What to Expect from Your Birthing Class
Birthing classes are a great way to prepare yourself both mentally and physically to give birth to your baby. Whether you’re having your first child or your fifth, birthing classes are chalk full of information and are beneficial to both the mom-to-be and her partner. They can provide you with new information, refresh your memory on things you may have forgotten from previous births, and equip you to handle any given situation that may arise during your labor and delivery.
Birthing classes are part of the comprehensive pregnancy services offered by NCHS, and they are driven by the desire to keep women educated, help them be prepared, and assist them in having realistic expectations about labor and delivery. If you’re expecting a baby and are considering signing up for a birthing class, there is no need to hesitate anymore. You will learn a great deal from the experience and will feel much more prepared for labor and delivery after taking a birthing class. Whether you attend birthing classes from NCHS or somewhere else, here is a brief overview of what you can expect.
Obviously, birthing classes are focused on educating you. But you may be shocked to learn how much you don’t already know about labor and delivery, even if you’ve given birth before. Birthing classes will teach you everything you need to know (and probably some things you don’t want to know) about the process of giving birth, including the biology involved, how it will feel, and more.
Your instructor will likely discuss what happens to your body when you go into labor, starting with the thinning and opening of the cervix. She will discuss the stages of labor and how to tell the difference between each stage. She will also give you some tips on how to know when it is time to head to the hospital for delivery and when to stay home and wait it out. She may also talk about when to call your doctor or midwife before active labor, such as when you’re having consistent contractions before 36 weeks or if you suspect you are leaking amniotic fluid.
Birthing classes will also inform you about the actual delivery. Don’t expect anything to be sugar-coated—this is the time for you to get the real down and dirty information about what to expect, not the PG version. Birthing classes are about being real with you and helping you set up realistic expectations for what to expect, what’s normal, and how you can best prepare for giving birth. Depending on the location and preferred tactics of your birthing class instructor, you may watch a video of a woman giving birth. This is not to scare or disgust anyone, but it’s rather to give moms-to-be an understanding of how everything happens and what the hospital staff will be doing during all of it. In case your instructor doesn’t mention it, remember that the entire process of labor and delivery is incredibly worth it, no matter how hard it may be, because, at the end of it all, you get to meet your sweet new baby and have an experience like nothing else.
One of the main things on every pregnant woman’s mind is pain management during labor. While some women may have a cesarean section (either by choice or due to the doctor’s suggestion), many women plan for a vaginal birth, either natural or medicated. If you’re aiming for a natural birth without medication, your birthing classes will teach you some pain management techniques to help you breathe and move through the different stages of labor as easily as possible. You will also receive information about various medicinal pain management options, including narcotics, epidurals, and more, just in case you change your mind during labor about your pain management.
If you choose to have an epidural during labor, you’ll learn during your birthing classes what to expect from that experience. When it will occur, possible side effects, and how it will feel are all common concerns of pregnant women seeking this kind of medicinal relief during labor. You’ll also learn about what to expect after your baby is born but before the epidural wears off, such as when you can shower, use the restroom, and more.
One part of labor that women don’t love talking about is possible complications. However, it is better to be over-informed and over-prepared for a variety of situations than to be caught off-guard and uneducated about your options. During birthing classes, you will receive a type of pregnancy counseling that includes informing you about potential complications and how they will be handled by hospital staff. Some complications will allow you to make a decision for yourself and your baby as to how to proceed, while others will result in the doctors and nurses simply doing their jobs with your best interest in mind.
What to Bring in Your Hospital Bag
One of the more fun parts of birthing classes is talking about what to bring in your hospital bag when your baby is born. When you enlist in pregnancy services and birthing classes at the place you’ll be delivering, you will likely learn what the hospital provides for you and baby and what they suggest you bring. If you search online for what to pack in a hospital bag, you’ll find a huge variety of lists, and many of them may not apply to you. Getting recommendations from the place you’re delivering will be helpful in making sure you don’t under or overpack.
Baby Care Basics
Another important part of pregnancy counseling and pregnancy services is baby care basics. Your birthing classes should give you a brief overview of how to care for your new bundle of joy, including changing diapers, swaddling, sleep safety, and more.
Most hospitals recommend signing up for birthing classes when you’re around seven months pregnant. If you’re around that point in your pregnancy, now is the time to embrace the incredible pregnancy counseling and pregnancy services that NCHS has to offer by enlisting in birthing classes today!