Keith and I had gotten mostly negative reviews of childbirth classes from friends who had taken them. Adjectives ranged from “comical” to “scary” to “pointless.” Besides, since we are expecting twins, we knew our childbirth experience would likely be quite different from what we’d learn in class.
But all of our pals’ warnings only served to increase our curiosity. So, we signed up for a class given at our hospital. It would include four two-and-a-half-hour weekday evening sessions.
We showed up on the first evening like good students, toting the pillows we’d been instructed to bring. We were one of eight couples in the class. Only two of the couples were expecting girls, and Keith and I were the only ones expecting twins.
We started by discussing the stages of labor. We split into four groups, and each group had to go to the whiteboard to write down symptoms moms-to-be experience in each labor stage. Since all of the symptoms were listed in the books we’d been given, this did not prove to be much of a challenge. One member from each group then had to present the list to the class. Our group must have sensed Keith’s leadership skills, because they designated him as the presenter. Watching my husband stand in front of a room of people and say things like, “She’ll experience increased vaginal discharge,” and “She may lose her mucous plug” was worth the $70 class fee in itself.
We then got to watch a video straight out of the 1970s, featuring women with poor grooming habits pushing out their babies completely unmedicated. As strange earthy music played, the women groaned, screamed, and let out basically every other animal sound known to man. “She is powerful,” said the narrator in a soft voice as one woman writhed in pain. “She trusts her body to do what it’s meant for.”
The instructor told the men in the class to pay special attention to what the dads in the video were doing to support the moms. Their techniques included tentatively patting the moms’ backs, touching their foreheads and noses and mustaches to the women’s faces, and saying things like, “Be strong, honey!” Let it be known that if Keith does any of those things, he’ll likely wind up with a left hook to the face. (That being said, Keith knows better than to do any of those things, anyway).
The video culminated in up-close views of the babies coming out. Our favorite mom was the one who screamed, “DOES IT LOOK LIKE A BABY?!?!?!”
The main lesson I learned from the video? GET AN EPIDURAL, stat. While I truly applaud any woman who manages to give birth unmedicated, no thank you. Not for me. I also learned to not let anyone videotape me in labor and to do my best to visit the waxer before the big day.
Keith’s big takeaway? To not look when the doctors are delivering my placentas. (Yes, I have two of them … lucky me).
We showed up for class number two still scarred from the first class. We were delighted to learn that the first half of class would be devoted to a tour of the birthing center. That was actually really fun! We got to see the birthing rooms, the nursery, and the recovery rooms.
But from there, it went downhill. We were all instructed to lie on the floor with our heads on our pillows—the ladies on our sides and the men on their backs—as the teacher talked us through some relaxation exercises. That was when Nate, who was on the side touching the floor, decided to begin kicking me furiously. I had to lift my hip up as pain soared through my back. I’m pretty sure Keith fell asleep.
Then, the guys had to get behind the ladies and reach over to feel our chests as the instructor told us how we are supposed to breathe during contractions. Now, maybe this is helpful for some moms-to-be, but I know that when the day comes and I am in labor, the last thing I am going to think is, “Wait, how did the teacher say I am supposed to breathe?” As Keith and I did our best to stifle our laughter, the rest of the expecting couples seemed to be really into the exercise. One of the dads even joined in the breathing: “Haaaaa…..heeeee. Haaaaa….heeeee.” That really put Keith and me over the edge.
Needless to say, after that session, we decided our days of childbirth class were over. We skipped the third class, and will sit out the fourth one as well. Do we regret going to the first two? No way. They will provide us with many good laughs for years to come. And, despite all of the silliness, we did actually learn a few things about the signs of labor and what to expect during childbirth. We just think the rest is stuff we can easily read in a book.
Just for kicks, here’s a photo of me at 27 weeks pregnant:
Who else has taken a childbirth class? I’d love to hear your experiences in the comments section!