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Is Taking a Childbirth Class Important?

This is a birth story from Tanya Grabbe, owner of Tennessee Family Doulas.

As I neared the end of my first pregnancy, I felt so ready to be done. I had enjoyed every moment of being pregnant, from the growing belly to the baby kicks, and everything in between. I hadn’t had any morning sickness, and the only thing that I couldn’t handle was the smell and taste of coffee. Every part of it was exactly as I had imagined. But now, at 36 weeks, I was feeling done. My precious little baby now seemed to tickle my bladder constantly, and he was so low that my legs would give out when he leaned against my sciatic nerve. I was miserable. When I started having contractions that day, I headed straight to the hospital.

As they hooked me up to the baby monitors, I could still feel the contractions, but they were just a little crampy and very mild. The nurses kept mentioning that I wasn’t really in labor, and I was feeling desperate. I wanted this baby out. I wanted to meet him, hold him in my arms, and be his mommy. This was actually my second trip to L&D. On my first trip, just a week before, I had been convinced that my water had broken, but it turned out that I had just peed myself. Talk about embarrassing.

As soon as my OB popped her head in the room, she said “I think we are going to need to send you home. These contractions aren’t strong enough and you’re only dilated to a 2.” NO! I thought. I can’t go back home. I can’t keep dealing with this physical discomfort. I looked her in the eye and, as tears started brimming, I told her that I didn’t want to go back home. I wanted to have my baby right now. She smiled at me with a look of compassion and said “I can break your water right now, and then we can get this labor really going. How do you feel about that?” My tears dried up as quickly as they had formed and I smiled. “Yes! That sounds great!”

One thing you need to know about me is that I never took a childbirth class. This means that I had no idea about what to expect when it comes to labor. I didn’t know how long labor could last, what an induction was, what breaking my water might mean, or what my pain relief options were. I was a go-with-the-flow type of gal, and I approached labor with the same mindset.

As they hooked me up to the IV in order to administer Pitocin, my husband and I called our parents and asked them to come to the hospital to meet their first grandbaby. We settled in, thinking that this baby would make his appearance at any moment. Remember, I had no idea what to expect, and only TV and movie labor and deliveries as my point of reference.

As our parents arrived and piled into the room, the nurses graciously brought in 4 more chairs so that everyone could have a seat for the big show. We had fun, laughing and talking about how big this baby boy might be, and the excitement to meet him was palpable in the room. As the hours wore on, and labor slowly progressed, I started feeling discouraged. I had gotten an epidural pretty early on, so now I just felt like a watched pot that wouldn’t boil. I felt bored, tired, and hungry. What I thought would only take a couple of hours had been going for over 24 hours, with no real end in sight. My mom and my husband took turns feeding me ice chips. The parents left for food and came back, and still no baby.

At hour 32, we finally were dilated to a 10 and ready to push. The anesthesiologist had to come in then to give me a “pushing dose” in my epidural because I was having breakthrough pain. I promised to send him flowers and told him that I loved him. That makes me laugh every time I remember it! I don’t know if it was the pain, hunger, or just because we’d all been in the same room for 30+ hours, but right before I began to push, I asked the nurse to have everyone except my husband leave the room. After over an hour of pushing with a very heavy epidural and after receiving an episiotomy, my sweet little boy finally made his appearance. He was gorgeous with dark hair and dark eyes. As they laid him on my chest, he was making a cute little grunty noise with each breath, and I saw the baby nurse’s brow furrow. She scooped him up and whisked him away to the nursery. As I lay there, enduring the repair of my perineum, my mind started racing. The only concern I had was my baby’s health.

The big question here is whether I would have chosen a different path if I had taken the time to educate myself on Labor and Delivery. My baby spent a few days in the NICU, and now, 22 years later, is a handsome, 6’5” tall man who is married and has a baby of his own. A happy end to what could have been a very tragic one. But, would education have made me choose to labor differently? They say that hindsight is 20/20, so, maybe? One thing is for certain, though. I would have felt more confident in my choice had I taken a Childbirth Education Class. My fear would have been reduced and I would have had a better understanding of what my choices might mean.

Have you signed up for a Childbirth Education class yet? Tennessee Family Doulas offers private, in-home classes, and we would love to teach you what we know about Labor and Birth. After our class, you will feel more confident, have less fear as your labor begins, and have an in-depth understanding of the interventions and pain management choices that are available to you. Reach out to us today to learn more!



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