The experience of women who take virtual childbirth education classes
During 2020, the world faced an unprecedented shut-down to help curb the rising epidemic of Covid-19, a novel virus that was causing acute respiratory infections resulting in an abrupt increase in hospitalizations and death across the world. Formalized childbirth education has been a common way for expectant women and their partners to prepare for childbirth and parenting since the mid-20th century in the United States, but by March 2020 in-person events were overwhelmingly cancelled during the Covid-19 crisis. This paved the way for wide-range adoption of virtual education across many sectors including childbirth education. Interactive online approaches to educational content became available from the safety and comfort of one’s own home. Access to virtual childbirth education both from the hospital systems and birth workers in the community greatly increased over the last three years as a response to the pandemic, yet there is a lack of published literature regarding the experience and outcomes related to those that take childbirth education classes through virtual methods. The purpose of this qualitative study is to understand the experience of nulliparous women who took virtual childbirth education classes during the Covid-19 pandemic. This will be explored through the aims of acceptability, meeting expectations, satisfaction, and perceived impact. The study method uses Martin Heidegger’s philosophical approach of interpretative phenomenology. A total of 21 women who were pregnant with their first baby during 2020 to 2022 and took virtual childbirth education classes were interviewed from various locations in Texas and California. Interviews used semi-structured interview questions which were recorded and transcribed through Zoom. The information from this study is important to understand more about the experience of virtual childbirth education and to ensure that a virtual approach is meeting the aims important to participants especially since this is a popular mode of education for the new generation of expectant parents.