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November 02, 2005

Endorsement: Birth University

Now that we have gone through childbirth and the first two weeks of life with our son, I am ready to review the childbirth preparation / infant care classes that Mariah and I took back in August.

We spent $450 for two full-day classes at Sarah McMoyler's Birth University, and I have to say that it was money very well spent. I forget where I read that the only real fair price for something is what the customer is willing to pay for it (in other words, how much value it brings to the customer), and in this case I can say that the value Mariah and I received is much higher than what we paid.

In short: I am convinced that Mariah and I are much better parents than we would have been had we not taken the classes, and as a side effect our baby is a much calmer and happier baby than he would have been.

Disclaimer: I haven't taken any other Lamaze-style classes so I don't have any direct experience to compare Birth U. with, but I have talked to some friends about their experience with their classes and have read a bunch of pregnancy books, so take my opinion as you may.

The most important thing we walked out with is the breadth of knowledge about labor and delivery and infant care. Nothing that happened in the hospital surprised us, from the snagging of the bag to the IVs to the epidural. Same goes for when we came home. We felt prepared because we had been exposed to it in the classes. For instance, when Mariah's labor wouldn't start for days, I knew that it was "prodronal labor" because we had talked about it. I had at least heard about it and could speak about it with the doctors with some sort of confidence.

Actually, I lied: the most important things we walked out with are the two booklets (maybe 60 pages each) that she hands out and contain everything that she teaches. Those are THE BIBLE of fathers who have taken the classes. If you really wanted me to panic in the last days of pregnancy, all you had to do was hide those books and I would have probably jumped out the window.

Sarah McMoyler has been a delivery nurse for many years and is a mother of two, so she knows her stuff. One paraphrased quote explains her philosophy: [addressing the preggos in the room:] "I know some of you are on one end of the spectrum and don't want any intervention, while some of you are what I call "parking-lot epidurals", which would like an epidural in the parking lot of the hospital before you even enter. My goal is to bring you both somewhere in the middle, so that you are informed and make a choice that's right for you when the time comes". I like that. Practical, not dogmatic.

Another thing I liked was the emphasis on the partner as a birthing coach and fully involved father of a newborn. Mariah and I decided not to hire a doula (there's $1500 saved), and following her tips ("changing diapers is a dad's job") has allowed me to bond with my child tremendously since we got home.

You can find details about what's covered in the classes here and here.

Another thing I learned during her classes: there are two kinds of people in the world, when it comes to being afraid of something so huge and unknown as labor/delivery and child-rearing: those that want to know as much as possible and feel better with all the knowledge (me), and those who feel more secure in their state of blissful ignorance (Mariah, who had tears coming down her cheeks as we were watching the delivery videos during class). :)


Favorite paraphrased quote from Sarah: [to the pregnant ladies in the class]: "in the few days after delivery, there will be a lot of discharge coming out of you, sort-of-like a very heavy period. Unless the chunks are bigger than tangerines, don't worry about it, it's normal". I still laugh and cringe at the same time every time I tell this quote. TANGERINES! Ouch!

If you live near San Francisco, we highly recommend: www.birthu.com

Posted by patata at November 2, 2005 10:31 AM


Those classes sound great, but very expensive. I have a 4 month old and my partner and I took classes at a local hospital for free -- most hospitals offer them. They teach first aid, CPR, various birthing classes, parenting classes, etc. The classes we took were great. We also took a birthing class from a mother/nurse-midwife at a yoga studio, it was 8 2 hour classes for $75. Also, as the non-birthing parent, I highly suggest the book "The Birth Partner", it did the same thing for me that Patata's booklets did for him :-).

Posted by: Birth Partner at November 2, 2005 12:44 PM

One thing that I have noticed while reading many of the father blogs is that many fathers simply are not prepared for the labor or afterwards. They appear in a stunned state not knowing what to do next. This is unfortunate. With the birth class that I took (4 days of 2.5hrs for $75) I learned a few things but my wife reading "what to expect when your expecting" and her telling me things is likely what helped me alot. I never felt like I had no clue what I was doing throughout the labor and now afterwards. I think some fathers just have the knack while others do not, and thats ok.


Posted by: Kevin at November 3, 2005 08:29 AM

We did the 48 hour childbirthing seminar in lieu of a longer childbirthing course. Our reasons were selfish -- I'm a practicing attorney & my wife is in the middle of her Ph.D. -- neither of us had the time.

The most important things I took from the seminar were all plumbing-related. How the little guy was going to twist & turn during his decent, and roughtly what was going to happen in the days to come.

Beyond that, it was a day and a half of learning how to calm, comfort & soothe your wife when they're upset & in pain.

With apologies where necessary, if you don't already have a pretty good idea of how to do that with / to your signifigant other, should you really be having kids in the first place?

Just my $0.02.

Posted by: Rob at November 4, 2005 01:33 PM