7 Ways I Failed My Birthing Class

Like many terrified women pregnant with twins, I signed up for my local hospital’s “Preparing for Multiples” birthing class. It promised to take me through everything I needed to know about being pregnant with multiples, giving birth to multiples, and caring for newborns. I came ready to learn with pen in hand and reluctant husband in tow.  It turned out, however, that not unlike every single class I have ever taken in my life, I am a terrible student.

Those lovely instructors tried their hardest, but I happen to be highly skilled at ignoring the things that people say are best for me and just doing it my own way. At the spur of the moment. Without much planning. My only goal in this whole “giving birth to twins” thing was for everybody to still be alive at the end of it. And I was pretty sure I could do that and still eat many donuts. Which leads me to number one:

1. Maintain a sensible nutrition plan = FAIL

I have been on a diet for most of my life. Now I was pregnant, with twins, being told that I needed to put on 35 to 45 pounds. It was freeing. Specifically, it was freeing bavarian cream donuts. Because I had nine months in which I was expected to gain weight, and kale just wasn’t going to happen.

2. Taking care of baby dolls = FAIL

During one of our classes, each couple was given two baby dolls and told to take them with us on our dinner breaks so we could see what it was like to have two babies. First of all, get the fuck out of here. Second of all, I knew even then that baby dolls were a bullshit comparison to real babies. So my husband and I left them in the classroom. On the table. Because we’re monsters.

3. Learn how to swaddle = FAIL

You know those people who require directions like this: “Now take your right hand…no, your right…wait, other hand…no, the first hand…oh Jesus never mind.” I am those people.

4. Vaginal deliveries are totally possible with twins = FAIL

When I was admitted to the hospital to be induced, one of my babies was head down, and the other one was breach. I was given the option of trying to give birth vaginally or having a c-section. I thought for a moment and considered the stories I had heard from other women about having a doctor stick their arm halfway up their vagina to turn their breech babies and pull them out. Long story short, I chose a c-section. I know, I’m part of the problem, Ricki Lake documentary, yadda yadda yadda. I’m also not familiar with the feeling of having an elbow in my uterus, so I’m pretty comfortable with my decision.

5. Breastfeeding twins is a wonderful thing = FAIL

Oh boy did we talk a lot about breastfeeding twins. A lot a lot. Guess who learned that they had flat nipples and was willing to trade breastfeeding for an extra 45 minutes of sleep? This formula-feeding bitch right here..

6. Listen to parents who said, “sleep now” = FAIL

One thing all of those tired, miserable people said to us was “sleep now.” Oh, we had a good-natured chuckle about it. What I should have done was get into bed and never get out until forced to by nature. Instead, I stayed awake during the day and giggled about insomnia. I was a fool.

7. Make a detailed birth plan = FAIL

Our instructors were very serious about the importance of having a birth plan. They handed out packets of paper that had questions like, “Do you want the door open or closed?” “Do you want the lights dimmed?” “Do you want your doctors to discuss only birth-related topics?” My husband and I skipped to the end and wrote, “We want everybody to live.” Mission accomplished.

(photo: ChameleonsEye / Shutterstock)

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  • ted3553

    I didn’t have twins, thank goodness, but I have 2 sets of friends that did and from what i’ve heard, I think your strategy of just trying to keep everyone alive sounds like the best and only strategy with twins.

    • rockmonster

      Isn’t it the best strategy with any birth?

    • Lilly

      there were times during birth that if my husband hadn’t survived I would have been ok with that. The next few days though he seriously redeemed himself what with the cooking of food.

  • aCongaLine

    We sat through the class, but our general feeling was “F*ck this shit.”

    I only know one woman who has had twins vaginally… and she says that it’s only because they happened to be both head down when her water broke, and that it traumatized her to give birth again after just having given birth 13 minutes prior.


  • Katherine Handcock

    Pretty well all birth plans should start with “We want everybody to live.” Everything else is nice, and I think it’s worthwhile to think about, but you never know what will happen. Here I’m thinking of my lovely labour bag that I packed with music, snacks for Sean, massage oil, my robe…which I never opened because my labour was so freaking short. Which I know sounds awesome, but trust me, it also has its downsides.

    Also, considering I seriously considered punching the nurse who grabbed my hand during my first labour, the first thing on my birth plan for my second baby probably should have been “Approach at your own risk.”

    • aheb

      I’m with you on the short labor. I packed every possible thing on those damn lists and wound up using a hair tie. I didn’t even get pictures of my son getting weighed and all that jazz because the camera was still in the car. And yeah, I wouldn’t trade it for a 30 hour labor or anything, but going from 3 cm to pushing in an hour is not easy on a body.

  • shm

    We skipped ours and took a photography glass on photographing kids with you DSLR instead. I figured he was coming out no matter if I took the class or not and he sure did.

  • http://wtfihaveakid.blogspot.ca/ jendra_berri

    Yeah! Babies out in an simplified matter, fed as efficiently as possible and not wasting the last months of your life lugging around dolls when you could be eating more doughtnuts! I salute you.

  • Spongeworthy

    We took a birthing class…and ended up needing exactly none of it. I never went into labor and ended up with a (somewhat) scheduled c-section. Oh well. I didn’t need that money anyway.

    • js argh

      We did ours online. I think that was the best for us, because we could openly mock the gag-worthiest material. Usually while actually watching Dexter or something.

      Also, I remember the nurse asking if we had a birth plan, and I laughed and told her my only plan was to get an epidural ASAP.

    • Spongeworthy

      You did yours online?? I’m jealous!
      Ditto on the birth plan. Only item was to get the baby out safely. I didn’t need to write that one down–I was able to memorize it ;)

  • Nica

    My own OBSTETRICIAN pretty much told me to skip the class (though not in so many words). We talked about the birth experience I was looking for and the best ways to make that happen. It was successful for me…twice.

  • AP

    So I havent’ ever taken a birthing/childcare class, but here’s something I’ve learned from taking lots of classes on various topics.

    If you are halfway intelligent (ex: you are capable of turning on your computer, navigating to Mommyish, comprehending the article, and writing a coherent comment) you will not learn anything in 95% of classes that you couldn’t have taught yourself on your own after a few hours in the library/on the internet.

    The 5% of classes where you can learn something new are usually ones that involve someone observing you do something and giving you specific feedback on how to improve, or ones where you had to pay for the instructor in order to get access to play with an rare, expensive, and/or dangerous toy (glassblowing, beekeeping.)

  • Lackadaisical

    Thank you for that. I wish you had been in my antenatal class all those years ago because you would have turned listening to a humourless and self congratulatory try to shame us into giving birth and raising babies as apes would into fun and giggles.

  • alexesq33

    “Guess who learned that they had flat nipples and was willing to trade breastfeeding for an extra 45 minutes of sleep? This formula-feeding bitch right here..”

    THIS! love you!! No one mentions how that breastfeeding schedule works with multiples – pump one hour prior to feeding to stimulate the milk production. Nurse each baby for approx. 30 minutes – and do this every 3 hours. That leaves 1 hour in between all this fun to clean your pump/nipple shields and store your milk and oh yea – fucking SLEEP. How anyone can produce milk under these circumstances is amazing to me. I couldn’t.

  • Kayla

    Ah the childbirth class was such a waste of time. Basically our ultimately goal was same as yours. I don’t understand these birth plans. This one woman in our class was so concerned about breast feeding and the rate of c sections at this particular hospital. I kinda wanted to smack her and also be like then why are you having your baby at this hospital if you feel this way.

    • Kelly

      You could try being a little more empathetic. Like, maybe her preferred provider only delivered at that hospital, or her insurance only covered births at that hospital. It’s okay to have goals–it’s okay for breastfeeding or vaginal birth to be important. Maybe they aren’t to you–and that’s cool too–but FFS why make someone else the target of your anger for asking questions about things that matter to them?

    • Bleu Cheese Bewbs

      Exactly. Our insurance only covered birth at ONE freaking hospital. We either had to deliver there, or pay out of pocket to deliver somewhere else.

    • Bleu Cheese Bewbs

      So you were annoyed that someone was making informed healthcare decisions?

    • whiteroses

      My ultimate goal was to get both me and my son through labor alive. I didn’t care about much beyond that. But asking about breastfeeding and c section rates in the hospital is not the same as asking if the cafeteria serves organic food.

  • Kelli

    I wish I had had a birthing class for multiples, but after having a singleton, I figured I knew the routine!! I had an emergency section with my oldest so I didn’t even contemplate trying to birth two on my own!! As soon as I had the option, I signed up for the c-section. I also never contemplated breastfeeding 2! I opted for formula feeding the minute I found out it was twins, I just couldn’t mentally wrap my head around trying to feed two all by myself all the time!! THerefore not a preparying for twins fail, it was a preparing for twins conscience decision process!!! Twins are hard y’all!!

  • Meg13

    I wish we had a multiples birthing class, we just had the regular one and we were the only ones pregnant with twins in it so the instructor kept making comments about it (like “oh, you’ll have to try this a different way” or “but do it twice”). It was annoying. Mine were also head down and breech and as soon as the dr explained breech extraction I opted for the C-section and have never regretted it :)

  • ELynn

    Best thing our birthing class instructor said was “any birth that results in a healthy mom and healthy baby(babies) is a perfect birth”. Who cares how you get there if you’re all alive at the end.

  • AnotherMel

    Both my twins were head down and I opted for a C because baby A’s head was significantly smaller than Baby B’s and I was basically told that the probability of an emergency C for the second was high. Who is their right mind wants to have a vaginal deliver followed by a C? I already had one son delivered vaginally – been there, done that & didn’t ever need to do it again. My recovery the with the twins was actually easier than with my first.

    In terms of breast-feeding twins…Nope. Just no.

    A birth plan is a nice idea, but birth rarely goes the way you expect even with one. And as long as everyone is alive at the end – then you did GREAT!

  • Gangle

    I didn’t mind the antenatal class I took. They went through all the pain management strategies, medicated and non-medicated and what they involved and how they are performed etc. They also went through the different birthing procedures and possible interventions etc which was great because I had more intervention than was anticipated, so at the last minute when they started hooking me up to stuff I knew what it was all for and didn’t freak out even though it was a bit of a shock. I had a rough idea of a birth plan which was: Baby alive and healthy, me alive and healthy and for it to not be too painful – in that order of importance. I think I had some vague ideas of trying for an unmedicated vaginal birth, but because I didn’t know what it was going to be like (I’d never had a baby before) and because stuff can (and did) happen I was ok with that bit getting chucked out the window. I think there was other stuff in the antenatal class, but my husband and I got bored so we sneaked out and went for coffee and cake instead.