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Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Birthing Class: Part Deux

We had the second (and final) installment of our birthing class at Rex on Sunday afternoon.  I learned my lesson from last time and wrote down some notes when I got home so that I would remember what I wanted to blog about.  To those of you who are dying to know, it went pretty much the same as the last class in terms of Dan's foolishness - the instructor actually got to the point where she would giggle every time he raised his hand, before he'd even asked his question.  My husband the class clown.

I found this class a lot more informative and helpful than our previous class.  I think this was partly attributable to the content we covered - there was still some breathing, but less of it.  We also watched a few more awesome 80's-style birth stories and talked a lot about drug options and medical interventions (i.e. induction, cesarean sections, vacuum extractor, forceps, episiotomy).  She also discussed in great length the possible medical reasoning behind the typical medical interventions, which was really helpful.  The class ended with a short section on caring for your newborn, where she covered topics such as changing a diaper, how to use an aspirator, taking the baby's temperature (both under the arm and rectally [thought Dan was going to pass out at the mention of "rectal"], swaddling, etc.).

Dan's funny story of the day came, yet again, during the breathing portion of the class.  The instructor was showing us different positions which may help to make us more comfortable during the process, for example lying on our side or squatting on a birth ball.  She was also talking about breathing and massage techniques and asked the women to get on all fours.  Dan, without thinking, blurts out, "You mean like doggy style?"  Really, Dan?  I was mortified.  I think he was, too, because his face turned bright red and the whole class died laughing.  I even heard one person say, "that's how we got here in the first place."  All Dan said was, "That's now how I meant it."  Not sure how else you could mean it, but whatevs.  The instructor broke down in a fit of giggles, but composed herself in a remarkable amount of time and went on about her massage technique business.

I knew the basics for drug options and medical interventions just from reading I'd done before the class, but the class was helpful nonetheless.  She had examples of the instruments that are used for everything we covered, so it was nice to have someone walk us through step by step what would happen should any of the interventions be necessary during labor.  I think I am most scared of cesarean sections and episiotomes, if I am being honest.  Actually, I told Dan that while the class was really informative and I'm really glad we took it, parts of it also made me more nervous about the birthing process.  I know that women have been doing this for centuries, and that being nervous and worrying about it is not going to accomplish anything, but really people you should know by now that it's my nature.

One interesting thing about my class that I'm not sure if I've already mentioned is that out of all of the couples there, when asked what they most wanted to learn from the class, probably 90% said they were most interested in learning about the drugs.  The instructor was quick to say that the point of drugs is not to completely numb the pain - the idea behind an epidural is for it to make you more comfortable while laboring, but when administered correctly, it should back off substantially for the actual birthing process, because if you can't feel yourself pushing it's not good for you or baby.  She also told us that Rex's cesarean section rate fluctuates between 25% - 27%.  I was glad she gave this statistic, and glad to hear that it is below the national average, which is about 33% according to a study done in 2007 (source: I confirmed this one-in-three statistic in multiple places, one of which was Med Page Today).  I've been reading a lot recently on the United States being under fire for an astounding number of unnecessary c-sections, but alas, that is probably for another post.

All in all, I'm really glad we took this birthing class.  My overall goal was to learn more about the birthing process, what to expect in each stage of labor, etc. and the class certainly accomplished that.  I learned a lot and feel a little more prepared than I did before (again, I know I will never be fully prepared, but it is helpful for me nonetheless).  Would we have been totally lost and felt like we were flying blind without this class?  No.  Luckily, we have plenty of good friends who have shared their experiences with us, and between that and the research we've done in addition to the wonderful doctors we've seen, we would have been fine.  But we're still glad we went.  We've signed up for one more class which is coming up the first week in January, and it is a breast feeding class.  We have actually had several people, including a couple from our birthing class, say that this class was by far the most helpful thing they'd signed up for and is very informative, so I'm looking forward to it.

Two more days in this work week and then I'm done until January 3rd!  Thursday evening can't come soon enough.  :-)


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