Why Childbirth Education Began
Childbirth education began more than four decades ago as an attempt to change the concept of childbirth as an illness that required medical meddling. "The movement grew out of the realization that you didn't have to be zonked out on drugs during labor, and that you could have someone you love in the delivery room with you," says Henci Goer, a Lamaze International resident expert and the author of several books on childbirth. "It was about control."
Participation peaked in the '80s and '90s. But by 2005, class popularity had plummeted, according to Childbirth Connection, a nonprofit group that surveyed almost 1,600 new moms in its Listening to Mothers II survey. Class attendance fell from 70 percent of first-time mothers in 2000 to 56 percent in 2005.
Instead, for childbirth information, expectant moms are turning to television (68 percent), books (33 percent), friends and relatives (19 percent), and the Internet (16 percent), according to the survey. Even more telling: only 10 percent of women surveyed considered classes their most important source of information.