Monday, September 26, 2016

Reflection: Birthing Class

Recently in preparation for the arrival of Baby Williams, Jamie and I took a two day birthing class offered at Mon General Hospital in Morgantown, WV. The class cost $60, but one of the teachers said that it might be reimbursable through insurance. Regardless, I believe the class was well worth it.

Here are just a few reasons.

1)   During the class we were able to watch multiple videos of childbirth, and it really helped us reframe a number of our perceptions around childbirth. Neither myself nor Jamie have spent much time in a labor and delivery area (other than visiting friends and relatives after a birth), and so it was incredibly helpful to see several couples choosing to go a natural route with childbirth. The philosophy at Mon General is to encourage natural childbirth when possible, but be prepared for whatever is needed.
2)   Skills and tools for coaching, support, and relaxation were provided, and we were able to practice a few of them. These included experimentation with different positions that Jamie could take during labor, relaxation and breathing techniques, and massage and other support I could offer during labor.
3)   The class had more than a dozen couples in it, and it was a very tangible reminder that there are many other couples who are proceeding along a similar timeline, and who also are looking to learn all they can about the miracle of childbirth before their baby arrives. While intellectually we know that people are having children every day, there was something comforting about knowing there were so many of us locally preparing for the birth of our first child.
4)   Developing a birth plan and preferences. We had heard a good bit about birth plans before the class, but after taking the class, we have a better idea of what we want to include in Jamie’s birth plan, and have begun to lay out those preferences.
5)   Reduced anxiety around labor and childbirth. Well-meaning people tend to open up to Jamie about the trauma of their labor and childbirth, and much of what is available in the media portray childbirth and labor as EXTREMELY painful and traumatic. Those stories and portrayals serve to only amplify our own fear and anxiety. After this class, our perspective has been reframed to begin thinking about labor as something that does not have to be traumatic or EXTREMELY painful. We have no misgivings that it will be an easy process, but I believe the class has left us more excited about the process, and we are planning to go through as much of the process as we can at home. We will still give birth in a hospital, but we now know that we don’t need to speed to the hospital the first time Jamie has a contraction.

I could list many more reasons to take a similar course, and I’m sure Jamie could add several as well but we both wanted to encourage folks who are expecting to make the investment in a course. If you are local to Morgantown, Pam Po and Rhonda Hopkins at Mon General Hospital both do an incredible job teaching/facilitating the class.

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