We crossed off a major item on my pre-baby to-do list over the weekend: the birth class! When I signed up for the Preparation for Childbirth workshop a couple of months ago, I wasn’t sure if it was necessary or worth the money. But now that we’ve completed the class I can safely say it was a worthy investment. I wanted to share some reasons I found it to be helpful to take advantage of the education classes offered at your hospital or in your area.
Reasons to take a birth class:
- Receive clarification on your hospital’s philosophy and policies: It was nice to know that our hospital already plans to do skin-to-skin contact and delayed cord clamping, which I was already planning to request. You can also find out the hospital’s rates for such things as C-sections. We also learned about how the hospital’s security.
- Go on a hospital tour: Getting to labor and delivery can be a source of stress if you don’t know where to park, where to check-in, what your room will look like, etc. Now that we know where to go, what to expect from our stay and the services that are offered we feel more comfortable and relieved.
- Know your pain management options: We learned exactly what medication options are available and the hospital’s philosophy and policies surrounding them. If you’re considering an epidural you watch a video and hear about how they are given so you know what you expect. If you’re considering an unmedicated birth you can learn techniques for coping with pain as well. In fact, the entire first day of the workshop focused on unmedicated birth coping mechanisms.
- Practice massage techniques and breathing exercises: Part of learning about your pain management options is learning specific massage and support techniques your partner can do to help you during labor. The hip squeeze I found especially helpful! You also do breathing exercises that help not only in labor and delivery but in everyday life.
- Get support from other couples: You meet couples from diverse backgrounds and of different ages, but you all share many of the same fears. Talking about those concerns helps alleviate some of the stress and helps you find solutions. You are not alone! Many of the men, for example, shared the feeling of helplessness and fear of not knowing how to help their partners, but they walked away with specific ways to be an active part of the labor process.
- Ask questions and get suggestions on outside resources: You are getting information from an expert rather than friends and family who may not be as informed or who may exaggerate their stories. The class debunked popular myths people can sometimes fill your head with. The class was a safe space to ask all the questions you had about giving birth. The instructor also had handouts with contact information for lactation consultants, support groups for postpartum depression, and other classes that may be helpful. (There’s even a class on how to get your dog to adjust to a new baby!)
- Taste the hospital food: You will likely be staying int he hospital for two or three days, so it’s not a bad idea to try out the food. Of course, you don’t have to, but we enjoyed checking out the cafeteria options and seeing what we would have available.
- Gain reassurance: Overall I felt more confident in myself. The biggest takeaway: I learned to keep an open mind and not set my heart on a given plan. I now have tools I can use, but I don’t need to commit to anything. If I adjust my expectations I can avoid feeling disappointed. At the end of the day the best outcome if a healthy and happy baby, not matter how that happens.
If you plan to have children in the future, will you take one? If you already have kiddos, what did you learn about giving birth?