Participation at in-person childbirth education classes has been on the decline in past years. There has not been much research on the benefits of taking a childbirth class, and with the plethora of information available online, it is no surprise that enrollment may very well be on the decline. At the same time, cesarean rates and obstetrical interventions have overall been increasing. Maternal and neonatal morbidity and mortality rates have not been improving either.
In the 2013 Listening to Mothers (LtM) III report, 59% of all first time mothers took childbirth classes, compared with 70% in the 2002 LtM I report. In 2013, 17% of experienced mothers took classes, down from 19% in 2002 (Declercq, 2013, Declercq 2002).
Lamaze International, with its diverse and experienced team of Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educators, is in a unique position to collect data on the experiences of parents who take Lamaze childbirth classes and utilize Lamaze International resources. The Lamaze staff and Board of Directors have developed and initiated a Parent Satisfaction Survey that can be filled out by families who have completed a Lamaze class. The survey is meant to be completed after the birth of their baby, so that the information can be used to determine how their Lamaze class impacted their actual choices and experience.
The information being collected in this Parent Satisfaction Survey can play a key role in helping to:
Understand the impact of Lamaze classes
Data collected through these surveys can be used to understand the impact of Lamaze classes on families and birth outcomes and guide further research on this topic. Exploring this area of research can help Lamaze and other organizations to access funding to further develop and continue studying this important topic
Lobby for improved access
Information gained through these post-birth surveys can be used to educate lawmakers on the outcomes of births when families participated in birth classes and encourage legislators to offer reimbursement and increased access for childbirth education classes across all socioeconomic and ethnic categories. Lamaze International plans to repeat their “Hill Day” campaign and lobby Congressmen/women in early spring of 2016 by visiting them in their D.C. offices and sharing information about maternal infant health and outcomes experienced by parents and infants during the childbearing year.
Improve information and educational materials
The results of the survey can help Lamaze International to be sure their message is on target and their educational materials are effective in sharing information on best practices, evidence based care and informed consent and refusal. Lamaze can continue to develop curriculum and services that help families to “Push for Their Baby” during pregnancy, birth and postpartum.
Help LCCEs to deliver education
Every childbirth educator’s goal is to communicate important information to expectant families through engaging and effective activities. Aggregated survey information can help Lamaze International provide information and direction to all the LCCEs so that they can assess how they can continue to provide valuable and useful information to the families participating in their Lamaze classes.
Share the message with other stakeholders
Information gleaned from the survey will be shared with policymakers and key third-party organization stakeholders at upcoming roundtables that Lamaze representatives facilitate in and host. It is important for health care providers, hospital administrators and maternal infant health organizations to recognize how effective Lamaze childbirth classes can be be in creating a safe and healthy birth for participating families.
Linda Harmon, Lamaze International’s Executive Director took a moment recently to answer some questions about the Parent Satisfaction Survey.
Sharon Muza: There is not a lot of research available on the effectiveness of childbirth/Lamaze classes. Do you feel this information could be used as the basis of that research?
Linda Harmon: Lamaze has commissioned a White Paper which will present the evidence related to childbirth interventions overuse in the US hospital system, and the effects they can have on childbirth outcomes, and present the argument that evidence-based prenatal education is a critical avenue for women when making childbirth care decisions. The parent satisfaction survey will support this research by providing data from the parents who have used Lamaze resources.
SM: How could the information gained from this survey be used to further reimbursement for families who take childbirth classes?
LH: Data gained from the Lamaze Parent Satisfaction Survey will be used to provide important insights about the impact of Lamaze childbirth education on the experiences and outcomes of pregnant women and their babies. These insights will provide valuable information to support discussions with healthcare insurers, hospitals and other strategic partners to advance Lamaze education. Preliminary data from the Lamaze national parent satisfaction survey shows that women engaged with Lamaze have a cesarean rate of 20%. That’s about 13% less than the national cesarean rate of 33%. If a 13% reduction in cesarean could be translated across the U.S., the potential cost savings would be nearly $4.7 billion annually.
SM: Lamaze International is an international leader in childbirth education and offers a great curriculum filled with best practice and evidence based information. Have initial survey responses indicated that our classes have been a useful component for families welcoming a child?
LH: The preliminary data is very positive, but we need substantially more parent survey responses to validate general trends. In the initial review of survey findings in March 2015, we compared what women told us in the Lamaze survey with what women reported in the highly-respected national survey Listening to Mothers III: Pregnancy and Birth. Early survey responses show that 94% of women taking Lamaze classes say that education provided by Lamaze improved their childbirth experience and 91% feel well informed about decisions in labor and birth.
You Can Help Advocate for Childbirth Education
Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educators play a key role in getting the word out to the families who participate in their classes. Through information received from you, families can be directed to the survey and asked to participate. During the online survey, participants are asked a handful of simple questions that seek to learn if childbirth education improved their birth experience.
Lamaze has put together many resources for LCCE educators to help you understand the importance of this survey. These resources include:
- An FAQ to help you become familiar with the survey and encourage you to participate.
- How to introduce the survey in class – We have created sample messages and instructions for encouraging your students to sign up for the survey
- Promote the survey – We have developed a sample email you can send your class, introducing them to the survey, as well as sample Facebook, Twitter and blog posts.
Every family that participates in the survey will receive a coupon for a discount on a Lamaze toy.
Win a 2016 Lamaze International conference registration
If you encourage participation, you will be entered to win a complimentary Lamaze International 2016 Annual Conference registration. If your name is referenced as their childbirth educator in the survey, you will be entered in the drawing—and the more your name is referenced, the more entries you will have! This is a real bonus reason to share the survey with parents, even beyond the benefits to research and programs.
Are you already encouraging your families to take the Parent Satisfaction Survey? Share your experiences in the comments section. If you have not yet begun to communicate information to your families about the survey, I hope that you will reconsider as you recognize the importance of your role in collecting this valuable data.
Declercq, E. R., Sakala, C., Corry, M. P., Applebaum, S., & Herrlich, A. (2013). Listening to Mothers III: Pregnancy and Birth; Report of the Third National US Survey of Women’s Childbearing Experiences. New York, NY: Childbirth Connection.
Declercq, E. R., Sakala, C., Corry, M. P., Applebaum, S., & Risher, P. (2002). Listening to mothers: Report of the first national US survey of women’s childbearing experiences. New York.
Babies, Cesarean Birth, Childbirth Education, Lamaze International, Lamaze News, New Research