In the minutes and hours after learning of a pregnancy, it’s common for the expectant parents to realize that they know very little about pregnancy. Or childbirth. Or — Are you kidding me with this thing? — how to tie a Moby Wrap.
Within minutes and hours of announcing said pregnancy, the parents-to-be will be inundated with doctor recommendations, C-section stats and books … so many books. I believe that every parent in America owns What to Expect When You’re Expecting simply because it’s been thrust at them aggressively.
Then come the childbirth education classes — it’s beyond what you’ve seen in old sitcoms with the mom-to-be and support person cozily and comically huffing and puffing on pillows in a one-size-fits-all class.
Now it seems you have to pick your birth courses based on your desired style or method. But remember, you know nothing. Absolutely nothing!
All the books
First off, you don’t need a dozen books; you just need one or two good ones. To find your fit, ask a sister or close friend what they read and why they liked it. Know a birth professional such as a midwife, doula or labor nurse? Ask them. A few of my personal faves include:
Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth: Crunchy, but comprehensive and empowering. Half of it is filled with real birth stories. This book is a cheerleader.
Mayo Clinic Guide to a Healthy Pregnancy: Trusted, Minnesotan, thorough and a fantastic first timer’s alternative to What to Expect.
The Girlfriend’s Guide to Pregnancy: When you need to lighten up! Funny, yet informative.
Books give you a chance to marvel at the scientific wonder that is human pregnancy. But I recommend you take the many pages with a grain of salt. There’s an instinctive wisdom that comes with pregnancy. Don’t let that innate knowledge get watered down by too much information. And stop Googling all the weird, scary and rare stuff. Seriously. Stop.
Should we take a class?
Yes, you should absolutely take a childbirth-prep class. This is a fun, engaging way to get your information. It’s a rite of passage! You’ll also get the chance to engage with other expectant parents, go through it together and — if all goes well — be locked in for Baby’s first play date long before your water breaks.
The best place to start when it comes to choosing your class is your care provider. You chose your birthing team (doctor, midwife, doula and beyond). Why not choose a class that best matches their philosophy?
I recommend looking for a class series that includes birth, postpartum, infant care and feeding. Some top-notch local businesses providing childbirth education include:
In a nutshell here’s some of what you can expect:
Lamaze: Up-to-date curriculum focusing on normal, natural and healthy decision making. There’s an intense lean on labor support and comfort measures.
Bradley: Preparation for natural birth without medication and an emphasis on avoidance of Cesarean.
Hypnobirthing: Using visualization to enter a state of relaxation while remaining in control of labor and birth.
Birthing from Within: Encourages birth-in-awareness, rather than striving for — or getting attached to — a certain outcome.
Don’t sweat this decision too much. Ask around. Dig a bit. And you’ll find the right class for you. Most birth classes will give you a ton of information, tips and tricks. You will be prepared — and birth will still surprise you. Let it.
Jen Wittes is a marketing director, writer, certified postpartum doula and mom of two living in St. Paul.