Childbirth Classes can be the start of an empowered journey into parenthood. While some hospital classes might be sufficient, they rarely compare with independent classes.....Taught by people who don't benefit from you being easy to manage.
You and your partner deserve to know what to expect and what your choices are. This is an opportunity to learn and discuss what your proiorties are. There will be time during your labor when you can't speak for yourself, so your partner needs to be clear on your choices regarding pain relief, cord clamping, skin to skin contact, etc.
Monmouth County residents are fortunate to have many amazing Childbirth Class Resources.
Bend and Blossom offers Hypnobirthing Classes in Rumson.
Birth, Babies and Beyond offers classes in Tinton Falls.
Natural Beginnings NJ offers classes in Spring Lake.
Your Best Birth offers classes in Red Bank.
Mother to Mother offers private classes.
If for any reason you can't take a childbirth class, there are alternatives. Read Gentle Birth Choices by Barabara Harper, Ina May's Guide to Childbirth by Ina May Gaskin, and watch The Business of Being Born.
Once you've prepared yourself for the hours of labor, take some time to prepare yourself for the days and weeks of the fourth trimester!
"Motherhood is a role where we expect perfection....And yet, often do it in isolation." --Ina May Gaskin
Support and resources for mothers are booming in Monmouth County. Get out there and connect with other mothers! You'll feel better and your baby will thank you!
Mother Support Groups in Monmouth County:
New Moms Network at Jersey Shore University Medical Center. Call for info: 732.776-4281 Free Support Group For All New Mothers.
Jersey Shore Dar a Luz Network. Meets 3rd Weds. 6:30pm in Manasquan. Free Support Group for All Mothers/Pregnant Women. www.jerseyshoredaraluz.blogspot.com
Accepting the Unexpected. Meets 1st Saturday 9:30-11:30am in Manasquan. Free Supportive Space to Share Birth Stories. Contact Rebecca at 973-876-4283 prior to attending. Natural Beginnings NJ.
ICAN of Monmouth County. Cesarean Awareness Network. Meets monthly in Manalapan. ICAN NJ
Mother to Mother Support Group. Meets Mondays 11-12:30pm in Long Branch. Free. To register, call 732. 923-6990. Monmouth Medical
Breastfeeding Support Groups in Monmouth County:
Bosom Buddies. Free Group meeting Wednesdays 11-12:30 in Colts Neck. Bosom Buddies
La Leche League. Free Group meeting in Wall and Freehold. La Leche League NJ
Milk Mama Cafe. Free Group meeting in Spring Lake. Thursdays 9:30-11am. Natural Beginnings NJ.
If you know of a mother support group in Monmouth County that I missed, please comment and share! There are many fitness and mommy & me classes available, too.
A very close friend is expecting her first baby....Here is my advice.
Dear Sweet Friend,
I know you will make the best choices for you and your baby--she/he picked you for a reason! The right birth for you is whatever works.
STEP 1: Be EDUCATED!
Be an informed consumer. Do your research before the 3rd trimester. Know the risks to unnecessary ultrasounds, induction, early cord clamping,etc. At minimum, watch The Business of Being Born
Read: Gentle Birth Choices by Barbra Harper OR
Ina May's Guide to Childbirth by Ina May Gaskin
I can give you a few more resources, but these are ESSENTIAL!
STEP 2: Take care of YOURSELF!
The best thing you can give your baby is a happy, healthy mama. Make time to do things that truly make you feel good. Get a foot massage. Do yoga. Walk outside. Watch movies that make you laugh. (If you must watch baby/birth things on TV, please try to view some empowering natural birth videos, too! Subconscious cultural programming about fear/pain is a lot to overcome.)
Consider seeing a chiropractor. This can help the baby's position, your balance/coordination, etc. If you're totally freaked out by it, skip it.
STEP 3: CHOOSE your provider.
Ideally, you've selected an OB/GYN or Midwife who doesn't do routine episiotomies, inductions, and has a low c-section rate....It's never too late to switch to a provider who supports your choices and knows how to help you achieve the birth you want.
STEP 4: Assemble your support team.
Help your partner prepare. He should hopefully watch/read the minimum resources AND read Natural Childbirth the Bradley Way. (That would be book #3 on the must-read list. There are some great counter pressure techniques in there!)
Consider a Birth/Labor Doula. A good doula can help you navigate hospital procedures and use comfort measures and positions to ease labor, and be a consistent calming presence for you both. At minimum, make sure all present at your birth make you feel calm, secure and believe in your judgement.
STEP 5: Prepare to surrender.
Once you've done your homework, let your baby do the rest. Babies know when they are ready and will initiate labor. Relax, relax, relax. Your body knows what to do. (just as your mother's, grandmother's, and great-grandmother's did!)
Labor at home as long as you can. (you'll labor more efficiently and have less disruptions there!)
I will love and support your choices--be it an epidural, induction, etc. I don't presume to know what will be the best birth for you and your baby. My wish for you is a birth that makes you feel empowered as a woman and a mother. If you make informed choices in your care, feel like your voice was heard, your desires honored in the birth, you'll treasure the journey....And begin the 4th Trimester in a position of strength.
Hugs & excitement for you!!!
If YOU have any advice, resources, or things you think I missed, please comment below!
Postpartum Doula, Breastfeeding Counselor, Mother of Three.