Birth Class: the Cliff Notes version

This Saturday, Rob and I had our childbirth class. We chose to do the 1-day, 5 hour session instead of the 5-week program. The class was held at my OBGYN and was taught by one of the Princeton Medical Center Labor and Delivery nurses. We got a lot of information and had plenty of opportunity for questions. At the end of the class, we took a tour of the L&D ward to see a private room (Princeton only has private rooms....your hospital may not and thus it's an extra fee to reserve one), take a peek at some of the new babies, and get familiar with the layout. The childbirth class is definitely a no skip part of pregnancy. I put together the Cliff-Notes version below as a preview of what to expect and prepare for:

Part 1: What to Pack

  1. Focal Point
  2. Music: iPod, CD-Player, etc
  3. Pillows: bring a colored or patterned pillow case so it doesn't get mistaken for a hospital one
  4. Socks or Slippers
  5. Snacks for your Coach
  6. Camera, film, batteries, etc
  7. Chap Stick: since you can't eat and will be breathing a might get chapped lips
  8. Robe: the hospital gowns are open in the back and you really don't want to show your bum will you roam the L&D ward.
  9. Cosmetics and toiletries: you will get the basics like hotel soap, toothpaste, toothbrush, but definitely bring you own things.
  10. Loose fitting clothes for homecoming
  11. For the baby: Going home outfit, booties, sweater/snowsuit, hat, car seat (leave it in the car so you don't have to fuss with reattaching it once you get back to the car.
True vs False Labor
  1. Braxton-Hicks (false): these usually start in the 3rd trimester and feel like a low menstrual cramp or tightening. It may also feel like the baby is "balling up."
  2. Timing: FALSE: often irregular; not usually becoming closer together. TRUE: Come regularly, 4-6 minutes apart lasting 30-70 seconds.
  3. Strength: FALSE: Frequently weak and not getting stronger with time or a strong contraction followed by weak ones. TRUE: become stronger with time.
  4. Pain: FALSE: Usually felt in front only. TRUE: Can start in the back and radiate to the front.
  5. Position Changes/Hydration: FALSE: if you change position or drink water, the pain goes away. TRUE: no matter what you do, the pain continues.
When to go to the hospital?: If you are past 36 weeks, wait until the contractions are 5 minutes apart, and continue for 1 hour.

If you're not sure when to go, always call your doctor or midwife

Getting Comfort During Labor
  1. Change position frequently
  2. Go to the bathroom every 1-2 hours (have your coach remind you)
  3. Apply cool washcloth to neck/face
  4. Ice chips or clear liquid
  5. Lip Balm
  6. Tennis balls in a sock for massaging
  7. Focal Points and Music
  8. Soothing oils like Lavender
  9. Breathing techniques
Stages of Labor
  1. Early Labor: contractions start to get stronger and may go from 10 minutes apart to 5 minutes apart. The pain may not be as great as later ones and you can still talk through them. You may see increased discharge or the "bloody show" which is normal. Call your doctor if it is more bright red. This stage may last up to 8 hours if you are not dilated or effaced yet. Always remember to stay hydrated.
  2. Active Labor: contractions become more frequent, longer and stronger. Your cervix starts dilating faster going from 4 to 10 centimeters. If you have not gone to the hospital yet, call your doctor/midwife and get yourself there pronto. Use your breathing techniques at this time. Try gentle massages on your belly while your breathe. If you're at the hospital already, take a bath or shower. The hot water helps dilation to progress. This would also be the time to request the epidural if you are planning to have one.
  3. Transition: your cervix dilates from 7-10 cm. Contractions are very strong and come every 2-3 minutes. When transition is over, the baby has fully descended into your pelvis. This process lasts from a few minutes to 1.5 hours.
  4. Pushing: this is self-explanatory. You'll want to push with each contraction, but if you have an epidural, you won't feel them. Your coach should help you through this stage. If you push against the contractions, you can slow the birth process and that's never good.

I know once I get to the hospital, I will be in another world and forget a lot of the techniques and suggestions. Hopefully Rob will be in a more calm frame of mind to help me! Feel free to bring your handouts from class with you to the hospital. Just remember to make this process as comfortable and familiar as possible. The nurses, midwives, doctors, etc are all there to support you and guide you along the way. (I may sound all filled with rational advice now, but I'm definitely scared inside!!)

So, if you're not sure about doing the childbirth class, I'm telling you NOT to skip it. Not only did we walk away with helpful information, but we had a L&D nurse leading our class who was available for all of our questions.

It is never too soon to ask about the childbirth classes. Depending on the availability and the size restrictions, you may have to reserve your spot in advance. We were also given a receipt to send in to the insurance company for a reimbursement (if any).

1 comment:

Noelene said...

As as childbirth educator- I have to agree that childbirth class is an important part of your preparation for birth. Whether you are opting for an epidural or attempting a natural birth, its a great way to get birth information from a trained individual. There was actually an article in the NY Times about the decreasing rates of attendance at childbirth classes. Its unfortunate because with a well-informed educator, you will leave your class more informed about birth and more confident as well! Trust Birth...

Good luck with your upcoming Birth!
Noelene K. Jeffers

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