After the gruesomely detailed nature of the last session, I was a little apprehensive about what we would cover today. We walked in and once again there were pictures on the walls. Yet more naked people stared back at us but this time, holding a baby rather than being in strange positions. Today’s topics were pain relief and more about birthing.
As an introduction to the session, we were asked to go around the group and introduce our ‘baby’. We were handed a doll and had to say something like whether we knew what sex it was, if it had a name, did it kick a lot etc. I looked at Hubby knowingly. I knew he was itching to joke in mock horror, “this baby isn’t mine, it’s white!” but luckily, he didn’t feel close enough to the group to start sharing race jokes just yet.
Next we looked at various picture cards and equipment relating to pain relief that lay about the room. The one for epidurals showed a person’s badly sunburned back with a mark where the injection went in. I was then informed that actually it wasn’t sunburn but orange dye they put on. Oops. My ignorance was further demonstrated when they showed the picture for gas and air and I thought it was a shower – the nozzle set up confused me as I was expecting a mask, and then I thought the TENS machine was a remote control. It was looking like I needed this class a lot more than I thought!
After that the teacher dimmed the light and we practiced our contractions again. I got onto my birthing ball and Hubby went into massage mode. However, I still was rubbish with breathing, visualisation and generally taking it seriously. How are you supposed to pretend you are having a contraction when you have never had one?! I looked around the class and saw I wasn’t the only one struggling to keep a straight face.
The next exercise was to listen to a birth story and pause at each stage to think about what we could do to distract ourselves from the pain. That’s when it dawned on me just how long, boring and painful labour would be. Every suggestion seemed to involve either a massage or taking a bath. We discussed the “transition” phase which is where adrenaline starts to kick in and you need to actually deliver the baby. The adrenaline triggers the ‘fight or flight’ reaction and women either want to run away or get extremely aggressive. Hubby looked at me. I knew he was wondering which mode I would get into and whether to expect a punch in the face or a chase round the ward dragging me back by the hair. Under any other circumstance, this would be positively kinky.
Then the birthing bits were over and we were looking at pictures of new-born babies. These were the ‘real’ pictures so a lot of them were pretty gunky looking or with strange marks and umbilical cords still attached. The light green colour of the cord reminded me of celery and I found myself asking things like “what do you mean the umbilical cord still pulses?!” We also discussed the benefits of skin to skin contact – hence the naked pictures on the wall. The benefits might be great but even so, I wasn’t keen on having a gunky baby on me and Hubby was clearly uncomfortable with the nakedness aspect. “I’m not getting naked in the hospital – the baby can have skin to skin contact with my face and hands” he said matter of factly. Probably for the best dear, we don’t want the baby to have nightmares as soon as it’s born.
We rounded off the session with a discussion on the benefits of perineal massage to prevent tearing. I badly wanted to ask what the perineum was but Hubby advised against it as I’d already exceeded my retard quota for one evening. I was to instead read up about it later and blush furiously.
All in all, an informative session but my head felt heavy from the amount crammed into it. I was no wiser as to what pain relief I would opt for as they all had their pros and cons, but at least I could now tell the difference between a gas machine and a shower. This was clearly progress.