Here in Germany it is very common to go to a Geburtsvorbereitungskurs (Birth Preparation Course) sometime during your pregnancy, especially for your first baby. Since insurance pays for it we decided it would be good for me to go to one to help me understand how things are done here in Germany and also so that I could meet some other mothers-to-be in more or less the same stage of pregnancy as me. So each Monday night, November 2th through December 14th saw me going to a birth preparation course. 2 Hours of information (completely in German) from 18h00 to 20h00 every Monday for 7 weeks!
Week 1 – We started with exercises, and even though I have been doing my best to get regular exercise, I was sore for several days after that one. Then we spent a lot of time getting to know each other. There are 11 of us in all, with due dates ranging January 1st through the end of February (yes, the one mother is due the day before me so we will see who goes first 😀 ). Then we had information and story swapping, for example, who had/has bad morning sickness, or who has back pain, or who has a problem sleeping and so on. Mostly with the idea in mind to show everyone that they aren’t the only one with those issues but that they are actually very common. For instance, out of the 11 mothers-to-be, only two don’t experience back pain, and sadly I am not one of the two 😦 Then we were told what the main topic for the next week would be and allowed to go home.
Week 2 – We started right out with lots of information concerning sleep problems, back pain and congestion. And everyone was given a chance to share what has worked (or not worked) for them in these areas. Then we started into the main topic for the night which was “How to know when to go to the hospital”. We were told how to tell the different types of contractions apart (theoretically) and what to do in just about ever circumstance the midwife could think of! It was a long two hours of trying to follow the birthing terms in German for me, but I think I managed to more or less follow along. Lots of different birthing stories were told, and different ones shared their fears and worries. We ended the night off with a couple minutes of relaxation and a baby story or two.
Week 3 – We spent the first 15 minutes discussing how hard it is to get into the different midwife taught courses due to there being so few midwifes and so many pregnant women. Which, delayed the start of the official program just enough to let us skip the exercises (which I was glad about because I was still battling through a cold and just didn’t feel like having a workout)! The topic for the night was Understanding the Anatomy, and how everything works together during the birthing process. If there is one thing you can say about the German’s, it is that they are thorough!!! We covered pretty much every possibility out there, and everything was explained in detail. At the end we spent 15-20 minutes giving and receiving back massages and on that relaxed note we were dismissed to go home!
Week 4 – The first of two partner evenings (when the husband comes to the course as well, and things are discussed that include his part). We started with an introduction round, all the men introduced themselves and were given the opportunity to ask questions or bring up topics that they were interested in. Then we had four “stations” with different positions and breathing techniques that we all went around and practiced so that the husband can know how to help when we are in labor. Then the midwife explained the “übergangs” (transition) phase so that if/when the wife acts all strange the husband will understand what is going on. On the whole it was a good class, and I really enjoyed having hubby with me!
Week 5 – The topic this week was “Stillen” or in English, nursing. We started with everyone being given the option to share what they are most nervous about before, during or after the birth and asking any questions they had. Then we discussed how to hold the baby for nursing (using baby dolls as props) and the different positions one can use. With a nursing cushion or without, laying down or sitting up, classic position or with the baby laying under your arm with the feet out the back… lots of ideas. It was a good topic and we all enjoyed it from what I could tell.
Week 6 – The second and last of the partner evenings. We started with a type of warm up game where the midwife would ask a question and then depending on what we were planning on doing, we would go to the different corners of the room, i.e. “Do you plan to use a pacifier? If yes, go to the upper left corner, if no, go to the lower right corner.” Sometimes husbands and wives would find themselves separated. (For us it only happened when the questions, “Have you ever changed a diaper before, and have you ever given a baby/small child a bath before” were asked). Then the topic of the night was presented. “All about after the birth, and how the husband can be supportive and understand different possible things.” We finished the evening off with the husbands giving their wife a back massage. Which felt amazing!!!!
Week 7 – We finally made it to the last night!! Since it was the last night we didn’t really have a set theme or topic, it was more a question & answer time. We started with a questions round, and anyone who wanted to was able to answer the questions that were asked. Then we were all asked to pick something out of a basket in the middle of the room, and were given turns to say something about what we picked (thanks to my slowness to get up I got a book that I had never heard of and therefore didn’t have much to say about it, haha). Then to finish the evening the midwife discussed C-Sections and explained the process that may make you have a C-Section as well as explaining how they will prepare you for one and what your options are. And that was the end of the course. Everyone stood around for quite a while afterwards talking to each other and sharing personal stories about the different hospitals they have been in.
We MAY all get together in a few months time to show off our babies and swap birthing stories, we shall see 😀