When I was pregnant with my first child, I did everything I was “supposed” to do. I happily checked off items on my to-do list. Found her pediatrician before she was born. Decided on where to give birth. Made a birth plan. Signed up for birthing classes. People kept talking up about how it was so important to sign up for birthing classes. I was going to give birth at a birthing center and they required all moms to take a birthing class in order to give birth there.
Being the rule follower that I am, I dutifully signed up for birthing classes. First of all, there are SO many options to choose from! I decided on Hypnobirthing since I was planning on a natural birth, it came very highly recommended. My husband was less than excited when he learned this involved 5 classes that were 3 hours each.
We showed up the first class and my husband was a really great sport! I had read the books and was listening to the CD, I was all set to rock this birthing stuff. To say the class was boring was an understatement. After a review of 8th grade anatomy we watched some videos of women giving birth. They were so serene and relaxed, I couldn’t help but roll my eyes. I get that some women have super easy births, but I felt this was setting women up to have the expectation of a zen like birth.
At this point, my husband was checking Facebook on his phone and I didn’t blame him one bit. In fact, I was jealous because I was SO bored at this point. The other couple that was with us were totally into this birthing method and really excited about all of the information, I was stifling a yawn.
The next week we dutifully went again, because this is what good parents do- right? This week it was more videos and the added fun of our partner guiding us through a relaxation visualization. The teacher grew impatiently frustrated with us as my husband and I couldn’t get through an entire relaxation technique without cracking up.
That’s when it hit me- I don’t need to take a class in order to give birth. Women have been doing this for countless years without classes. I understand basic anatomy and how to breathe to calm myself down, is a class really necessary? The birth canal is pretty much a one-way exit, I don’t think 15 hours (as I type this I see how crazy this is!) of childbirth classes can make my birth any better. Birth is wonderful, but it is also different for everyone. If I had held onto just one expectation of how my birth was going to go I would have been crushed.
In the end, we dropped out of birthing classes. Childbirth is hard work, but I did deep relaxation breathing I learned doing yoga many years ago. Perhaps I relaxed a bit too much because our daughter ended up being an unplanned homebirth! But that’s another story for another day.