Childbirth Classes and Sunroofs
Childbirth classes and sunroofs, what do they have in common? Are you pregnant and seeking childbirth classes that are right for you? How do you choose? Is a class really necessary? I’ve shared my story in the past, I’ve had moms tell me it was helpful to them during their search for childbirth classes. Those who had a prior birth end in a way they didn’t anticipate found my story especially helpful.
I’d waited nine long months pregnant with my first.
I lovingly caressed my belly and enjoyed being pregnant (mostly). I couldn’t wait to meet him, hold him, and call him by his name. After 18 hours of labor, when I finally got to hold him in my arms, I just felt… exhausted and empty. Being awake for almost two days mostly without food will do that to you. I was frustrated at the expectations I felt by everyone to see my baby before I was even cleaned up after birth. My hip felt bruised where he had been bumping against it during our labor. He wouldn’t latch onto my breast. Then he fell asleep while I wolfed down two hospital-made turkey sandwiches with mayo on top. Tired was an understatement.
This is how I started parenthood.
Exhausted, but also feeling like I should feel more, because I’d had a “good birth”.
It was a vaginal birth like I had planned for. My care provider was wonderful and respectful. My partner was super supportive and loving, and I had a perfect, precious baby in my arms. It was good, right? Everyone else was calling it a “good birth” so it must have been good.
Even after a few hours, when I really did connect and bond with my baby I couldn’t stop staring at him. His little nose, toes and everything about him was perfect. When I was really and truly in love…
I wanted more.
I felt like the classes I had taken still didn’t teach me that birth isn’t only about the outcome. In fact, the childbirth classes I had taken (and that many parents take) focused on “a healthy baby”, as if that were the only thing that mattered.
Of course it matters.
No one honestly thinks to themselves, “I want to have an amazing birth experience at the expense of my baby’s health.” No! We want balance. A healthy mom and baby and a satisfying experience no matter how our babies are born; vaginal or cesarean.
As one mom put it, “Sliding right through my vagina would be great, but if she really needs to use the sunroof that’s cool too.”
Oh, oh, oh, childbirth classes and sunroofs do have something in common!
Our birth experiences are about the choices we have along the way. Even then, it really isn’t about which choices we make, but how we feel about making them. My first birth isn’t the reason I became a doula, but it did change the way I write and recommend childbirth classes.
In my professional experience and in my personal opinion birth classes that are worth it should:
- Be comprehensive and diverse
- Cover the anatomy and physiology of birth.
- Teach strategies to help you work through all the decisions you may face.
- Help you determine a set role for each person who will be with your during your labor and birth.
- Cover “natural” and pharmaceutical pain relief options.
- Help you focus on your goals, but also approach birth with realistic expectations.
- Teach the importance of choosing a provider and a hospital deliberately and with intention, so that the care you receive will align with your philosophy on birth.
In our classes and in The Prepared Parent Childbirth Classes taught by First Coast Doulas we cover all of those important things. We also cover topics like the importance of a special environment for birth. An environment that leaves a birthing family feeling like they really are the center of the world. That’s another check mark for a great childbirth class!
We know that birth is unpredictable and very often strays, or at least wanders a little from the written plan or idea we try to concrete into our mind.
But birth can also be more, so much more!
It’s not simply about whether or not your baby slides through the birth canal or pops the hatch to be born through the sunroof! You can learn how to have a birth centered on YOU! You’ll truly be prepared for the EXPERIENCE of birth. Even if you don’t get most of what’s on your “birth plan” your birth can still be an experience that helps you position yourself for a rewarding start along your parenting journey.
So whether this is your first baby or your last, from one mom to another—find childbirth classes that TRULY help you plan for the experience of birth!
This blog was co-authored by Elizabeth Luke, owner of First Coast Doulas and Victoria McCollum, owner of The Virginia Baby Company.
Victoria McCollum is a doula extraordinaire, Supermom to three amazing boys, and a carbohydrate connoisseur who lives in Fredericksburg with her super handsome soldier. You can connect with her on Facebook or on Instagram for birth and parenting tips, tricks and updates The Virginia Baby Company serves Northern and Central Virginia, from Arlington to Richmond to Charlottesville.