Reflections on my Birth Class

Teddy & I attended a one-day birth class at the hospital I’ll be delivering, and it was a pretty strange experience.

There were about 12 couples there, and of all the couples, only us and one other couple were interested in natural childbirth.  I’m not really sure why this surprised me – most of my friends are huge “fans” of medical interventions, but I guess I just wasn’t expecting such an overwhelming interest in interventions during the class.  The instructor was actually a doula, so we got lots of information on natural childbirth, natural pain management, breathing techniques, etc., but the class still heavily focused on epidurals, c-sections (including optional/planned c-sections), and choosing to labor on the back instead of using alternative positions.  Of course, the instructor has to provide the information the mamas want, so she was just doing what she has to do, but it was just … I don’t know, just odd, I guess.

Of course, it’s every woman’s right to decide what she wants from her birth experience, and I’m not interested in “mommy wars.”  I’m not saying these mamas are somehow wrong or at fault for opting for interventions.  I guess the thing that I found so strange was that many of the mamas seemed so uninformed about the decisions they seemed to be making.  Based on questions posed and responses to information, I would say most of them were not aware of the cascade of interventions – that by opting for one intervention, they were increasing the likelihood of further interventions they may not want.  Many were also unaware that there were options for L&D other than laying on your back with your feet up in stirrups.

If you’re going to make a decision, I think it should be informed.  I hope the class encouraged some of the mamas to educate themselves a bit on their options and realize that they do NOT have to go the epidural, stay strapped to the bed, labor and deliver on your back route.

Switching gears, I was VERY happy to learn that the hospital we’re delivering at is pretty open minded, at least more than I was expecting.  We’re welcome to bring a birthing ball, I’m only going to be hooked to the fetal monitor 20 minutes of every hour, Belly Monster will be in the room with me for about an hour after delivery for skin-to-skin and first breastfeeding, and she’ll room in with me the length of my stay in recovery.  I am still pretty anxious about birthing in a hospital, and I do still wish we were doing a home birth, but I feel so much better having attended the class.

Of course, it’s impossible to say what my birth experience will be like.  Maybe labor will stall, maybe bub will be breech, maybe my labor will be overlong and I’ll be too exhausted to productively push bub into the world.  I can’t guarantee the natural, vaginal birth I want.  But I feel that my educating myself and being firm in what I want increases the chance of getting that experience.  I don’t know.  A mama can hope, right?

Some websites I love:

Improving Birth, dedicated to “women being capable of making safer, more informed decisions about their care and that of their babies, when they are given full and accurate information about their care options, including the potential harms, benefits, and alternatives.”

Birth Without Fear, which I’ve mentioned before.  This is their c-section topic page, which has some amazing posts about planned and unplanned c-sections and really does a great job (I think) in affirming that c-section birth is just as beautiful and affirming as vaginal birth.


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