Saturday, February 5, 2011

Preparing for Birth: Birthing Classes

30 Weeks with Twins
184 pounds - Measuring 41.5 Weeks
I remember enjoying the drive ‘downtown’ and eagerly anticipating what we would be learning that night in our ‘Multiples’ birthing class. Somehow, each night, I was disappointed – yes, about having to pay for parking – but more so because I was hoping that we would cover more in class the next time. Not that the class was terrible, it covered the basics – options for pain relief, the basic stages of labor, a few laboring positions, maybe more, but I certainly can’t recall much more, except for what was thinly-veiled propaganda to make you an easier-to-manage patient.
What I do recall is being shown the operating room where even M.O.M.s delivering vaginally were to give birth - and then quickly realizing any notions I had about stretching, changing positions and choosing a productive pushing position flew quickly out the door. I remember being told by the instructor that I should find a new physician because my family practitioner would never be competent enough to manage a twin pregnancy. (When I asked one of the Perinatologists she coordinated with about this, he laughed and said my doc could hold her own! Too bad I lost about 2 weeks-worth of sleep before I had that  appointment!)
I also remember being told I could not have a doula because the delivery room 'would already be too crowded' – another falsehood.
But, I still recommend you take a hospital birthing class, for all the wrong reasons! If nothing else, you learn the basics and what to expect from the hospital and its staff. It gives you a hint on what you want to be clear about in your birth plan, what to ask your doctor special permission for and what you should prepare to accept if you must.
If you are the woman that wants to get an epidural the minute you get your hospital gown on, the woman who doesn’t care how it happens but just wants the baby out, then read no further. Take the hospital class, and follow doctor’s orders.
But if you are looking for ideas and methods on how to manage labor pain without drugs, how to increase the possibility of vaginal delivery, how to help your labor progressing and avoid failure to progress, you should take a birthing class in addition to the hospital class that provides more focus on this. There are many types of these methods, I’m sure you’ve heard of some of them like the Bradley method, HypnoBirthing, or Lamaze or ANYTHING that you think will help you. I’ve put links on the names to help your research.
I did not take any of these classes – mostly because I was largely ignorant of them going in to this whole experience. But I was fortunate enough to take maternity yoga classes from an instructor who was our doula. Please understand, the only yoga class I had ever taken previous to my pregnancy was once on vacation. I did it because appreciated the stretching and strength training it provided, just as I enjoyed dancing and theater in a former life!
I met our doula through an organization called 'The Childbirth Collective’ which is basically an group of doulas, lactation consultants and other birth & baby-related service providers in my area. The organization offers free info sessions on various topics surrounding pregnancy, childbirth and infant care. That is where our more comprehensive birthing education took place. After our first twins’ birth, our doula started an awesome business which I am totally going to plug here called Blooma. They offer a huge variety of, yoga classes, birthing technique classes, services, and ‘therapeutic services’ (ie.-massage) for expectant mothers. Look for such an organization in your area.
The yoga classes really helped me – especially with the yoga instructor there talking me through what we learned in class. I honestly cannot remember specific techniques anymore, but I do remember focusing on what she was saying seemed to take me away from the agony of the moment…even if I did end up asking for an epidural while hyperventilating in a bathtub! It got me through a completely induced, horrifically painful labor to 7cm - far enough to be assured that I wasn’t going to have a C section for failure to progress – which is a high risk for induced mamas!
You would think that I took a great birthing class in some technique for my second pregnancy, but sadly, no. My baby A had been breech until 36 weeks, so I was too afraid, and frankly, depressed that I would be having a surgical birth. Finally, when baby flipped, I flipped too! Mr. Geek and I immediately went in to Blooma for an emergency last-minute birthing basics refresher course!
Should we ever come across the need for anticipating giving birth again, I will do a better job of researching and taking a birthing class ahead of time, breech or vertex!

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