thinking about birth

Our first pregnancy was in 2005, but we had spent over a year thinking, learning and praying before we were ready to conceive.  So before March of 2005 when we finally got that longed for positive pregnancy test, the topic of pregnancy and birth were already old to us.  In 2005 we were blessed with a great doula and we also took a childbirth education class; a Bradley Class .  I was less impressed with the class, mainly as it added nothing to the reading I had done prior.  I dedicated myself, while pregnant, to educating myself.  About pregnancy, birth, interventions and about breastfeeding (looking back I sorely wish I had spent more of that quiet 9 month reading about child development and education, about food and so on, the stuff I need now but have so much less quiet peaceful reading).  During the 8.5 months I had to prepare I read over 25 books (some best I list at the bottom of this post).

So when we took the Brady Birth class I had already read: both Natural Childbirth the Bradley Way and Husband-Coached Childbirth : The Bradley Method of Natural Childbirth on which the class is based, so really I didn’t glean any new information from the class.

Frequently since 2005, and especially given my poor birth experience, I have been asked what our birth class was missing.  I have several moms I know that teach child birth and the discussion come ups regularly for us that have birthed (and birthed more than once) what have we now learned that the classes did not cover.  What do we, now blessed with 20/20 hindsight wish class had been like.   What do we, as moms, think birth classes should cover? 

I never know what to say; our class was fine.  I didn’t get anything out of it, but I have to assume not everyone reads 25+ books in 8.5 months, not everyone is a research hound diving into pregnancy health and birth interventions before trying to get pregnant.  So for most, the class would have been fine; I have always been hard pressed to say what was missing.

I freely admit I felt ill prepared for the birth I experience in 2005; but I have never been able to say what would have made it better.  I can hardly blame the birth class when I did so much independent reading and still felt unprepared, right?

Recently it came to me.  Maybe it was the thinking and processing I did to write the 2005 birth story last month, or thinking about 2005 vs. 2007 and what was different, I am not sure but a lot seems more clear recently.

In 2007 I was confident.  I was prepared for my 2007 birth; either standard (my education) or non-standard (my experience) I felt ready.  That was not the case in 2005.  In 2005 I was not educated about or ready for a ‘non-typical’ birth or a birth that physically normal or standard or textbook birth.  I knew what was supposed to happen, but not what else might.  I had read all about the dangers of interventions; very little about the appropriate use or real need.  I read about normal labor and coping; I read nothing about warning signs, red flags or when to say “hey this is not right”.

If you have read my birth story from 2005 you will realize that from the time my water broke and labor started it seemed “off” and nothing “fit” with all I had read and all the class had covered.  However when this happened – and I remember, vividly discussing this with Hubby in the dark of the bathroom as I sat in the whirlpool tub – I had nothing to go to.  All my notes, all my techniques, all my prep was for a standard birth.  I didn’t know what to do when things were not typical.  I had nothing in my trick bag, I had no plan, and my decision tree had nothing for the non-standard birth.  Maybe had I been better ready to recognize a non-standard labor process, I could have acted differently and prevented some on the following 36 hours.  I don’t know, maybe just recognizing the abnormal labor would have helped me emotionally, then and in the years since them.

So I think that the things I missed in my self-education and the thing the birth classed did not cover was “when things are not normal”.  I heard a lot about doctors and professionals trying to talk you into thinking things were not right or that things needed to be medical, but nothing about when things truly were atypical.  I read, and we talked in class, about emergency C-sections (but not enough) or babies in NICU – but nothing on “this is when you know something is wrong” or “here is a list of red flags” or “if you think something is wrong….”

So there you have it, 5 years later I realize what I missed. 

Some of the best / pregnancy / breastfeeding books I read:

This is not all the books I read, and I have not listed any of the breastfeeding books since they are not relevant to the birth process.  I also included a couple that I have run across since 2005 that I would have read had I encountered them, and that I wish I had read. 

Active Birth : The New Approach to Giving Birth Naturally, Revised Edition.   Read before we were even trying to get pregnant. 

Birthing from Within: An Extra-Ordinary Guide to Childbirth Preparation. I did not like this book, but some might.  Too “touchy feely” for me. 

Heart and Hands: A Midwife’s Guide to Pregnancy and Birth

Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth   I only like the 2nd half the actual discussion birth, interventions and so on, the first part (birth stories) proved a bit too “hippy / touchy-feely” for me and I tend to feel the perfect birth stories are a bit fake (omitting the bad to seems perfect); I felt that way before birth too.  I never got a lot out of birth stores, but the factual data in the 2nd half of the book rocks.

Mothering Magazine’s Having a Baby, Naturally: The Mothering Magazine Guide to Pregnancy and Childbirth   

Mothering the New Mother: Women’s Feelings & Needs After Childbirth: A Support and Resource Guide .  This is an excellent book. 

Pregnancy, Childbirth, and the Newborn: The Complete Guide 

Spiritual Midwifery.  I didn’t like this too much, mostly (all?) birth stories and history of The Farm.  I don’t remember too much about it, it was an interesting read but did not teach a lot, at least that is how I felt. 

The Birth Book: Everything You Need to Know to Have a Safe and Satisfying Birth  

The Birth Partner: Everything You Need to Know to Help a Woman Through Childbirth, Second Edition

The Complete Book of Pregnancy and Childbirth

The Pregnancy Book: Month-by-Month, Everything You Need to Know From America’s Baby Experts—Month-Everything/dp/0316779148/ref=sr_1_8?ie=UTF8&qid=1291665104&sr=8-8

The Thinking Woman’s Guide to a Better Birth  one of the many I read before we were even attempting to conceive. 

Your Pregnancy Week by Week, 6th Edition


Natural Childbirth the Bradley Way  

Husband-Coached Childbirth : The Bradley Method of Natural Childbirth  

Books I did not read, but wish I had found:

Gentle Birth Choices   

The Birth Of A Mother: How The Motherhood Experience Changes You Forever   

Childbirth without Fear: The Principles and Practice of Natural Childbirth 



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2 responses to “thinking about birth

  1. Though I loved our Bradley class, I also didn’t get much out of it. However, it was instrumental for Randy, who hadn’t read the 7 million books I had.

    That said… re: what’s missing. Unfortunately, no class can prepare a new mother for every eventuality. Particularly when, statistically, MOST of the eventualities will never happen. And it’s really unfortunate that most of us cannot count on the one person who really ought to know about every eventuality – our care provider. This is honestly why I try as hard as I can to get every birthing woman I know to get a doula. Someone who knows far, far, more than I ever could about the odd things that can happen during a birth, as well as about the possible consequences of any choice made.

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