I’ll admit that I was freaked out that something called the “Blossoming Bellies” birthing class was going to end up like an episode of Portlandia–all water birth videos and olive-oil-on-your-nethers talk.
But I’d nevertheless decided to fork over the $205 for certified doula (and nursing consultant) Brittany McCollum’s class anyway, for several reasons: First, Brittany is pretty popular in the Philly mom-world, having taught classes everywhere from the very cool Cloth to Mama’s Wellness Joint. Second, her birthing class was offered in our neighborhood, and convenience counts a lot during pregnancy. Third, I was worried that the hospital’s standard birthing class would feel too … well, hospital. (So for those playing at home: Scared of anything too granola, scared of anything too medical. I’m easy!)
Anyway, my visions of patchouli and group chanting were unfounded. Brittany covers all the very sensible stuff: pain management techniques; ways to avoid an unnecessary C-section; ideas for how one might keep drugs out of the process, or at least at bay as long as possible (should that be a goal of yours); the best times to take the drugs (should that be a goal of yours); letting your body’s natural instincts help you deliver the baby; and–maybe most importantly–what to expect in every stage of labor, right down to the sounds you might make in each. The last bit is especially enlightening if you, like I, had mostly been envisioning your labor as a scene from a Hollywood rom-com. (What? You say birth isn’t directed by Judd Apatow? Huh.) All of this is imparted in a group class that meets for a couple hours once a week for three weeks — though Brittany also does private sessions, if a group dynamic isn’t your thing.
I’d like to be able to tell you that I deployed all of Brittany’s techniques and wisdom during labor; alas, our little nugget turned his fool self breech before I gave birth, which meant a C-section, which meant I didn’t get to test out our brand new birthing ball or my bad-ass birthing stamina or most of the cool stuff we learned in class.
I can tell you that pre-birth, I still turned to Brittany for support and ideas about how to turn the baby when we got the breech news. I can also tell you that throughout the class and after, there was zero judgement about anybody’s questions, plans, wishes, and so forth — she veers pro-natural birth for sure, but mostly she comes off pro-mama, which was immensely empowering and reassuring. So we got that, plus all sort of insights into the miracle of birth (and the bodily fluids entailed in said miracle). What more can a parent want?