my friend is expecting her first baby this year. every few weeks, i receive an email with updates about her pregnancy and some great questions that are fun to think about. this week, she asked about birthing classes and which one – the bradley method, birthing from within, birthworks, hypnobirthing, hypnobabies or lamaze – best prepares you for going into childbirth. all of these classes claim to teach women how to have a “natural” drug and intervention-free labor and childbirth, some even going so far as to promise a “painless childbirth” by teaching you to eliminate that pesky “fear/tension/pain syndrome” with the power of positive thinking.
i’ve had a baby with drugs and a baby without drugs, and either way, it freaking HURTS. for this reason, in my humble opinion, birthing classes are a complete waste of time. holding a melting ice cube to practice for labor is like holding your breath to practice for a tidal wave. those classes give terrified women the illusion they are in control of the wildest, biggest, baddest, most excruciating experience they’ll probably ever have. climbing everest? you have a sherpa, for godssake. stranded at sea? i honestly think i’d rather fight with a shark than go into labor again.
i think the most destructive aspect of these classes are the birth plans. i’m all for having preferences, doing homework and making choices. but birthing plans mess you up. if you take these classes, you’re encouraged to spend tons of energy visualizing your dream birth. the teachers make it sound like you’re going to a bed and breakfast. scented candles, gentle lighting, your man giving you a massage. in reality, it’s a bloody mess and your world rips open and turns inside out. it’s not an empowering retreat. it’s an ordeal and you’ll do whatever it takes to get everyone through to the other side.
despite all my best intentions and positive visualizations, things did not go as planned either time. i spent most of my first labor trying to get my head around the fact that my birth plan wasn’t working, grieving and feeling guilty while in ungodly amounts of pain. who needs that extra pressure when you are literally exploding from the inside out? i wish there was a class that realistically covered labor and birth, but focused more on life after baby comes. that’s when things really get interesting.
so, expectant ladies, i say save yourself the trouble, money and time. stay away from those birthing classes. read a few books about labor so you know when to call for help. go to meditation class, do some yoga. go to the movies, take long baths and sleep in. save your energy up for when baby actually comes. and if your birthing plan goes awry, go easy on yourself and remember it was only that: a plan.