We spent basically our entire Saturday (9am-5pm) at our hospital taking the Childbirth Express class that they hosted. Normally, childbirth classes are 4 weeks long, each for 2 hours, but we didn't want to make that weekly commitment and chose to get it all at once. It was a LOT of information and a very long day, but I'm really happy that we chose to do it.
Questions I Had Going In
I have put off reading too far ahead in my What to Expect When You're Expecting book, knowing that I didn't want to learn too much about birth too soon and freak myself out for 9 whole months. So, I honestly went into this class knowing very little about what the big day(s) will look like. When the instructor asked what we hoped to learn in the class, I said "just the essentials, and nothing extra," but I did have a mental list of questions:
- At what point do I go to the hospital?
- When I get to the hospital, where do I go? Emergency? Labor & Delivery? To my OBGYN office?
- What are my options for pain? What are the pros and cons of each?
- If I have to get an emergency C-section, what would that entail?
- What do I need to bring? And what does the hospital provide?
- What will my room be like?
- At what point do I need to stop eating? And after delivery, how do I get food?
- Can Matt bring me a celebratory Manhattan mixed drink for after delivery?
- Where do guests wait? Is there wifi?
- Where does baby go to get cleaned up/measured/circumcized?
- What happens after birth? Why do I need to stay in the hospital for a few days?
Agenda for the Day
- Anatomy & Physiology of Pregnancy
- Stages of Labor (Video)
- Signs of Labor & Timing Contractions
- Purpose of Contractions
- Interventions (Video)
- Lunch Break
- Stages & Phases of Labor
- Comfort Measures
- How your spouse/partner can support you
- Labor positions
- What is happening with baby
- Skin to skin
- What is happening with mom
- Postpartum provisions
- Postpartum depression
- Birth Wishes
Biggest Lessons Learned
- [5-1-1] Come to the hospital when your contractions hold the pattern of 5min apart for 1min long for an hour.
- When you get to the hospital, come to the ER. They're always open and they'll get you to the appropriate place depending on the state of your contractions/how you're doing.
- What the hospital provides -- mine provides a lot (massage tools, birthing balls, tub/whirlpool, aromatherapy, cold/hot pads, gatorade, juice, popcicles, diapers, baby clothes, baby hats, postpartum undies, postpartum pads, witch hazel wipes, room service for food, showers, soap, towels)
- Pros and cons of pain medication options
- Different labor positions (This part of the class was amazing. We did the weird breathing stuff, but went through a bunch of positions and ways Matt can comfort me while I'm in labor. Basically, Matt had to massage my back for a long time.)
- What postpartum will be like and how I can better prepare for being home after we leave the hospital
- They provided a birth choices sheet where you could circle things that were important to you (pain options, music, who's in the room, vaccinations, etc.). It was really good to see all the options listed out in this way.
- They also provided cheat sheets for labor positions and ways Matt can support me, plus a huge book with all the info we learned in class, in case I needed a refresher.
- Yes, Matt can bring me whiskey
Would I Recommend Taking a Childbirth Class?
Yes, absolutely. If you want a good overview of your hospital, birth options, labor positions, etc., I would highly recommend taking one of these classes. And if nothing else, you'll get a back massage from your husband for like 45min. That in itself is worth it.
I did choose to look away during parts of the videos. I didn't want to actually watch someone's lady parts as they were giving birth and didn't want to watch a C-section happen. I watched the animated versions, but not the live versions. Too graphic for me.
I did cry multiple times during the videos. I think it was a combination of fear and excitement. I'm afraid of labor/delivery, for sure. But I'm also really really excited to meet our son. When the videos showed the babies being put on their moms' chests for the first time, I lost it. Luckily, I wasn't the only mom-to-be crying in the room.
Even if you don't take a birth class, I'd definitely recommend taking a tour of your facility and being familiar with where you need to park and where you need to go when you get there. You don't want to be lost, wandering around when you're in active labor.