Prenatal Classes: What is the point anyway?

Before I had ever gotten pregnant, I had already decided that we were not going to enroll into prenatal classes.  What what would be the point anyway? I had plently of experience handling babies, with my younger brother and my two nieces, and if I really needed anything, I could always ask my mother, doctor, brother, friend etc.  I guess somewhere along the lines, I had forgotten the labour and delivery aspect of having a baby and that my husband, who really wanted to be a hands-on dad, didn’t really have much experience with babies and would be a bit nervous about it, without some sort of preparation ahead of time.

I changed my mind.  Maybe prenatal classes weren’t such a bad idea.  They definitely couldn’t hurt, we would meet other couples like ourselves, who were having babies, and would get to spend lots of time together. But the bigger ordeal was that this was OUR FIRST baby, and we were having her at the hospital where the prenatal classes were being held, and would get a tour and some kind of an expectation of what would occur on the day of.

The experience of taking the prenatal classes was not entirely what I had thought it would be.  First of all, we had decided to do the course in two days rather than within a few weeks as most people do, and being as pregnant as I was, (around 30 weeks) it was a very long and exhausting day being in prenatal class.  However, despite the fact that we had done so much reading about the labour and birthing process, we were feeling a lot more comfortable discussing it between each other and with others, and much more confident with when we would actually go into labour.

Since I was really set on having a natural birth, I was thrilled to be learning all the different breathing techniques, labouring positions and ways to fight labour pain.  The postnatal part of the course was a whole lot of fun too, especially for Michael , since he didn’t have much experience caring for a new born.  I remember laughing a lot as I showed him how to change a diaper, and then learning how to swaddle and bathe a baby.

The best part about taking this prenatal course was experiencing all of this together with  Michael as a team, and finding a greater connection to each other and our baby.  This was what the point of these courses was for me, to bring us closer and a making having a baby a bigger reality.  I remember after we had Alyssa thinking that, especially since we got a chance to use some of the labouring techniques during our actual labour and that I knew exactly what birthing room had been renevated and had the best shower in it.

Not everyone feels that it is necessarily to attend prenatal classes.  Some people are not comfortable with them, or may think that they will be a waste of time, or simply would rather discover things on their own, as they go.  For myself, despite how skeptical I was of signing up for prenatal classes, I found that taking the course really did have a point. Spending the time with my husband and preparing for the baby as a bigger reality were great attributes, but mainly, we did come out learning something and it was quite useful in preparing us for the delivery of our first baby.

For our second pregnancy, we didn’t attend a prenatal course, which was quite unfortunate, since I think we were left scrambling this time around, because our labour and birth did not go according to plan.  Everyone I knew told me our second baby was going to fly out.  It got to a point that I was expecting it to just be this way, where we could kind of skip the whole labour portion of our birth.  This actually was not the case. My second labour was much tougher than my first.  We had laboured completely without a plan, had forgotten all of our breathing techniques, labouring positions and methods of dealing with pain and were kind of lost at bay.  I may not have chosen to take another prenatal course at the hospital, but I definitely regret not taking one at all.

I had read that actress Melisssa Joan Hart (who played Sabrina the Teenaged Witch, a hit TV show in the `90s) had taken a hypno-birthing class during her pregnancy, and had tweeted her about it to ask if she would recommend it to other pregnant women.

“StartWithMom @MellyJHart”:  ”Hi I was just reading your best birth, and read that you did hypnobirthing classes, would u recommend it to preg moms to try?”

“MellyJHart @StartWithMom: Def recommend taking classes.great experience!”

Melissa is a mother of three and had been induced with her first baby and had a very medical labour and delivery, and therefore for her second and third labour, she made better preperations and plans for a natural birth, that included taking prenatal courses.

Ultmately, I don’t think it matters whether it is your first baby or third, or if you are having a natural birth, or one that may require medical interventions – I don’t think it’s ever a waste of time taking a prenatal course.  After all, even experts need refreshers :)

Wishing all moms and moms to-be an easy labour and delivery!

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About Malvina Beker

Malvina Beker is a Mom, a teacher, a writer, and a sociologist. She has a Masters degree in Sociology, a Bachelor of Education, and a background in child psychology and development. She has taught high school Family Studies, Parenting and Music courses, and has research experience through interviewing as well as surveys. She is a mother of two little girls that inspire her the most, and is always excited to share and exchange experiences and opinions with others.
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