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.