Monday, December 18, 2006

Childbirth Prep

I was talking with my Mom the other night about how when she was pregnant the choices for childbirth were either 1) take a new class called "Lamaze" or 2) get knocked out and meet your baby when you wake up. Nowadays, the choices are mind-boggling: Lamaze, Bradley, Hypno-birthing, Birthing from Within, or your standard hospital class.

My friend, RSG, let me borrow lots of her books that explain the different approaches and I'm slowly working my way through them. I read one thing recently that made a lot of sense: that my job as the laboring mom is to relax during contractions and to not tense up and fight them. I told Karen that one thing she could say to me as my coach during labor is "Your job is to relax".

Well I got to practice this method last night.

I stayed up later than usual last night. My ab muscles were tight from holding me up all day. And when I had a hard sneeze, I felt the immediate pain of a pulled muscle/tendon/whatever.

Hard as I tried, I could not get comfortable in bed. Laying still hurt and shifting around hurt more.

So I got to practice taking deep belly breaths and relaxing my body. Let me tell you... it's not as easy as it sounds!! (You knew this and I knew this... but still!!!) Your natural inclination is to tense up against pain and to hold your breath. Then you realize you've been holding your breath and you overcompensate making yourself dizzy. "Your job is to relax; the way through is to relax" I chanted over and over.

I managed to get some sleep and woke up resolved to practice this active-relaxation stuff every day!



Anonymous said...

If only relaxing were possible during childbirth! If you think it's not easy now, just wait honey. Think epidural. Honest.

Anonymous said...

We really enjoyed our classes. It taught about different techniques to get through contractions. Basically, it's all about distraction. The breathing is just a distraction from the contraction. You need your partner to help you focus on other things like a focal point or a story or breathing. One technique we learned that has helped others is to sway while holding onto your partner--good for the pelvic bone.

Honestly, if you can avoid an epidural, I would. I'm going to try. The epidural slows down labour, makes it harder to push and drugs you and the baby. Babies have been found to be groggy that first week after an epidural and a study showed that many women who had epidurals have trouble breastfeeding. We were also told that many epidurals don't even work. Just some things to think about.

Anonymous said...

I like your idea of practicing relaxation techniques before hand. I think all the childbirth methods are similar in that they help you feel more in control of a chaotic and new situation. For me, all the breathing techniques, etc. weren’t much help. None of my labors followed the textbooks.

Two things you’ll probably hear are: “expect the unexpected” and “go with the flow!” Don’t be afraid to change your mind about your choices (no medication vs. epidural etc) at the last minute. Don’t double-guess yourself or feel guilty because you stray from your plans. Do what YOU need to get through the experience.

I know you are going to hear lots of advice, but if you can stand a few more tidbits… active relaxation helped me through early labor but at some point the pain was beyond it. At that point, I had to focus on something outside my body to separate myself completely from the pain. The first time it was a picture, the next time I found the outside world too distracting and so I focused on a mental image. Try practicing many different things.

Also, write down some techniques that you think will work for you in short, simple bullets. I panicked a bit the first time because in the chaos I couldn’t remember a darn thing from the classes.

Anonymous said...

My first two epidurals worked. The third was no go...ouchie! But I did it all on my own. Truthfully however, my babies were not groggy at all from it and it was wonderful, especially the first time. OMG! They say you forget when you hold your baby...NO YOU DON'T! You'll do great whatever you decide and if you feel like you're not doing great, remember it's all worth it at the end. There are no right ways or wrong ways to birth a child sweetie.