When deciding to have our baby at home, I was 80% sure we wouldn’t need a childbirth class. After talking with my midwives (the amazing ladies at Vivante Midwifery), I learned that a birth class is so much more about the entire experience for both Jimmy & I (not just about learning how to physically get the baby from the inside to the outside). I’ve seen many births in person, so I figured I knew enough. I realized Jimmy has never seen a birth, and he has absolutely no idea what to expect. So, with a wonderful referral, we decided to take The Yoga Way to Birth class with Emory Oeding. You can learn all about their mission & class structure over on their site. Over the course of the next couple months, I will be writing a review about our experience with the class. I’m purposely keeping the reviews about specific parts (or activities) pretty vague as I think the best way to experience this class is to take it yourself, and I don’t want to devalue what Emory is teaching us. I wasn’t asked to write this review, and the opinions expressed are my own!
CLASS ONE //
- Last night, we took the first class of our series. When we first walked in, I was comfortable, as the class is being taught in the same space as my prenatal yoga class. The room was empty (space for our yoga mats), except for an altar with candles & a few tools for the class … At first, we were both thinking, “How hippie-woo-woo is this going to be?!”. After meeting Emory, I was immediately put at ease by her warmth & positive attitude.
- The class started with some yoga … Honestly, I prefer my prenatal yoga, as the practice is very long, and the movements don’t feel rushed. BUT, this particular birth class isn’t meant to be a lengthy yoga class … it’s about birth! So, starting the class with a bit of yoga is nice. Enough to make you feel connected with your mat, and clear your mind.
- I enjoyed going around the room & learning about each of the other 5 couples. So fun to be around other people who are really close to our due date. Everyone seems really great! I was surprised that there’s only one other homebirth couple.
- We had a snack about 1/2 way through the class … Another chance to chat with our classmates.
- After our snack, we learned a bit about hormones & their role in the birth process. After, we did some focusing activities with ice. It was really interesting to learn what kind of coping mechanisms I prefer. Whether it’s moaning to distract my mind, or focusing directly on the parts of my body that are tense, I now know how my mind processes uncomfortable sensations, and how I can actively keep them from being overwhelming.
- Aside from group activities, we had a few chances to chat one-on-one with each other. We stated our intentions and communicated about what kinds of pieces we found most useful from our activities.
- OVERALL :: I really liked this class. I was embarrassed during the ‘moaning’ activity, I even giggled a bit. It’s just me being uncomfortable in front of groups of people, and I’m sure it’ll get way easier as the class goes on. I really appreciated the pace of the class, and how each section felt valuable & full of useful information. I’m really excited to look through the class workbook & read each section. And, by the way, it’s totally hippie-woo-woo, but in a really good way! In the same way that we’re having a home birth … It just feels very natural.
CLASS TWO //
- Class two was really comfortable. Since we didn’t need to learn the yoga routine, this time seemed way more fluid and effective at achieving relaxation.
- We did an activity with a partner (not our birth partner) … I have mixed feelings about this. I am a very introverted person, so I am not a big fan of partner or group activities with strangers. In fact, it makes me really uncomfortable. Granted, my activity partner isn’t a total stranger, as I had met him before, but still, it was just awkward. I guess I understand the value of meeting other people in the class, but we all have very different birth plans, so I would rather focus on Jimmy & I throughout the class.
- I absolutely loved learning different birthing positions, and ways that Jimmy can help to relieve my discomfort. It was great.
- OVERALL :: It was good. Again, I really liked working with J to find positions that we could use during labor. It was really lovely, and it got me even more excited for the birth.
CLASS THREE //
- We spent some time talking about our expectations during labor … if they were expectations based in fear, we talked about where the ideas were coming from (and if they were actually fact (or imagined)).
- We watched a home birth video. Even though it was described as “rough”, I thought it looked pretty awesome. The woman was able to labor in her hot tub, outside. That would be really great … It was great to watch a birth.
- We split into two group (girls and guys), and talked about how we wanted to be supported during labor. Of course, me being the introvert I am, I said I wanted to be left alone with Jimmy. Ha. I don’t really want to be touched (other than by him), and I just want everyone to go off of the cues my body is giving off. It let me think a lot about the environment (lighting, aromatherapy, music, etc.), which was really nice.
- We talked further about relaxation techniques. Loved this!
- We placed a little treasure on the altar. We chose a piece of driftwood from Secret Beach. It’s a place that we’ve gained so much clarity. It meant a lot to allow that to be the thing that represents Baby & our journey towards parenthood.
- OVERALL :: This was my favorite class, so far. I just really liked the pace, and the content. I liked that we’re getting to know our classmates, and that it’s more comfortable.
CLASS FOUR //
- This class was all about yoga & meditation.
- We would go through timed phases of yoga positions … This was to help us understand about how long each contraction would last. Both calming and scary.
- OVERALL :: I didn’t like this class as much, but it’s because I’m not a huge fan of overexerting myself. It was very useful, so I should put the lazy card away, and admit it was a wonderful class.
CLASS FIVE //
- This class was about bringing everything together.
- We did a mock labor exercise with the yoga poses we had learned from the previous class. Each couple chose a place to do the “labor”.
- This was the last class, so at the end, we did a few (beautiful) group activities.
- OVERALL :: I loved this class. We nearly missed it because we were celebrating our Anniversababymoon that weekend. I am so glad we made it! During the mock labor, I was in tears … just so very grateful for this experience (pregnancy, this class, the lovely couples we were spending our time with). It was very powerful. I loved our activity of removing our trinkets from the altar. It was so very powerful … everyone was crying as we shared our stories and reflected on our upcoming births.
We left the last class with full hearts. While we were hesitant to take a class at first, we were so happy we did. It was so wonderful to have at least one night outside of the house together. Now that Alba is here, I can honestly say that I utilized so many of the tools we were given from this class. Jim knew how to comfort me, and how to accept my directions (even though most of them didn’t include words). It made me feel more connected to my body, my partner, and my baby.
This month, we had our class reunion. It was so beautiful to meet all of the babies that were in the mama’s bellies. There was something magical about seeing the couples as parents. We’ve all made this wonderful transition into parenthood, and it was great to hear about their journeys.
If you are in Portland and looking for a birth class that focuses on preparing you for an unmedicated childbirth, I highly suggest the Yoga Way to Birth. Whether you’re interested in a home, birth center, or hospital birth, the tools & knowledge you’ll receive will be invaluable to your experience.
A big THANK YOU to Emory & Keely for being such wonderful teachers.