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Pregnancy: Should You Take A Birthing Class?

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Reproductive System related image Photo: Getty Images

When my husband and I were going to be first-time parents, we knew enough to know that we knew nothing about what to expect when the baby arrived. We bought plenty of informative books, which I intended to read cover to cover to prepare us.

Unfortunately, they remained stacked up on my nightstand and were helpful only as a coasters for the large glass of water that I took to bed with me each night.

When I was only weeks away from my due date, we were in a panic. I didn’t know about parenting or labor. When my mom had me, they gave her something to fall asleep and woke her up later to tell her she had a baby girl. I assumed it would be different than that. We knew we had to act fast and signed up for the two-day “express” birthing class through our hospital.

In the classroom, we held hands and smiled at each other among the other expectant parents. The first day concentrated on caring for a newborn. We frantically took notes on breastfeeding, sleeping and eating schedules and child safety tips. I realized quickly why it was a full two-day class.

Between taking restroom breaks for 15 pregnant women and allowing them to get up and stretch their swollen feet, there was a lot of information to cover. After the crash course of how to care for a newborn was over, I found out that day two would be all about labor.

The second day, our instructor began to discuss breathing, concentration, comfort, and if we were interested, pain relief. My husband turned to me and whispered, “What do you think about the epidural?”

I looked back at him and stifled a laugh. Was he joking? Did he not remember how I cried for 10 minutes when I stubbed my baby toe on the bed?

High pain tolerance is not a quality that I possess. I broke my arm once and no one asked me if I had an interest in pain medication. Not to mention, my birthing plan had “EPIDURAL, YES PLEASE” written at the top, twice, in bold print.

Our instructor passed around medical instruments that might be used to “guide your baby out of the birth canal.” I found myself holding large, cold metal tools that looked like salad tongs.

Normally this would have made my stomach growl but this time I could imagine where this instrument was meant to be placed and I started to feel woozy. Next we were shown the birth video and I realized why it was left for the last day.

When it was over and the lights were turned back on, my eyes were wide, my mouth was dry and I felt frozen in my hard, plastic chair. When I began to think that in less than two months my body would experience what I had just seen, I felt the walls of the room closing in on me.

I began to take in deeper, heavier breaths. I clasped my sweaty palms together as I closed my eyes and tried to control my breathing. “What’s wrong?” my husband whispered to me. I opened my eyes and looked into his sweet, concerned face. I would have to tell him.

I struggled for one more deep breath and could barely whisper, “I am so sorry. I cannot do what she just did on that tape. I don’t think my body is going to do that.”

He looked back at me, confused and said, "He can’t stay in there. He has to come out.”

It took me the rest of class to overcome my anxiety attack. I was thankful to get that out of the way.

As a first-time mom, I was grateful for the class to prepare me. I needed it.

Edited by Malu Banuelos

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.