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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.


( 13 comments — Leave a comment )
May. 5th, 2010 01:39 am (UTC)
One thing to keep in mind is that the women who have done it both ways probably were medicated for their first birth and not medicated for a later birth, when things were more "stretched out."

That said, I hope you are successful! :)
May. 5th, 2010 02:14 am (UTC)
I'm reading the Bradley Book too. And I'm about an 8 too. I better start looking for a class, then , huh?

As for the condescension, I don't think I've ever been so consistently pissed off for such a long time. Only the wellbutrin keeps me from tumbling into depresso-land or irritability-stabby land because it is infuriating and angry and stressful to be constantly told what to do all the time when you are a grown ass woman. Oh, and being LIED to. As if women didn't have enough diet garbage to deal with when not pregnant, the lies we are told about what we can and can't eat is icing on the cowpie.
May. 5th, 2010 02:20 am (UTC)
hadn't run into that... what are you eating that's on the "no" list?

also, I don't know that you NEED a class. it does help force your partner to practice with you. if you have a doula, i bet you can totally get away without taking a class.

Edited at 2010-05-05 02:21 am (UTC)
May. 6th, 2010 01:10 pm (UTC)
Caffeine, sushi, and the occasional glass of wine I will eventually have to have since I have pregnancy induced insomnia and it is making me crazy. Oh and it turns out that the "soft cheeses" are fine too since in the US, selling unpasteurized cheese is illegal. Now, I don't eat any of these things all the time. And I rarely drink. But I would prefer to get honest information (like a person would have to drink 4-6 cups of coffee every day to harm a fetus) and then I make decisions from there, than have things decided for me because it is for my own good.

Oy, the being talked down to is the worst. Like the doctor who when asking me how I felt, I told him "pregnancy is a pain in my ass. I got things to do and people to see." He then gave me a condescending speech about how the baby was my primary responsibility now and I had to think about him and blah blah blah. I didn't tell him to go fuck himself, but I was tempted. I oversee 50 family cases. Each family has at least one child. If any of this children get hurt or die, it's my ass and my supervisee's ass on the line and in the newspaper. So don't lecture me about responsibility and keeping babies safe. Another doctor told me not to get into car accidents. I told that doctor, "accidents happen by accident. I'm not trying to get killed you know." Then he said if it were up to him, he would prevent me from driving.

I'm seeing neither of these doctors now.
May. 5th, 2010 02:27 am (UTC)
I have to say I was an 8 on the scale as well. In the end, I broke down with the epidural... and just about every other pain relief they tossed my way. It wasn't because the pain of contractions were the worst pain I'd ever felt... because they weren't. I've had the odd injury or two where the pain was worse.

The problem for me, was the psychological component of it. That was the part I did not anticipate, and I know that seems odd because it's totally a psychological thing. It was the part that I knew it was going to come back in less than two minutes, every 2 minutes (or more frequently) for the next 10 hours... that's where I broke down.

In the end it didn't matter because I was an emergency C-section, so it was good I already had a line in... but I really wish I'd been able to do it med free.
May. 5th, 2010 03:41 am (UTC)
I found the techniques in Juju Sundin's book Birth Skills http://books.google.com/books?id=7OXZ2DRJuvAC&printsec=frontcover&dq=birth+skills+juju+sundin&hl=de&cd=1#v=onepage&q&f=false really useful.

I saw this the other day http://topcultured.com/art-of-the-accidental-penis/ (SFW) and the light switch made me think of you, with Mary on your light switches. You and Marc might find it amusing.
May. 5th, 2010 03:50 am (UTC)
Yeah, I thought the "dad's class" here looked pretty ridiculous too. Glad we skipped it. As for the rest, I think it's good to have a bunch of ideas in your toolkit. You never know what's going to be useful. For example, the one position that was supposed to ease back pain for most people? Made it worse for me. Blah! But other things helped.

Most important, you will have a supportive partner there. And that will help SO much. :)
May. 5th, 2010 07:49 am (UTC)
I suspect the truth is that while not everything is in your control and you shouldn't feel bad of you end up having to ask for an epidural BUT that the more prepared you are and the more you know, the higher your chances are of having the experience you want.

The most heartbreaking illustration I've seen of how high the pressures are on pregnant women and new mothers was the online friend who went into deep depression and felt like a failure as a mother because she didn't breastfeed - even though the reason she didn't was simply that she couldn't. She had almost no milk. Of course 'breast is best when it's possible, but sometimes the best choice simply isn't possible and then you do the best you can. I've met her children; they are healthy and happy kids, and I think that it's horrible she had to go through all that.
May. 5th, 2010 10:48 am (UTC)
I also get a lot of knowing looks from folks about how I'm going to regret birthing at home because I won't have any pain relief. It's really annoying. I'm hoping that my birth will go really well with no complications so I don't have to transfer and then I can say "Hahaha, neener-neener!" to all the haters. That might be immature, but like you, I'm tired of being talked down to.
May. 5th, 2010 03:10 pm (UTC)
I seriously hope you make it au natural. As my wife is fond of saying, though, you get no glory points for taking the pain.

For our first child, she really wanted to see if she could do it. But as the contractions mounted (we had to induce because our babies are monsters) she was really struggling, and gave in to an epidural. After that, she actually slept. It was quite bizarre watching the monitors, seeing the contractions come, and watch her sleep happily away until it was time. Oh, and she got the cool little light up finger blood oxygen monitor that she thought was really fun. She was relaxed, and not tired at all when the time came.

She tried to do it again with child #2, but gave in also. After that, it was like "just give me the epidural as soon as I get there."

She is an absolute fan of them - but to each their own, not only in childbirth but in parenting as well. You gotta do what works for you, and no way is perfect - they all come with pros and cons, and nothing works for every child. You get to decide the priorities. I am excited for you and your family - you all will be great!
May. 6th, 2010 04:10 am (UTC)
Wow I've been gone for a few months and now you're at the childbirth classes heh... wonderful!

Anyway, I really wanted au natural. REALLY. WANTED. AU NATURAL. Well it didn't happen, Danu came 5 wks early and he was bum first, the little bum, so it was c/section. It mattered for like, 5 minutes. Then the childbirth which was so precious to me became very not precious and the baby was more important, haha. Still, Lamaze/Bradley whatever, they're all good ideas.

May. 6th, 2010 08:41 am (UTC)
That's slightly more time than I spent in an airplane before I was born.

I'm not sure exactly how long it was, but I figure that in the 70s, a going from the US to southern Africa takes many hours in a plane, but probably not a whole day.
May. 10th, 2010 03:18 am (UTC)
Congratulations on the actual license's arrival. That's nice :) Years ago, I got a pesticide applicator's license in the mail and even though I had NO plans to use it, I still felt sort of validated for the time I spent in class. And you ARE gonna fly again, so even better!

Something about childbirth classes that now bugs me: they often say the main thing is that you get a healthy baby. As if the baby will make the mother happy or complete. I mean, yes, that's important, but so is a healthy, happy mom. And a mom who got the birth she worked for stands a better chance of being happy and healthy. The talking down to you in the interest of the baby's health is ... wrong.

( 13 comments — Leave a comment )

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