How My Labour Class Taught Me How to Survive Grad School with a Baby

When I was six months pregnant, I eagerly signed up for a labour class with my partner. I was determined to have a drug free labour (despite the “Don’t be a hero” comments from my friends). The class was an intensive weekend course with an enthusiastic (and amazing!) doula.

Life had different plans – and I ended up with an emergency c-section, and many, many, many, drugs – but atlas! The class was not a waste and I learned a lot of valuable life lessons that I use in my current crazy life.

1. Labour at home as long as possible.

Nothing is cozier than your own home. Both my doula and midwife advised me to labour at home as long as possible- take a bath and *controversially* have a glass of wine. I was induced so my initial stages of labour had a lot more crying and screaming- but the bath and wine idea sounds nice!

I have a 2 hour commute each way to my school’s campus, so I “labour” from home as much as I can. No wasted time commuting, cheaper coffee, and sweat pants- think of the sweat pants!

2. “You ARE doing it.”

I’ve heard Transition is a tough labour phase. I never actually got to that point because I was in the operating room well before I had the chance. (Kudos to those moms who experienced transition and lived to tell the tale). The advice our doula gave us, was when we say/feel like we can’t do it anymore- remember, you ARE doing it. Of course you can do it, you already ARE doing it.

I’m 6 days into my program and I’m absolutely drowning already. “I can’t do this, I can’t do this” echoes in my brain more than once a day. But the reality is: I AM doing. I’m going to class, I’m doing work (maybe not all of it, but I’m doing everything I can), and I’m surviving. I AM doing this.

3. Breathe.

Simple, but so helpful. Breathing grounds you and helps reduce stress. Just breathe.

4. Pain is temporary.

Labour is such a small amount of pain, for such an amazing, incredible, life-long gift. Most, if not all, mothers will tell you that the pain of giving birth is minuscule compared to the joy that a child brings. 

Kate 5-6 years from now owes me big time for this one. I’ve never had so many demands pulling me ten different directions before. But oh man, it’ll be so worth it. A lovely colleague of mine said to me today, “you’ll be the person, who people say ‘you can do it, Kate did it!'” And yes, I will be that mythological creature who was able to survive the course-heavy section of a MA program with a baby/toddler at home. No pain, no gain!

5. Get moving!

If you opt for the drug-free route, you have the advantage of being able to freely move around. Bring a yoga ball to bounce on or roam the hospital halls- do whatever makes you comfortable! I’m pretty sure I was physically pinned down during my labour, so I definitely didn’t get to use this tip- maybe baby #2?

Exercise! It’s still important to take care of yourself and your health. Exercise does wonderful things for our stress levels, short and long term health, and helps us stay focused during the rest of our day. I highly recommend maintaining an active hobby.

What are your survival tips?