Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Prenatal Class 1

Prenatal 1 Class

My husband asked me why I posted some things about pregnancy and why the posts had to be so long.  I replied, “Because it might help someone else who is Googling the experience.”  I guess that’s my warning, this will be a long post :)

I signed us up for three prenatal classes that our hospital offers at no charge.  We had to take the ones in January, because otherwise they don’t start again until late February and that would be too close to our due date.

Unfortunately, the prenatal classes are only offered on Tuesday nights from 7-9.   This isn’t good, because my husband works 12 hours on Tuesdays and he has another 12-hour workday on Wednesdays.  I wondered how Greg would handle this and totally understood if he ended up falling asleep in the class or refused to go, even though I really wanted him to be there.

After the class, Greg made me feel really good when he said he was glad he went and that it was very informative.

The instructor used a projector with a mixture of slides and short videos to explain the various stages of childbirth.  The first stage being the longest: Early Labor (onset of labor to cervix dilating to 3cm,  8-12 hours), Active Labor (3cm to 7cm, 3-5 hours) and Transition (7cm until fully dilated at 10cm, 30 min to 2 hours, hardest but shortest phase).

I liked how the nurse gave examples of pregnancy stories.  For instance, for one delivery, the woman was in early labor and only dilated to 2 cm.  A couple hours later, the nurse told the woman she was still only 2 cm dilated.  A couple hours later, the woman was again told, only 2 cm dilated.  This was frustrating for the mother, until the nurse explained that each time, the cervix was stretching and getting thinner.  This is called effacement and it goes from 0 percent to 100 percent.  The nurse also explained that for a first-time mom, often the woman wouldn’t dilate much until after 100 percent effacement.  So, though the hours went by with no change in 2 cm, the effacement went from 0-100 percent.

The nurse advised parents to stay home as long as they could through the early labor.  To not go to the hospital until the contractions, from beginning of one contraction to the beginning of another contraction was 3 minutes apart, that the duration of each contraction was 1 minute and that this was happening consistently for an hour.

I also liked that the nurse didn't call Braxton Hicks "false labor."  She said that Braxton Hicks are labor, but not early or active labor.  It can occur as early as 20 weeks pregnant and is the body's way of preparing for active labor in the future.

Greg mentioned later that it was interesting to learn about the mucus plug, but I think he called it the snot plug.  Lol.  It’s what blocks the opening of the cervix to prevent bacteria from entering the uterus.  Before labor, the plug is released.. a sign that the woman’s body is getting ready for birth.

The nurse showed a video of a woman giving childbirth.  Greg later told me, “I could tell you were tense about watching it.”  When the video was over, the nurse said, “What did you think of the video?”  Greg, being the man that he is, declared, “I’m exhausted!”  Everyone laughed.

I did notice that at this point, the people asking the questions were men.  I think it was because all of the women were still terrified over the video.  Lol.  But honestly, it was well made and informative.

One of the guys raised his hand and said, “I’m a first time dad and what I’m getting from this is that there’s no clear way of knowing when to bring your wife to the hospital.  I just don’t want to be on the 5 o’clock news delivering my baby in the car!”

The nurse replied, “I’ve been at this job for 16 years and in that time, I’ve only had to deliver two babies on the ramp to the emergency room.  Labor takes time.”

Questions were asked about due dates and the nurse said, “We will not induce labor before 39 weeks and even at 39 weeks, only if it is with a medical reason.  There is a cut off, though, that after 41 weeks, we will induce labor, but that’s a southern region thing.”

Greg asked, “Why is it a regional issue?”

The nurse said, “Northern states will allow the woman to continue into her pregnancy for 43-45 weeks to have her birth natural, rather than to induce.  Southern states will induce at 41 weeks.”

Greg again questioned this and the nurse said, “Northern states have more facilities to better service natural childbirth.  We do the best that we can, but this is what we have to offer.”

Next week will involve further discussions of inducing labor and epidural.  I did ask the nurse if there’s a cut off time for when an epidural can be given.  She answered, “No, but it takes time to get the person to the room to administer the epidural and it takes 45 minutes to go into affect, so you don’t want to wait too long.  That being said, there was a situation where the mother had dilated to 10 cm, but her body was so tense after the contractions that she wasn’t allowing herself to relax enough to deliver the baby.  We ended up giving her an epidural at that point to relax her enough to deliver.”

One other thing that the nurse advised is, “Nobody has a crystal ball.  Each woman is unique.  Each baby is unique.  This makes each situation unique.  Nobody can predict how the delivery will go.” 

I love hearing the birth stories and reading about experiences, because it better prepares and educates me, but at the same time, the nurse made it clear that no woman has experienced every single type of birth that is in this world, because she isn’t you and she’s not delivering your baby. 

Women can relate about pregnancy, but if someone is constantly saying, “Well I had that” or “This is how this is” or “Don’t listen to anyone else” – learn what you can and ignore the holier than thou attitude.   Nobody is the instructor of your own body, other than you (and God :)

I’m so glad that we went to the prenatal class and I feel a lot better, knowing my husband is going to be there for us through this. 


Amanda said...

I've been reading A LOT of birth stories on blogs that I like and I can tell you I don't think I am made for a natural birth. I can't even handle a paper cut! My pain tolerance is terrible.....

I am glad that hospitals still offer classes like this and plan to take some when/if I become pregnant. The labor part scares me, but it doesn't last long and in the end I know it will be worth it!

Can't wait to hear more about your classes and the impending birth of your son, it's been very exciting!!!!

Megan said...

That class sounds SO interesting. And I'm glad everyone's asking so many questions, I'm curious too. How awesome your hospital offers that!

Candice said...

We also signed up for 3 prenatal classes. Unfortunately, we were only able to attend 2 of the classes before our little man decided to surprise us 3 weeks early!

Cheryl said...

It sounds like the instructor is very thorough. I took the classes 37 years ago when our daughter was born and felt like it prepared me to know more what was going on. I like the instructor's advice for you not to listen to others tell you how there deliveries went. My two pregnancies/deliveries were different from each other and my daughter's two were different from mine.

As for Greg...I am confident when the time comes he and you will know when to go to the hospital. But what if you arrive a little early. No harm done.

I think this is the most exciting wonderful thing for a family and you will be awed by the experience. Both of you.

I look forward to you posting about your experiences.

Kimberly said...

I'm glad you're going to the classes and taking information from them. Can't wait to follow your journey the rest of the way to meet your son!

Sorta Southern Single Mom said...

I'm glad you got so much out of the class. My sister's prenatal classes weren't nearly as helpful. She felt she got more useful information from her yoga instructor!

Jackie said...

I can tell you that it can be to late to get the epidural! I was in labor with my son and finally decided to get one because it was taking so long and I wanted to get some rest and they checked me and all that and told me it was to late & I'd be delivering any time.

I live in Michigan and most doctors I know don't let women go past 41/42 weeks... regardless... that is a really long time for a pregnant woman!