Is birthing class necessarily necessary? Nope.
The first time I was pregnant I couldn’t wait to go to birthing class. I never much liked school, but I was eager for it anyway because taking it was a sign that my baby was near and I could attempt to ensure that my growing peanut would enter the world without me accidentally cracking her shell.
As it turns out, however, birthing class was exactly like every class I’ve ever taken and hated, except with more videos and discussions about blood and pain. I left each session and cried. That is, if I wasn’t already crying as a continuation of what happened during the class.
Nothing of what had been taught stayed with me. All I learned was there would be pain, more pain and a bunch of blood. Sure, I was admittedly the woman who got a positive pee stick and asked her doctor immediately afterwards if it was too soon for an epidural. But I thought a birthing class would reassure me that all would be well when, in fact, the opposite was true.
The tennis balls, breathing techniques, the mix CDs and birthing plans (what kind of plan is necessary beyond getting the kid out without incident?) — it was all too much for me. I looked around to see if anyone else was freaked out and I couldn’t be sure. Regardless, there was none of the comfort I assumed I would receive considering women give birth, like, all the time. The class made birthing seemed unnecessarily complicated considering we all had to be birthed just to get here.
“But if you have an epidural, you don’t really have pain like that, right?” I asked after every video and discussion in every class.
“Well, yes,” said the instructor. “But if you use these techniques, you can avoid the epidural.”
“But clearly these women haven’t avoided any pain,” I said.
That was usually when she called for a bathroom break.
One night during class we took a tour of the maternity wing at the hospital and the instructor showed us a little fishhook device that is sometimes used to pull the baby’s head out if it’s a somewhat complicated birth. I didn’t have a chance to freak out; one of the dads-to-be fainted. I thanked him for doing to it for me.
As it turns out, nothing I learned in the birthing class came in handy. When my water broke a few days before I was supposed to be induced, I spent four hours trying to decide if that’s what happened or if I had just wet the bed. I didn’t have any normal contractions (dysfunctional labor; don’t ask) and yet I still dilated to 10 centimeters. My OB came into the hospital room, sat down on the corner of the bed, put her hand on my knee and told me to start pushing (I thought at least I’d be in a different room than I’d be in for that past 12 hours). And then, after an hour, she turned off the epidural.
That’s when I started calling for someone’s head (“Don’t tell me I don’t feel the urge to push enough! I’m doing a great job pushing!” I hollered). After an hour of that — perhaps they were waiting for me to lose my voice — I was wheeled into the operating room for a c-section.
And most importantly, not on one video or in one birthing class discussion did they indicate there would be a curtain placed between my neck and the rest of my body. Nor did the instructor let on that I wouldn’t be able to hold my daughter immediately following the delivery, nor that my husband wouldn’t be allowed to cut the umbilical cord.
Looking back, the class definitely wasn’t necessary and did way more harm than good. But at the very least, I learned from it that I mostly certainly won’t ever need to take it again.
Did you think birthing class was worth it?
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