The countdown is on – and baby’s just around the corner. Of course you’re eagerly awaiting the arrival of your little one. But are you just as eager for the arrival of labour and delivery? Could that be trepidation mixed in with that excited anticipation?
Relax. It’s normal to be a little nervous about childbirth – or even a lot, especially if you’re a first timer. Just about every parent-to-be is. But fortunately, there’s a great way to ease jitters, to calm worries, and to feel less anxious and more confident when that first contraction strikes; by getting educated.
A little knowledge and a lot of preparation can go a long way in helping you feel more comfortable when you enter the birthing room. Reading all about childbirth can definitely give you an idea of what to expect, but a good childbirth education class can fill in even more blanks. So it’s back to school, Mama (and Papa).
Benefits of taking A childbirth class
What’s in a childbirth education class for you and your coach? That depends, of course, on the course you take, the instructor who teaches it, and on your attitudes. No matter what, there’s something in it for every soon-to-be-labouring team. Some potential benefits include:
- Chance to spend time with other expectant couples who are at the same stage of pregnancy as you are – to share experiences and tips; compare progress; trade tales of woes; worries, aches, and pains; and swap notes on baby gear, nursery gear, paediatrician, and childcare. In other words, lots of expectant camaraderie and empathy. It’s also a chance to make friends with other couples who, like you, will soon be parents. Keep in touch with these classmates after delivery and you’ve got yourself a ready-to-go parent’s group – and playground for the kids. Many classes hold reunions once everyone has delivered.
- A chance for dad to join in. So much of pregnancy revolves around mom, which can sometimes leave an expectant father feeling like he’s on the outside looking in. Childbirth education classes are aimed at both parents and help to get dad feeling like the valued member of the baby team he is – particularly important if he hasn’t been able to attend all the prenatal visit. Classes will also get dad up to speed on labor and delivery so that he can be a more effective coach when those contractions start coming. Best of all, perhaps, he’ll be able to hang out with other guys who can relate – among other things, to those maternal mood swings he’s been on the receiving end of and to nagging feelings of daddy self-doubt. Some courses include a special session for fathers only, which gives them the chance to open up about concerns they might otherwise not feel comfortable expressing.
- A chance to ask questions that come up between prenatal visits or that you don’t feel comfortable asking your practitioners.
- A chance to learn all about it – labor and delivery, that is. Through lecture, discussion, models, and video, you will get an inside peek at what childbirth’s all about – from prelabor symptoms to crowning to cutting the cord. The more you know, the more comfortable you’ll feel when it’s actually happening to you.
- A chance to learn all about your pain relief options, from Demerol to an epidural to a spinal – even to CAM approaches.
- Chance to get hands-on instruction in breathing, relaxation, and other alternative approaches to pain relief and to get feedback from an expert as you learn. Mastering the coping strategies – and coaching techniques – may help you be more relaxed during labor and delivery, while somewhat decreasing your perception of pain. They’ll also come in handy if you’re planning on signing up for an epidural or other pain meds.
- A chance to become familiar with the medical interventions sometimes used during childbirth, including fetal monitoring, IVs, vacuum extraction, and C-sections. You may not encounter any of the available interventions during your labor -or only one or two – but knowing about them ahead of time will make labor a little less intimidating.
- A chance to have a relatively more enjoyable labor – and a relatively less stressful one – thanks to all of the above. Couples who’ve had childbirth preparation generally rate their childbirth experiences as more satisfying overall than those who haven’t.
- Chance to become empowered. Knowledge is always power, but it can be especially powerful when you’re in labor. By eliminating the fear of the unknown, childbirth education class can leave you feeling more in control, more empowered – ready to handle just about any labor scenario that nature throws your way.