I am here for my first birthing class, this one on contractions. I think about starting up a conversation with the couple next to me which appears to be a same-sex one. But I am almost afraid to break the silence.
The midwife enters, a sweet-faced lady in her early thirties at most, wearing stylish boots and her white lab coat over black pants and a white blouse. She welcomes us and starts by asking us if we have experienced contractions. Some of us have, including me, and we describe what we have felt. The ice seems to have broken. Just ask a pregnant woman to complain and she will never shut up.
The midwife uses a baby doll to explain how the baby can press on us and how the uterus contracts around the baby. When the baby has its back facing our back, it can lead to back/kidney contractions like I had with Juliette. That would explain things!
Over the course of the next hour and a half we learn about the contractions that are supposed to happen before real labor and which help thin the cervix. We learn to distinguish between those and the contractions that signal real labor. You probably can't talk or stand through the real ones, she tells us. Comforting information indeed.
The midwife tells us that if your water breaks you should get to the hospital within two hours. And she adds, they will never chide us for coming in too early or for a false alarm. Also good to know!
There are butter cookies on the table in the middle and a few moms take a snack during the class. I start chatting with the mom on my left. She has a compact belly on her petite frame, putting her in the "cute pregnant" category. She seems like a funny lady judging by her crinkly eyes. She is worried about the long trip to the hospital from her home in the country about 40 minutes out. She will have to factor that into the two hours max after the water breaking rule. We learn that we both work in the training field, although she is more on the admin side. For a moment we are back in our professional lives and not just our mom ones.
Then there is the mom who apparently has all the pregnancy woes imaginable: heartburn, leg cramps, constant need to go to the bathroom. She doesn't have the numb fingers from swelling like me though, we learn, as we wrap up the class by talking (complaining) about all those aches and pains.
In the next class two days later, this time about breathing and positions during labor, we are accompanied by Charlotte. She wears camouflaged pants and short faux military boots and has her blonde hair pulled up in a high pony tail.
At the beginning she asks us our "term" and if we intend to have an epidural or not. The first lady is the picture of natural birth and optimism. It is also her first baby, I must add. She is there with her husband with his neat yet scruffy beard, the token male today. She is sweet but fairly adamant about wanting natural child birth to better feel the sensations and push baby out. And saving her perineum. She really doesn't want it to tear!
Charlotte goes around the room, each time addressing us as "Madame à côté" (the lady next to the one before) and I learn that some moms are pro and others anti-epidural. Or at least for now. When it comes my turn I say I know I am not so good with dealing with pain and am certainly open to the epidural. The lady from the last time with all the aches and pains seems totally in agreement on this one.
We watch a video where the ideal husband is massaging his wife and helping her get into the right positions to ease the pain and deliver baby. It is very sanitized as the mom is basically wearing yoga pants and a tank top. The couple in the video is all smiles and relaxation and when the film finishes, Charlotte says, of course, this is not quite reality!
We then put the poses into practice ourselves, balancing on big balloons and nursing pillows. Charlotte demonstrates one position where the husband is behind on the balloon and helps suspend his wife by her arms to take pressure off the mom's pelvis. Of course it helps if your husband is taller than you, Charlotte says here.
It's not my case, says the aches and pain mom. It's not too late to change husbands, I joke with her.
We practice breathing in from the nose and out through the mouth. This is a classic exercise to help with pain during contractions. Natural birth lady asks if she should be tightening her perineum during this. Forget about your perineum, Charlotte says in a friendly way, you don't need to worry about it now. I restrain from telling natural birth mom that even with a c-section the perineum can be strained. Don't want to wreck all her hopes right now.
I say goodbye to crinkly smile lady and wish her luck on the rest of her pregnancy. She is due one day before me and doesn't know the sex of the baby. When I tell her I am expecting a boy, she says, ah, well maybe that means I am too. I don't have the heart to tell her that the conception date doesn't influence the sex of the baby, but maybe she is just using pregnant lady logic, which can be faulty.
Just don't tell my husband that we preggers can be illogical. I still need him to think I am right (all the time!) and be there to help me breathe in, breathe out. To be continued...