Sunday, November 11, 2012

Childbirthing Classes

This weekend Jeff and I took a weekend intensive childbirth class. We've also been taking a hypnobirthing class the last two weeks every Thursday. 

It wasn't what I expected, but it was definitely enlightening. I'll start by describing my two hypnobirthing class experiences. First of all if you don't know what hypnobirthing is, it's a techniques used by many women who want to have a natural drug-free child birth with as little pain as possible. In fact, in hypnobirthing lingo we don't use words like "pain" or "contractions" but instead use the words "pressure" and "surges." The idea is that we've been brought up to believe (through TV and horror stories told by other women) that childbirth is the most painful thing we will ever go through. In hypnobirthing we learn to let go of our preconceived notions of what birth will be like, to let go of the fear of birth, and learn to allow our bodies to do what they were designed to do. You learn relaxation techniques, coping mechanisms, and to not fight our bodies but allow them to push the baby out as they were designed to do. I really like and appreciate the methods, and have already noticed a significant difference in my ability to relax even at home using the techniques. Our teacher is also a hypnotist, she does all sorts of hypnosis, from therapy to fertility hypnosis, and also analyses handwriting and a few other cool things. I like her a lot, and since it's a private class, I don't feel as self conscious when she puts us under hypnosis. Hypnosis is not what it seems in the movies, when you cluck like a chicken and wake up without knowledge of what you did or where you were. You are still aware and awake, you simply go into a very deep level of relaxation and calm. It almost feels like you're floating.

This weekend we did the intensive child birth class because we are too late for the larger class which goes well past my due date. I enjoyed meeting other pregnant women, in fact I sat next to a girl due 4 days after me. What was really interesting was how similar the teacher's philosophies on child birth were to our hypnobirthing coach. I really loved our instructor, a very kind hearted, down to earth woman who was obviously a natural nurturer. She was more realistic about the pain side of things, telling us that it would not feel comfortable, it would still be difficult no matter what, but that there were ways to cope, breathing techniques, visualization techniques, and such. She also explained the different pain options and exactly how labor starts, progresses, etc. until you get your baby out. She showed us the different positions baby might be in, what would happen if the baby isn't head down, what to expect with a C-section if necessary, but also let us know that the C-section rate at her hospital (Sutter) was very low because of their late induction rule and hospital policies using C-Section as an emergency procedure or medical necessity only. They won't take any baby out more than a week before the due date unless medically necessary nor will they induce prior to 39 weeks unless there is due cause. 

Unfortunately, I am not giving birth at Sutter, I chose to go with St.Joseph's which is closer to where we live, and also has only private rooms, which is kind of a big deal to me. If my teacher was going to be at the birth, however, I would strongly consider going to Sutter any way. I really really like her. 

I also learned more about episiotomies, something I really don't want. Luckily they no longer do them, it's better if the perineum either tears on its own or doesn't tear at all. The slower you push the baby out, and the more you allow your body to open up for the baby, the less likely you will tear. Which is why my hypnobirthing coach strongly discourages "purple pushing" where you hold your breath and push the baby out. Instead you are supposed to try the pushing technique (if you feel so inclined to push) where you breath out as you push, much like the hardest part of the weight lifting technique, when you fight gravity you breath out. I actually found a lot of the breathing was consistent with weight lifting breathing techniques which made me really happy since I am naturally programmed now to breath that way. 

Jeff and I had fun. It was nice to see him learning and asking questions, he made a lot of jokes throughout the process, jokes I would've probably laughed at if I didn't feel like this is so serious. I mean, maybe if I wasn't the one pushing a baby out of my body I would think it was funnier, but somehow this class truly humbled me toward the birth process. It's not that I am more fearful of it, I am just more aware that this is going to be a hard thing for me, and I need to respect it and learn as much as I can before the time comes to do what I have to do to get my little Sonja here safely, while hopefully leaving my body as intact as I can. 

I am determined to have the following things happen for me at my birth:

1. No Pain Meds - I don't want to lose the ability to know when it's time to push, to lose the ability to feel my extremities. I don't even like going numb at the dentists office, I'd almost rather feel the pain. So I am planning on NOT getting the epidural. I also don't like the idea of a needle in my spine, the chance that I could leak spinal fluid and have a massive migraine the first few days of my baby's life doesn't sound good to me. The chance of paralysis, though slim, makes my decision more solid in my mind. 

2. Bonding Time - As soon as Sonja is born, barring complications beyond our control, I want her placed on my belly and I want to breast feed as soon as she's out. Breast feeding success rates soar when you do it this way. I want that first hour to be between me and Jeff, so that we can bond with our baby. I will not have any guests allowed into the room until after that first hour is passed. Though my mother will be there for the birth, I will probably make her wait to hold the baby until after the first hour. I feel it is vital that our baby bond with us first, and then she may meet her grand parents and family.

3. Waiting to Cut the Cord - The Umbilical Cord has historically been cut too early. Many hospitals now wait, and I will make sure mine waits, to cut the cord until it has stopped pulsing. This has shown to really help the baby's iron levels and blood volume to be higher, otherwise it takes the baby almost 3 weeks to make up for those levels on their own. So I will not be allowing the cutting of the cord until it stops pulsing, and then I want Jeff to cut it. 

4. Baby Will Stay With Us - Once she is born, unless medically necessary, I want my baby with me, in my room, at all times. I don't want her going to a nursery or anywhere else. If she needs medical help I am fine with them taking her away but otherwise she's going to be with me. 

5. Mobility - I don't want to lay on the bed laboring the whole time. I won't take an IV. The hospital I am going to has mobile and waterproof monitoring devices, so I plan on laboring standing, sitting, squatting, in the shower, wherever feels right until it's time to push. I even plan on attempting to push in a squatting position since I think it's more natural. But I'm not adamant about that. Just the thought of being tethered to a bed for 18 hours is horrifyingly suffocating to me.

Beyond that, I realize things change and circumstances cannot be predicted. But with such an easy pregnancy, I feel that these above things are doable. I guess we'll see. I've only got 7 weeks to go! 

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