May 4th, 2010

planet

childbirth class

Tonight I got my real pilot's license in the mail from the FAA - it was very exciting! Unfortunately I cannot fly. I am too pregnant.

So it's safe to say that the next time my unborn child is in an airplane, she'll be an actual child. It'll be interesting to see how she likes it. I decided to total up some logbook times, and learned that spacefetus has spent 25.4 hours in the left seat as a fetus, 11.4 hours as an embryo, and 1.1 as a zygote. That's based on some vague calendar dates and science that's not all that fantastic at estimating the transitions, but it's still impressive considering that I didn't ride in an airplane until I was six years old or so.

Speaking of the actual child, we finished childbirth class. It was a six week course held for two hours every Monday night at our hospital. Not a requirement, but recommended by lots of folks... my hospital, my doctor, my mom, who says Lamaze really does help. Taking a lamaze-based class is in DIRECT VIOLATION of the Bradley Method book we read, which teaches that hospital classes are only interested in the interests of the hospital. But the Bradley Method classes are 12 weeks, and not located five blocks from our house, so to the hospital we went.

We signed up for the whole package of classes at the hospital, which meant that we already took a "how to be pregnant" course, a two-night deal on baby care and child safety, and a class for dads. Up next: breastfeeding. I sent Marc to the dad's class by himself, and I'm sorry to say but he came back with a bad report on that one. The other classes were okay... I didn't learn much of anything at the pregnancy class, because I was 20 weeks along and had read way too much online anyway so I was well aware that I should not be smoking and eating shark steaks. So I felt a little talked down to. But Marc said he felt VERY talked down to in the Dad's class, it was basically an introduction on how to not be a total douche to your postpartum wife. It addressed relationship issues that should have been addressed long before a couple decided to procreate. He showed me some of the handouts and "quizzes" and I immediately felt bad for him... they were sexist, assuming the worst in men and the most unoriginal in women.

But back to childbirth class. It was good. The six classes were divided up as follows:

Week 1 - About getting into the birth center. Our hospital's birth center is a separate building, and you're only allowed to deliver there if you're low-risk, full term (37 weeks), not overweight, no multiples, etc. You also must be IN LABOR (or scheduled for induction), not having fake labor or super early labor, and we learned how to tell the difference.

Week 2 - Stages of labor, positions and breathing for the first stage. The first stage is ends when you start pushing the baby out. What they taught in class was strikingly familiar to the Bradley Method, especially the bits about how to recognize stages based on your own emotions. If you're all excited and happy and "today's the day!" you're in early labor. If you're serious, that's active labor, go to the hospital. If you're so worn out you want to give up and can't do it any more, that's transition.

Week 3 - Second & third stages of labor.

Week 4 - Common medical interventions and pain relief. This is where the methods differ a bit... the Bradley Method teaches that if you get pain relief, it's because your methods and teaching have failed you. YOU are not a failure, you're a woman in labor doing what's best for you and your baby and that's fine. But whatever class or method you used deserves a frowny face, and unkudos to Lamaze for not keeping track of how many women actually get what they originally wanted. Lamaze teaches that you have to do what's right for you, if you want the epidural then ask for it.

Both methods teach about epidurals. If nothing else, c-sections happen. But the Bradley Method is a lot more militant about avoiding them.

Week 5 - Complications, cesarean birth, birth plans.

Week 6 - Newborn babies and labor recovery. Lots of overlap from the "taking care of baby" class but still some good info.

Other differences between Bradley and Lamaze: Bradley method only teaches slow deep breathing, Lamaze teaches faster lighter variations to distract you a bit. I figure it doesn't hurt to have an extra tool in the toolbox. Bradley method encourages a lot of laying down and focusing inward, Lamaze doesn't talk much about laying down and relaxing unless you have to, you learn about a lot more positions to keep labor moving along. The Bradley method seems to assume that if you can relax as much as possible, it lets your body do the work for you and that's how things move along. Nothing keeping me from trying both techniques.

So where am I these days on the natural childbirth scale? Well in class, we were all given a scrap of paper and asked to put down a number about how we felt about getting medicated. 1 meant you'd like to feel no pain, the anesthesiologist should come to your house two weeks before your due date if possible. 10 meant you'd go into a c-section without so much as a tylenol. I put down an 8. Which to me means that I really, really want to do this without medication, and think I can. I've read so many positive birth stories involving natural birth. I love the idea that I can be in whatever position I want to be in the whole time, have fewer monitors, fewer side effects, my recovery could be faster and I'll be more in control of the pushing. What's more, it seems like the women who get natural births aren't magic special women, they just put a lot of prep work and determination into it. AND what really made up my mind is that I've heard from lots of women who've done it both ways, and all the ones I've heard from so far say they preferred it unmedicated.

It's tough to talk about, because you get all these knowing smiles from people who tell you "Don't feel bad when you ask for the epidural!" I won't, okay? But why do people have to be so condescending? It's seriously just like telling newlyweds, "Don't feel bad if you get a divorce!" I mean, you're preparing them, telling them that not everything is in their control, looking at the statistics and stating the obvious. But it's NOT WHAT THEY WANT so it's a horrible thing to say! It doesn't cost you anything to be supportive.

Anyway, check back with me in 6-8 weeks and I'll tell you whether the class helped or not. It was fun, we met some nice couples, but I'm happy to have our Mondays freed up again.