We didn’t do conventional prenatal classes. Actually, we (along with our best friends, Lindsey & Bronwyn, who were also pregnant with a due date 3 weeks after us) decided to run our own prenatal classes, in sort of a problem-based learning format, while also taking a hypnobirthing class. Part of our decision was based on our collective experience with birth. I studied human development in university and during my pregnancy did training to become a Doula. Lindsey, along with being a naturopathic doctor, is also a trained Doula and had already attended 2 births. Together, the two of us could handle most of the content. Mike and Bronwyn are general keeners with Mike having some medical background as well (Masters in Biomedical Engineering and general interest in biology and anatomy). Together we constructed a 4-week class with Lindsey covering the 3rd trimester information relevant to birth and all of the stages of labour and birth. I covered comfort measures that are geared toward supporting the birthing person. Mike focussed on medical interventions and Bronwyn focussed on postnatal care, including postpartum depression. It was not only super fun to get together weekly in this way, it was also a great way to make sure that we were all on the same page going forward since we all planned to be at each other’s births.
Here’s what we covered:
A big take-away from information is here to remember that there are several stages of labour… and not to let that scare you. I know before I got pregnant I would hear about friends being in labour for up to 52 hours!! That knowledge scared the hell out of me… until I realized that that’s not active labour and is much more manageable than the pain associated with active labour. I also remember one friend talking about her labour. Her and her husband went for a nice long walk around the neighbourhood and it was a beautiful evening. That was inspiring! Read more about the stages of labour here:
The big take away here was to learn that the birthing person should be free and able to move however their body directs them. This is contrary to what my long-time image was of a woman in a bed, laying down on her back with her feet in stirrups. That position may happen, but during my doula training, it became very clear that that position is often counter productive… at least for the birthing person. It’s helpful for the birth assistants (whether it’s midwives or obstetricians) to see what’s going on and to remain in control but it certainly is not about the birthing person’s comfort or about facilitating the actual birth process. Squatting — which beforehand made me feel uncomfortable to even consider — can be much more conducive to birthing. But in any case, our birthing bodies can direct us how to move. What we need to do is let go of preconceived notions of HOW a baby should be born and just let biology do it’s thing. And any support that is offered a birthing person, should be done with this in mind. Here are some specific techniques to consider:
The big take away for me here was the number of possible interventions that could occur and then learning about the slippery slope that it is in. Once you start down that road, it’s more likely to lead to more and more interventions. I think what got me the worst was making decisions on interventions that I hadn’t had a chance to think about. That’s why a plan for how to deal with these interventions is a good part of the birthing plan, if you care about making decisions despite what decisions you might be encouraged to make, which may or may not be in your best interest. In my experience, the medical community makes lots of birth decisions based on reducing the worst possible outcome of death at all costs. That means that a cesarean may be suggested long before it’s actually hit the point of emergency. This can be good for savings lives, indeed, but there are costs associated with that decision that we should not ignore.
But to be honest, the most helpful learning I had for this section was through my Doula, Nat Fitzgerald, who walked me through all the pieces I could possibly encounter as we prepared my birth plan. Putting into the context of my birth plan and the decisions I might need to make in the process, was very tangible and clear. Thanks Nat!!
One thing I like about the midwife model in Ontario (and I think this is pretty standard) is that one midwife is attending to the mama and then just before baby is born, another midwife arrives (if they are not yet present) and tends to the baby. That means that as soon as baby is born, there are two beings to be cared for post-natally.
Postpartum Mental Health Support: