As First-time Mom, You Need Answers, Support

Birthing classes, tours cover labor, delivery and beyond

Information and support: That’s what most first-time moms want. You want to know you have the skills to take on parenthood.

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Babies don’t come with an owner’s manual, so many moms-to-be take childbirth education classes as part of their birthing experiences. They want to replace rumors with facts and concerns with competence.

Preparing moms-to-be

Cleveland Clinic perinatal educator Karen Spreng, a registered nurse and Lamaze-certified childbirth educator, says taking childbirth classes helps pregnant women feel more confident for labor and birth. It also makes them familiar with newborn care, including the benefits of skin-to-skin contact, early breastfeeding and rooming in — which means babies stay in mommies’ rooms instead of the hospital nursery.

“We give our pregnant moms and their labor partners knowledge, confidence and practice of labor coping skills during childbirth classes,” says Ms. Spreng, who leads childbirth classes and Birthing Center tours at Fairview Hospital. “We talk about what to expect physically and emotionally — in the hospital and once they get home.”

Practical tips boost confidence

The classes and tours are designed around useful suggestions and social support:

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  • During your last week of pregnancy, pack your own pillow in your go-to-hospital luggage. Its scent brings comfort to the new mom, especially during labor.
  • Make sure the labor coach packs food for himself or herself to have at hand during your labor.
  • Know how to install the car seat before the baby’s delivery.
  • Line up caregivers, and ask those who offer to prepare meals for when you and the baby go home.
  • Choose the baby’s pediatrician before delivery; newborns usually have their first doctor’s visit within two weeks after birth.

Helpful hospital walk-through

During tours, expectant moms and their labor coaches explore the hospital and see:

  • The drop-off location in case they arrive in active labor
  • Safety and security measures in place, including bracelet bands secured to baby, mom and the labor coach which are only removed when the newborn goes home
  • Check-in and 24-hour visiting procedures
  • Labor-Delivery-Recovery rooms and comfort measures offered during labor
  • Operating rooms, in case you need a cesarean (C-section) delivery
  • Postpartum units where mommy and baby – and labor coach – can room together
  • The hospital holds the Baby Friendly designation from Baby-Friendly USA for its breastfeeding support efforts.

Rethinking at-home plans

New mom Nicole Herbst, who delivered her daughter Violet on March 4 by cesarean section, said she learned a lot from the Fairview tour and classes. Seeing the postpartum rooms and knowing how long she could stay in the hospital – 48 hours after a vaginal delivery or three to four days after a cesarean birth – helped Ms. Herbst rethink her at-home plans.

Ms. Spreng says most new moms and their partners have enough adrenaline to function for a few days with little sleep and fluctuating routines. By Day 5, though, she advises that a grandparent or trusted person be enlisted to help out.

“The class helped us rethink our birth plan,” Ms. Herbst said. “We were going to ask the grandparents to come two weeks after the birth.” She also accepted friends’ offers to bring meals once she learned more about postpartum from the class.

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Planning ahead calms worries

Ms. Herbst, 40, had difficulty conceiving, went through fertility treatments and had several miscarriages. The fact that Fairview Hospital delivers nearly 4,600 babies annually and houses a Level III Neonatal Intensive Care Unit was reassuring to Ms. Herbst and her husband, Rob.

Also, she liked the fact that the six weeks of childbirth preparation classes covered her postpartum worries, such as how to manage self-care and pet and household chores.

“I want to know that I’m doing the right things to take care of my baby and me,” Ms. Herbst says. “Taking classes has helped me plan ahead and ask for the help I need.”

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