I hear this quite a bit from moms who are pregnant with their second or third child. I hear this from moms who didn’t take a childbirth preparation class. I also hear it from moms who took a childbirth prep class that focused on natural birth only and neglects to cover the reality of hospital birth in the US.
“No one told me. I didn’t know.”
“I didn’t know that giving birth like how you see on TV isn’t the best way to do it. Heck, I didn’t know you *could* give birth in any other position!”
If you want to help yourself to have a good birth experience, get educated. I don’t mean from a book, video, app or online. I don’t mean from a childbirth class that doesn’t cover epidurals and c-section, because you are going to have a natural birth. I mean, really, really, get educated.
“I didn’t know that just because my water breaks doesn’t mean I have to go into the hospital right away.”
Yes, you should get all the positions, postures, massage, relaxation and coping techniques we have to give. But you should also get the low down on all the standard procedures; your legal rights; effective communication skills; standard drugs and medical interventions during labor – pros and cons.
“I expected my prenatal visits to last more than 10 minutes. I expected my doctor to have time for my questions.”
Yes, even if you are having a homebirth.
“I was having a homebirth. The thought of a c-section never crossed my mind. I was so unprepared when I needed to be transferred to the hospital. I never even read that chapter in the birth books!”
You class should set you up with reasonable expectations for what to expect in labor.
“I thought the nurses would help me change positions, help with massage, and help me cope…”
Birth can be wonderful, or it can feel like you’ve been steamrolled by the system and just processed out. I don’t want that to happen to anyone.
“I didn’t know that for my c-section, they’d have my arms strapped down, straight out to the side. It was like I was crucified…”
I want women to feel secure in their abilities to navigate the hospital system.
“I didn’t know that I could ask questions of my doctor and nurses. I trusted them.”
I want women to feel comfortable talking to their care providers about anything.
“I thought that my doctor would be there with me the whole time during labor.”
No woman should feel pressured into signing a consent form (epidural, c-section, circumcision or anything else) weeks or months in advance of need. This doesn’t save time, or alleviate the need for full informed consent at the time of the procedure. It does mean that if you change your mind, your doctor can still do it anyway because they have your signature on the form.
“I didn’t know that I’d get a catheter with my epidural. It burned to pee for 2 days afterwards.”
In labor, women should be talked to, and not talked about. Women and their partners need to be able to advocate for themselves. They should feel comfortable asking for what they need and want.
“I felt like the things that were happening were being done to me, not for me. I felt ignored.”
It saddens me deeply to hear women say “I didn’t know, what I didn’t know” with regards to their births. This is avoidable. Childbirth classes aren’t just for hippies, or for women who want natural births. They are for all pregnant women and for every pregnancy. They are for both the mother and the father (or partner).
The classes are there to help you know what’s normal, and what’s not. To help you wade through the sea of misinformation and missing information regarding pregnancy and birth. The classes are there to help you feel confident in your own abilities, confident in your support team and confident in your care provider.
I want you to know that it is about you. It’s your body, your baby, your birth. I want you and your baby to be healthy and safe. I also want you to have a good birth experience. The best way I know how to do that is to teach my classes.