Like many first-time parents, I had the overwhelming obsession to do everything right when it came to my pregnancy – take the best vitamins, read all the books, and most importantly, take all the classes available.
Along with doing everything right, I also wanted to do everything as soon as I found out I was pregnant. It was disappointing to discover that prenatal classes are usually taken later in pregnancy, which for me meant January. Joshua, my husband, and I registered for the four-part prenatal class that started after the holidays.
It may have been due to the excitement of holiday travels, but looking back I’m surprised at how little I worried about the class. As a first-time mom, I didn’t know what to expect. I wondered what it would be like, how big it would be, and what we would have to do. When family later asked if we had to practice birthing positions or breathing methods, I thought, “I didn’t even know I needed to be nervous about that!”
Thankfully, we didn’t have to act out any imaginary birth scenarios and most of the hands-on demonstrations were about partner support during labor, so I ended up getting a pretty sweet back massage out of it!
We didn’t know how long it would take to get to the hospital, so we arrived at the class early – like a full 45 minutes early. We were, obviously, the first to arrive to class, but we had extra time to get situated and meet the doula who was teaching the class, Irma Kasenburg. It was a nice opportunity to chat with her and get to know her a little bit and I was so much more relaxed when class actually started.
When other couples started arriving, I quickly noticed how much younger Joshua and I appeared in comparison to the rest of the group. On the drive home from class we joked that the other couples probably thought we were teen parents, still in high school. Joshua shared with me that a few of the dads asked him about his age during a group activity! It didn’t make me uncomfortable that we were the youngest couple, and we were probably the only ones who even thought much about it.
After introductions, Irma asked us to split into groups, one for moms and one for partners, for our first activity. This activity was to identify what worried us about childbirth, so Irma could make sure to cover them all. It was eye opening to see the difference in what worried the moms versus what worried the partners (who in our group were all the fathers of the babies). Our list was LONG, and highly detailed, including things like 4th degree tearing, pooping while pushing, having difficulties breastfeeding, and making it to the hospital in time. At the top of the partners’ list was simply, “Keeping the baby alive.”
This activity and the group discussion afterward gave me so much perspective on what was going on in Joshua’s head, but also in my own, and that we all had similar concerns. We were all going to be first-time moms, so even though it felt silly at first to say some of them out loud, it was comforting to know that we were worried about the same things and could talk about them openly.
In the next classes, we learned about all the pain management options that are available during childbirth, plus the risks and benefits for each. I was surprised to learn there were so many different options available. Before the class, my understanding was that your options were an epidural (if you make it to the hospital in time) or suffer!
I enjoyed learning about different options during the class versus learning about them from others. As much as I love and value the wisdom my friends and relatives have to share, it was helpful to not hear someone’s opinion, or their experience. This allowed me to approach each option with an open mind and take time to decide what was important to me.
My absolute, most favorite part of this experience, and what made the classes worth taking 100%, was getting information tailored to the hospital where I was planning to give birth. It’s one thing to learn what pain management and labor support options exist, but it was an enormous relief to know they will be readily accessible in my delivery room. I felt so much anxiety about giving birth lifted off of my shoulders with knowing exactly what I could expect, from the moment when I arrive at the hospital through the delivery and recovery.
My due date is fast approaching and while I may not remember all of the different labor techniques at the moment, I feel prepared for when the time comes to head to the hospital. My biggest worry now is that my water will break dramatically in the middle of the grocery store!