Discovering you are unexpectedly pregnant can be a shock, even if you had planned for children in the future. You may find yourself feeling adrift and with nowhere to turn for support. From offering no-cost, self-administered pregnancy tests to parenting classes, Avail NYC is here to help you make informed decisions about your options along every step of the way.
One of the many ways Avail offers support is through its parenting-education program that offers free pregnancy classes. These classes seek to provide you with the information and resources to better understand your various body changes that occur during pregnancy, your baby’s development through each trimester, and even how to care for your newborn once you take them home from the hospital.
Here are five ways a pregnancy class can provide practical help from the very first meeting:
1. Improved Confidence
You may find yourself leaving your first pregnancy class with even more questions than you had when you arrived. Fortunately, this is a good outcome: knowing what you don’t know can spur you to find answers rather than assuming you are on the right path. Asking questions and delving into additional research on your own can allow you to gain greater confidence in your ability to make the best parenting decisions for your child.
An unexpected way a pregnancy class improves your confidence is through developing connections with other moms who you can share ideas with during your pregnancy and parenting.
2. Head Start on A Birth Plan
A birth plan is written communication that explains your wishes to your care team during childbirth. One page in length is best. Birth plans are helpful to avoid misunderstandings during labor and delivery and can be as varied as the women who use them. Deciding what is important to you when you bring your child into the world can help you develop a comprehensive birth plan to provide to your obstetrician (OB/GYN) and other medical providers well before you go into labor.
Medical personnel can indeed receive birth plans negatively, but this usually happens when parents are demanding. So keep it positive and see your medical team as partners. One way to do that is to design a positive birth plan. Make a list of what you do want rather than what you don’t want. When you incorporate phrases like “we hope to” or “we anticipate” rather than “we don’t want,” it helps sets up a cooperative team atmosphere.
Things typically included in a birth plan:
Include your name, your doctor, or midwife’s name, hospital name, and who you want with you during labor and delivery.
Everyone has a differing idea of what is a comfortable environment. Think about what would be a soothing environment for you during labor and delivery. Do you like music and people talking around you, or do you prefer it quiet? Would you prefer the lights dim? Do you want photographs taken?
Think ahead about pain management. Do you prefer to have an epidural as soon as possible? Or do you prefer to manage pain with other techniques such as breathing and massage? Do you want your birth team to encourage you to avoid an epidural or encourage it if you ask for it during labor?
Do you want your doctor to avoid an episiotomy for a vaginal birth? Do you want a water birth? Would you prefer to be in a particular position for birth? Do you have a preference for if the room is quiet or dim? Do you want to see your baby’s birth, or have your baby handed to you immediately? Would you like your partner to cut the cord, and do you plan to save cord blood?
While it isn’t necessary for you to have your birth plan outlined and finalized after your first pregnancy class, it can give you a head start when it comes to thinking about your options and what you would like your child’s birth to include. You will also be able to get more nuanced information and first-hand testimonials on some of the procedures or processes you are considering.
3. Nutrition and Exercise Education
Even if your pre-pregnancy eating and exercise habits were not always the healthiest, pregnancy could provide the perfect time to create some good habits. Avail’s parenting-education program and curriculum will inform you on what types of food you should and shouldn’t be eating, and what kinds of vitamins, minerals, proteins, and fats you’ll want to consume to keep you healthy and active in this season.
4. Understanding Pregnancy
Avail’s pregnancy classes led by volunteer registered nurses help you understand changes that happen in your baby and your body, particularly during your last trimester of pregnancy.
Your baby’s last trimester:
- Baby continues to grow in length and weight
- The lungs mature
- Moves to head-down position
- Baby is about 6-9 pounds and 19-21 inches long
- Rapid brain development
- Head may “drop” into the pelvic area
- Baby cries and sucks thumb in the womb
Your last trimester:
- You may urinate more often
- Your ankles, hands, and face may swell from retained fluids
- You may notice more body hair
- Increased Braxton-Hicks contractions
- Stretch marks on stomach, breasts, thighs, and buttocks
- Increased constipation and heartburn
- Varicose veins
5. Labor and delivery
Our pregnancy classes also help you prepare for labor and delivery. As these classes are instructed by registered nurses volunteering to give helpful advice, you will learn breathing techniques to enhance your childbirth experience. Breathing techniques can improve relaxation and decrease the perception of pain.
There are also comfort strategies to help reduce your pain level and enhance your childbirth experience. We will also discuss various comfort strategies that you can incorporate into your labor time, such as massage, massage oils, changing positions, moving, dancing slowly, birthing ball, counter-pressure, and aromatherapy.
We Are Here for You
If you’re pregnant and need support, don’t hesitate to contact Avail NYC. Our compassionate client advocates can provide free, confidential support or connect you with resources to help you in all aspects of your pregnancy.
Avail NYC exists to be a safe haven for women and men facing an unexpected pregnancy or seeking support after an abortion. We are not a medical provider.