, I feel like I put a good deal of preparation into childbirth. I took Hypnobirthing classes before my first child was born, which were six two-hour classes, if I remember correctly. I also read a lot and practiced the Hypnobirthing techniques.

I agree to some degree with Merry With Children in that no matter how much one prepares, birth is "going to go how it's going to go." But I also think the more you know and understand about birth, the better informed you will be to make choices along the way. Knowledge is power.

Photo credits:

Bride - http://www.flickr.com/photos/diannadesign/486944603/

Maternity - http://www.flickr.com/photos/mcgraths/3656184801/in/photostream/

Contributing editor Amy Gates blogs at Crunchy Domestic Goddess and is on Twitter at @crunchygoddess.

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