A few compliments worth mentioning....

This is an excerpt from a blog from a student and doula client of mine, I thought it was worth sharing.

Yesterday put us at Week 35. The biggest thing on my mind right now is making it full term . . . to Week 37. I think once I hit that milestone I'll be able to take a deep breath. Or at least when baby drops! Whichever comes first - lol!

Tonight we have childbirth class. I cannot tell you what a positive experience that has been! Most of you who know me very well know that I need all the details and facts up front before taking on anything big. (I'd say giving birth is pretty big, wouldn't you?) I need to dig my nails into tons of information, ask hundreds of questions, and make informed decisions. T is much the same. These past 8 weeks of class (and 4 more to go!) have opened my eyes to so much that I never even conceived of. Everything from the effects of good nutrition to the business of birth in the US to exercises that help baby get into position to dealing with emotional/relationship issues prior to birth. Babywearing. Breastfeeding. The effects of drugs. Midwife vs. OB. C-Sections. How they administer an epidural. How to deliver a baby in the car. Tearing vs. Episiotomy. Even orgasmic birth! (which we're all pretty sure isn't in the cards for us, but if it is - hoo haa!).

I've met the most wonderful woman (our instructor and doula) - Colleen - who has been not just a wealth of information, but a strong emotional support for us (well, mostly me when I go batty over something). She introduced us to a great provider and I will never look back on deciding to leave our previous OB and go with a midwife. There is so much to be said for women helping women during pregnancy and birth - for women empowering other women. And Dad too! While we ladies may first take notice of a guy's hair, eyes, body - I can honestly say that I've never loved my husband more than when we are talking about how we want to birth this baby. How WE want to bring this child into the world. He has never shied away from or turned his head in disgust of any topic, video, or photo he's seen. He's all hands on and I am so blessed to have him coach me on the big day. I'm going to miss these nights going to class together. It might not sounds like a date, but I'd consider it one. (ok, feel free to gag if you want to :)

We've also met some great couples in class - all of us first-time parents navigating the waters together. We've spent countless e-mails discussing pediatricians, cloth vs. disposable diapers, vaccines, class, and most recently - the fact that we're all due within a few weeks of each other and they've also now switched to the same midwifery we're using. Ha! Wouldn't it be something to all be labor at the same time!

The best part about that last line is that two of them delivered 14 hours apart at the same hospital and the same group!

Birth Porn-- the power of birth videos and dads

I show a lot of videos. The kind that people are afraid to see. The kind that people assume I will show, and are anxious about before they go to a birth class. The kind that make expectant fathers drag their heels in the sand and beg to stay home to watch the game instead. Full frontal birth porn. That’s right, I said it. Birth porn. It’s graphic, it’s messy, it’s in your face, and I play it on a large screen.

A few of the dads in my last series came in with some squeamish reservations, putting on a brave face but doubting their ability to view and support the act of birth without some sort of visceral or fear-based reaction. I had a lot of questions on the first day about the emotional repercussions that couples experience in their postpartum sex lives as a result of the dad’s ‘trauma’ by seeing the birth, and also a lot of questions about what exactly they would have to see, and if it was possible for them to see little, less, or none of it at all. I heard about fear of blood, and being afraid to watch their partners be in so much pain and not being able to do anything about it—the old adage that partners of laboring mothers are ‘helpless’. These are not uncommon questions, and I get them all in some form with every group. In time, I make sure they all learn how very powerful their influence is on the day of the birth, and how powerful his perspective, and attitude, and words will be for her—even if they’re said from a few feet away. And then with each group I say the same thing—this class is a safe place for you to view and familiarize yourself with the images of birth. It is your responsibility to challenge, recognize, and respect your limits when your child is born, but you won’t know what those limits are until you challenge them. If you find that you will be unable to view the birth, it is your responsibility to communicate this to your partner and birth team, and then hire a doula, or find someone who can do so in your place, because a laboring woman will need you nearby, even if you are supporting her from a seat in the corner.

I start slow, showing things on the more modest end of the spectrum, and work my way up to a few more ‘extreme’ births. Starting slow is no consolation to many dads, as they have never seen a birth in their life, and it seems so PRIVATE and INVASIVE and INTIMATE and PAINFUL to watch. To say they are uncomfortable when viewing these films is quite an understatement. From the point of view of a beginner, what many of us see as beautiful and natural, appears dangerous, messy, fear-inspiring, and foreign. I think it triggers in them, too, a fear of what their responsibility will be to their partner, as they undergo this foreign and painful looking process.

So, we start slow, but I don’t pull any punches. This is desensitization. I will explain exactly what they are going to see, what they need to watch for, and what I want them to learn from watching each film. My goal here is for them to see so much birth that it starts to look familiar, and no longer sounds the alarm in the part of your brain that detects danger. This same part of your brain produces anxiety as a fight or flight response to perceived ‘danger’. By watching these videos week after week, I take away the threat that theses birth images pose from the men in my classes. It’s a slow a subtle process, but it works. Even if they make faces, or turn away, they slowly acclimate to the images before them, so that when their partner is laboring, he has nothing left but the knowledge of what to do to comfort and support her, and his own emotions of anticipation, excitement, empathy, and perhaps a little sleepiness.

I perform my weekly ‘exposure therapy’, where we see bodies and births and babies galore. Eventually their responses grow less physical, and I see fewer and fewer grimaces, even as I start to show videos that are VERY graphic, and more intense than anything they are likely to see at their own birth—like the unassisted home birth of twins, where the second one is a footling breach. They may not enjoy the videos, but they don’t bother them much anymore. And since I have 12 weeks to do this, it’s quite effective, and in the end, they almost all thank me for showing the videos I did, realizing that this allowed them to attend their birth without fear—something birth classes often only focus on for the mother.

My last series just ended, and they’ve almost all given birth now, and I was present at their births—and they were AMAZING. Each dad knew just what to do when his wife needed it, and none showed even the slightest aversion to the ‘wetter’ parts of the process, or the birth itself. One dad watched as his baby became visible in his wife’s vagina, and looked up at me with amazement, and excitement—and none of the aversion or fear he thought he would have on that first day we met. And he ALMOST, ALMOST reached down to bring his baby up to his wife as it was born. At the last moment he chose to hold his wife’s hand, a decision that I fully support. But I am convinced that with the next baby, that daddy is going to deliver! He didn’t wait for his baby to be cleaned up, but reached out immediately, loving all the wetness with his whole heart and body, with no interference from that pesky fight or flight response center.

I was SO. PROUD.