As a relatively new mother of one, I won't be the first (and certainly not the last) to tell you that when it comes to having a baby, nothing can duplicate the actual experience (not that you'd really want a dry run of labor anyway!). However, a little education can go a long way in boosting your confidence and dispelling the many myths about Labor Day.
That's where childbirth classes come in: They're as close as you're going to get to giving birth, so it's well worth your while to attend. Most moms-to-be opt for classes at their ob-gyn's hospital of choice, and some take private sessions run by independent educators. But every student will leave class wiser (and perhaps a bit queasier), better prepared for the big day ahead -- moms and dads alike.
This was true for Gary Weisserman of Royal Oak, Michigan. "I needed the information for my own peace of mind. I can't even imagine, for instance, if I had gone in blind and then found that the ob-gyn is only in there for the last few minutes. I would've been going crazy!" says Weisserman. Though the class is a big time commitment, it's one of the most interesting courses you'll ever take, and everyone gets the best grade of all -- a beautiful new baby.
Around the seventh month of pregnancy, it's time to grab your pencils, books -- and your partner -- and start class. Most hospital courses run about two hours per class for four to six weeks. There are also weekend classes that compress all the information into two days. Classes cost about $60 to $100. You'll share your class with 10 to 15 couples or more, depending on your particular hospital. Fortunately, most of them will be first-time parents, so you won't have to worry about any know-it-alls shouting out the answers.
These courses are usually taught by someone who experiences birth every day: a labor-and-delivery nurse who's certified in childbirth education. If a hospital instructor isn't an RN, she's almost always a certified childbirth educator. And chances are, she's thrilled to educate you about this momentous event -- not just lecture you on biology.
"Anyone who is teaching these classes got into it for her love of birth, women, and children," says Connie Kishbaugh, president of the International Childbirth Education Association (ICEA). By the end of my own class, my teacher had gotten me so excited that I wanted to have the baby that day.