I've already written about the fact that I'm going to give natural childbirth a shot, and I've gone into the WHY but not so much the HOW.
First things first: as soon as I made the decision that this was something I really wanted to go for I started doing prenatal yoga several times a week. The yoga has been super helpful with keeping my strength up, helping me relax and easing the aches and pains I've felt due schlepping Bean around in my belly all day long. If I skip my yoga for a few nights, I FEEL THE DIFFERENCE. Big time. My lower back aches, my upper back feels tweaked and my ribcage pain goes from simply annoying to full on SEARING. I use this DVD, usually on the 30 minute program and sometimes on the 15 if I'm feeling pressed for time or the 45 if I'm feeling kicky.
The benefits of having a DVD are that I can do the routines at any time, in any state of dress or disarray and without having to wear yoga tights in public. The obvious drawback is that I'm not getting any feedback as to whether I'm doing the poses correctly, which is where our new friend the Wii Fit comes in. Boy and I bought one for ourselves for Xmas and, while I intended not to even bother with it until after Bean is born, once I realized it had a yoga program I couldn't resist trying it out. Happily, I can soundly kick Boy's butt in downward facing dog stability and in most of the balance poses. That fact coupled with the fact that I took yoga in class format for several years during college has me fairly convinced that I'm doing things properly.
So many natural childbirth philosophies are based around the idea of specific breathing patterns, and I think all the practice I've had with yoga breathing is really helping to prepare me for the challenges of labor.
Phase two of my "Prepare for Natural Childbirth" campaign involved reading. LOTS of reading. I started with "Your Best Birth" (and the companion documentary, "The Business of Being Born") which gave me a ton of ammo on the WHY front but not so much on the HOW.
I then read "Ina May's Guide to Childbirth" which was just spectacular, informative and inspiring. The first half of the book is made up of personal accounts of natural childbirth; not all accounts of easy labors either. While I'm excited to try it and looking forward to the challenge, I don't think birth is going to be "easy" and I really appreciated that Ina May's book didn't claim it would be. I picked up a ton of inspiration as well as a heaping handful of rational, time tested techniques. I put this book down feeling calm, prepared and looking forward to Bean's delivery.
And now, it's about to get all snarky up in here.
The next book I read, on the recommendation of several women, was "Hypnobirthing". While I felt there was a good dose of useful information about breathing and whatnot, I didn't feel any of that information would be more helpful to me than my yoga practice has been. And then there was my "issue" . . . being the REPEATED claim this book made that the only reason a mother would experience pain in childbirth is due to her own fear. I have lots of feelings about Bean's upcoming birth, but fear? Not one of them. I can genuinely, 100% with certainty say I am NOT "afraid" of labor. So when it hurts, BECAUSE IT WILL, I refuse to subscribe to a philosophy that tells me that pain is my own fault.
And it only gets worse.
On several other recommendations I also bought "Husband Coached Childbirth", the Bradley Method book. I'm going to have to list my issues with this book in bullet point form. THERE ARE TOO MANY TO ENUMERATE IN PARAGRAPH FORM.
* The entire, several hundred page book is an advertisement for the 12 week Bradley Class series. I lost count of the number of times I read "You'll see this on page so-and-so of your Bradley class workbook" or "Ask your Bradley class instructor for further information". I bought the book to help determine if I wanted to take the classes, not as a companion for them.
* I also lost track of how many times Bradley refers to "god" or "the creator". While religion totally may be a motivator for some people, it isn't for me. When you claim to be a doctor and a scientist and still attribute matters of science to "god" and "creation", I can't take you seriously.
* The text is geared sometimes towards mothers, but very often towards fathers. Useful, I'd imagine, if Boy were the one doing the reading; but obviously here, he wasn't, and it grew tiresome for me to be incessantly reminded of how I should be rubbing "my wife's" back at night.
* Also, in the course of reading as my own husband, I've been admonished to buy "my wife" her own car. Like it's all 1957 or something.
* Bradley does that really annoying thing that Michael Moore does where he's ALREADY RIGHT about something, and yet feels the need to extrapolate it further and further to the point where you finish a sentence thinking he's a hack. It is sort of a "What if?" syndrome . . . where the author starts with a good, solid, founded idea and then takes it light years too far in the pursuit of a better point even though the original point was pretty good in itself. If you end a sentence pondering what science may or may not reveal over the next thousand years, everyone reading will be left head scratching and having forgotten the decent nugget of an idea you started out with.
* Apparently, per the all-wise Dr. Bradley, I should stop wearing panties.
* And I should squat while I'm snapping green beans. CAUSE I DO THAT OFTEN. Practicing squatting is one thing but I think if I did it ONLY while snapping beans I'd have done it a grand total of ONCE my entire pregnancy.
* I read a passage from the book out loud to Boy last night about "Electronic Computers" and "translating Dolphinese". I shit you not.
* Bradley claims my baby is telepathic! I COULD NOT MAKE THIS SHIT UP. Apparently there have been "very scientific studies" done that indicate when I'm having a bad dream, my Bean, like, TOTALLY IS TOO! How they collected detailed descriptions of his dreams from my Bean is a mystery to me. I mean, all human emotions have chemical elements and when I'm experiencing fear or anger or whatnot my Bean must be too to some extent, seeing as we've got one bloodstream at the moment. But to claim TELEPATHY? Dr. Bradley: here's a cart, and here's a horse. Put them in their proper order please.
In other words: Crock. Of. Shit.
And I'm sorry if you're reading this and Bradley TOTALLY worked for you. If you pulled off a natural, comfortable birth YOU RULE.
This craziness though? Just not working for me.
I'm SO INFINITELY GLAD that I read Ina May's book FIRST and that I've still got her other book, "Spiritual Midwifery" on my "to read" list. I'm thrilled that Boy and I have chosen to take birth classes with a midwife (starting this weekend!) rather than a series of Bradley or Hypnobirthing classes. And, honestly, I'm glad I've read the Bradley and Hypnobirthing books on top of the books that I actually find useful . . . if nothing else for comparative purposes and for a sense that I've done all I can to help myself prepare for birth. And, you know, as snarky blog fodder.