Everything you need to know about the final stages of pregnancy and the first days of being a parent can ably be covered in just eight short hours, which Sarah and I discovered last week as we wrapped up a three-night first-time parents classes offered by CHI St. Joseph’s Health.
During the sessions, we received a crash course in everything new parents may want or need to know about babies, giving birth and the first few weeks of being mom and dad.
These used to be called lamaze classes because they focused on teaching breathing techniques that can help a woman during childbirth.
Today, there’s very little of that involved. Instead, the classes are a combination human anatomy refresher course, birthing and parenting class, and simple dos and don’ts. There are countless sets of tips for both women and men on how to keep their sanity during the often excruciatingly long and sometimes complicated birthing process, as well as for after you bring baby home.
Unlike some classes I’ve taken, I can honestly say I walked away having learned something thanks to our instructor, St. Joseph’s registered nurse Kammy Tschetter, covering a lot of ground in fun and easy-to-learn ways.
I remembered much of the nuts-and-bolts science behind pregnancy from high school anatomy class, but the little things you learn in the childbirth and parenting classes — like how the uterus shrinks after giving birth, the science behind epidurals and how much a baby’s head actually squeezes in order to fi t through the pelvis on his or her way into the world — made attending worthwhile.
Guys, be warned: the classes aren’t geared toward you. Mostly, they’re for the ladies. There’s a lot of reassurance that everything happening and everything that’s about to happen to their bodies is perfectly natural and normal. But, just like childbirth, it’s good to be there for support, and you’re bound to learn something you’d never even thought about before.
I was pleased to learn more about issues that can arise during childbirth and immediately after, and how much of what seems scary is actually very normal.
Without a doubt, the most jarring moment of the class — at least to some because it didn’t bother me a bit — was the video featuring a woman actually giving actual birth.
I glanced at Sarah and then looked around the room. Sarah’s eyes were big and she shot me one of those, I-can’t-believe-that’s-going-to-happen-to-me looks. Contrary to what Kammy said has happened in previous classes, no one looked away, but there were definitely some shocked looks on the faces of both women and men in the room.
One theme impressed upon both the women and men in the class is that childbirth is painful, but worth it. It could last a few hours or it could take a couple days, but all that matters is getting through it healthy and together.
Above all, the class helped me gain a greater respect for the female anatomy and more of an appreciation for what my wife is going through, even if I’m ready for this pregnancy stuff to be done as we enter the final month.
The doctors tell Sarah she’s due in mid-September (maybe sooner). It’s time that seems to be flying by fast.
Before we know it, the little guy will be here — healthy and happy, we hope and pray — and pregnancy will be nothing but a memory … at least for a couple years.