Tuesday, September 18, 2012

When ignorance is bliss

Sunday the 9th DJ and I attended our birth/parenting class and I kind of wish we didn't and just winged the whole labor and delivery portion of pregnancy.

The class opened with a clip of Bill Cosby doing stand up where he talks about "Natural Child Birth". If you haven't seen it, it is certainly worth looking up.
Anyway, we thought the class would have an element of humor, be a little light hearted, and teach us the ins and outs of labor. It seemed we were the only couple in the class with any sense of humor so from 9 to 4pm we suffered through ridiculous breathing exercises, poses, and posters laughing only to ourselves because everyone else was lame.

The poses we learned were to help the woman get comfortable as labor progressed. Unless you have the inability to move, I feel as though these are things one could figure out of her own. The same goes for the breathing exercises that will more than likely go out the window when "shit hits the fan", as they say. Oddly enough noone found it funny as we breathed our way through fake labor, asked for belly and back massages, or positioned ourselves to best ease the weight of our contracting uterus. Meanwhile, DJ and I are laughing hysterically at the ridiculousness of it all. Clearly we were getting an "F".

The day progressed with a video where we witnessed the miracle of birth. DJ decided to close his eyes during this part of our day, but I decided since its my body, I should know what happens down there. It was a bad idea. The video was from 1972 and these women looked miserable, sloppy, and sweaty. For some reason there was a lot of boob exposure as well, which made it awkward, and then spouses or "labor partners" looked creepy and annoying.

One man said his wife found his coaching was most successful when he got "three inches away from her face and made encouraging remarks". Are you kidding me! If you are three inches from my face, you are going to get slapped.
One woman said when she was tired and about to give up, her baby started crowning and she reached down between her legs and touched the top of his head. Aside from being incredibly awkward to watch, it made me cringe as the camera zoomed in on her hoo-ha. My body decided to phyiscally react to the scene by recoiling in my folding chair while the rest of the women seemed to lean forward eagerly, excited to excrete a fuzzy topped watermelon out of their girl parts.

This video was followed by another award winner regarding pain management options- none of which were appealling. We also saw the little suction cup thing that goes on the babies head if he or she gets stuck on the way out.

The class ended with procedures and practices once our fetus enters the world and becomes a baby. We covered car seats, pediatrician hunting, and breast feeding. St. Peter's is obviously a Catholic hospital so breast feeding is STRONGLY encouraged to a point that when I asked what would happen if a woman could not produce enough milk, our teacher looked at me as if I committed a deadly sin. She danced around the answer until I asked if my child would be left to starve. She ended with an "if all else fails, then I guess we will give your baby a bottle" response. Well gee, thanks lady!

Apparently failure to breast feed means you are a bad parent. So does going back to work as our teacher had a naive answer when asked about the use of breast pumps - "well you won't need a breast pump if you aren't going back to work since you will also have access to your baby". Last time I checked it was 2012 and most couples, partnerships, or mothers in general do not have that luxury. Many of us will have to spend those weeks off eeking by on our 60% salary with every intention of returning to the work world.

We did leave with a few useful tips like how often to feed your baby during the first weeks, how to time the feedings so you get a longer stint of sleep at night, what things might look weird on your baby when he/she first arrives but are actually normal, and how long labor may or may not be. The tour of the hospital was also really helpful and the fact that we will get our own rooms was certainly appealing. If I one day have the opportunity to teach a birthing class, I will certainly make it much more open mined, fun, and audience interactive.

PS. Even if you mean it as a thoughtful, endearing compliment to a pregnant woman, do not tell a woman her "face looks fuller" at 7 1/2 months. She doesn't hear that. She hears "you're fat" and dwells on it all day.