It was a long day. I laughed. I cried. I almost fell off a birthing ball. It was informative, and it was terrifying. Perhaps you are familiar with the experience I’m talking about: childbirth education class.
Since the thought of going to birthing class six weeks in a row after working all day was as appealing as stabbing our eyeballs with knives, my husband and I decided to take the eight-hour Saturday class and get the whole ordeal done in one fell swoop. We signed up for a natural childbirth class offered at the hospital called “Born Free.” The class was taught by a doula and covered general childbirth topics with specific information, such as pain management techniques, for moms planning to go drug-free.
Here are some highlights of things I learned in birthing class:
- If you sign up for an all-day class, prepare to feel like you’re in prison. OK, it’s not that bad, but it’s a LONG day. I recommend that you mentally prepare yourself to think about birth for an entire Saturday, and plan to do something completely unrelated to baby that night.
- During labor, when you go from 8 to 10 cm dilated that is called “transition.” I had never heard of this before and now I wish I never had. … It sounds quite painful and terrible. On that note, 10 centimeters is actually huge. The word “centimeter” is SO MISLEADING!
- It’s really helpful for your significant other to attend this class. If you are at the point where you personally have read tons of information about birth and are considering skipping the class, I suggest rethinking that decision—for your partner’s sake.
- “Sunny side up” is not only a term to describe how you want your eggs. It’s a position the baby can be in during labor that causes really painful back labor. There goes my appetite for eggs.
- The teacher can make or break the experience, so choose a good one! Our class was taught by a doula who was pro-natural birth and very supportive and knowledgeable about natural pain management.
- Our hospital now permits people to take their placenta home if they wish to save it for encapsulation purposes or even to include in a smoothie. So, there’s that.
- For someone like me who is 5’10” the birthing balls that our hospital provides are miniature. I almost fell off when I was trying it out. I learned that I’ll be bringing in my own (much larger) ball instead of relying on the one the hospital provides.
- To test if your water broke or if you just peed yourself, there is an acronym called COAT that can help you determine. I forget what the letters stand for, though. Sorry.
- VCRs still exist. I know because I watched a birthing video on VHS from 1994.
- Speaking of the birthing video, the last thing I learned was that I am not as tough as I thought. Having never been present for an actual birth, I started bawling uncontrollably during the birthing video, feeling shocked, overwhelmed and terrified. Apparently I kept saying “I can’t do that!” over and over, according to my husband. I’ll let you know in eight weeks how that plan works out!