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Monday, February 27, 2012

Perspectives (Reflections on Preparing)

For the understatement of the year, I would like to declare that  a lot has happened in the H-G Household over the past two months.  Good times, painful times, sleepy times, joyful times... lots of times.

One Month Old
7 1/2 Weeks Old - Headed to the H-G's first Red Wings Game!

I have been thinking back a lot about the birth of our son, especially how I prepared myself towards the end of the pregnancy.  I have a lot of friends out there that are expecting babies of their own (many of them first time moms like me), so I thought I would post a bit about what helped me in my situation.  Who knows, maybe they'll be helpful to the mommies-to-be, bring insight to those who aren't as familiar with birth and young babies, or give those who have children a chance to reflect on their own experiences.

As I've posted about previously, I am a Bawler.  I cry quite easily, and pregnancy/motherhood only seemed to heighten my emotional responses.  Surprisingly though, when we headed to the hospital after contractions were consistent at home, no tears came ripping down my cheeks and I was very much excited.  (Of course, once Quincy was born I cried... You can see the introduction video Brad posted for proof!)  I think what helped keep me in good spirits and focused on the task at hand were these five items (and I'm sure countless other things... these are just what come to mind):

1. Dad & Mom-to-Be Preparing Together
It may sound strange to some of you, but Brad actually attended almost every prenatal visit with me at the Obstetrician's office.  Brad is in the medical field and so has had some experience from a clinical standpoint, but whether he were an Obstetrician or an Electrician, having him there to ask questions, learn about the progress of our baby and get to know the doctor, was so important and helpful.  He could hear what my concerns were, help me remember all the things I wanted to mention, and know what was going on with each visit.  As a friend once put it to me, this is his kid too, so he should be a part of the process as well.

One Day Old

Now, this isn't possible for all couples, and might not be what works for everyone.  But in our situation, it helped us grow as a couple and later helped with the labor and delivery because we were completely comfortable with each other.  I made a point of voicing anything I was worried about, and also made sure to ask Brad what he was worried about.  Mom has the baby, but dad has a lot to deal with, too.

2. Read A Little
Before I became pregnant, I started to read What To Expect When You're Expecting by Heidi Murkoff.  She has a great way of describing necessary information in a concise manner and generally without an opinion.  Once I was pregnant, this book was also great in describing each phase of pregnancy, as well as stages of labor, positions, and other great information.

H-G's Stack'o Pregnancy Books

From the beginning, I had hoped to have an unmedicated birth and new there would be a lot of ways I would need to prepared my mind.  Several friends suggested I read Ina May's Guide to Childbirth by Ina May Gaskin.  Gaskin is a well known midwife who also developed the Gaskin Maneuver to reduce shoulder dystocia (when the baby's shoulders get stuck).  The book has a variety of birth stories that I found really helpful, though the tone of the book is much more opinionated than Murkoff's book.  The book has blatant issues with hospitals, but as long as you check out what your hospital's policies are (or birthing center, or maybe you'll opt for a home birth), you should be good.  We were greatly blessed to have a fantastic hospital that encouraged low-lighting, bringing in music, trying many different positions, were very supportive of both medicated and non-medicated births, and encouraged having the baby room in with the parents instead of staying in the nursery.  Ina May would be proud!

3. Yoga
I took a prenatal yoga class offered locally, and though I wasn't much of a fan of the instructor, I was able to take away some good aspects to apply to my own birth, as well as chat about pregnancy with other soon to be mothers in the class.  Things like working on squats, breathing techniques, calming your mind, connecting with your little one (sounds silly, but it was soothing), rolling around on a birthing/exercise ball and other yoga-y things were really good for preparing.

Gaiam® Exercise Ball

If you can't find a class, pick up a prenatal video.  I have a copy of Gaiam® Prenatal Yoga with Shiva Rea that has three different women, each in a different trimester of pregnancy for you to follow as you progress through pregnancy.

4. Take A Birthing Class
I had hoped to take a natural childbirth class to prepare myself for what was to come, but unfortunately the class I found didn't work with Brad's schedule.  That meant I could take the class by myself, take it with a friend, or skip the class.  Though I was worried about not having a weekly class to go through different natural techniques, we ended up taking a one day class through our local hospital.  Surprisingly, it was GREAT.  The instructor was pleasant and well informed, and broke up the day with lots of breaks and activities.  They reviewed both medicated and non-medicated births, c-sections, and basic childcare items like swaddling (arms out is the new protocol), carseat installation, shaken baby warnings, and home safety.  They also gave a tour of the birthing center.  I found seeing where I would potentially be giving birth (unless I ended up giving birth in the elevator or back seat of a car), helped me picture the whole process and made it less scary.  I get anxious in hospitals, so seeing the room where we would stay and meet our son calmed that anxiety a great deal.

We also attended a breast-feeding class through the hospital.  The class was filled with other couples (so Brad was definitely not the only guy), and it was very helpful and informative for both of us.

5. Talk With Other Mothers
One thing I made sure to keep in mind is that women have been having children for thousands of years.  They didn't have books or classes or yoga videos to turn to, but they had other women who had given birth before them.  I found this to be vital to preparing myself for the birth.  Reading other mothers' stories in Gaskin's book was great, but being able to chat back and forth with other mom's about their experiences was even better.  I'll admit that I didn't really seek out any information about labor and delivery until the third trimester - I kind of wanted to avoid the whole topic and just imagine a stork dropping off the baby in time for Christmas.  Talk to your own mother, too (if at all possible).  Yes, they had you a while ago, but seeing what they went through can give you great perspective.

Don't have anyone you can chat with about the process?  Look for forums online or local Meetup groups; join a prenatal yoga/birth class and chat up other mothers; send me an email and if you're local we can chat over coffee or we can send emails if you're not so local.  Having other mothers there to talk everything through (and ask any questions that came to mind) was priceless in preparing for the birth of my son, so I'm here if you need someone.

I'd like to add that I am so excited for the friends I have that are expecting their own bundles of joy and to those that have recently given birth!  It sure is an amazing adventure.

And just because I'm slightly obsessed with this beautiful boy, here are some photos from this past weekend.


Sunday Afternoon Nap

Them's Fightin' Words!

Post-Bath Calm


1 comment:

  1. He's looking so much older already! Love post-bath nakey babies! And Jordan went to all of my OB appointments with Jude and still does this time! I just like to have him there. :-) Better to hear it straight from the horses... err... doctors mouth. ;-) All good tips!