Monday, August 8, 2011

Back to School

Waaaaay back in March, I started looking into childbirth classes.  I knew that one organization associated with the hospital offered them, and decided to go ahead and register for the class.  That class happened this past Saturday.

Josh moaned and groaned about having to give up an entire Saturday to sit in a class learning about all the beautiful (and gory/disgusting/gross) things that go along with labor and the birth process and subsequent recovery.  But, he knew there was no fighting me on it.

So, Saturday morning, we showed up at the hospital with our two pillows we were instructed to bring, unsure of what to expect. 

The instructor of the class was a very sweet, soft-spoken woman, who had previously been a labor and delivery nurse. You could tell right away she loves her job and all things related to birth and babies.  There were 8 other couples in the class, and it was a very relaxed atmosphere.  We started off the class with all of the dads introducing themselves and their partner, telling the group the due date and sex (if known), and what the highlights have been of the pregnancy so far.  Then, the moms were to state what the highlights have been for them, and what one of the not-so-great parts has been. 

We then moved into hormones, the labor process, how the baby moves into birth position, how he/she rotates through the pelvis to fit out, and what to expect to happen right after the baby is born.  She had models of everything, including a placenta, amniotic sac, uterus, umbilical cord, and pelvis.  Although I'm fairly familiar with how everything happens, it was neat to see how it happens "in person" (although it was much less gooey and gross than a real birth!).  It was also good for Josh to see, and to help him understand it better.  After all, you can only get so much from a book. 

We talked about contractions (both true and Braxton Hicks), how to time them, and when to head to the hospital.  Next came breathing techniques to help with the pain, and massage techniques.  We did the "He, He, Ho" and "He, He, He, Ho" you commonly see/hear about it.  The instructor then brought out cups of ice chips, and we were told we were going to do a little experiment.  We each grabbed a handful of ice, and held it for 50 seconds.  Oh.My.Gosh.  It hurt.  Fifty seconds is a LONG time to hold ice in your hand.  We then switched hands, and practiced the two breathing techniques while holding the ice.  Holy Moly!  It helped!  The ice was definitely still cold, but those 50 seconds weren't nearly as uncomfortable as the first.  One neat thing was the labor coaches were put on the spot to actually coach.  The moms were told to have a mini-freakout about halfway through the "contraction", and the dads had to help us get focused again and continue our breathing.  At first, most of us were laughing.  But then, we really started to get into it!  Josh was great at knowing what I needed, and brought me back down to a calm level where I could get back into my breathing rhythm.  [And no, I'm not stupid enough to think that holding those ice chips equates to the pain of a contraction.  Obviously everything in labor will be intensified by about a million, but this was a nice little practice step.]  The massage techniques were by far my favorite part- the instructor dimmed the lights, had us moms get comfortable, and gave the dads racquet balls, "nukkles', and other tools to try out.  So basically, we got a ten minute massage in the middle of class :)  After the massages we tried out different positions to try while laboring, including kneeling over something, the "slow dance" position, being on all fours, etc. 

Next came pushing.  We were propped up against our "labor partners", and told to bend our knees and put our hands on our knees.  The instructor would time a 60-second "contraction", and we would practice breathing in, holding it, and "pushing", while our partners counted to ten.  We would do three "pushes" per contraction.  [Obviously, we weren't actually pushing; just practicing the positioning and timing.]  I could hear Josh counting to ten behind me, and at first, I could tell he was just kind of halfway going along with it.  But then, he leaned in close, and started counting in my ear, tapping my leg or arm in time with the counting, and really put in maximal effort.  I think this was the exact moment we both had our "Holy Crap" feelings.  We had a bathroom break right after this part, and while walking the halls, we both were kind of freaked out- but in a good way.  It hit us- we're actually going to be going through this in just a few weeks.  All of this practicing is because IT IS GOING TO HAPPEN.  A BABY is going to be coming OUT and SOON! 

The rest of the class time was spent talking about what happens after the baby is born- the suctioning of his nose/mouth, cleaning him up, bonding time, etc.  We also discussed pain options during labor, and she demonstrated how an epidural is done.  Next came postpartum care (all of the guys' FAVORITE part, I'm sure).  Then, we headed down to the Labor and Delivery unit of the hospital for our tour.  We were able to see the delivery rooms (which are HUGE), how the beds break down, the birthing tubs, and then the postpartum rooms.  Josh and I have both seen the postpartum rooms several times lately, due to all of the babies born to friends and family in the last few months.

We were supposed to watch a video, but the equipment wasn't working, so we're all getting a copy sent to us in the mail. 

After the class was done, Josh decided the class was a good idea, and that it wasn't nearly as bad as he expected.  We were given handouts on the material from class, including a hospital packing list.  Which Josh has decided we need to do NOW.  Just in case. 

Doing all of this practicing makes me feel more relaxed for the actual impending birth, and also made me fall in love all over again with Josh.  He is going to be a fantastic labor coach/birth partner, and an even more incredible dad.  He has always been my strength and my rock, and proves this again and again.

Next up is my breastfeeding class at the end of August, and then we hurry up and wait for the little man to arrive.  We are 32w2d, and (hopefully) have less than 8 weeks to go!


Mandy McMahan said...

I have serious CHILLS from reading this. I am SO excited for you. I know how long you've wanted this and it's coming up so soon. The chills were also because our birthing class sounds almost exactly like how yours went (but we went every Thursday night for six weeks). We LOVED the classes, had so much fun and make so many memories. This whole post makes me want #3 RIGHT NOW! I can't wait to do it all again (if that's what God's will is for us)! SO FLIPPING EXCITED FOR YOU to get your own story, have your own experience ... it's unbelievable and unforgettable. Difficult and painful and stressful and emotional, yes. But obviously the awesome part FAR outweighs the difficulty ... considering how much I want to do it all over again! :) YAY, Mommy Maranda!