- 3 years ago
- Wedding: July 2012
*I want to note right away that this will not be about what is right or wrong. I’m only giving my personal account of my birthing class this weekend and how it affected me, so if I use the word “you” I do not specifically mean you and your choices.
The first thing to know about birthing classes that IS true: Birthing classes should be considered by everyone, whether you are having a medicated or unmedicated birth.
That is pretty much the only thing I’m going to tell you that is 100% accurate for everyone. Otherwise, what I’m outlining is probably more applicable to my area, my hospital, and my experience with it. You may have heard other information, and that is great. This is the way my hospital does things, and I accept it. Please don’t take my info as, “She’s wrong. Most doctors do XYZ.”I do NOT claim to know everything now that I took this class. I just want YOU to know what you could learn from birthing classes apart from how to breathe.
Birthing class is a great way to get an idea of what may work for you and also gives you information on how labor and delivery work. Birthing class is not taught by a hippie who only wants you to have an unmedicated birth and makes you practice breathing for 7 hours. Ours was given by an RN that has had the opportunity to assist with many births (even doing the catching on a few when the doctor was late), and birthed 3 girls herself (some induced, one not and some medicated and some not).
I was in a class of 13 couples. Most couples were due Jan/Feb while I was the only one due April, so while it may be best to wait until 1-2 months before your due date, we didn’t because we could only take the weekend classes (DH is a teacher, and after Christmas break our weekends become limited). Don’t feel embarrassed about taking them as early as we did. You still get the same info, and typically refresher classes are offered.
What I learned:
Breathing techniques/birthing options: For an unmedicated birth, which is my goal but certainly not written in stone as I am a first time mom open to medical intervention if it comes to that, there are many breathing techniques and different positions/objects that can be used to help get through a birth without meds. I have a big chart of how to use the birthing ball, rocking chair, bath, edge of the bed, swaying with DH, kneeling, squatting, walking around, etc. There was actually a lot more than I thought, and my hospital is very open to using them all and encourages them. The breathing techniques…will I most likely remember exactly how to breathe? No. I’m sure I’m going to hyperventalate a few times, but if DH remembers the breathing, he can help get it back on track. There is a breathing technique for each stage of labor to help sync your breathing with your labor. We were able to practice and get a feel for the breathing and how to use it to our advantage. Just keep in mind, and I do mention this later: if your birth plan is to go unmedicated, they will support that, but don’t get upset if they still offer an epi or other pain meds. They offer an epi if your pain seems too intense, and they may also offer it a second time when you’re 7cm dilated as a last chance for you to change your mind. My hospital does not allow an epi after 8cm dilated.
Whether you plan to go medicated or unmedicated, you may benefit: Just because you plan on getting an epi doesn’t mean you don’t need to learn how to breathe through your contractions. At my hospital, if it is in your birth plan that you want an epi, they will give you one as soon as you are dilated between 5-6 and in true active labor. This means that before then you may want to learn how to breathe through your contractions. I learned how to breathe through every stage of labor, which was my favorite part of class (mostly because DH had to massage my back and tell me how gorgeous I was and how much of a super women I was being in “labor” lol).
You want an epi? You may not get one: Part of having a birth plan is accepting it may change. At the hospital I’m delivering at they have a few anesthesiologists; two during the week, and one on the weekend. A cardiac arrest patient, for example, would take precedence over a women in labor, which is something I didn’t know, so if you’re screaming for the epi, but a cardiac arrest patient just came in, they will tend to him/her before you. They will administer it to you as soon as they are done with the other patient, but if you are 8cm dilated, the time at which my hospital starts to reject your request for an epi, you won’t have the opportunity to receive one. It is in YOUR best interest to ask how many anesthesiologists your hospital has on hand at a given time and truly consider getting an epi when it is offered to you the first time.
I am more afraid of epidurals now than I was before: Epis are for some, but not others, and whether you plan to go with an epi or not is your choice. The info she gave was not meant to scare. It was info I truly needed to hear because everyone thinks epi and spinal tap are interchangeable. They are not. They are placed in completely separate places when given. Some are afraid of paralysis as well. The gal has been an RN for over 12 years at this hospital and said she has never had this happen, and that wasn’t one of my concerns anyway. The only reason I’m hesitant was after I held the rod that they insert into your back that administers the doses. Really, the epi isn’t going to hurt as far as I can tell (it’s staying still while you’re contracting that sucks apparently), but there is something that makes me squeemish about having an flexible, electrode looking rod thingy placed in my back.
There are other pain meds to consider before an epi: I kept thinking, “I want to go unmedicated, but if I don’t I will just ask for an epi.” There are other pain medications that, while less effective, can help with pain management. Typically the hospital allows you 2-3 doses of other pain meds during your labor before they cut you off and suggest an epi. She said they cut off the pain meds at a certain point because they can affect baby in a negativ way.
You want to have baby placed on you after birth, BUT: Ask your doctor what he/she does. Just because it is in your birth plan doesn’t mean it is going to happen without talking to your doctor. Although my birth plan says that I want my son placed on me after birth, my doctor, I found out, is one of the only doctors that does not practice that. Because I still like my doctor, I want to keep him, but I also want him to know that we need to be on the same page. he and I, in a future appointment, WILL be discussing this and unless an unforeseen medical epidemic arises, I’ll be pretty adamant about having my son placed on me before heading to the warmer to do his scoring.
You may see a change in your DH: This was probably my favorite part of birthing class. DH is stupid-silly excited about being a dad, BUT the first day, as we were going through basics of pregnancy and labor, he seemed disinterested. I get it. He doesn’t really have to go through it so maybe that’s why. He didn’t care so much about the breathing techniques and was pretty disengaged. However, the second day, which is the day we got to go through the birthing center, I saw a change. We went through NICU, and he was the only dad that had his face pressed to the glass, smiling ear to ear. From that point on after seeing a baby, he kept rubbing my back, holding my hand, asking if the baby was moving, took the breathing exercises seriously, and even started asking questions and asking me to take notes he wanted. He EVEN showed extreme interest in seeing the baby’s head as it crowned and now wants to cut the umbillical cord. Since then, granted it has only been a few days, he rubs my belly and talks to baby more. I’m not saying this will be all dads, as we saw a dad in class that was still more interested in playing games on his phone rather than listening while his wife was elbowing him, but this class may get your DH/FI/SO more on board and aware/excited of what is about to happen.
C-sections: While I talked mostly epidurals, the class was centered around breathing through an unmedicated birth. There wasn’t much info on c-sections because my hospital doesn’t allow elective c-sections. She also said most of what she talks about wouldn’t apply to someone wanting or getting a c-section, so my knowledge on c-sections is still limited. Most people getting a c-section are going to have everything discussed with their doctor beforehand and in their paperwork. I just know at my hospital they don’t allow the baby to be placed on you after birth. They will get baby and mama all squared away, and if mama is aware, they will show baby to mom, but if not, they have dad carry baby back to the room until mom is doing better. There is a manditory 3 day stay after a c-section as opposed to the 2 day stay for vaginal delivery, and only dad or birthing partner can be in the c-section surgery room. With vaginal delivery, my hospital allows you to have as many people as you want unless it interferes with the nurses and doctors, in which case they ask people to leave.
Photography/Video: Please ask your doctor/hospital about this. Some couples hire a photog. My hospital does NOT allow photos/video while the actual birth is in progress. They discontinued this after people were videoing over the doctor’s shoulder and interfered with the birth. However, they do want you to bring a camera and a baby book if you have one. After baby is born one of the pics they stress to take is when baby is weighed, and that is an acceptable time to start taking photos. They also recommend bringing the baby book because before the first bath, they will get footprint documents, and they will do them in the baby book if you bring one.
After delivery care for Mommy: They will show you how to take care of tears when you get your first shower. My hospital provides a one size fits all granny panty (2 pairs) as well as pads and ointment for caring for your bottom. You’re welcome to bring your own, but they will probably get ruined. You get to take the panties home as well as some large pads, but they do not provide something for you to go home in, so bring very comfortable clothes to go home in. They say most moms bring maternity clothes. They recommend bringing in your breast pump as they will not only help you breastfeed but also show you how to assemble/disassemble your pump and how to use it. They will also give you some troubleshooting tips. If you don’t/can’t breastfeed, they provide Similac at my hospital, so if you want to use a different formula, it is your responsibility to bring it. Ask your doctor/hospital what they provide for formula and if they will show you how to use your pump.
What to pack for baby: First thing to keep in mind is that by 37 weeks they recommend the car seat to be installed (worry wart here will probably do it sooner). My hospital does NOT let you take your baby home if you do not have a car seat with you. I would assume that is the same everywhere as a safety measure. My hospital provides all the diapers, blankets, and other essentials for our stay, but I will need to provide a going home outfit for baby.
[Late edit]: About what to pack for baby, if you plan on cloth diapering, keep in mind your hospital will more than likely not provide cloth diapers, so you will need to bring your own. This is the case for my hospital. If you plan on using disposables, ask what kind your hospital uses. Mine uses Huggies (snug and dry I think), and I plan on using Pampers Swaddlers. If you’re a mom who is very set on brand and what not, bring your own just to be on the safe side.
They also go over what to pack for labor such as your own gown if you want something pretty (but know it may get bloody and wet), slippers, phone charger (one of the most commonly forgot items at my hospital), ponytail holder (long hair in mom’s face is the biggest complaint they get from laboring mothers), iPad/iPod, massage tools, aromatherapy items (they do not allow candles though), and various other items to help you keep your mind off of the pain of labor.
There is SO much more I learned about how my hospital will handle my labor and delivery, so if you have any questions while it is still fresh in my mind, please don’t hesitate to ask. Every hospital and doctor is different with how they handle births. This is generally how mine handles it.
I recommend birthing classes to everyone. While you can go online and read about most of this information, I think it is beneficial to take the classes if your hospital offers them so you can get a feel of how they handle it. I have realized, even from my appointment experience, that every clinic/hospital does things differently, and it doesn’t hurt to get that information. Hopefully this information can help put other mom’s minds at ease about how things may go 🙂