Can going to a pregnancy class benefit your health?
Pregnancy and postpartum are challenging to navigate, especially for first-time mothers. That’s why it’s important for parents to have solid support networks and access to educational resources to guide them through pregnancy and the first few months with their new baby.
A study concluded that pregnant women who receive sufficient social support from their networks are more likely to embrace pregnancy-related physical and lifestyle changes resulting in positive behavioral outcomes and engagement in good care practices.
“Support from family, friends and community is vital for pregnant women and new mothers,” confirms Dr. Jude Duval, maternal-fetal medicine physician at Advocate Health Care. “They need to have trusted people who can help with things like transportation to appointments and childcare.”
Additionally, pregnant women should be equipped with education about how to care for their changing body, and expectant parents can take steps to prepare for their baby and better understand the resources in their community. To help share these important tools, some hospitals have educational classes and workshops for pregnant women and expectant parents.
Classes and workshops provide parents with a safe place to learn and connect with other parents who are on the same journey. These workshops, which are typically free, feature experts from the community who address a variety of topics including exercise, pelvic health, doulas, postpartum emotions, nutrition and early literacy.
“As a first-time mama, joining a pregnancy program helped me learn about different options and take action,” shares Monica Leon, a patient at Advocate Sherman Hospital. “I did not know about the available community resources like the family-friendly parks and library. I also learned about essential oils and how they can help during delivery.”
Leon says she lacked mom friends before getting pregnant. The program inspired her, and now she has a team of moms in the community who are part of her support system.
“People assume pregnancy is wonderful and postpartum is amazing, and it’s not always like that,” Leon admits. “I met other moms who shared stories of their issues with back pain or with delivery and c-section, and that information is empowering.”
Dr. Duval notes there is a high association between hospitals that offer educational programs for pregnant women and reduced rates of c-section surgeries. It is especially important for women with high-risk pregnancies to seek support.
A key benefit of these social networks, especially for first-time moms, is the opportunity to hear from others about their experiences. Leon remembers thinking, “Is this just me?” until she had a safe space to talk with other moms.
“It’s important to have a support group and understand that you’re not alone,” Leon reflects. “There are things people don’t talk about like incontinence and changes in relationships. These things happen, and it’s good to have a support team that also helps you understand what tools you can use to deal with these challenges.”
About the Author
Elizabeth Blasko is a public affairs coordinator with Advocate Health Care and Aurora Health Care. She studied public relations and nonprofit leadership at Western Michigan University. Elizabeth previously worked at Bernie's Book Bank, a nonprofit dedicated to increasing book ownership among underserved children.