Katie Norcross is a first-time expectant mom and a program coordinator at UVA. She recently took UVA’s Preparing for Birth and Baby class and shared her experience with us. Katie’s little girl is due July 8.
As a first time mom-to-be, the task of preparing for childbirth seems overwhelming. As if learning about pregnancy and planning for when your little one is here aren’t enough, thinking about the actual labor and delivery can leave you wondering why you signed up for this in the first place.
Fortunately, there are professionals you can turn to who are certified in childbirth education and can help take the anxiety out of one of life’s most wonderfully terrifying moments. And unlike the endless nights online, having an expert to actually talk to can make a big difference.
I’m a patient with University Physicians for Women, so I enrolled in the Preparing for Birth and Baby class offered Tuesday evenings from 6:30–8:30 p.m. at UVA. For $60 per couple, the class includes five two-hour sessions with a certified lactation consultant and childbirth educator, a web-enabled booklet and a tour of the labor and delivery units at UVA. We covered topics like:
- The basic anatomy of pregnancy and labor
- The signs and stages of labor
- Hospital policies and procedures
- Comfort measures, including pain relief choices
- Caesarean birth
- Caring for your newborn
- What to expect in the first few weeks after the baby is born
At first, my husband protested not being home in time to watch the latest episode of the TV show “Raising Hope” (which he argued would be equally as educational). But learning about the labor and delivery process beforehand helped reduce a lot of his anxiety about what to expect as a labor partner. Most evenings, we spent the drive home talking about what was presented, which prompted us to talk about our own plans and expectations.
By the end of our classes, we had learned a lot, met new faces and made new friends. The three other couples in our class shared the unique bond of being due just days apart and all expecting baby girls. We understood each other’s nervous excitement about the changes to our lives that were only weeks away. Before we left, we exchanged phone numbers, emails and addresses in hopes that we could get together after our little ones are here.
Even though I’m still not convinced that I’ll ever be prepared for childbirth, I feel like I at least have more answers than questions. By understanding what to expect ahead of time and being prepared to ask questions of our care team, we’ll not only be prepared to go to the hospital, but we’ll also be prepared to be involved in our care while we are there. Taking the classes helped give us confidence that when the moment comes, we’ll be ready to have the best birthing experience possible.
Have you taken a childbirth class? How did it help you prepare for the experience? Let us know!