She Says… Childbirth Class

Over the weekend Benjamin and I attended a 2-day long chilbirth class. Me? I’m a junky for learning (GEEK alert!), and I was looking forward to the weekend, notebook and pen in hand.  Benjamin, however, has never really been a fan of sitting in a classroom for hours on end, and not surprisingly, he was NOT really looking forward to 2 full days of talking about babies and vaginas and breathing techniques. But being the wonderful husband that he is, he humored me, and we packed our pillows in the car and headed for class early on Saturday morning.

We were one of only 4 couples in the class, so it was very small, which was nice. The class was taught by a labor and delivery nurse who had three kids, so she really knew her stuff! She was verging on a little too enthusiastic (even for me), but her information was good and her experience was vast. The first day we went through the mechanics/logistics of childbirth. The second day we went through interventions (c-sections, forceps, vacuums, pain management options, etc.) and worked on some relaxation techniques with our partners to practice getting through tough contractions and the physical/emotional stress of labor. Even though 90% of the material was not new information for me, I was still struck by just how amazing my body is. What it has already accomplished in creating a life and nurturing that child almost to full-term is unbelievable. And the process of getting that little baby OUT of my nurturing womb? Even more unbelievable.

I expected to see a movie akin to “The Miracle of Life” or whatever that movie is that everyone watches in 7th grade (the one I probably covered my eyes through at the time, since I don’t remember a second of it). But instead, we were shown an equally dated but far more interesting movie of three different births and how they played out. You see, when it comes down to it, I don’t need to know the biology behind the baby’s creation… I need to know what I need to do to get him out when the time comes. This movie showed three couples who each went into labor with a certain idea of how things were going to go, and all three of them ended up surprised by how they actually went. If there’s one thing I learned from this class, it’s that you cannot plan or control your birth story — the baby’s directing this show.

I went into the class thinking that I would like to try to manage my pain on my own for as long as possible once I go into labor, and then I would get an epidural and hopefully pop my baby out without too many medical interventions. That was my “plan”.  To be honest, that’s probably still my “plan”. But the frank discussion of all the little things epidurals require (being pumped full of fluids, getting a catheter, not being able to walk around due to numb legs, possibly not being able to feel when/where to push if the epidural is too strong, getting a gigantic needle stuck in my back, etc.) scared me more than the thought of contractions. Believe me, I realize I may be singing a different tune when I actually feel what an active labor contraction feels like, but the class definitely opened my eyes up to some of the realities of the labor process that I wasn’t really aware of before and gave me some new things to think about.

When we first started class, our instructor asked us what we were most scared/nervous about. Everyone in the class mentioned something about labor (the pain, not getting to the hospital in time, the pain, having something wrong with the baby, and oh did I mention the pain?). Except me. I am mostly worried about the recovery. I’m nervous about bleeding for weeks on end and recovering from tears and stitches. I’m nervous about not being able to walk my dog or lift my baby or be active again. Maybe I have some mental block that has kept me from being scared of the actual birth? Or maybe I just figure that is a finite period of time and I can get through it? Not sure why I still feel so calm and serene about that part.

All in all I think the class was definitely worth attending. It was a little long, and it took up an entire weekend that we might have preferred to spend doing other things, but it certainly helped me begin to grasp the reality of what my body is about to go through, and what Benjamin and I can do to make it easier/better. And hey, the deep breathing and massage techniques we practiced weren’t so bad either.

17 responses to “She Says… Childbirth Class

  1. I was like you in pregnancy and very well read but I did find childbirth class VERY useful.

    I wanted to go drug free for my birth but wasn’t married to the idea. At one point I asked for the Epidural because they told me I had a few more hours of the pain I was experiencing. As the doctor was getting the drugs ready I felt like I had to poop. Yeah that was Lucy. I went from 4 cm to complete in less than 30 minutes.

    So I was able to have my drug free birth and it was awesome!!!

  2. As far as recovery goes, for me, it was a lot better than I expected it to be. I had a 2nd degree tear and lots of soreness from pushing, but I opted for pain meds after the fact and they worked well. For me, the adrenaline and rush and overwhelming nature of having a new baby in the house took the front seat, and there are few moments I remember of really struggling with postpartum recovery.

    As far as birth, I had the same weird block about it, and I will say this: I am not ready to have an infant again, and I could handle being pregnant again, but I look forward to the opportunity to give birth again. (I know that a lot of people will roll their eyes when they see this, but it’s true.) I had an incredibly positive birth experience–hospital, no drugs, and a doula (who was a support for both my husband and me, not someone who took the place of my husband as my “coach”)–and it was empowering and amazing. However the ball rolls for you, and whatever choices you make in regards to epidural or no, it will be incredible.

  3. I loved the relaxation part of our childbirth classes. You’re the same as me- I’m mostly concerned about recovery. And part of my problem is that I LOVE my pregnant body and I’m afraid it’s going to really bother me when it’s all different. Right now, I feel beautiful and special. Then, I’ll be bleeding, have leaky boobs, and a squishy stomach…

    I hope your birth goes wonderful though and we both recover much easier than we’re fearing! And it will be worth it when we hold these sweet adorable babies.

  4. i had one shot of Nubain when I was in labor (I have 2 kid) , I was terrified of any and all shots and the thought of an Epidural scared me too. I knew as long as I stayed in control and could breath through it all I didn’t want a lot of medicine going in me or the babies.

    you can do it, but if you can’t, it’s OK.

  5. Funny, I felt pretty much the same as you do…I guess it is easy for me to say 2 months later but all the things I worried about..tearing/bleeding etc are not a big deal (for me) in hindsight. I did have an epidural at 7cm, for some reason my uterus was stalled at 7cm for a VERY long time. After the epi it was like wham bam thank you mam 🙂 Although yes–the pushing did take longer…Everyone has a different story–I guess that is what is cool about birth! Good vibes to you for a wonderful birth/baby/recovery.

  6. There are positives and negatives to both ways of giving birth. You’ll know what’s right for you when the time comes!

  7. I plan on going as natural as possible too, but I’m not going to be upset if something goes diferent from what i whanted..
    I’m still a little scared about the pain, but I think that when the time comes everything happens so fast.. at least I hope! rsrsrs

  8. I understand your fear! To me, labour will only take hours.

    Recovery could be weeks!

  9. Coming from someone who is still in the recovery phase, I can say that’s been both better and worse than I thought it was going to be. That sounds weird to say, but some moments I’m just amazed that I’m as healed as I am after only 2.5 weeks, but there have been definitely some moments during the last 2.5 weeks where I honestly thought that I would preferred to have been recovering from a c-section instead. Stitches in your hoo-ha vs stitches in your tummy? Hmmm….. You don’t sit on your tummy! You don’t poop from your tummy! But then again, I did have a grade 3 tear, and I’m sure many others recover much quicker with much less trauma down there! I am definitely glad the epidural was an option for me, I really don’t think I could have handled the pain any longer than what I did. Thank goodness for modern medicine, but maybe I am just a big pansy! That is very possible 🙂 I’m sure you’ll make the decision that is right for you at the time.

  10. If you’re thinking about going without drugs, I really recommend the book, “Natural Birth the Bradley Way”. DH and I practiced the techniques they suggest for about a month before my first… ended up with a C section with him, but used them with great results for #2. My labor was really fast, got to the hospital only 30 min before he was born, but the contractions where DH had me in the position they recommend were definitely easier than the others. I loved my drug-free birth, and hope to do it again someday! (Not that I have any problem with people having epidurals, but it is definitely possible to manage well without one if that’s what you choose).

  11. Well, after two kids I would say the recovery is more annoying than anything. To me, having uncomplicated deliveries, the birth although painful (until my epidural) was so exciting and fun! Having to deal with the weeks of bleeding and jello belly (making you totally not feel like yourself) while trying to get the hang of breastfeeding and having a totally new life/schedule and little sleep was just an annoyance. Not really painful.

    But after that joyful comment……. it is all TOTALLY WORTH IT of course! When I did have overwhelming moments, I just reminded myself that women have been doing this forever and with far less resources, so I could do it 🙂

  12. OMG I just posted almost the same post tonight! You truly are my pregnant twin! 🙂 I feel the same way!

  13. You are totally right that the only thing you can count on is that your birth will not go as you expect!

    And during recovery, the wonder of having a new baby outshine any discomforts or weirdness you feel with your body – for the most part. new babies are both amazing and all consuming!

  14. I am really worried about tearing 😦 That, to me, is far scarier than anything that might happen in labor.

  15. I see a lot of comments here that suggest good reasons for having a c-section, but I wonder if you discussed in your class (or if any of your readers have experience with) unwanted c-sections? I have a… friend… who imagines being in a delivery room, specifying that she wants to keep things as natural as possible, and having a doctor come in to do a c-section because he’s late for a round of golf. Is this a valid fear? How much power does a mother or father have in saying “Unless it’s life-or-death, no c-section– I/She will keep on pushing, even if it takes another 48 hours?”

  16. you know what? I had to go to the podiatrist today and I ended up getting a shot of cortizone (sp?) in my big toe (long story). I came home and told my husband that it hurt worse than my epidural. I’m telling you – it didn’t hurt at all. Not that that helps you of course, but I was pleasantly surprised by how easy it was. The epidural, not the cortizone shot.

  17. Pingback: One Mom-to-Be's View on Childbirth Class — Giving Birth with Confidence

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