When selecting a birthing class there are many strategies. Some people may look for a class that was recommended by a friend. Some people might look at the method being taught. Bradley? Lamaze? Hypnosis? Still others may interview the instructors to find someone they feel is knowledgeable and supportive.
That's just not how Jen and Chris roll. We decided we wanted the craziest, hippiest birthing class that would lend itself more to good stories than good information. (Wait till we have to start real parenting.) So we found Heather. And the Birthing From Within method.
Our first class was Thursday and it did not disappoint. Not only do we talk through nutrition and coping with pain, we also get to do art therapy.
Art project #1: What comes to mind when you think of labor pain? The picture of me above is my artistic representation of ripping flesh. Note the lightning bolts shooting out to signify that I bet it hurts like a mug!
Art project number #2: What does true "openness" look like to you? The picture above of Jen is her artistic representation of being really, REALLY open. Around the outside of her picture, we also had to write some things that we thought would be really supportive to have during labor. I thought of a "Do Not Disturb Sign," Jen thought of "Blasting Booty Rap Music." Both sound helpful.
We also talked about how chimps in the wild have babies.
Teacher: What does a mama chimp need in order to have a baby?
Class: A safe place?
Teacher: You mean a cave?
Class: Uh... sure.
Teacher: Good, a cave. Good answer. And is this cave open on both ends so the wind can go HOWLING though?
Class: Uh... no?
Teacher: Good. No. It needs to be a warm place too. What else does a chimp need?
Class: A partner?
Teacher: Actually no. The mama chimp goes off on her own to have the baby.
Chris: So, it's unnatural for me to be at the birth? Sweet, I'm going golfing.
Teacher: No, Chris. This is the part where we stop being chimps.
So we used the chimp model for a little while until it stopped being convenient. No golf for me.
Finally, we had to practice dealing with pain. Each couple gets an ice bucket and you have to squeeze ice cubes in your hand for a minute each time to symbolize a contraction. You're welcome to try this at home, but I have heard from people who have had real labor pains that this is a pretty sad recreation of the kind of pain (remember, ripping flesh here) you actually go through when passing a football through your crotch.
It was helpful to get a sense of how you respond to pain. For instance, I learned that when I'm experiencing pain (ice-cube-in-your-hand pain, not football-through-your-crotch pain) that I start laughing. Actually giggling. And I have a hard time controlling it. It really is pretty funny.
Not sure how the teacher took it though. Apparently chimps don't laugh in the wild either.