By Michele Wenis
I remember the news didn’t seem real until we were at the midwife’s office. I was elated for about five minutes before I proceeded to cry and then confess to my husband, “I am just not ready for this. How can I survive the birth of our baby?!”
We were heading into this as most unprepared pregnant couples do, believing these myths to be absolute:
Myth #1: You can’t handle your birth without drugs so you’d better get them as quickly and as long as possible if you want to survive.
Myth #2: Your husband/partner is pretty useless and just needs to stay out of the way.
Myth #3: Whatever happens, your doctor/midwife knows best and the options for comfort he or she provides are all you will ever want or need.
I can tell you, that while I never wished for a natural childbirth, the right birth preparation class for us told us we could handle otherwise, and equipped us so that we at least had a fighting chance. While I didn’t have any prior dreams of Erich doing more than pacing circles into the floor while I labored, he was the most incredible support person. Lastly, once we knew what kind of birth was ideal for us, we chose a birth team whose recommendations we not only found reliable, but whose respect for our choices was paramount.
How did we get from a place of terror to this place of confident eagerness to birth our baby?
Start by asking yourself:
What is your ideal birth?
What is your not-so-ideal birth?
These questions are an excellent point of departure.
Now that you have a general idea of where you want to go and where you would rather not end up, you can begin your birth education process. Books, YouTube videos and conversations with women who have had positive births can all be helpful. Keep in mind that an ideal birth is different for everyone.
Many couples also benefit from taking group classes. Depending on the involvement you wish to have in the decision making, and what style speaks to you, one childbirth class works better for some than others. Do your homework and determine which class might best support your preferred approach.
Ideally, the childbirth class you choose will educate you on what to expect through different stages of pregnancy and labor and provide information on both medical and non-medical techniques to help keep you comfortable throughout. While no childbirth class can prepare you for all unexpected situations, the class you choose should leave you feeling you have the information, tools and confidence to thoughtfully face whatever comes your way.
Fear about your birth is normal but it can either cripple or empower you. Give yourself a chance to realize that this is all part of the process but don’t stop there. Equip yourself for your birth, as labor can by far be the most exciting, profound and valuable first journey your family will ever take together.
It has been nine years since that day at the midwife