When it comes to birthing classes, there are a variety of options. From hospital based classes, naturally focused birthing classes, and those that are combinations of both. Some specific types or methods taught in birthing classes include the Lamaze Method, Bradley Method, Hypnobirthing, Birthing From Within, BirthWorks and The Alexander Technique. We were really interested in taking the 12-week Bradley Method class, which teaches natural childbirth and partner-coached childbirth, but unfortunately there is no one who offers these classes in our area (or even the state). What we did have for options was pretty limited and many of the classes that were available focused more on hospital births (ones with medical intervention) or were really focused around the procedures/what to expect at the local hospital (Fletcher Allen, which we won’t be going to).
Left feeling frustrated and not wanting to drive the 75 minutes to the hospital we will be giving birth at for childbirth classes (each way for six weeks), I finally reached out on twitter for some ideas on what to do. To my delight, a few people came back and suggested that I look into local doulas, as many offer childbirth classes in addition to their doula services. The next day I was at Healthy Living Market perusing the local services board and ended up taking home four doulas’ business cards to contact about classes. One doula contacted me back to let me know she was available to teach birthing classes and we signed up for two four hour sessions. We also signed up for her natural baby care class (and also eventually hired her as our doula). In addition to taking private birth classes I also read Birthing From Within, and Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth and Neil read The Birthing Partner which we will discuss further in future posts.
So what did we learn? Since we spent eight hours discussing a variety of topics I’ve decided to condense what we learned into the top 10 things we learned, here they are:
- Sign that labor may begin soon: Examples of this are backache, cramps, PMS symptoms, nesting urge, upset stomach, and baby “drops.” However, as a reminder these don’t mean that you are going to go into labor right away these are just signs that your body is preparing for birth.
- The Labor Process: We discussed how labor begins (always good to know), what to expect in early labor, active labor and transition. One of the most important thins from this part that we learned were the preliminary that labor may be about to begin which include bloody show, water breaks and Braxton-Hicks Contractions and positive signs that labor has begun which include a gush of amniotic fluid, progressing contractions and dilation of cervix.
- What to take note of if your water breaks before you arrive at the hospital:
- Time your water broke
- Amount (was it a gush? it is leaking?)
- Color (you want it to be clear if it isn’t call 911)
- Odor (there should be no smell if there is a foul odor immediately contact your care provider)
- Hydration: making sure that the woman is hydrating throughout labor.
- Encouragement: encouraging the woman throughout labor.
- Lights: making sure that the lights are dim.
- Protect: being the protector of the room and making sure to keep a safe space for the woman.
- Sounds: being aware of the sounds and trying to keep the outside/unnecessary noise to a minimum.
What others are saying:
- “We took Bradley Method with our first. Ended up having a c-section after 36 hours. Took no classes with our second and had a natural birth after just 12 hours.” -CK
- “Hypnobirthing worked well for me. I’m terrified of medical situations in general and the hypnobirthing techniques were really useful and allowed me to have a drug-free birth.” -AD
- CaitlinHTP: Pre-Birth Review of Bradley Method
- KathEats: Thoughts on Childbirth Class
We took our birthing class from Doula Sarah Campbell of Mother Rising Childbirth Services.