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My OB had already told me I’d be having a C-section next month, and yet there I was that night, dutifully seated with my husband at our little two-person table in a room full of other pregnant couples in a labor and delivery class.
We learned how to sit on the birthing ball, how to practice breathing patterns, and what it felt like to push—all while my daughter sat (literally) breech inside me, her small head pushing into my diaphragm. When asked by the other moms-to-be about my due date, I always ended up disclosing my impending surgical delivery, giving an uncomfortable smile when they would look at me in confusion.
“What are you doing here, then?” They’d ask.
But here’s the thing. When the time came to be wheeled into the operating room, I realized just how beneficial those classes were. Here’s why I took a childbirth class when I knew I was going to have a C-section:
It was more than just about giving birth. I was encouraged to advocate for myself in regards to visitors, how the variety of pain medications could affect me, and how my stay would look as I recovered in the hospital. It was also the place where we were able to craft our birth plans. And let’s be honest, regardless whether I had a C-section or vaginal birth, my body was going to go through a ton of changes. Simply knowing what was going on within my body and being given the language to speak up for myself helped ease my anxiety about having the surgery.
It was empowering. After spending years trying to conceive before finally falling pregnant, so much of my journey to motherhood was out of my control. When I realized I wasn’t even going to have the type of birth I had envisioned, taking childbirth classes allowed me to take back some of that control. I couldn’t change how my baby was positioned inside me or the fact that the hospital wouldn’t risk a breech delivery, but I could educate myself as much as possible before my hospital stay.
C-sections demand an incredible amount of relaxation. Major abdominal surgery terrified me. The day of my daughter’s birth, I stared up at the ceiling, the lights too bright and the anesthesiologist hovering over me, speaking softly. Then, I slowly, deliberately, began counting to twenty—one of my favorite breathing techniques I learned in my class—to calm my anxiety about being cut open. After a while, I felt my heart rate slow and the tremble leave my fingers. I was able to focus on the doctor’s voice as she announced my daughter’s entry into the world.
The bond created with my husband. He’s always been my foundation and voice of reason, but going through a class on giving birth to our child connected us in entirely new ways. Throughout the whole surgery, he held my hand and coached me through the breathing we had practiced earlier, keeping me grounded as we waited for our baby’s arrival.
So as awkward as it was at times, I don’t regret sitting in that childbirth class. Birth can be a scary thing, and any control I could have over my daughter’s delivery empowered me to work through my fears and have the best experience possible. Even if I didn’t ever get to bounce on that damn birthing ball.