Childbirth classes are…

Childbirth classes are weird.

To be honest, I'm not certain we learned anything that we wouldn't have gotten from the books. There was a bit of practice in breathing techniques and massage, which was pleasant, at least, and maybe taught Kevin a bit about useful massage. And there were some good videos and animations (though again, could probably have rented such on our own). Maybe the most useful aspect was simply the reassurance of going through the sequence, from pregnancy to childbirth to recovery to caring for an infant, and having it confirmed that yup, we mostly knew this already. That doesn't sound like much, but it does help, I think. There's so much uncertainty up ahead that every additional bit of reassurance that we can actually do this is appreciated.

One aspect that was a little frustrating was that while 25% of American women apparently have caesareans, they spent almost no time discussing them -- either the process or the recovery aspects. (The main nurse actually forgot to cover C-section and drug interventions during vaginal birth, and had to be reminded by another nurse.) I suppose it's reasonable that they focus on vaginal birth, in some sense, since there just isn't much that you can do once you're committed to a C-section -- it's surgery, and you're basically in the doctor's hands. As opposed to vaginal birth, where there are many decisions for you to make through the process, and a variety of techniques to learn. But still, as someone who has a strong likelihood of needing a C-section (because baby is breech now (head up, feet down), and the fibroids are making it difficult if not impossible for her to turn around into the proper position for vaginal birth), I would have appreciated spending more time on that possibility.

Part of what was frustrating was also that the main nurse who ran the course seemed pretty anti pain meds. Again, once you've had an epidural, there's not so much for you to do other than wait for baby and then push when they tell you to. So they can't teach you much about it. But it's more than that -- there was a definite encouragement from her to try not to use the meds, or at least avoid them as long as possible.

To be fair, holding off on the drugs or skipping them entirely does seem indicated if you can do it, based on some of the research Kev's been looking at. The drugs they give you make it through to baby, and though they may not have much in the way of long-term effects, they do tend to make baby sluggish for a while in the first weeks -- and the sooner you take the drugs, the higher dosage baby gets, and the stronger that effect. This can lead to difficulties with baby latching on and eating, for example.

So okay, I understand why they say hold off as long as you can. But given that by *far* most women offered pain meds do take them, and pretty quickly too, I think it'd be useful to acknowledge that, since I'm not sure there's much point in just making women feel horribly guilty for something most of them are going to do. I really don't think the nurse in the course telling you to hold off if you can is going to make a whole lot of difference to your actual decisions when the time comes. Maybe I'm wrong about that, though. I dunno.

Other than that, though, my main feelings about the class are frustrations that aren't their fault at all -- I just wish I knew now whether there would be any chance for a vaginal birth or not. If I knew it was likely, then I'd be trying to psych myself up for it, maybe doing a bunch of stretching yoga, etc. And if I knew it definitely wasn't going to happen, then I could just stop thinking about the possibility, and concentrate on the C-section info. But instead, we hang in this limbo of uncertainty, waiting to see if she manages to turn around in the next four-and-a-half weeks. And I hate, hate, hate uncertainty. I like to plan, I do. It's all very unsettling.

Nothing to be done but wait. And ask baby to please stop punching my ribs -- I can't imagine that it's particularly fun for her, and there's one spot that's getting kind of bruised. Sigh.

7 thoughts on “Childbirth classes are…”

  1. As someone who had a C section, it was nice to know what to expect. Especially because the whole time I thought I wouldn’t have one. But the nurse who did our class said, “pay attention! you might have to have one.” And I’m glad she did.
    My recovery time was much less than most of the people I know that had a vaginal birth. I went in, they gave me drugs, and out came the baby. It was actually kind of nice. And we got to stay in the hospital (I know this doesn’t sound good, but you don’t have to cook the whole time, you can just nurse and watch TV. It’s heaven). Then the staples came out and I went home. And they had me walking around the halls the next day. So it was fine. No worries.
    I also went to a pre-natal yoga class that was great. I would highly recommend it!
    Good luck!

  2. I’ve been listening to this podcast called Pregtastic ( and it’s been a great source of information on all sorts of things. I just listened to Episode 46, where one of the mothers talks about her c-section (her baby was breech, side-to-side) and she has a lot of interesting information about what it was like and how there were a few things she wished she knew ahead of time. I definitely recommend the whole podcast, but especially that episode for you.

    PS I’m pregnant 🙂

  3. Mary Anne Mohanraj

    Lynn, that’s really reassuring; thanks. I’ll try to do a pregnancy yoga class in the next few weeks, just because I’m curious about how they do it. A massage and/or pedicure also sound rather nice right now!

    Heather, my computer’s speakers are shot, so I haven’t been able to listen to the podcast — but hmm…maybe headphones might still work. If not, I’ll borrow Kev’s computer and listen. Thanks! And huge huge congrats on the pregnancy! It’s all very weird, but interesting, I promise. You’ll see…

  4. If you can go without meds I think it’s better for you and your recovery. I walked out of the hospital with Special K and the person pushing me in the wheelcaasked “Did you give birth with no meds?” When I said yes

  5. Sorry hit return by accident. However Little T should have been a c-section and wasn’t. Not good for either of us. I think if you have or will have a difficult birth then meds good and C-section good. If it were me I’d just plan on a C-section and do yoga anyway. Yoga good whatever sort of birth you have.

  6. Don’t get me started on meds. Here’s one thing they don’t tell you: everyone reacts differently, so you don’t even know if it will help! When I birthed Arie (18 hours of labor followed by a c-section thankyouverymuch), they gave me a shot of morphine directly into my spine. It has no affect on me whatsoever.

    And friends of mine who were greatly helped by meds feel really guilty, and friends of mine who shall remain nameless who did not have meds are uneccesarily smug.

    I didn’t have meds with my second childbirth because of a) my terror of another c-section (sadly, my recovery was not like that of the friend who posted above me, but perhaps taht was because I was in labor so long beforehand), and b) it went so damn FAST there was no time.

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