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Birth Class Vent

987 Views 14 Replies 13 Participants Last post by  BinahYeteirah
Hi all,

I started my birth class last week, so have had two classes so far. It's taught through my OB's office ... which is the "on-call" office for the (in-hospital) birth center I'm going too. So the practice is what I would consider progressive, and my OB is very mother-friendly and non-interventionist, so I figured it would be a good class. Also, my doula said their class is good. I had the choice of taking a class through the birth center, but didn't find out until after I'd signed up for the one through my OB. With my doula's recommendation, I figured the one I was taking should be fine.

I was wrong, although, in the scheme of things, I'm sure many "birth classes" are much worse. It's taught by a nurse from L&D, but the video she showed had all the laboring women up and about and giving birth naturally (as far as I could tell). I thought that was great. She spent some time on pain coping techniques (positions to try), and encouraged mom's to stay home for the first part of labor, and to be active, etc. In a lot of ways, I think she and I agree on a fair number of things (but definitely not all). But she seems to feel "threatened" by the ABC (alternative birth center), and we've gotten into several semi-arguments.

One woman mentioned her greatest fear was having a c-section, and the nurse said the rate was 25% (in L&D), so 1 in 4 moms were having them, and sometimes that's just what needs to be done ... baby's health / safety is number one. There was no mention at all that the rate does NOT have to be that high
: . The woman who voiced the fear had previously mentioned she was considering the ABC, so I piped up and said the ABC c-section rate was 3.5%. The nurse got all riled, and said she "took issue" with that number. Then this week, she smugly informed me that they'd had two c-sec transfers from the ABC the very next day. Well, HELLO! I pointed out that statistics are an AVERAGE, and certainly won't predict what happens on a day-to-day basis (she clearly has a tenuous grasp on math), but she still seemed to feel victorious
.

Someone else said she was afraid of tearing, so the nurse proceeded to tell us her personal experiences. Her first birth (31 years ago), was forceps assisted and she tore "front to back" (duh, forceps). Her second birth she had an episiotomy, and she'll "take one of those over tearing, any day". Sigh. There was no discussion of the drawbacks of an episiotomy, or that being upright/squatting/hands&knees allows the birth canal to open up more and reduces the risk of tearing, etc. Or that most of the time tearing is much more superficial than an episiotomy, and heals better and faster, and is less painful.

It also boggles my mind how uneducated these women are. Doesn't anyone READ? Isn't anyone CURIOUS? As soon as I found out I was pregnant, I read everything I could get my hands on (from What to Expect to Henci Goer's book). It amazes me that these women know next to nothing about what's going on, what will happen, and what they can do about it. I have yet to hear anything in the class that I didn't know already (although it has been helpful for dh, as it has covered the stages of labor, etc., and he hasn't read anything
).

So this week she had us doing "breathing exercises". DH was instructed to count to 5, and I was told to breathe in on 1-3, and out on 4-5. This was a "good breathing technique for early labor". For active labor, we were told to breathe in-out-in-out to a one second count (one second in, one second out, etc.). Hubby was instructed to say "in, out, in, out" or wave his hand at me like he was directing a fricking orchestra (which he did to great delight while I shot daggers at him with my eyes). Then for transition, she gave us the ole "hee-hee-hee-hoo" (which left me light-headed and gasping since there was never a chance to INHALE). She insisted that we "practice" (with DH's instruction), and went around to each of us to make sure we were doing it "right".
:

Okay. I know I haven't been through this before, but I'm a bit puzzled why she thinks DH (or anyone else for that matter) should be INSTRUCTING me on how to cope with the pain (am I stupid? do they know something I don't?). I don't understand why women are constantly told "You can't do this ... you need someone else's help." It really pissed me off, and dh got an earful when we left, and I told him if he started counting or waving his hand at me he was guaranteed to get hit and/or screamed at.

Especially since I haven't been through this before, I will allow for the fact that I might get overwhelmed and "lost" in the pain, and need to be reminded to relax, breathe deeply, etc. (I think this hee-hee-hee-hoo stuff is a bunch of hooey, though -- pun intended -- no one would ever choose to breath like that on their own). This is exactly why I hired a doula, so she can help direct me to things that MIGHT help, and suggest things that I can TRY. But I'm fairly certain the last thing I'm going to want is someone in my face counting or waving their hand at me.

I've had problems with back pain for 17 years, and my experience with that tells me that I feel very "overstimulated" when my pain levels are high. I need to retreat inside myself and block out the things around me, because my brain is already roaring with pain, and can't tolerate taking in anything else. I sure as hell don't need someone demanding my attention and telling me what I should be doing!!!!!

So next week we get to practice pushing, and in the handout it outlines the whole "hold your breath and push while someone counts to 10". Uh-uh. I will push when and how I want to, and it won't be for a prescribed period of time. Once again, MY BODY knows more about how to do this than anyone else. My pre-natal yoga teacher and doula said I should NOT hold my breath while pushing (and -- just discovered by me -- dh's dad taught him to never, ever hold his breath while having a bm, because it causes hemorrhoids). Since hearing from pre-natal yoga teacher not to hold breath during pushing (baby or bm), I've been practicing not holding my breath while having a bm (dh never shared his advice with me ... he thought it was common knowledge, lol!) ... it was an odd feeling at first, but now that I'm used to it, it feels totally natural and much less stressful on my body (and no hemorrhoids, thank you very much).

It just bugs the crap out of me to have to sit there and do these stupid exercises, etc., when I disagree with the approach, and feel downright insulted by it. Thankfully, I think the ABC is much more respectful of mamas and their innate wisdom, and does NOT approach birth this way. Assuming I need any coaching, I'm going to count on my doula, and everyone else better stay out of the way!

Sorry. The whole thing has me pretty annoyed. Just two more classes, but I sure am regretting not taking the class through the ABC.

End of vent.

33 weeks today, and only 3 more weeks of work!!!!!!!!


Shana
EDD 7/29/05
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Wow. I'm sorry the birth class was not what you expected! My experiences of hospital birth classes have not been great either.

I went to a mainstream birth class in Britain when I was pg with ds. It was taught by a community midwife, at the hospital. In my opinion the whole thing focused WAY too much on the different methods of pain relief (medical of course). And although she focused a lot on being able to move around and try different positions, the birth video she showed was very out of date, with every single person on the birth video giving birth in the traditional 'on your back' way - even the home birth lady who had her baby on the living room carpet.

But then we signed up for a special 2-hour class that taught 'alternative methods of pain relief' or some such title. Well, breathing techniques are totally OUT in Europe, and we didn't get any of that stuff (thankfully - I couldn't imagine me huffing and puffing on command anyway) - instead it was all about positions, massage, and psychological (and physical) support. It seemed a bit weird, and I wondered how effective it would be, but hey, I thought I would at least get a good massage from dh out of it.

Well, it was fabulous! The class was taught by two wonderful physiotherapists and after delivery I actually sent them a card to tell them that it was because of THEM that I had a pain med free birth - I had no idea that massage and positioning could work so well! Or that my dh was such an excellent massager. Not all of it proved useful, but it did give me an idea of what my dh and I could do together to help alleviate pain.

In the end the mainstream birth classes were almost a total waste of time, and this one short session that almost no one else signed up for is what REALLY worked for me.
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That stinks! My hosp birth class was awesome! It was basically a natural childbirth class. We disucssed positions to labor, postioning the baby, practiced sitting on the birth ball, practiced massage..... it was a good class.
Quote:

Originally Posted by Shanana

It also boggles my mind how uneducated these women are. Doesn't anyone READ? Isn't anyone CURIOUS? As soon as I found out I was pregnant, I read everything I could get my hands on (from What to Expect to Henci Goer's book). It amazes me that these women know next to nothing about what's going on, what will happen, and what they can do about it. I have yet to hear anything in the class that I didn't know already (although it has been helpful for dh, as it has covered the stages of labor, etc., and he hasn't read anything
).

I wonder the same thing too sometimes. One of the things that I come up with is that no one has ever shown them differently, or introduced them to alternative ideas. I wonder where I would be and how I would be approaching labor and birth if I didn't have some great friends who gave me "natural" pregnancy and childbirth books. I mean, I knew a little about midwives before I got pregnant, but nothing like I know now and it was because of my good mamas who just wanted to show me that there are different ways to go about giving birth besides in a hospital and with drugs.

And I'm the kind of person who loves to read and absorb all the knowledge that I can. Some people are not like that, and some people don't want to believe that everything they hear isn't the truth and that people may have ulterior (sp?) motives in mind that are not to the mamas benefit but to their own.

That's the logic I've come up with...
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Quote:

Originally Posted by Shanana
Her second birth she had an episiotomy, and she'll "take one of those over tearing, any day".
And funnily enough, I'll take tearing over an episiotomy (assuming it can't be avoided altogether), at least a tear occurs where the skin is already stretched thinnest, and often it tears only as much as it needs to, rather than the arbitrary snip from an OB in tissue that can be a lot thicker, and harder to heal as a result.

Quote:
It also boggles my mind how uneducated these women are. Doesn't anyone READ? Isn't anyone CURIOUS? As soon as I found out I was pregnant, I read everything I could get my hands on (from What to Expect to Henci Goer's book). It amazes me that these women know next to nothing about what's going on, what will happen, and what they can do about it. I have yet to hear anything in the class that I didn't know already
It seems to be the "listen to the doctor and they'll help you through it" mindset. On various mainstream boards I know plenty of women who don't put effort into any kind of research, and then they'll also boldly make the "childbirth classes are a waste of time" statements. And they certainly can be, especially if you get the wrong kind, but if you get a good class, it teaches you so much more that you wouldn't just know from listening to your doctor.

Quote:
Then for transition, she gave us the ole "hee-hee-hee-hoo" (which left me light-headed and gasping since there was never a chance to INHALE).
Even Lamaze, who originated that particular breathing technique (iirc) has stopped using it. Has this nurse even done any research herself since giving birth


Quote:
(I think this hee-hee-hee-hoo stuff is a bunch of hooey, though -- pun intended -- no one would ever choose to breath like that on their own). This is exactly why I hired a doula, so she can help direct me to things that MIGHT help, and suggest things that I can TRY. But I'm fairly certain the last thing I'm going to want is someone in my face counting or waving their hand at me.
Our birth educator is also a doula, and the birth ed. center was fairly "crunchy" which I'm extremely thankful for, as they didn't just talk about the hospital experience and outdated techniques and relying solely on pain meds. She also pointed out that your body will often choose what method of breathing works best for it at any given stage. Being out of breath certainly didn't rank anywhere on the "helpful" scale, seeing as you and your baby obviously need oxygen. And none of the books and videos recommend holding your breath for 10 seconds. In fact, as you've probably been told, holding your breath can make pain worse because you're tense, you need to try and breathe through it in order to try and relax as much as you can.

Quote:
I've had problems with back pain for 17 years, and my experience with that tells me that I feel very "overstimulated" when my pain levels are high. I need to retreat inside myself and block out the things around me, because my brain is already roaring with pain, and can't tolerate taking in anything else. I sure as hell don't need someone demanding my attention and telling me what I should be doing!!!!!
Another thing I liked about our class, the various videos we watched had many different approaches. One had a hyper hand-waving coaching partner, and another had a calm hands-off partner, the difference of course was that that was just what worked for each individual woman and couple. It was nice to hear that you need to decide for yourself what works, and trust that your partner knows you and how to support you best.

I'm sorry you're having such a horrible time in your classes, and it's sad that the nurse is so uneducated on the best current methods to cope with childbirth, both natural and not. I really enjoyed my classes, even though with the extensive reading I'd done not much was really groundbreaking. But I was so thankful to have someone teaching who was actually pointing out the risks of various procedures, and alternative coping methods, and that various interventions, such as episiotomy and forceps etc. aren't particularly necessary these days, especially seeing as there were plenty of couples there who were clueless.

For what it's worth, anyone in the NYC area should check out http://www.realbirth.com/ they're great. We also got a newborn care class and a breastfeeding class in our package, which was a great help.

Marieke
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Quote:

Originally Posted by lunamegn
One of the things that I come up with is that no one has ever shown them differently, or introduced them to alternative ideas.
I think you've hit the nail on the head.

Where I come from (Holland) homebirth was the norm, around me at least (living somewhat more rurally, so I'm not sure if there's a great variance in the bigger cities), though it's certainly a popular thing nationally too.

So for me a hospital birth was anathema, or at least the weird(er) option. Homebirth is what I grew up seeing, it's what was the natural choice, and in my later years obviously I've backed this choice up with lots of reading and research.

Marieke
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In the natural birth class I took from a WM in Chicago, she had us do Lamaze breathing while doing jumping jacks while our partners orchestrated....to prove how freaking distracting it was, lol.

Now, if only I could find that damn notebook.....
I remember the breathing exercises we were to practice 13 years ago in Lamaze... all it did was make my throat hoarse and dry! And then all they gave me were ice chips!
I also remember holding breath during pushing, and I never did, I breathed out during pushing, and when I needed to breath in, I would stop pushing for a bit. That just makes so much more sense!
I didn't do birthing classes with my third, and don't plan to with this one. It just seemed a waste of time. I am having a hospital birth, but plan on laboring at home and basically going at the last minute (on purpose) as we are only 5 minutes from the hospital. DH can drop me off at the ER or the front and they can wheel me up to L&D.
Donna
Wow! Sounds like a letter of complaint to the hospital is in order. Thankfully you have educated yourself. I think most women their first time around just figure that the Dr/hospital/nurses just know better...silly but I was there once.

Quote:
Someone else said she was afraid of tearing, so the nurse proceeded to tell us her personal experiences. Her first birth (31 years ago), was forceps assisted and she tore "front to back" (duh, forceps). Her second birth she had an episiotomy, and she'll "take one of those over tearing, any day". Sigh. There was no discussion of the drawbacks of an episiotomy, or that being upright/squatting/hands&knees allows the birth canal to open up more and reduces the risk of tearing, etc. Or that most of the time tearing is much more superficial than an episiotomy, and heals better and faster, and is less painful.
Ok that woman should not even be telling her birthing stories from that long ago! Birth is sooooo different now!

Quote:
So this week she had us doing "breathing exercises".
Please ignore all the "breathing" that she is teaching you. The fast stuff is going to make you hyperventalate. I highly suggest that you read the Bradley Birthing method book. And I agree don't hold your breath while pushing if you don't want to....one thing to remember is to make sure you DH knows how you feel so he can be your advocate while you are into your labor.
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With our first child we took a couple of different birth classes. Just like reading books, I found that some good concepts can be taken from each and that it's hard to agree 100% with any one person or method.

I'll also add that the Bradley Method (Natural Childbirth) class we took was real big on the husband being the coach and it too was over the top in terms of the woman needing help so she doesn't come unglued. I found this to be a bit annoying... although many of the other Bradley method concepts were good.
Thanks for the feedback, guys (and reading my long vent :LOL ).

I read a book on the Bradley method, and some of it was very helpful. I thought they did a great job of explaining what physically happens during birth, and also the "signposts" of labor (well, it sounded good at least ... we'll have to see what I think once I've been through this :LOL ). Like a pp, I find that there is usually something to be taken from every class / book / etc. So I treat the stuff I like as "tools" and am using them to build myself a little "toolbox"!!

DH is very caring and well-intentioned, but he is not assertive in any way whatsoever. So I am not counting on him to be my advocate (although one never knows ... he could surprise me
). I do, however, have a wonderful doula and trust in her to be my advocate. Plus, if all goes as planned I'll be birthing in a birth center so hopefully won't have to "fight" for anything anyway.

My plan is to listen to my body, and do what feels right for me. I've been practicing yoga for years, so feel in touch with my breath and body, and hope that I'm able to naturally find breathing rhythms and positions that work for me. If I find myself struggling, I'll turn to my doula for suggestions (and I'm guessing the first thing she'll do is encourage me to trust in myself). But I'm not paying any attention to my birth class breathing exercises other than, "I suppose that's something I could try if nothing else is working for me." But I have a gut feeling that the "hee-hee-hee-hoo" won't be useful to me! :LOL

Shana
EDD 7/29/05
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Day late posting on this one :LOL
I tore with ds, very easy healing. I had episiotomy with dd (she got stuck & her heart rate plummetted - sunny side up baby) and the healing took forever - and it HURT.

That hee hee hee ho ho BS drives me crazy. That's not a good way to breathe - not for any reason - ever! Pushing is something your body tells you to do, not something that needs instruction. I see an OB, not a MW, and even she recognizes that! My OB had 3 natural births without meds in the last 10 years, she advised me early on with my last pg to read read read and to get educated. I think everyone who has to see an OB should use mine
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Sorry your birthing class has been such a drag. The L&D nurse obviously has an issue with the birthing center-probably that it is clearly safer and has lower c-section rates which makes the regular L&D dept. look bad.

As for the breathing, my 1 child is now 17 and when I took Lamaze, they taught all 3 of those stupid breathing techniques. Not knowing much about pain management during birth other than what they taught me, I practiced all 3 of those techniques like a maniac. Of course, when it came down to it, the only technique that worked for me was the slow breathing. And I didn't need anyone to coach me on it because it made sense.

Obviously don't do anything that is uncomfortable or causes hyperventilation. That's ridiculous.

I also had a homebirth that time and when it came time to push, they were "coaching" me to push, push, push. Especially at the end. Rather than argue with them and get them angry at me pointlessly, I simply ignored them. If your husband is under the impression that that sort of behavior will be helpful, let him know in advance that you expect the doula to intervene and REMOVE HIM FROM THE SITUATION if he tries that. The fact that you will have a doula who can do that for you will let him know you are serious.

Other than that, be especially grateful that you are well-informed and do what feels right to you during labor. Fortunately you won't have to even WORRY about having that nurse or someone like her as your nurse/attendant at the actual birth.
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I don't get it either. I love to read and learn. It amazes me how every doc & midwives appt I've been to they tell me things I already know. I feel like saying "I know, I know!!!!" lol. But it goes to show that the majority of their patients must have no clue.
I'm also going to give birth at the ABC in my hospital, and the nurse told us on our tour that the rest of the hospital views them as "tree hugging hippies"! haha. She also said that the medical students love to come down to "watch a REAL birth". It's sad, really.
Quote:

Originally Posted by bri276
She also said that the medical students love to come down to "watch a REAL birth". It's sad, really.
Well, that sounds hopeful, at least.
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