Tag Archives: Bradley

Get into position

We had a really good Bradley class last night. It was the kind of “hands-on” class we’d been waiting for. After watching a video on postpartum health and care and then reviewing an article in our workbooks about techniques to better handle labor, the instructor went around the room and placed 6 cards out, each displaying a different laboring position. She then had each of the 3 couples try out every position as she narrated the beginning, peak, and end of a contraction.

The positions included: squatting, sitting on a birth ball, side-lying, stand-swaying, sitting on a chair or toilet, and leaning on hands & knees against a birth ball or sofa. The cool thing was that each of us couples represented a different size dynamic, with myself being smaller than my partner, the Korean couple being of similar stature, and the last couple having a male partner much bigger than the female. The instructor went around the room giving each couple attention and pointers, and offering alternatives if needed, based on their size ratio. We found the squatting position, with me sitting on a chair and Nutella squatting between my legs, using my knees as support, to be a great pose. We also liked stand-swaying and Nutella straddling a chair as I leaned behind her with my elbows massaging her shoulders. Those positions seem to hold the most longevity and comfort for the both of us.

We were originally supposed to have 2 more classes, but the instructor thinks we’ll be able to fit the rest of the material into 1. That seemed fine by everyone…it’ll have been a full 9 weeks worth. Then we are to keep in touch via e-mail and send out birth announcements. Everyone’s looking to us first, since we have the closest due date. I hope everything goes as planned!

Finally, we were able to use last night as another teaching opportunity, when we shared how we had gotten pregnant with the others. That information followed when the instructor asked how many kids we were having (one). They were fascinated. The more people we can educate, the better. I’m really pleased with how it seems the lesbian couple in the class either started off as not a big deal to some, or ended up as not a big deal to the rest. One step at a time.

The Never-Ending Baby Checklist

This has been a busy week in the baby planning department. We accomplished three important things:

Thing #1: Interviewing a pediatrician (also known as, can you help us freak out less when anything goes wrong with the baby?) We went to a “Meet the Doctor” session at a practice about 5 minutes from our house- very convenient. We were the only ones at this session so we got 1 on 1 time with the doctor. We both felt very comfortable with her, and she seemed easy to talk to and knowledgable. She is flexible on immunizations, but believes children should have most of them, which is our viewpoint as well. The office hours aren’t great (typically 9-5), but either she or the other doctor are always on call and have a messaging system that pings them every 30 minutes should you not hear back immediately. We asked a bunch of questions on our Baby Center printout and she took the time to answer them all.

Thing #2: Buying Newborn “Necessities” (also known as, want to see a lot of money go POOF?) We compiled a list of things you should have by the time you bring the baby home and then bought them. These things include but are not limited to: diapers, baby lotion, baby wash/shampoo, gripe water, mylicon drops, Boudreaux’s Butt Paste, lanolin, breast pump supplies, a bottle brush, tylenol drops and so on. Um, nesting much?

Thing #3: Birth Class #6- Labor & Delivery (also known as, these images are now burned into your mind forever) Last night in class, we watched a video of babies coming out of vag.inas. I say it like that because most of the time, the camera cut off the rest of the woman and was 100% focused on…well, the baby coming out of her vag.ina. The video did this because all of the women gave birth in a squatting position with absolutely no outside help whatsoever. They simply pushed when they felt they needed to, then out popped the head and a few seconds later, the baby turned by itself and out popped the shoulders and the rest of the body. These women made it look easy…we are skeptical. But it was really neat to see it happen like that. And then we all squirmed when each woman birthed the placenta.

There’s still a lot to do, but I feel like we’re really getting somewhere now!

Rolling along

Tuesday’s midwife appointment was totally uneventful, which is terrific. We met with a different midwife this time and she’s fantastic. Very warm and caring, but focused and quite knowledgeable. She answered all of our questions in detail and treated us like informed individuals. And she never batted an eye when I introduced Strawberry as my wife and included her fully in the appointment. Couldn’t ask for better, really. I think we are both hoping she’s in attendance for our birth.

Last night’s Bradley class was mercifully devoid of any big slip-ups. We did, however get very detailed information in the form of a video and workbook pages about the stages of labor. Now, being the motivated and educated people that we are, we have already done a fair amount of reading and research on our own into this subject. But this video was FAR more detailed and graphic than anything we’d read or seen before. It uses computer animation to show what’s happening internally and it’s very well done. And we saw a placenta being birthed. I admit that was a bit of a shock to me, it’s huge and bloody. I’d seen illustrations and photographs before, but it was still a surprise.

In addition to the info from the book and video, the instructor shared personal observations from her work as a doula and from her experiences as a mother of 2. And then we did more relaxation and guided meditation stuff. I found it to be quite an excellent class.

OK, one tiny funny anecdote. The Bradley class is held in the instructor’s home and her husband and sons are usually home during class. So far, they’ve left us and her alone while we are “in session” but last night her eldest (9 years old) interrupted meekly to ask if she would come upstairs and cuddle him when class was over. It was very sweet!

Two steps forward, one step back

We went to our 4th Bradley class last night (there are 10 total, the final one is 2 weeks prior to our due date). The instructor began by talking a lot about the “coach”… did we have a plan in place for when we need to leave work, what about for false alarms, what strengths do we bring to the pregnancy and birth, did we have plans in place for what to bring to the birth center, for how to take care of the birthing mother, etc. Before she began, the instructor looked right at me and said, “I’m sorry, but the book always refers to the coach as male…. they just haven’t learned yet” which I thought was really sweet. Yay for the instructor making such progress! When there was something male-specific involved, she would speak to the husbands and then try and find a variation for me. Again, very nice.

Then we spoke about labor, inducing labor if necessary, and medical interventions. Of course, one of the ways to induce labor is by applying prostaglandins to the cervix, which most places will do prior to breaking the bag or using Pitocin. Prostaglandins naturally occur in semen, which is why they tell straight couples to have sex to induce labor. One of the couples in our class asked whether they should stop having sex prior to being full term because it might induce labor. The instructor assured them that unless the husband had sex with the wife 3 times within a 12 hour period, it probably wouldn’t be enough prostaglandins to bring on labor before she was ready. We all shared a little laugh at the husband’s expense, about him not being able to have the energy to do so. But then the instructor turned to me and said, “In your case, it’s not going to help….unless you want to find a volunteer…” Now, I know she was joking and wasn’t serious but ew, people. EW. I stared at her with my eyes wide and strongly shook my head as in “HELL-to-the-NO.” Offensive, much?

The rest of class was spent watching a video about medical interventions and discussing their few pros and many cons, and then doing a massage and visualization relaxation technique. Funniest part of the night was when we spoke about circumci.sion with the other couple we know is having a boy (they are Korean Americans from Kentucky), and the woman said her mother asked her if they were having a bris. She answered, “Um, mom…we’re not Jewish.”

I asked Nutella on the way home if she was enjoying the classes. We both decided they were good, but we thought we’d be doing more and talking less. When we found out we were pregnant, we scoured books and the internet and haven’t stopped reading since. A lot of the stuff we already know. I kind of wish we spent the majority of class practicing the relaxation techniques. It’s much harder to do so at home when the couch calls to you.

Rebirth

Our third Bradley class was much better than the previous one. Nutella and I made sure to subtly but surely drive home the fact that the instructor should be more sensitive to same-sex couples. Before class started, Nutella suggested the book “Confessions of the Other Mother” as a reference that the instructor could use and recommend to other lesbian couples, especially for non-gestational partners. The instructor seemed interested and wrote it down. At the end of class, the instructor, Nutella and I, and another classmate whose husband wasn’t able to make it to class, were involved in a discussion about the pros and cons of having same-sex vs. opposite sex partners. They recognized that it was nice that I, as a woman, could understand some of the symptoms Nutella experienced or will experience at some point (many being similar to PMS). Sure, I’ll never have experienced the type of pain that childbirth will be, but having the same parts, I can imagine more clearly and empathize more than a man ever could. On the other hand, since Bradley is “partner-coached”, there are some positions that require a certain bit of strength on behalf of the partner…including certain positions where the partner is relied upon to fully support the birthing mother. Since I’m smaller than Nutella, we’re not going to be able to do all of these positions. Yet the instructor said that others, like the “dance” relaxation technique for example, will be easier for us to do because we’re of similar stature. It was nice to talk about these things, especially with the other classmate since I caught her staring at us out of the corner of her eye during the last class. It seems she’s thought things over and no longer finds us such a strange phenomenon now :-)

That said, the activities we did during class included going through a list of things that could be done to make oneself more comfortable during pregnancy, doing visualization and gentle pressure relaxation techniques, and watching an hour-long video of drug-free births. Both Nutella and I confessed to each other that when the first baby in the video was born, we were both teary-eyed. We feel really good about attempting a drug-free birth at the birth center. It’s simply amazing how far it seems most hospitals have yet to come in that regard. I now find it barbaric to have women lie on their backs for hours, no food or drink, with constant fetal monitoring, trying to push a baby UP the birth canal, when approximately 30% will be forced into C-sections anyway. It saddens me that this is still the way things are done, unless you have a more progressive hospital. Anyway, it definitely solidified our confidence in the midwife choice, although we are also glad the hospital is steps away should we need more serious intervention.

One of these things is not like the other

Last night was our second Bradley class.  The topic: all breastfeeding, all the time.  No joke, we spoke about the benefits and details of breastfeeding for nearly 2 hours.  I can’t say that much of it was news to us, but then again, we seem to be more self-educated than the average parents-to be.  As expected, the information given was VERY pro-breastfeeding, nearly to the point of equating formula feeding with poison.  Since we have already committed to exclusively breastfeeding for a minimum of 3 months with 6 months as our ultimate goal, there wasn’t much to make us bristle in the subject matter.  But I can certainly see how parents in different circumstances would feel a bit threatened and judged by the material.

But what would a birth class post be without an amusing anecdote?  The class format last night was done by going around the room, answering the list of questions on a handout.  We are sitting in a vague semi-circle like this: Straight Mom 1, Straight Dad 1, Straight Mom 2, Straight Dad 2, Lesbo Mom 1 (Strawberry, not pregnant), Lesbo Mom 2 (me, big and pregnant), Visiting Chiropractor sitting in for insight to the Bradley method.  So the instructor starts going around the circle asking the questions.  She asks SM 1, then SM 2, and then LM 1 (Strawberry), then Chiro.  Totally skips the straight dads and me.  For the next go round, Strawberry hands me the workbook to hold and sure enough, the instructor does SM 1, SM 2, LM 2 (me), and Chiro.  Still leaving the straight dads out of the questions-go-round.  It was pretty odd.  I mean, either the non-pregnant partners should have been skipped completely or they should have been included.  Those dads need to know the breastfeeding stuff just as much as Strawberry does.  Sure, she can probably understand some of the info from a more personal perspective than they can, but she’s not going to be breastfeeding either.  Once our babies are here, her role and theirs will be identical.  In the end, no harm was done, and we aren’t sure if we should be more amused or offended by how things played out. Really, I think we inadvertently confused the instructor.

In other news, in the last week, stretch marks have begun in earnest.  They are all on the underside of my belly going diagonally down below my pantyline.  I can’t actually see them unless I use a hand mirror.  And they itch like crazy, despite our generous application of moisturizers and/or oils 2 times a day.  I can’t say that I am surprised by their appearance.  We did take a picture of them for posterity, but I can’t share it here because they are so low it’s not really decent.

Cat, cow, and inappropriate touching

We went to our first Bradley class last night. The class is being taught by a certified Bradley instructor/doula at her home. Nutella and I are 1 of 3 couples (in the Wednesday night class, there’s also a Sunday night one). For those that don’t know, the Bradley “partner-coached” method focuses on natural relaxation techniques, natural (no drugs) birth, and of course, coaching every step of the way by one’s birth partner.

The instructor was very friendly and open, not disturbingly nutty-crunchy, but definitely anti-hospital birth. We felt very comfortable with her. We also felt comfortable around the other couples, who are about our age or possibly a little younger, and due to give birth a month later than us. For them it was probably, “oh, there’s a lesbian couple in our class…interesting….whatever,” in other words, we didn’t feel it was an issue at all- no blank stares or anything.

We talked about the anatomy some, specifically how important it is to keep one’s pelvis open- to constantly sit cross-legged or similar, squat, and use the birth ball. A chiropractor was sitting in on the class to learn more and had some good insights on bone and joint structure, so that was a bonus. We watched a short video of a home water birth which was the calmest, fastest birth I’ve ever seen (yeah, right!). She said that video was a good one to start off with so I’m a little scared of the others. We went over a long list of relaxation techniques people use whether they’re pregnant or not and talked about which ones are better to use during labor.

But the most interesting part of the evening came when she went over preparation exercises, specifically pelvic rocking. She asked if anyone was doing yoga, and when Nutella said yes, she asked her to be the “mom” model for pelvic rocks. She had Nutella get on all fours and do “cat” and “cow” yoga positions, basically arch her back up and then drop her back down. Now, while Nutella was doing this, the instructor got on her knees behind her, slid her thigh between Nutella’s legs, and proceeded to rub her hands all over Nutella’s back and ass. She also made sure to show us how her leg was keeping the per.ineum warm, which allows it to be more flexible. If I weren’t so shocked, I might have been a little jealous. lol. Basically, she was showing us that it is best to keep physical contact with the mom in labor because the touch and support is very important, plus in that position, you then have the leverage to massage her shoulders and back easily, with your hands or elbows.

We ended the class with abdominal breathing exercises and the proper way to lay on one’s side using pillows for support. Thankfully, I was the one with my hands on Nutella for those. All in all, a good first class and we’re looking forward to more. Plus we were able to borrow The Birth Partner book from the instructor’s library, which is something we’ve heard many good reviews of.

And in other news, we haven’t gotten a call back from the OB about Nutella’s bloodwork which can only be a good sign (they said they’d call with bad news or else we’d discuss the results at our next visit). Whew.