Amanda and I began taking a birthing class a few weeks ago, and the class has somehow become the most challenging part of the pregnancy so far. The class itself, offered through Bloomington Area Birth Services, is wonderful, and I would not hesitate recommending it to any expectant parent in our area. The instructor is enthusiastic and knowledgeable. The other students are friendly and interesting. Even the provided snacks are better than average. The class itself is not the problem. The class is doing a great job of helping us prepare for the birth and the new baby. Unfortunately, this is causing near panic attacks in at least one of us each class.
I suspect that creating anxiety in its students is not the goal or purpose of the class, but the first week set a bad precedent when the assistant’s infant, who comes to class as the model baby, choked and stopped breathing. This was an unplanned (I think), but effective way of demonstrating: “in a few weeks you will have this little person, who is 100% dependent upon you. You will have to meet all of its needs, and oh yeah, keep it alive. Do you feel ready?” The fear we felt and saw in our classmates’ eyes made it clear that the unanimous consensus was “I have made a terrible mistake.”
The next two classes were less outwardly dramatic, but more inwardly challenging. Both classes focused on support and pain management for a natural birth. By the end of each class one of us (me, then Amanda) became even more convinced we were not going to be able to do this. The abstract idea of birth we had been reading and preparing for had suddenly been transformed into reality by the details we were discussing in the class, and our romanticized version of birth had been replaced with the pain, unpredictability, and messiness of actual birth. On second thought, perhaps creating anxiety is one of the goals of the class as it has been successful in motivating us to more thoroughly prepare, and with this preparation the initial panic the early classes created is beginning to fade. We have now survived (and even enjoyed) our fourth class.
A few interesting and miscellaneous facts from the class:
* An infant naturally begins to search for the mother’s nipple immediately after birth (the rooting reflex), and is aided by glands around nipple, which excrete a liquid that smells like amniotic fluid. The baby is drawn to this familiar scent.
* Placentas are really cool looking (we saw pictures).
* TV show writers are big liars. Did you know that the water breaks at the beginning of only 10% of births?