Today was the first of our eight childbirth classes, taught using the Bradley method. I was a bit apprehensive of this going in; I think all new dads-to-be probably are, because they’re not sure exactly what role they will find themselves needing to play as part of the birth process. But after this first class I am already feeling much more confident about what I can and will do to help my wife through her first natural birth. We learned a lot of good stuff, most of it in the form of real-world experience from our instructor, her assistant (and even a fellow classmate) who had already given birth several times, some of them through a variety of different methods.
My greatest fear about the birth process so far was probably that a natural birth would be more difficult, more painful and more risky than a medicated hospital birth. I mean, I’ve certainly received no shortage of shocked looks and awed remarks from colleagues and acquaintances when I’ve told them we were having a natural birth without pain medication or chemical inducement. While unmedicated birth is of course painful, based on what we heard today the process can actually be easier for the mom to control (and sometimes even quicker to complete) without chemical intervention. I think in the U.S. we’re all somewhat conditioned to believe that natural births are the exception, the “strange choice”, the “risky decision”…which is kind of ridiculous when you think about it, because it’s part of the human design!
Even more importantly, we got to practice a variety of exercises, relaxation and muscle toning techniques to help manage pain and make labor go more smoothly. You could probably learn as much from book research, but for some things, there really is no replacement for having a real person teach it to you, show it to you and then watch you practice it. It’s a real boost of confidence. My wife already discovered some techniques that she likes, and we’ve got lots of stuff we can practice here at home.
All of this has left us both feeling a lot better about everything, and we are truly lucky that we’re going to have our baby at a natural birth center. It’s a lot easier to have a natural birth when all the midwives and nurses around you have made it their life’s work to provide that experience for women, rather than the “expedience above all else” routine of many overworked doctors and hospital staff whose every move is being analyzed by insurance adjusters.
It’s been hard (nigh impossible for lazy bones like us) to get much exercise this summer, thanks to the last three months’ worth of sweltering heat that has been hard for even Texans to bear, let alone we transplanted Floridians. As the weather begins to cool, we’re hoping to start getting some exercise in the form of swimming down at our community pool. With Monday’s temperatures expected to be in the 80s, we’re thinking about diving in for an inaugural swim. I’m going to run by the pool this evening and take a look around, check out the hours and such. I hope they’re open late…there’s nothing finer to me than a swim at night.
I’m planning an old-school pizza-and-movie fest (the exact opposite of exercise, I fear) this evening, once I run out an take care of a few more errands. We’ve got a couple more rooms at the house that still need dimmer switches, the Mazda needs a new rear wiper blade and if I don’t get some more copies of our housekeys made, I will lock myself out of here some day. We came very close to doing just that this week; only my seemingly arbitrary choice to unbolt the front door before we went out saved us from calling a locksmith. That’s no good, son.