Two weeks ago Jeremy and I had the pleasure of having childbirth class in the comfort of our own home thanks to the kind and wonderful Kelly. I have to admit I wasn’t sure what to expect going in especially since we’ve been doing the HypnoBabies self study course. However, and I mean this, it was mind blowing. It was one of those instances of being told something simple and completely uncomplicated that was just staring us in the face but that we hadn’t ever realized.
Going into the class I expected to talk about the physical details of what happens in labor and then some techniques to manage pain. Nothing out of this world and just some reinforcement for what we already knew. Kelly took things a step further beyond my expectations by teaching us the importance of having an actual game plan for labor. And I’m not talking about pack your bag, have friends on speed dial, map out directions to the hospital type plans. But a specific, actionable plan for getting from contraction to contraction.
With my labor with Dessa, my plan was very high level and completely overlooked being prepared for labor itself. I had so many details worked out but none that related to getting me through the contractions. Sure I had a mental list of pain management techniques but not the right perspective to put it all together. Kelly used Penny Simkin’s Road Map of Labor to illustrate how a game plan can be beneficial. The map emphasizes building the three Rs – relaxation, rhythm and ritual – into your labor.
When Kelly mentioned the three Rs and showed us the map, something in me just clicked. Labor is a natural process our bodies are built to endure. To be able to endure it, you shouldn’t bring life to a halt and just wait around for contractions (what I did in my first labor). You should create a kind of dance that relaxes you, builds a rhythm from one contraction to the next and establishes rituals to center you. With Dessa, once contractions got really uncomfortable I lied in bed to rest and waited for each contraction.
With the information Kelly shared with us, I understand how valuable it is to have activities to do while in labor. I intend to stay home as long as possible so I’m putting together a list of things I want to do while I’m at home – bake, craft, clean. It may sound silly but if you think about it, it makes sense for labor to fit into the practices of everyday life. One of the things I want to do is bake goodies for the hospital staff that will be caring for us while we’re in the hospital. The HypnoBabies course mentioned this actually and I love how thoughtful and full of purpose this activity is.
In addition to activities, Jeremy also learned how important his role is in helping to establish the three Rs. He’ll be hanging out with Dessa and I as we bake and craft, and much to his dismay clean. But he will also be an important part of helping me to relax, develop rhythm and create ritual. For me, I think the relaxation portion of things comes into play with the activities. The more occupied the more relaxed I think I’ll feel. I also think having Jeremy and Dessa with me in our home is going to have a great and calming affect on me.
The activities will also be an integral part of creating a rhythm from one contraction to the next. Having something to go back to after each contraction is going to be a great way to weave my labor into the day (and/or night). The ritual portion speaks volumes to me because I am a ritualistic person – they soothe me and center me. Kelly suggested we use physical ways of establishing ritual. One exercise she showed us is to have Jeremy give me a massage after or during each contraction. She emphasized that the amount of pressure doesn’t matter as much as making sure to just do it (good news for Jeremy since he detests giving massages). A specific technique she had us practice, involves simply working his way from my head down placing his hand and steady pressure on parts of my body (head, shoulders, face, arms, etc.) and me simultaneously focusing my breathing.
This class made me realize that sometimes you need an expert to weigh in to bring it all together. For all the reading and self-education we’ve done, we never would have thought to bring it all together in this way. What’s more we gained something I think we didn’t realize was so important going into labor – we’re both a lot more confident. I say both and I know I speak for Jeremy because after our last class he said he was actually really excited about the birth. I don’t think he could have said the same thing last time. Last time we were excited about the end result but not the process. Now we’re excited to experience all of it from beginning to …well beginning =)