When I started thinking about preparing for labor, towards the beginning/middle of my pregnancy, I thought that ignorance was bliss. I figured I’d done enough research online and read enough birth stories to know what happens. I didn’t want to take the classes.
And then, in April, my friend had a baby. On our way to see her — just a few hours old — Jordan turned towards my friend’s house rather than the hospital, and I realized that when it comes to labor and delivery (and how long they keep you in the hospital), he had no clue. And why should he? Guys don’t typically research common labor practices or read birth stories. It was then that I realized — we need to take some childbirth classes.
After doing a little bit of research, we decided to sign up for Lamaze classes at the hospital where we’ll be delivering. The series of classes lasted four weeks, and each class was around 2 1/2 – 3 hours long.
I’m not going to lie, at first I’d imagined Lamaze would be somewhat like a childbirth class you’d see on a 90s sitcom — a “Full House” episode came to mind — but it was nothing like that. This is the foundation of Lamaze, according to the Lamaze website:
“The Lamaze Healthy Birth Practices are the foundation of Lamaze. These Birth Practices are designed to help simplify your birth process with a natural approach that helps alleviate your fears and manage pain. Regardless of your baby’s size, your labor’s length and complexity, or your confidence level, these care practices will help keep labor and your baby’s birth as safe and healthy as possible.”
And here’s why I’m glad we took the classes…
1. The bonding experience. Even if we took nothing away from the class (this wasn’t true for us), we came away from it feeling closer to each other. This is a brand new experience for both of us, and learning about the process together, as a team, made me feel a lot less alone in pregnancy and it made Jordan feel much more involved. I was even a little bit sad on our last night, because I know this was a one-time thing, as we most likely won’t go through the class again when we have more kids in the future.
2. We know what to expect, both the good and the bad. The thing that I like about Lamaze is that it covers all of your options. While the main focus/goal is a non-medicated birth, we also learned about epidurals, c-sections, inducements, and other things that aren’t always ideal, but may happen. We also learned all of the common childbirth language and what each term means — effacement, dilation, lightening, etc. — and I like that Jordan is aware of those terms just as much as I am.
3. It’s good practice. While part of each class was spent in a lecture format, the majority of the class was hands on. We practiced labor positions, we learned how to push and breathe effectively, Jordan learned a handful of massage techniques that should help me while I’m in labor, and we learned how to visualize and meditate. Every week, we practiced all of these things, and have been encouraged to keep practicing at home, as well.
4. It familiarized me with the hospital. Our classes were located in the hospital where I’ll be delivering, so I got to learn all about their common practices and ask as many questions as I wanted to. For someone who doesn’t like surprises, this was comforting to me. It reassured me that we made the right choice when deciding where to deliver.
5. It gave me a goal. When I said I didn’t want to take classes, I realized I was sort of in denial about the whole process. After taking them, I now have a birth plan and a goal for myself. While I realize that things don’t always go as planned, our instructor told us that, leading up to the due date, the best thing we can do is visualize ourselves in labor and picture it how we’d like it to go. Even if things don’t go exactly as planned, I won’t feel as scared, and I’ll know that I did everything I could.
I know that childbirth classes might not be for everyone, and you have to do what’s right for you and your family, but I couldn’t recommend these enough. I’m still a little bit nervous (I think that’s normal when anticipating a new experience)… but the countdown to my due date begins (5 weeks away!).
If you’re pregnant/have kids, did you/do you plan to take childbirth classes?