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February 20th, 2008
05:35 pm


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A Whole Weekend Shot

Manhattan, February 9-10, 2008 - As I suspected from the beginning, as all my friends who went through them told me, I now know through direct experience that childbirth classes are a waste of time and money. An entire weekend was lost listening to a cheery nurse go on and on about stuff every single couple in the room had most likely already read in What To Expect When You're Expecting. The nurse was nice enough - a sweet middle-aged woman - but she taught the class as if we were first-graders. We knew we were in trouble when she earnestly asked us early in the class "does anyone know why labor hurts?" I wanted to answer "It's God's punishment for Eve's sins" (Genesis 3:16), but I couldn't really read the room well enough to know how that'd go over. So I kept my mouth shut and glared at Sue.

It was Sue's idea to go, despite my protests. She thought they'd impart some secret knowledge that you couldn't get from the books. They didn't. She was looking forward to the hospital tour, but even that was useless. And hot. We saw a bunch of hospital rooms. We've all seen hospital rooms before. Hearing our nurse gush about how that this is one of the rooms Sue might be put in before giving birth and this is one of the rooms Sue might be put in after giving birth was hardly edifying.

And as many a friend told us, anything we might have learned (breathing, relaxation techniques, when to call the doctor) just goes right out the window when you're in the thick of things. Either the situation on the ground changes, or you're going to second-guess yourself and go to the books anyway.

My perspective is that I'm going to be there, but I'll trust the experts to do their jobs, and I'll do my best to stay out of their way. All I really need to know is how to get to the hospital. And I know that. I'm hoping it's not March 17 (the actual due date) because driving into Manhattan on St. Patrick's Day sounds less than fun. (Sue's already told me that the subway is straight out...)

(Yay! 7 comments! | Please leave a comment!)

[User Picture]
Date:February 20th, 2008 10:56 pm (UTC)
Awwww... what's wrong with taking the subway to the hospital in labor? ;-)

I found the advice in "Natural Childbirth, the Bradley Way" (the chapters about actual labor, not the ones about everything I ought to have been doing the whole 9 months), really helpful. Ben remembered a lot of it during labor and talked me through some of the rough spots.

How did a hospital tour end up taking 2 days?
[User Picture]
Date:February 21st, 2008 03:11 pm (UTC)
I know! The hospital is an easy subway or train ride to Penn Station, then a crosstown 34th Street bus to the East Side. What could be easier? :-)

The tour was only a small part of the weekend - Saturday we listened to stuff about pregnancy we already knew (every woman in the room was about 8 months pregnant, after all), then watched The Movie and did some breathing exercises on the floor. Sunday it was The Movie, Part Two: C-Sections! followed by dressing and bathing a doll, then the hospital tour in the afternoon. That part still shouldn't have taken two hours...
[User Picture]
Date:February 21st, 2008 06:14 pm (UTC)
Our hospital did a class about breastfeeding, bathing, and diapering dolls every day for all of the brand-new parents. (You'd go the first morning you felt well enough to walk down the hall.)

The one class we did find somewhat useful (although we haven't had to use it yet), was a child and infant First Aid and CPR class. It was kind of scary to watch the videos of bad things that could happen to babies while 7 months pregnant. And one of the Rescus-a-babies kept falling apart. :-o
[User Picture]
Date:February 21st, 2008 04:27 am (UTC)


Well, that's a good data point. Thanks! I do seem to know people who've found that practicing breathing techniques in class, with supervision, turned out to be useful — ditto some of the self-hypnosis stuff one can try. I've heard that classes run by hospitals tend to shortchange that stuff, though, so I guess if I want to try something like that I'd better look around the Upper West Side for the appropriate hippy setting.
[User Picture]
Date:February 21st, 2008 03:40 pm (UTC)

Re: Yuck.

I'm sure if you're sufficiently motivated, breathing and hypnosis can help, and yeah, you might need to go to a real specialist for that (the hippier the better, perhaps...) but I think we're going with the panic-and-rush-to-the-hospital plan. :-) Friends have told me that their studied breathing regimens quickly devolve into that anyway...

My beef with the classes was mostly that it didn't cover anything we didn't already know from reading and from talking to the doctor.

There's an interesting discussion about childbirth classes here:


It seems to me that a good proportion of the commenters in favor of taking classes are midwives and nurses who teach such classes.

(Some of the anti-class commenters complained about ideological axes to grind, but I have to say that our nurse was fair about covering all the options, from natural to epidurals to c-sections.)
Date:March 3rd, 2008 09:10 pm (UTC)

the classes mostly freaked me out!

I hated watching the birth videos, especially at 8 months (when it is WAY too late to back out :-) The epidural really freaked me out, so I tried to avoid it. The only two helpful things about birth and labor I found out from other Moms:

1. Stay home as long as possible, since they WILL stick a fetal monitor and IV on you as soon as you get there, regardless of what they say, and it sucks not to be able to walk around. And no one is in the room with you most of the time, anyway, so you might as well be more comfy at home.

2. Sneak snacks (remember, you'll be unattended). They won't feed you, they'll say you can't eat in case you puke, you'll puke if you going to puke (dry heaves REALLY suck after a C-section), and it takes all day, so you'll be hungry.

Good luck! Labor isn't as bad as people say--I was unmedicated with the max Pitocin dose up until I needed a C-section. My good friend was fine up until 5 cm (I never got that far) and then took the epidural and had no problems. Everyone always tells you the bad stories...
[User Picture]
Date:March 7th, 2008 09:45 pm (UTC)

Re: the classes mostly freaked me out!

It's too late for *Sue* to back out, but I'm on the fence... :-)

Sue's ready for an epidural now. Not for any specific pain, but just to be ready. The doctor told her that when she starts feeling it, she needs to get to the hospital earlier rather than later because she's already at 4cm (which was a big surprise - but it's no guarantee the baby is coming anytime soon - she could stay that way for a couple of weeks.)

We're hoping you're right about it not being bad as people say. It's kind of annoying not to know what's going to happen...
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