Sunday, February 1, 2009

Adventures in Childbirth Class

This weekend DH and I had 10 hours of childbirth class. We had the option of 2 hours per night over a 5 week period or this intensive weekend class. I'm glad we chose this one because we "got it over with" in one shot. The class was offered at the hospital where I will be giving birth so we got a chance to see a bit of that as well. Our maternity tour is next week so I'll have a better sense of the facility after that.

Our teacher, Ann, was a very nice woman with 3 grown children of her own. I never got the feeling that she was pushing a particular agenda (natural childbirth only, breastfeeding only, etc.) which was nice and made me trust her a lot more. On Friday night we were joined by 8 other couples but one couple elected not to attend Saturday's session. It was a pretty homogeneous group. One half Taiwanese mother and one Indian father. All married couples and all within the 25-40 age range. It was pretty cool for me because there are no other pregnant women on my floor at work so it was nice to be surrounded by 7 other women who were going through the very same things I was. Unfortunately there was not a lot of time for socializing. Most couples were due in the mid to late March time frame with a couple being induced on 2/14 (she was on best rest and had a lot of blood clots in her legs) and one other due the first week of April (ironically on my birthday, April 6!).

Most of the class was focused on "classroom" style learning with slides and videos. The rest emphasized hands on practice of breathing and massage techniques.

The best part of the class for me was that it made childbirth seem much more real and less of an imagined activity. I have an overactive imagination so watching the videos really helped me to realistically visualize myself in that situation. It actually made me fear childbirth a lot less which I had not anticipated! However, I think it freaked out DH more, but I'll get into that in a minute.

Interestingly I responded best to the women who used a lot of movement in their labor. Of the three videos we saw, one woman went completely natural, one had Pitocin and some narcotics and the last had Pitocin and a full epidural. The woman who had the epidural was restrained in her movement which seemed to make labor longer (mentally). I had always anticipated having an epidural but now I am considering seeing how long I can go without one. When DH and I practiced the different positions for managing contractions I kept thinking to myself, "Sure, I am not actually having a contraction right now but I think I can do this!" We'll see how that stands up once they really start...

Every time the video showed the actual birth of the baby, DH had to look away. I was immensely interested and actually got a little teary eyed (in a good way) with the first one. After the first woman gave birth DH turned to me and said, "Are you sure they won't let you schedule a C section?" He got a little woozy at the first video and I had to tell him to turn away with the subsequent ones. I kept joking that he is going to pass out at some point during my labor. It could really happen folks! Now, in DH's defense, there was quite a bit of blood in each of the births related to the episiotemies that the women had to get. That shit definitely creeps me out too.

Ann told us that our hospital has a 90% epidural rate (!) which is extremely high but it is the main hospital and gets all the high risk pregnancies. The suburb facility has only a 50% rate which is much more in line with my expectations. Jeesh, from all the boards I read it should be more like 10%. People are extremely evangelistic about natural childbirth. I am much more of the mindset of whatever makes it work. My worst fear is that I labor for hours and hours only to be told that I have to have a C-section. All that work for nothing!

DH was pretty impressed that I already knew a lot about what to expect in labor and delivery. Um, since I'm the one that has to suffer through it I had to know as much as possible. But book reading (or Internet reading) is not the same as seeing an actual birth. I may be taping "A Baby Story" on TLC now to get even more educated.

DH and I are attending the maternity tour next week and a breastfeeding class the first week of March. He is also now interested in infant CPR so we'll try to fit that in too.

In other news, I am now 32 weeks and one day pregnant! The little one is 3.75 pounds (apparently the size of a jicama) and 16.7 inches long. Considering I feel her at the same time poking up very high on my ribs and the opposite side way down in my pelvis, I think our daughter is a bit longer. Or a gymnast. I have entered the "fattening up" period for the baby. I just hope that I don't gain too much on my end! I have a doctor's appointment tomorrow so we'll see. In other fun symptoms I am back up to multiple trips to the bathroom at night. Aside from that, I really can't complain.


Mommy, Esq. said...

I'm impressed you were inspired to go natural. I knew I'd be having a C-Section (like twins REALLY change position after being head up for most of my pregnancy) so I never bothered with the class.

When we reached 32 weeks Husband bought a jicama and we cooked it in a stir fry. Tastes awful.

Did you ask about baby classes (after birth) or play groups for new moms? Make sure you do that just so you have options in case you go stir crazy at home.

Instead of Baby Story I recommend "Deliver Me" on Discovery Health - much cooler, follows patients but also the doctors (3 women). They also now do a "Delivery Me: Home [Something]" where you see what happens when the baby goes home. Those are my favorite (also "Baby Diaries" on Discovery Health; "Bringing Home Baby" on TLC is okay but typical TLC too well edited (not "real" enough)).

LauraC said...

I am the girl who always passed out in health class. People can't talk about medical procedures without me getting dizzy. My sister asked me to be with her when she gave birth to my nephew and we both have no idea what she was thinking... even my mom said it was a dumb idea bc I would probably pass out!

Anyway, once I was actually with my sister in labor, I was so focused on her pain and making sure she was comfortable and helping her that I barely had time to register all the crazy medical stuff that was going on. It was only afterwards that I started to feel queasy when I remembered all the stuff I saw.

(Thought your husband would feel better about this.)

Anonymous said...

Sounds like a great adventure!. . however, remembering my four births, sometimes, "ignorance is bliss". Except for Marti, whose head had to be turned, I woke up, remembering nothing, with a new baby. And, believe me, Papa would have had no part of the delivery room!! Probably his loss. . .lots of love, Mimi

Helen said...

What the hell is a jicama?

Donna said...

Oh yeah, that's me labor for hours and hours after being induced and the epidural not work only to have an emergency c-section. But all was worth it, and now it is just another story to tell!

jerseygirl77 said...

It's great that you're feeling less fearful after your class! Interesting that you responded to the "movement" during labor. From personal experience, I will say that it was absolutely SO much better for me to move (rock, sway, bounce, whatever) during contractions than to keep still. And it wasn't your imagination that the medicated labor seemed longer... Epidurals increase the length of labor. Oh, and you can refuse the episiotomy, BTW. They are rarely medically necessary (like, %5 of the time or less) and I agree, they creep me out too!

Anyway, Jordan was definitely a queasy type also! He accidentally managed to be on the business end of the transaction during Josh's birth and turned several shades of green. You might think about hiring a doula, for both you and your DH! Jordan agrees it was the best money we ever spent because our doula was so awesome!

Natalie said...

I swear you were always a frequent peeing lady before so this has got to put you over the edge. How about a catheter? I've had an epidural before (not via childbirth it was for a procedure for my back) and I have to say it's kind of amazing. I can't believe someone actually invented it but it is amazing but also scary because you realize that there is something that powerful that can instantly take you out. But there's nothing I can imagine that would require something like that except my back procedure and natural childbirth. So as far as I'm concerned, drug it up baby, drug it up!!!

Anonymous said...

tell helen that jicama is a tropica potato (and she is a teacher for god sake) as for natural childbirth, I contemplated for about 1/2 hour with your brother and then opted for the drugs. It is so much better now then 25 years ago. Even though I will cause a riot, just remember ..better life thru pharmacolgogy. Mom