We signed up for a 12-hour, 4-week prepared childbirth course once we got settled in Chapel Hill. The course is held at the hospital where we’ll be welcoming our baby boy. It was a small class, with only 6 couples. We figured we’d learn a lot in the class, and we definitely did. As always, it helped to hear what others were thinking/planning and to have some medical professionals/doulas in the classroom to provide input from prior experience.
Week 1: All of the couples in class were expecting their first baby. Our baby is due LAST in the class. Everyone else will have their bundles of joy by November or December. All but one couple is planning to deliver at the hospital. The other is delivering at the birth center (no thank you!). The majority of couples in the class were planning to use midwives, except for us and one other couple who knew we’d have an OB there. We talked a lot about the stages of labor, support from partner and delivery in this class. I almost burst into tears towards the end. Chalk it up to a combination of nerves and hormones. I was able to hold in the emotion until we left and then I talked Landon’s ear off on the way to lunch.
Week 2: We talked about non-medicinal ways to cope with pain in this class. Which is great. However, if I’m in pain, I’ll be the first one to raise my hand and ask for something to help with that. Again, there was a point in class where I almost cried. Luckily, we had a break right after and I was able to get Starbucks and regroup. Whew! There were stations set up that we visited to go through ways we can move during labor, different positions, and different options that the hospital has (birthing ball, stools, etc.). We did a relaxation exercise at the end of class to show our partners how to help massage/soothe the moms.
Week 3: This class was focused on pain-management with medicine. I had to laugh when the teacher gave us an exercise for both partner and mom to say where mom would fall on a pain scale. LW put me at a 9, basically asking for meds at the first contraction. I put myself between a 3-5. There are no prizes for delivering without using medication – both outcomes result in a baby and that’s my goal here. So we’ll see how it goes but I’m glad to know my options.
Week 4: This class was focused on the hospital experience, testing/vaccines that are done at the hospital, perinatal disorders, life after delivery (especially the first few days/weeks), and helpful websites/books. Honestly, I’m a bit overwhelmed with everything that we could read between now and when he arrives. We’ve already got 5 or 6 books and have registered for others that were highly recommended. The class also focused a lot on what husbands/partners can do for the mom after delivery and when you get home. Unfortunately, LW was sick and stayed at home so he missed hearing all of that first-hand and has to go off of handouts, pictures I snapped and me regurgitating what I heard.
What I liked about the class: Our instructor gave both the benefits and downfalls of almost everything she talked about from using the birthing center vs. hospital, to inducing vs. going into labor on your own, to using different types of pain medicines. I found all of this very helpful. She didn’t try to push us one way or the other, but gave us both sides so that we can make an informed decision – or at least do more research.
What I didn’t like: The time. It was 10-1 every Sunday. This is prime eating time for pregnant women, so I was always starving by the end of class. I think the class would have been more beneficial if everyone was delivering at the hospital OR everyone was delivering at the birthing center. The one couple that was delivering at the birthing center is obviously going to have a very different experience than everyone else and they were very loud, distracting and judgmental throughout the course. The support person constantly slept through class or brought reading material (not related to childbirth). The mom clipped her nails one week, at potato chips almost every week, and made gulping noises as she drank water (I realize these are issues that may only bother me but if I’m in a classroom setting or any group environment, I try to do only quiet things that wouldn’t distract others). My tolerance for these things is low anyway, but being pregnant it is at a new low – ROCK BOTTOM. The judging and running commentary was probably my least favorite part – they constantly turned up their noses at the idea of using medicine and shamed those who were choosing to, they waved off postpartum disorders (the instructor actually told them to pay attention at this point), and they were clueless about items that the instructor mentioned but mostly because they hadn’t paid attention in a prior course. I realize I’m spending a lot of time harping on this couple but they took away from MY experience. I had to plug one ear so that I could hear the instructor over them. We actually wanted to learn in the course and I felt like that was lessened by sitting across from these two. It was frustrating for me on a weekly basis. I’m hoping they aren’t in any of the other classes that we’ve signed up for in the coming months!
I don’t want to end sounding all negative because I did get a lot out of the course and think we’re better prepared now than we were before. It was well worth the money to sign up and worth the time we spent there each Sunday!