When my mom first got pregnant more than three decades ago, she relied on what her mom knew and what other women who had given birth shared with her. Since she didn’t have the internet at her disposal, information was scarce. Back then, birthing classes didn’t exist -- and if they did, not everyone knew about them or was encouraged to give it a try. Fortunately, these days, there’s a score of these classes to choose from.
My husband and I chose to attend the Prepared Childbirth Class (PCC) hosted by childbirth educator Chiqui Brosas-Hahn. It suited our schedule, and tackled the topics we were interested to learn. Chiqui was trained in the U.S. and has been doing this for 25 years. In fact, she has already conducted over 500 birthing classes. If you’re pregnant and you’re considering attending one, here’s what you should know.
1. A PCC covers not just pregnancy- and labor-related subjects, but also topics beyond childbirth. Although it’s pretty much a crash course on childbirth, you can learn much more especially if you and your partner intently listened. Chiqui walked us through the anatomy of a pregnant woman’s body, pregnancy exercises, relaxation techniques, hospital procedures on childbirth, birth plans (super important!), stages of labor, breathing techniques, roles of the husband or coach (as he is referred to in PCC), medical tests, caring for a newborn, breastfeeding, and even safe sleeping for infants. It covers a combination of Bradley and Lamaze methods.
2. You should be at least six months pregnant when you take the class. When I inquired about PCC, one of the first things Chiqui asked was how far along was my pregnancy. I was still in my first trimester back then, so she told me to wait until at least the sixth month. She said it’s the recommended stage for a birthing class when miscarriage is less likely to happen. There’s also still enough time to learn about nutrition and exercises that will benefit the pregnancy.
3. Both moms- and dads-to-be are encouraged to attend. Next to the baby, of course, the mom is the star of the whole childbirth process. But in PCC, the dad is also given due importance. It emphasizes his role as a partner and a fellow caregiver, the coach. His responsibility doesn’t end with just filling out forms in the hospital. He helps the mom pull through the aches and pains of pregnancy, the intense labor, and the challenges of childcare. The class aims to empower both the mom and the dad. My husband, who has always been squeamish at the sight of blood, says that he now has the courage to be with me in the delivery room. I’ll have to wait and see if that’s really the case, but at least I know that he feels up to the task.
4. The class is usually done over a series of four Sundays or Saturdays. It’s broken down into four sessions, with each one lasting around four hours. In our case, however, it was a special two-day (one weekend) class to accommodate Chiqui's schedule. Nevertheless, we were able to cover all the topics outlined in the syllabus. A bonus that probably other classes don’t have is that Chiqui allows former students to attend other sessions free of charge in case you feel the need to refresh your memory.
5. Clueless moms and dads are welcome. Even if I have been reading up on all things pregnancy over the past few months, I still didn’t understand some topics like the stages of labor. Clicking on link after link of online articles about pregnancy overwhelmed me. In this birthing class, the information was presented logically so we could process what we’ve learned. We came in with just a working knowledge about the subject, and we still didn’t get lost in the discussions. My husband found particularly interesting the anatomy of a pregnant woman’s body and how it makes room for a baby. He said it made him fully understand and appreciate the childbirth process.
6. Sharing your pregnancy journey is encouraged, but is not required. At the beginning of the class, Chiqui asked each of us how many months our baby is, the name of our doctor, and the hospital where we’re planning to give birth. Later on, she requested the husbands/partners to share what they think changed in their wives. It was a quick way to break the ice and have a few laughs, but it also showed us that all of us in the class were going through the same things.
7. Your certificate can grant you access to the Lamaze room. If you are going for a Lamaze birth, most hospitals would require a certificate to allow the use of the Lamaze room. Chiqui issues a PCC certificate at the end of the last session, which you can present to the hospital.
To be honest, I still have questions that will probably not be answered until I give birth. I’ll just have to trust my maternal instincts. But I now rest easy, knowing that I have done my part in preparing for the coming of my baby. It helps that I can now tell the signs of labor, too.
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The course fee for the Prepared Childbirth Class is P5,000 per couple. You can get more information about it at chiquibrosas.blogspot.com.
Stephanie is the managing editor of Top Gear Philippines. She and her husband are expecting their first child, a baby girl, this December.