By the time you read this, I will have attended my very first, formal childbirth class. Did I mention that this was my third pregnancy? In my last post, I talked about hiring a doula for the upcoming August birth of our third child. Well, I thought it only fitting that I should put the cart before the horse and attend those childbirth classes that I never got around to doing the first (or second) time. Don't get me wrong--I had every intention of going and was excited about sitting on the floor, positioning pillows and learning about birth positions. But by the time I got around to registering, I was too late. There was nothing offered in my area in time for my due date. Whoops.
Belly from top down at 22 weeks
And a big "whoops" it was. Although I had read all of the best birth books and knew as much as I thought I could about natural birth, when the big day came, my husband and I beautifully illustrated the expression "like a deer in headlights." Here, I'll set the scene. After my water breaking and dilating to 5cm with strong contractions, we were admitted to a labor & delivery room. Nurse sets me up with an IV (with antibiotics because I was Group B Strep positive) and a comfy fetal monitor band and then asks if I'll be getting an epidural, to which I respond, "I'd like to try and go without." She sweetly smiles, walks out and says, "Buzz me if you need anything," before closing the door. And there we were. Left. Completely. Alone. I was scared, in pain and a little panicked. And my husband, though wonderful, did not know how to effectively help me cope. We couldn't call on the comfort measures we had learned and practiced... because there were none.
Now, don't get me wrong--I know that attending childbirth education does not guarantee a pain-med free birth (if that's what you're looking for), but a good childbirth class provides a solid foundation of knowledge and practiced techniques for labor and birth. For me, and I'm guessing I'm not alone, knowledge equals comfort with the process, with knowing what to expect and with understanding how to cope. And here's the kicker: childbirth class provides that foundation for both you and your birth partner. Because while you may be reading all of the books, your partner probably isn't. You would never send a co-pilot out on the job without training, would you? Likewise, good support throughout labor to "co-pilot" your experience is so important.
So here we are, prepping for baby #3 and attending a five-week series Lamaze childbirth class. I imagine that yes, we'll cover a few things we already know (the baby comes out of where?!), but I also imagine that there will be lots of new, valuable information to glean. Stay tuned...