How much knowledge is power?

moka.jpg
my guilty pleasure, caffecito in the morning, Canon Digital Rebel

We had our first birth class a few weeks ago and I have to admit that when I walked in and that birth video was playing (the one with the English hippy in the birth tub with her naked husband) I just wanted to run out of the room. I felt claustrophobic and afraid. All her moaning and her eyes going every which way… it made me feel shy and young and scared.

And I thought it would get better. That is was good for me somehow to see all these videos, that it would toughen me up or something. But after six weeks of this, I finally said it out loud to the birth class. “I can’t stand these videos! I am so much more afraid to give birth now!”

This felt radical to say. (Especially in Berkeley and especially because these are all very natural, supposedly beautiful birth experiences. They are not inherently scary) I am all for knowledge is power but somehow in this case it’s not working for me. I am left with so much fear and anxiety and I’m not having the “birth is beautiful” experience but something else, something akin to terror or yuck or this is too personal to be watching… and I remember how my teacher didn’t get it at first. When another woman echoed my feelings and said, “Yeah, that last one had me completely in tears for a while afterwards.” and the teacher said, “Yes! birth is so moving…” and how we’re like “No! We were afraid not moved!”

So I felt a little silly the other night when she played a cartoon instead, one called “The Elk and the Epidural” and told me I could sit outside if I needed to. I felt a little alone, immature, unevolved… (but actually enjoyed the cartoon better than the real people videos)

What I really want is to trust myself, my intuition, my body, my spirit, my magic. I want to trust myself to birth, to parent, to feed my child. Aren’t those the most natural of things? and yet, the books stack up on my nightstand, the how-to’s and the what-ifs and the how-to-be-greats what-not-to-dos…

I’ve been wondering what I really need to know about this process and how I need to learn so that I feel confident going in, if I can just go in cold, be a beginner, follow my body and the labor team we’ve assembled. What do I really need to learn about all of this? Can I be even more present with less information? If this process is so natural, then why do I have to read so many books and take these classes? How much can I feel my way into this experience and trust myself to know the way? How much knowledge is power?

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Hi, I’m Andrea

On this blog you’ll be learning with me how to use our voices, share our creative superpowers and live life in full color.

As an artist, photographer, life coach + mentor, I’m redefining what it means to be a SUPERHERO — ‘cause in my world, it’s got nothing to do with capes, spandex or sidekicks and everything to do with tenderness, intuition & baby steps of bravery.

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107 Comments

  1. Shelley Noble

    Andrea, I support you 1,000% in this.
    There is, in my opinion, a current “fashion” of fear in our dear culture. We don’t spot these trends quickly as they creep in over a span of time sufficient to not be obvious about it.
    Bad things do happen sometimes, yes, and I think it only smart to have (ass)bases covered, like perhaps choosing a progressive birthing center that feels like a really real loving home? But moreover, I do trust you, your body, your beautiful baby, and this process. It will be yours and it will be wonderous.

  2. victoria winters

    Having never gone through this myself, I can only say that you should do what you think it right. If these classes are causing more anxiety than help, stop taking them. I watch Baby Story and get an edited version of what child birth is like and it’s helpful to know what to expect, etc. But it sounds much worse at your classes. Maybe shop around for a differently approached class? Or none at all?

  3. Samana

    Hi Andrea – I just read a lovely e-book ($10)about natural birthing at: http://www.thegardendiet.com/aboutbirth.html
    Jinjee discusses her four natural child birth experiences and recommendations. Her main site with photos is http://www.thegardendiet.com/
    I love what she says about giving birth: “Uterine contractions are orgasms! The birthing experience is supposed to be orgasmic. It is the largest most intense series of orgasms a woman has, building up to the final orgasm of ejaculating a baby into the world! Birth is not only supposed to be painless; it is supposed to be orgasmic, ecstatic, sexual, sensual, and the final consummation of the marital act!”
    She recommend these two books about husband/wife childbirth: “Pleasurable Husband/Wife Childbirth” by Marilyn A. Moran and “Unassisted Childbirth, An Act of Love” by Lynn M. Griesemer (both available at http://www.unassistedchildbirth.com)
    “I was happy to read in these books of other women who experienced the sensual touch of their husband during childbirth as transforming pain into pleasure. The more intense the pain the more intense the relief of the pleasure of the sensual touch! It actually makes sense when you think about it. This is what transforms painful childbirth into ecstatic childbirth! As you can see the Father is very very much an essential, important and irreplaceable part of the birth of a child.”
    Blessings!
    Samana

  4. Chris in MN

    I’ve never posted here and I feel like I’ll write too much if I get into detail. I have two children and birthed them both without pain medication, not because I’m opposed but because I never had time. I’m not a big worrier, anyway, but I did feel like having the practical information from classes and reading was useful. I was not subjected to a lot of birth videos, and maybe just seeing one normal one would have been enough to gage the situation. I’m also not a very atheltic person, but I did psych myself up for it like it would be an athletic achievement. You make great effort and you will very likely get through it all without any serious physical trauma. I believe the lamaze-style breathing does work – at least it did for me. Get the physical information. Picture how you will do it. You’ll be so happy when you’re done. It’s worth it. Good luck. Write me if you want any more info from a stranger.

  5. Angela Giles Klocke

    Information is great. However, sometimes it’s too much. I’ve had 3 children with 3 different pregnancies, labors, deliveries… In other words, advice from this time meant nothing for the next, etc. So can you go in and do great without a truckload of information about what should or could happen? Totally! And it might even be less stressful that way. But then again, my, some of the surprises 😉

  6. my pink sky

    like finding a trail of breadcrumbs leading you out of the forest…trust and listen to yourself, and you will find your way!

  7. G.

    All those videos about other women’s birth experiences can’t really give you one bit of insight into your own – beyond the biology of it all – because yours will be different.
    Just be with it, Andrea. Learn what you need to know about the physiological process, decide on your coping strategies (I’m a big believer in controlled breathing!), and then just let it be. Relax into the natural rhythms of your own body and your own life, and just let the rest of it go.
    Your labor won’t be like any of the videos that you’ve seen. It will be yours and Matt’s and Baby Superhero’s, and the three of you will do just fine.

  8. a.

    Your baby will come out when he’s good and ready, and your body will do all that it has to, to make that miracle happen. When labor comes, you’ll react to it in your own unique way. No method or so-called preparation is more correct or appropriate. You really do wing it, most of the time. You’ll even feel real pain and anxiety, there’s no avoiding it, whether you choose to go with medication or not. But (surprisingly) you survive. Contractions aren’t anything like orgasms, sorry to say. Another commenter likened the experience to an athletic event. I agree it is important to be healthy in mind and body, because it will be incredibly taxing. So I’d recommend stopping your reading and classes if they make you more afraid. You intrinsically know all that you need for this. The only thing to really hang onto is the fact that eventually after all of it, no matter what, it’ll be the three of you. That’s certain, and that’s the hope you grab onto as you push forward through the fog.

  9. deezee

    I, too, think you should follow your instincts…and be prepared to be surprised by your own birth experience, and willing to alter any ‘plan.’
    I was committed to have no pain medication. If others can handle it, I’m sure I could. I took the birthing class advice to ask my husband to encourage me to go five more minutes if I ever felt I needed meds. Well, due to my baby’s position, pain never let up between contractions, and as tears rolled down my cheeks as I steadied myself on one leg against my husband in the hallway of the hospital seeking a comfortable position, he kept begging me, “Take the pain medicine. Take the pain medicine.” And I did. And it all went fine. And I can laugh about it now. Funny, a birth experience like that didn’t come up in the class I took.

  10. kristen

    i don’t blame you for feeling this way. i’ve never given birth but you need positive experiences going into it.
    maybe it’s like watching the news. for me, it makes me anxious. so i stopped. maybe those videos aren’t good for you. they’re not toughening. besides, our experiences are all personal and our own. i am so sure that baby scher will come out perfectly:)

  11. muck

    yes! watch thesecret.tv – might do you good. even though i’m not there yet, i do feel overwhelmed at the thought of getting pregnant! maybe too much info is just too much to know. you can’t know everything about riding a bike unless you actually ride it.

  12. Regina Clare Jane

    We’ve come a long way since women went out into the woods, squatted, had the baby, and went back to work! Some would say all the better, but I wonder. I have never had any kids either- too much of a chicken- but one thing I do think. Use gravity to help. Try and be as upright as possible- don’t let them put you too flat on your back- it just works against everything. And trust yourself and most especially the baby- they know what to do. Heck, we did it! And babies are so much smarter now because of all the baby vitamins mommy takes beforehand! 🙂

  13. pixie sticks

    Your instincts sound right on to me. You could learn and cram and study for birth and something will come up that you didn’t expect (same with parenting). As long as you have a good husband/partner/advocate and like your health care provider and trust yourself, it’ll all be just the way it’s supposed to be.

  14. michele

    your little guy will come out when he is good and ready and probably the exact oppisite of what you expect!
    i never had a birthing class, in fact i had my baby in a foreign country and i didn’t speak the language.
    i had baby #2 here and everything i expected was lost in an emergency c-section and nicu for 11 days.
    yes, it hurts like a MOFO! breathing doesn’t make any of the pain go away, it is instinctual, we all come out “of there” and you and your little man will be A-ok.
    and after all the mush, goosh and pain there is a little faiery who comes and erases everything from your brain so you can go ahead and have #2!
    and, no matter what…your birthing experience will be yours and it will be beautiful.
    i don’t think a movie or a class or anyone can tell you how it will really be as there are so many variables.
    those classes are just so scary!
    my advice~ lavender oil and socks.
    happy birthing, i know you will do great.
    peace & love to you~

  15. scoutj

    After having two births that were completely opposite from one another I can say this. Get this book – http://www.amazon.com/HypnoBirthing-Celebration-Marie-F-Mongan/dp/0966351711
    I know it looks totally crazy but I swear it helped me. It gives you some really good tools in dealing with pain. And trust me, I’m a totally baby when it comes to pain and I was able to have a waterbirth with Supergirl. Please let me know if you have any questions about it.

  16. cyme

    It is not like the videos you are watching. Because it is all from the inside, not the outside looking in. You don’t see the blood, gore, yourself holding on and breathing…. And it is personal unlike the strangers in the movies. It becomes your sacred event, even in retrospect.
    The best thing my midwife gave me when I had a hard time was “remember what you are working for.” That centered me. You can get lost in the waves of pain and forget the desire to meet and hold your baby.
    Stand on the billions of women shoulders that have done this. We all got here. Your body takes you on the journey. You are one of the most amazing women I know- I have no doubt you’ll be your superhero self and do just fine.

  17. Samantha

    I echo what a lot of people have already said: Preparation is certainly good, but when the actual moment arrives, you just roll with the punches as they come. I studied to be a midwife for a year and planned on having a natural homebirth, but instead ended up in the hospital being induced and then taking the epidural (he was over 2 weeks late)…every moment of it was different than I expected/planned it to be, but the entire 30+ hours of labor was absolutely amazing (though in no f*ing way did it feel orgasmic for me)… It sounds like you have all the knowledge you need. Fear is normal, I believe, when facing something of this magnitude…as time draws nearer, however, I’ll bet that your excitement and anticipation will eclipse the fear.

  18. blackbird

    Cyme is so right –
    and the thing is, I almost think those classes are for people who NEED something to hold on to – a theory of someone else’s, a plan for them to work with. And I’m not knocking them but those movies are tough to sit through…
    I do think you should trust your instincts, especially if they are overriding what you read or see. Mothering is all about that and you should listen to it.
    That having been said,
    you can prepare all you want, watch every movie, and read every book and labor can still wallop you.
    I think I spent more time being awed by the power of it than I did working at it – THE FIRST TIME.
    You seem awfully good at being in touch with YOU, don’t lose sight of that.
    (my two cents)

  19. Hero

    I’m going to agree with seeing The Secret and with investigating hypnobirthing. I would also highly recommend hiring a doula to help you and everyone else maintain some level of control.

  20. zahava

    I found the reassurances of friends who’d been through the experience before wonderfully soothing. (I remember feeling quite panicked after viewing the birthing videos!)
    Personally, as frightened as the videos made me, I am the type of person who NEEDS to have an idea of what to expect in order to be able to be relaxed about a new experience. Thus, after a great deal of worrying the issue, I decided to proceed with the classes/videos to be as familiar with the various options as possible. I then discussed my worries with my doctor and my husband, and asked them for their support and guidance in dealing with my fears/worries. For me, the fear of the unknown was the more pressing fear, but each woman needs to evaluate and decide this for herself.
    My three pregnancies and deliveries were wildly different from one another — and all really amazing experiences.
    I got two extraordinary bits of advice from good friends regarding labor and delivery — 1) know your options for the various relaxation techniques, pain relief, and physical positions, and keep an open mind and make decisions as they need to be made — in other words, don’t try to anticipate the delivery from a control aspect, but rather from a preference aspect and adapt your decisions as the reality of HOW you are laboring unfolds, as different situations may illicit different preferences…, 2) rather than thinking about what you can not control, try to look forward to that magical moment where you see that sweet new face for the first time (pftu, pftu, pftu!) — there is no other moment like it!
    It is true, I am helpless sentimentalist — I still get teary when I think about those first few seconds of seeing each of my kids! It is a powerfully emotional moment!
    Hoping you find your center soon!

  21. zahava

    OOPS! Hopeless, not helpless, sentimentalist! See what living overseas can do to your English?! YIKES!

  22. Heather

    You know when I had my first 2 kids I took those classes. I didn’t use any of the positions, or any of the breathing. I tried and they just didn’t work for me, I was in pain and trying to manuver myself down on all fours was too much. What I did take out was that I needed to be informed and vocal about what I did and didn’t want medically, that I could say “no, I don’t want that”, or “hey, I want to try this” and it was alright. Last week I rewatched the “gentle Birth Choices” video with my husband, and about half way through, my stomache hurt, there is something about seeing closed up’s of big hairy vaginas with a baby head sticking out that was grossing me out. Like some weird birth porno or something. I say do what feels good, read or not, watch video’s or don’t, but when it came down to labor and delivery, I say only you will know what to do when the time comes, you’ll have your own beautiful expierience, better than any you’ll read about or see in a video.

  23. heidi

    I was scared at the life with baby preparation classes at the hospital too and fortunately I was guided to an alternative birthing class called “Birthing with confidence”. We saw a few birthing videos, including the cartoon you saw, but the main message I got from the class was, “It’s going to hurt, it’s going to be hard, but you cn do it.” We focused a lot on our own power and trusting ourselves and we learned certain tools that helped me so much during my first son’s birth, which was in a hospital. I showed up at the hospital when I couldn’t think through a contraction any more, brought music I thought I may want(turns out I only listened to Carlos Nakai, Earth Spirit), and met our two doulas (who were free because they were in the process of certification). I spent a little time in the shower, some time walking the halls, looking for something interesting to focus on during contractions, and 4 hours in the hot tub. For me it helped to try and converse and laugh between contractions. I had no birth plan, only potential tools. The doulas, music, my husband, a picture I drew to cover up the clock, a sign for the door telling possible observers, like interns and other students, to keep out, and lots of prayer. Our second son’s birth was at home until the last minute. It was much quieter, and I used different tools, but I used so many gifts from that class. Like I kept repeating to myself, “This has a beginning, a middle and an end.” And I wanted constant massage. For his birth I had 2 midwives and my husband was out of town for work. They were so calming and supportive. I found too that when I felt like talking, I wanted to laugh some between contractions, until I only wanted to stare at the headboard breathing evenly, praying in my thoughts, repeating the quote above. It turned out something appeared to be blocking the birth canal so we had to go to the hospital. Once there, the midwife that works there broke my water and he came out quickly in the next contraction. The other possibility was that it would stay blocked, and I would have a c section. I’m grateful this didn’t happen, but by then, all I could do was trust. Truly, for his birth I was scared because I knew more, had heard more stories, wondered if a first smooth birth would be folloewed by a difficult one. But mainly I trusted my body and surrounded myself with loving supportive women. Honestly, having those women there in non medical roles(one of the midwives was acting as a doula) both times was possibly the key to me trusting my body during the actual labor. The class was based on the book, “Birthing from Within”. I have only read a few parts of it, but it’s one of the few books about pregnancy and childbirth that I could actually read at all without fear. I feel fortunate that I didn’t need pain medication or a c section, but our facilitator had made it lovingly clear that these measures were also a gift to mothers as they were useful in some situations. I hope something in this story helps.
    After all 6 families(from the birthing class) had their new little beings, we had a graduation potluck. From this, the mothers decided to get together for coffee once a week to talk, really support eachother and enjoy being together. This group became a play group around 8 months later as our children got mobile and naturally started including other pregnant women and new mothers we met out at the park, the store, wherever. We celebrated their 1st and 2nd birthday’s together. After a break around 3 years of meeting, a mother of 4 restarted the group for herself and her 2 youngest. I found this support saved me from myself and expanded my limited ideas about motherhood quickly. Now the group regularly includes 15-20 families. I have since heard from many women who did not have anything like this in the beginning, when they had these new loved ones to care for, and how hard it was. So I’ll tell you like it was told to me by a much loved mother of 2 when I was holding a 10 day old boy in my lap. “Ask for help! You’ll need help. Don’t be shy! Mothers need support.”
    Being a mother is so amazing, though there are many forces in our society that seem to try and diminish it’s wonder. Either through fear or looking down on the struggles a family must face in order to grow and mature and produce fruit(among them, grown children who are beautiful people), and all sorts of other ways I can’t articulate just now. I’ve gone on a long time here, not knowing if I’ve managed to stay to the point, hoping to share what I feel has been the best of what we’ve been given in this process of growing a family. Which was a lot, since we knew very little when we decide we would like to have children. I started to write…”when we decided we would like to be parents.” But this would have showed more awareness than we had about any of it. Mainly we just had love and the rest was given to us in many magical ways. It seems from reading your blog like you are familiar with magical gifts that I guess could be called serendipity. Remember, labor has a beginnig, a middle an an end…a beautiful child.
    God Bless,
    Heidi

  24. MamaChristy

    I haven’t read the other comments, so forgive me if I’m repeating.
    The birthing classes are more so you know how the hospital works and what you can expect. You are not immature. The person who couldn’t understand that you are justifably afraid and feels she needs to belittle you in front of the class is immature.
    When you feel that you have read enough, that you just can’t take any more, stop reading and let your body be your guide. No matter how much you read, your birth experience will be different than anyone elses. Perhaps you will be strong and happy and be able to do it with the help of your team. Perhaps you will decide you need something to help. There is NO SHAME in getting an epidural if you need one.
    All the advice you need: believe in yourself and go into it all with an open, non-judgemental mind. You’ll get through it! 🙂

  25. amy j

    I HATED our birthing classes. My husband is a doctor and felt that it was silly to take the classes. He’d delivered babies before and knew the drill. I felt I had to go, that is was a requirement, though I already knew I’d get an epidural. The first thing they showed was natural childbirth. Until the active labor part, the women were all cool and collected. Then when the real pain began it was like watching a horror movie. The people in the class were actually cringing at the noise and visuals. In all truth it annoyed the crap out of me. Why? Because they showed it first, as the “preferred” method of childbirth. It wasn’t until like three weeks into the class that they showed the epidural video, which was a stark contrast to the natural video. The woman was calm and pain free throughout the whole thing…she progressed well and all went fine. Much less anxiety inducing to watch. You could tell the women in the class were very intrigued…and positive that birth wouldn’t have to be like the first one. I was hoping the nurse educator lady would talk in depth about the epi…about the pros of it. But instead she barely said a word about the epi and what she did say was very negative. That REALLY angered me. The women wanted to know about the epidural, but all she could tell them was what it did and all the possible side effects. I asked my husband why that was. And he pointed out something I hadn’t thought of…there was nothing she could “teach” them about the epidural. They wouldn’t have to learn how to breathe and fight pain by focusing on an object and such. But I felt, and still do, that you can’t really teach that stuff anyway. Pain is different for everyone and everyone copes with pain differently. Once you’re in the middle of birth, who knows if you can breathe through it. I knew the pros of having the epi and the downsides…we knew plenty of anethesiologists, who all told us it was one of the safest ways to prevent pain there is…very low risk really. I talked to women who’d been on IV pain meds instead of the epi…most hated them. They wanted the pain control, but hated the grogginess and nausea. Most friends who had an epi LOVED it and wanted to do it again, even if it didn’t go that smooth. Those who had natural childbirth all had a common thread…that birth was HARD and they endured much pain and were exhausted and fearful for much of it. And those natural childbirth people, including my own Ob/gyn, were hardcore believers in going natural…until they’d gone through it. The majority said they’d at least be open to an epi if they had a second child.
    My view is this…why endure PAIN, the kind of which you will never hopefully experience in any other way in your life again, to give birth. In today’s world of advanced medicine and pain control? What purpose does it serve? Does it make you a stronger woman? A better mother? Do you get some kind of medal at the end that makes you a standout among other women? An epidural doesn’t enter the baby’s system for the most part…if it does it’s tiny amounts that don’t effect them. You still feel the birth…believe me…they generally turn down the medication so you’re able to be comfortable but able to push. It’s not dangerous generally for the mother…you might get a bad headache a bit of a backache. But the pluses to getting it, for me, surely outweigh the negatives…mostly being able to not suffer while giving birth, being able to really experience the process versus cringing through it and hating it because of the pain.
    Of course, this is just my opinion. I don’t like pain. I’ve had enough of it that was completely unavoidable in my life. This just seemed like an experience where the LAST thing I wanted to feel was pain…and if I could avoid that, then I would.
    It is up to you of course. It’s great to be natural and want to do things the way nature intended…but then again, most of us don’t do much of anything any longer as nature intended…for good reason many times. I say take advantage of what is medically available and enjoy your birth!

  26. Vanessa

    I’ve had three babies. First a cesearean (breech) and then two very natural ‘easy’ births.
    I would say that YES, you CAN just trust your body to give you all the right signs when the time comes… as long as you can trust yourSELF to LISTEN!
    I don’t know if you want to hear other people’s birth experience nitty gritty, but, believe me, having babies bestows us with a certain wisdom and I want to share some of mine:
    Dilation, I think, is all about delving inside yourself. Delving deep down. After a while you’ll be in there on your own, working through your contractions, your dilation, your pain, your sense of overwhelm,… on your own. I think that’s why watching those videos is useless to you: how could you possibly SEE inside those women to where the REAL work is going on? The squirming and whining and ugly stuff you can watch on that screen has NOTHING to do with the real work you will need to do. That is much more silent, much more peaceful and much more beautiful than any of that.
    My tip is to remember that the contractions are much more painful than the expulsion stage, which in the end just feels like an amazing release. Remember that when you are told that the time to push has come! Remember that the hard part is over. Don’t face it with fear: just channel it into strength and power and positive, happy love.
    I was so obsessed with having a natural birth after my cesearean that when it actually happened I was just SO HAPPY, I was smiling and grining and thanking everyone all the time. The medical team couldn’t believe I could be so POSITIVE about the pain. The midwife actually confessed that it’s rare to see a woman give birth in a happy, positive state. Getting what I REALLY wanted (i.e. not just a healthy BABY but ALSO a healthy BIRTH) made me feel so grateful and happy that it was like a DRUG. A drug of contentment and appreciation. One that no doctor can administer and one that no antenatal preparation can recommend.
    Go with the flow, girl… and smile as much as you can cos you’re having your wishes come true 🙂

  27. Julia

    Forgive me for what I’m about to say, but…”Fuck all the classes and books that tell you how you “SHOULD” give birth and parent!!”
    Here’s my story in a nutshell… I was 37 and about to deliver my daughter after many years of miscarriages, and infertility. I had doctors and well meaning friends giving me do’s and don’ts and books to read and advice etc… I had info coming out of my ears, (and it felt like other places as well…)
    So, after hearing 1 too many episiotomy horror stories, and having the nurse midwife tell me that my baby was going to be huge and I was going to have all these problems and complications… I said,”Enough!!!”
    I stuck to 1 book to read that described the birth process in a natural, matter of fact and non scary way. And I attended 1 birth class only and quit for the reasons you described, (the scary videos)
    I just decided to trust my body and my baby to guide me through the process.
    My 7 lb. healthy, daughter entered the world after only about 2 hours of active labor and less than 20 minutes of actual pushing. And NO episiotomy or epidural needed.
    I truly believe that it went off so well because I stopped listening to all the “advice.”
    I don’t mean to sound as if the whole experience was pain free, or not messy and even a bit scary. It was all those things, but so much more because I didn’t let myself go on knowledge overload.
    So my dear Andrea, read and listen to what makes “you” feel informed and powerful about yourself and your baby. Trust yourself and nature and your body and the baby to get it “right.”
    (Also as a footnote: I did give birth in a nice modern hospital with medical personnel standing by “just in case.” And believe me… I’m no hero. If I’d needed meds or an epidural I’d have asked for them!)
    My blessings and prayers go with you to have a healthy and wonderful childbirth experience and a beautiful and healthy baby.
    xoxo, Julia

  28. fern

    birth is birth…
    all I’d ever heard was that is was like having a gigantic shit,(it’s not…well it wasn’t for me anyway)
    after my first baby was born, I was so angry that no one ever told me it might hurt!…duh!
    but the coolest part – and it’s too ridiculous to believe – is that the “pain” doesn’t matter, you don’t need to be afraid. trust…it will be what it is..it doesn’t matter about the women in the video, everyone’s got a story and yours is waiting….so exciting.

  29. Caroline

    Giving birth…..hmmmm, I’ve done it twice and was a coach for one. It’s one of those things that is better not dwelled upon too much ahead of time (learning some breathing techniques is handy but a good coach can lead you through them anyway) because it’s really not something that you can be totally prepared for. Just get your ducks in a row (where, what, who etc.) and then surrender to the experience, your experience. I never felt especially spiritual or enlightended while giving birth (I swore a lot during transition)– it was a job and I was the only person who could do it so I hunkered (sp?) down and did it. The euphoria came for me after it was all over and I was holding my incredible baby in my arms.
    The female body is an amazing machine when it comes to giving birth; it knows what to do. Maybe just trusting the process is the best prep. of all.
    C

  30. herhimnbryn

    “Sit outside”? You were told you could sit outside? Oh my. I do not have children, however after reading yr post I felt anger for you. I know nothing about yr teacher. but she strikes me as unfeeling in the extreme. I think you voiced out loud what many people were probably thinking. Good for you. Go with your instinct. You already know what you want to do……
    ‘At the centre of your being you have the answer; you know who you are and you know what you want.’ (Lao Tzu)

  31. janharp

    “Can I be even more present with less information?”
    YES! (There’s a short answer.)
    You probably already “know” everything you “need to know”, right now. It’s a matter of listening your way through the rest of the experience, filtering out the excess.
    And hire Jen Lemen to be your doula! If I were going to have any more babies, I absolutely would, just for the fun of it!

  32. Rebecca.

    Wow. Do you really have time to read all of these? You are getting faaaaaaar too popular! LOL.
    Okay, I have to put my two cents in. Remember my previous two cents? To do whatever you want regardless of everyone else? Well, here I go again. I didn’t read any other posts (too busy with two small children) but I do have a slightly different perspective on things.
    I think labour is only a process. It is a means to an end. I don’t see it as this magical moment meant to be savoured. I don’t understand a woman’s NEED to have a natural birth. I tried to conceive our daughter for almost a year and a half. For me, I didn’t care how it happened. I didn’t care whether it was vaginal or c-section. I simply wanted a healthy baby. Labour/delivery is hard. Recovery can be hard. Having a new baby around is wonderful. The delivery is simply a process. Putting so much emphasis on something that may not be in your control sets you up for failure.
    My first daughter was breech. I couldn’t change that. I couldn’t control it. I didn’t get to decide how I delivered her. There wasn’t any choice. Whatever ensured her health and safety was the only choice. My daughter is 5 now. She’s beautiful. I adore her. I didn’t need a “perfect” delivery. It is only one day, barely a 2 hour process.
    Pregnancy and childhood are infinitely more precious to me. I cherish those moments.
    The other thing I wanted to mention is about gratitude…. As I said above, I wanted my daughter so badly for so long. When she was born, there were emotional days. Difficult days. Days filled with pure joy. And days filled with exhaustion.
    On difficult days I felt badly because I felt like every day was a gift and I wasn’t appreciating it on that particular day. I was so thrilled to be a mommy that I couldn’t understand why I couldn’t value every minute of every day. I wanted you to know that it is okay to be overwhelmed. To need a break. To have some time for yourself. To think that mommyhood is hard and wonderful at the same time.
    It is okay. Follow your heart. Enjoy. Love. Reach out to share. Take time for you. Rub that beautiful belly and dream of holding your baby.
    Labour will take care of itself regardless of how many videos you watch or books that you read and when that baby scrunches up his eyes and looks at you, labour will fade away….

  33. Sarah

    Hi Andrea,
    Just learn the breathing exercises. They are helpful. Stay calm and centered. When you have a contraction, put your mind on it and feel the body. It is like riding on the waves of the ocean. You trust yourself to do it. You are going to do a great job. I had four and it really is quite doable.

  34. Caroline

    P.S. I really like what Heidi said: “this has a beginning, a middle and an end.” This could be useful when you’re in the thick of it.

  35. umber

    there is lots of good advice here. i loved laboring with my baby, which, after 3 days (no pain meds) ended in a c-section, which I was against. But now I see my healthy daughter and i just feel glad that she’s healthy, no matter what the birth was like. I’m pregnant with my second. I feel like I don’t have to be in control. I never did childbirth classes. Your body knows more about this than your brain will ever care to, so quit thinking about it 🙂 every woman in your family history has successfully popped a baby out or you wouldn’t be there, and they weren’t doing it high-tech or prepared, they just did it. Its in your genes to do this well.
    Labor doesn’t last long. It definately ends. And you will succeed.
    There’s a collective strength that you can call upon in labor. Its a moment that you share with nearly every woman who has ever lived. It’s a moment of communion. It’s a prayer. I felt myself as one of the collective while I was in labor and that made it a lot more managable. I knew I was not alone. I knew it would end. I knew I could do it. Everyone does.
    As an aside, why is it that moms talk about the finite pain of labor so much and no one prepares you for how infinately hard it is to be a sleep deprived parent of an actaul human being? That has always seemed strange to me.
    I have faith in you. You don’t need to see other women, just trust in yourself and all the love that brought this being into the world. Oh, and hire a doula. Let her be the expert.

  36. tammy t

    I so hear you with this post. The only thing I realized after watching these videos is how long childbirth could last. Other than that, I could have done without.
    After having had two children I have to say it was almost better going in the first time fresh to it all. I think you just know you will go thru it and at the end you will have a baby. I remember hitting the wall and claiming I didn’t want to “do this tonight” but knowing that I was strong, and could get thru it.
    Don’t feel silly, don’t worry. You are so not alone. And as far as those books…after a while I had to put them away and just use them as reference because they made me nervous and made me question myself at every turn. I think at some point you have to trust in yourself.
    All the best,
    Tammy

  37. Chalaundrai

    Andrea, I don’t have any children and so I am not pretending to be an expert. But I am a woman who has lived a life. By that I mean that I have been lucky enough to fully experience both sorrow and joy. In the past I tried to prepare for everything in advance….you know copious amounts of research to know as much as possible about something before I went into a situation. This method certainly had merit but it had the tendency to make me fearful about not knowing enough and not being enough. I will give you an example. I started a new job today and on Saturday I was terrified I didn’t know enough and I made myself crazy with worry. I stayed up trying to study but I was worrying more than I was studying. Yesterday, I got up and decided to try something else. I went for soy chai and read the NY Times. I had a wonderful dinner and glanced briefly at my notes before I went and soaked in the bath tub. I went to bed and read for awhile and then went to sleep. When I got up this morning I did a sitting medition and then I did a few yoga poses before taking a shower by candlelite. I am by no means suggestion that this new job is of the same importance as giving birth. But what I do believe is that you can’t figure everything out before hand and that you have to try and be as calm as possible. The most important thing I think is to go in with as much love and a really open heart. I don’t think that anyone can give birth to your baby because no one has given birth to your baby before. He has been waiting for you and your husband. He needs the love that only you and your husband can give and it will be perfect because you both have so much love for him and each other. I send you love and belief.
    Blessings,
    C

  38. Chalaundrai

    oops…I meant to say that I don’t think that anyone can tell you how to give birth to your baby because no one has done it before. He has been waiting for you.

  39. Manda

    Hi dear Andrea
    I have 4 children and really hear and feel what you’re saying. No matter how much you plan and worry, each birthing experience is different, so know that you’re safe and protected and that only good things will happen. Don’t fear the future and what may or may not be, focus your love and peace in the now, in this moment – your beautiful baby boy will thank you for the calm you’ll both be feeling. Remember to breathe deep full breaths – it’s amazing how centred and grounded you feel afterwards. Let go of your fears and feel the excitement instead. I can’t wait to hear the wonderful news. Love, laughter & rainbows Manda

  40. sophia

    Yup, I was right there with you. (I’m sure the other women thank you for saying you were afraid!) Nevertheless, i still wanted to try for an unmedicated birth. Who was the previous poster who said that it’s nothing like how it looks on the outside because you’re completely inside yourself? You’re working something out, riding the waves, doing some exotic dance and moan combination that makes you feel better, going to another place in your mind. It’s deeply deeply primal. I would say that its like a combination drug trip and bad case of diarrhea but that makes it sound awful. It’s also like an orgasm but that makes it sound too pleasurable, It is its own thing and it’s kind of great but it looks really bad to the people who are not going through it. And it;s not only great beacause you have a beautiful baby in the end–the actual process is empowering and deep and powerful in itself.
    I keep wanting to tell you it’s great! I know you’re tired of reading, but I really found Ina May Gaskin’s Natural Childbirth helpful for my fear (and she has lots of tools). Her stories felt empowering and I liked her way of thinking. My fear was simple fear of pain, and I liked new ways of thinking about “contractions” and “pain” –a new language for what my body was doing. I think you’re right to stop watching the videos. You can read up on some good tools that appeal to you(hypnotherapy didn;t do anything for me, certain breathing did), assemble a team of people around you who will listen to your wishes and stay flexible, and you’re ready. (I gave my husband a list of things he could remind me of during the process and that was also helpful).
    all the best…

  41. Boho Girly

    a close friend of mine had the same reaction as you to her classes, video’s books and decided to just let it all go and trust her instincts and birthing team. i have heard that every experience is different for each person so it is not fair for mothers to watch a video and then have expectations for it to be the same.
    i say, just close your eyes and continue to envision the birth experience that YOU want and are comfortable with.
    it is primal and you are a superhero warrior mama and will do amazing! i just know it…and feel it down deep within. and i know you know too. xoxoxo
    loving you,
    denise

  42. faery

    why do we need to go to birth and breastfeeding classes at all? sadly it’s because we have lost a natural handing down of tribal knowledge/wisdom. We no longer see our mother give birth or our neighbour give birth – or even talk much about it. Breastfeeding is also hidden and to some degree medicalised.
    I did a four month course on natural birth and I still had to use all of my knowledge to convince all staff (bar beautiuful earthy midwives) that I knew what I was doing and to let me birth this baby- unassisted! That knowledge did not help me birth better but let me sound like I knew as much as the docs etc so that they would leave me alone (ps you are always allowed to say no to an internal examination. always. yuk.)
    I found breastfeeding SO hard and not natural or instinctive but the only reason i perservered was because I had an image of my friend breastfeeding her 1 year old and it looked so easy and I wanted that too! I had ONE friend that breastfed in public and that image kept me going…

  43. Paige

    Ohhh, this hits all my buttons.
    I did a Bradley class, hired my instructor as my doula, marched into the hospital after having my water break at home with multiple copies of a well-thought-out and agreed-to-by-my-doctor birth plan, labored for hours unmedicated, finally asked for an epidural, labored for several more hours, then pushed for five hours before it was agreed upon by all present that my kiddo’s noggin was NOT going to come through my body. (And after seeing him outside, it really was no wonder.)
    No one could have been more militant about refusing unnecessary interventions than I. (I had my doctor sign an order beforehand that the hospital was NOT to put in an IV just for the sake of having an IV.) And I still had to have a c-section because, guess what? We don’t get to control this.
    THAT was by far the hardest thing for me to come to terms with. No matter how well-educated and informed their mothers, some babies won’t be birthed in the ways we’d all love to receive them, and were it not for modern medicine, many of them (and many of us) wouldn’t be around to kvetch about it later.
    I’m due in six weeks with my second (the mode of delivery is irrelevant), and my advice to anyone who asks is to do what you need to do to feel like you know enough (and only you know what that line is for you), but PLEASE prepare space in your brain, heart, gut for the possibility that things will not go according to your plan. And at that point, be sure to say a prayer of thanks for good medical care. (Presuming, of course, that that’s what you’ll get.)
    Blessings and best wishes.

  44. Kelley

    I had witnessed 4 live births and seen many more on video before I had one of my own, and it always gave me the willies. The videos in my birthing class were the definite low point, so I am totally with you on that.
    I was, however, determined to have a natural, drug-free birth, and I am convinced that without the knowledge we gained in our class, it couldn’t have happened. NOT because I wasn’t able, but because much of my power during childbirth came from my husband and my mom. I absolutely could not have gotten through it without them. I went through over 100 hours of back labor and there were many points during those long four days that both of them, had they not been equipped with the same knowledge I was, could have freaked and gotten scared and convinced me that something was wrong. They were very prepared and stayed with me the whole time, and I know I could not have done it without their total support and knowledge. Obviously, I was the one who had to get the baby out, but after 100 hours, I was literally in a trance. I was unable to talk so they talked for me. I was sapped of all my energy and had to rely on theirs. I had several things happen to me that could have freaked me out, but because we were all so prepared we didn’t get scared. Doctors and nurses don’t like to see these things drag on so long, and they get very nervous when you don’t progress on their timetable. Only one nurse tried to talk us into meds, but everyone else knew exactly what we wanted and were totally behind us.
    So for us, the classes were totally worth it. We took Bradley Method classes. You’ll do what’s right for you, and I promise you won’t be scared when it’s finally your time. Your instinct will kick in, your body will take over, and you’ll get to meet your sweet boy at the end of it all. A healthy Andrea and baby is all that matters, whatever road gets you there is much less important.

  45. m

    Andrea:
    I remember watching the birth video and telling my husband, “I’m not doing that. You can get someone else to do that, but I’m not doing that.”
    I gave birth to number one in a military hospital, where an epidural was not an option. But labor, especially pushing, was the most powerful thing I have ever experienced. I felt like an animal and I felt like a goddess. And when it was over, they put this squalling little chimp on my chest and I said, “I know, that wasn’t much fun for me either.” He stopped screaming and looked me right in the eyes and he knew I was his mother.
    It doesn’t matter how much you read and how much you think you know. In the end, your body knows. Breathe and try to have a serene atmosphere, but in the end, your body knows.

  46. snowsparkle

    i wasn’t afraid of the videos, but i also didn’t relate to them at all. for me, birthing was a big opportunity to learn how to let go of control (you’ll need to get very good at this to survive parenting) and at the same time feel your power. i’d read the books, prepared for the day in every way i could, wrote out my birthing plan and every detail went out the window during the birth. i think our society is waaaaay too big on control… let the mystery and the magic happen. i was 38 and had to push for 3 hours and the doctors started preparing for a c-section… faced with that, i summoned up all my courage and power, yelled “GET OUT!!!” and he was born. Don’t be afraid to find and push your limits. that’s what it was all about for me.

  47. Sandra

    You are such a breath of fresh air!
    Such a coincidence that you should post this right now, I am also pregnant although a couple of months ‘behind’ you. I sat myself down with my husband the other night to watch a tv documentary on natural childbirth. I couldn’t stand it either for all the same reasons as you!!! At first this just made me even more anxious but after a while I feel at peace with my decision to trust myself when the time comes. We shall see in a few months how this goes!
    Blessings,
    Sandra

  48. Carla

    I think knowledge is power and it’s important to know what you’ll be facing at the hospital (or at home).
    I mean everything they will do to help your birth so that you can appreciate it and cooperate with each other.
    I found very very useful my RAT classes, it is a very very big help, during the labour.
    And then, yes, your body already knows everything, but your mind doesn’t, so you have to balance this two parts at your best.
    Remember that your hormones will help you.
    It will be a totalizing experience and it will be great.

  49. wendy

    Oh, Andrea…it DOES seem scary, ESPECIALLY after all those videos. Birth is intense, there is no doubt about that, and regardless of what “they” say, it’s not pretty….IT’S PRIMAL! In birth we become the human animal that we truly are. Trust YES Trust yourself, dear soul.
    Please let me know how and if I can help you in any way. (My favorite book was “Birthing From Within”)
    AND I found that having a doula was worth more than any class I took.
    Love to you, Mama!

  50. Beth

    I was scared by the birth videos, too, Andrea, and during delivery when the nurses asked if I wanted to mirror placed so I could see what was going on, I was certain I didn’t. (And I never did want it. I preferred my mental imagery instead, which kept me focused — I imagined sheet music with crescendos, etc.)
    I agree with Wendy — having a doula was WONDERFUL. My doula had personally given birth five or six times, plus she had trained with a nurse/midwife, and I really liked her. Two of the best things she gave me (although she gave me so much more): Reminded me to breathe (that hee-hee-hoo or whatever, as silly as it sounds, helps immensely) and reminded me that I was *safe*.
    My situation is different than yours in that my son’s dad, although present during the pregnancy and birth, was not emotionally committed to me, and that was harder than I could ever put into words. The doula was there just for *me* without judgement, and that was profoundly valuable. I had a birth plan written out beforehand (per all the books), and I learned that, while plans are nice, it’s more important to go with one’s instincts and be okay with things going their own way. From reading your blog, I think you’ll be amazing with this. 🙂
    Thanks for writing about your experience, and for being brave enough to voice a feeling that might not be considered correct (being spooked by the birth videos). There is no “right” way to feel, and I appreciate your honesty. *giant hug*

  51. Kyran

    I have done it all….natural home birth (amazing, victorious), emergency C-section (tramautic, defeating), hospital with epidural VBAC (calm&joyous). Each birth was different because, well, each birth IS different. You can do a lot on your part in terms of mind-readiness, but there’s a limit to what you can control.
    After giving birth at home to my first with relative ease (they do call it labor for a reason), I was Woman Hear Me Roar. I was on top of the world. I could do anything. It was very empowering, and I had absolute confidence in my authority and instincts as a mother from the get-go.
    My second, more complicated birth that went C-section taught me the hard way I had to hold my expectations lightly. That it wasn’t actually all about me. I was crushed and haunted by the idea that I had failed my second son by not giving him the kind of birth experience his older brother had. (I later came to accept that we both probably would have died if not for the C…no amount of trying harder, breathing deeper, or adjusting my attitude was going to change that)
    My third birth was about flexibility and compromise. I knew I really didn’t want another C-section, but I also knew the limits of my will. I gave myself mental permission to seek pain relief if I found myself shutting down. I had one of my midwives present as a doula. I had an amazing l&d nurse. When the baby came out, I was able to hold my husbands hand and really connect with him. Some might feel I should have been more connected with the baby at that moment, but this unexpected pregnancy had been the source of a lot of growth and upheaval in our marriage and it was a beautiful, triumphant moment.
    Whichever way it goes, the amazing thing is, it will transform you completely, utterly, permanently, and you will hardly be able to connect the dots between what you feel now and who you are then.
    best wishes

  52. Michele

    Andrea, I have never given birth, but I have read your comments and saw a few people mention to you about watching The Secret. http://www.thesecret.tv/
    This is a wonderful movie that may help you. It has really helped me in my life with other aspects. You can watch in online for $5 or if you decide to buy the DVD they will refund your $5 towards the DVD if you previously watched the movie online. I decided to buy the DVD and played it everyday for a week straight. (Yeah, it’s that good.) Believe in yourself that you will make it through. Big Hugs!

  53. Trasi

    From all of the posts above, it’s clear to me that every woman sees it, experiences it, and lives it differently. Some are strong advocates of natural childbirth, some are flexible, go-with-the-flow types. But no matter what kind of preparation you get beforehand, you will not know how it will all come to pass – from a 12 minute pushing session (like my mother with my sister) to 100 hours of back labor, to a whole day of labor that results eventually in a c-section… it could go any which way. But the point is, all of these women lived to tell about it, and you will, too. Whatever lies ahead is going to change your life forever, for the better, and on the other side of it, you will be able to look back at it and think it was amazing.
    From my own perspective, the more staunch a person is about having it all happen “naturally” without medical intervention, the more fear and anxiety there will be. But if this is important to you, I recommend that you just accept the fears as natural, and get comfortable with them. I chose the flexible route – I knew I needed some medical intervention due to having Strep B which would endanger my daughter, and I worked through labor as long as it made sense to do so without drugs. And then I had an epidural, and I ENJOYED the rest of the entire process in a relaxed manner. But only you can know what is important to you from a plan perspective.
    Either way, don’t try and talk yourself out of being fearful. A bowling ball sized creature is going to come out of a very small oriface. It’s a little bit scary! 🙂
    Good luck and we look forward to hearing how your birth story all turns out.

  54. Leslie

    A healthy mother and the safe delivery of your baby is all that matters.
    I didn’t attend birth classes (after the 1st class) because I hated all the talk, preparation, AND most of all the videos. I sensed early on I would need a c-section because of disproportion and I was right. After years of infertility I didn’t really care how this baby was delivered, only that he was safe.
    As for “how to’s” later on………..just love your baby, hold him lots and play with him. Forget all the “rules” and what he should be doing at this age, etc. My babies are 21 & 23 and that is my advice – love, hold and play with them.
    But those videos are scary and are still scary for me whenever I watch “Birth Stories” on TV.

  55. nina

    I think trust holds way more power than knowledge. Of course your body will know what to do. It’s doing it now isn’t it? Afterall, your body is creating a wonderful, safe home for your baby and helping him grow every minute. And you have to give the little guy credit also — he has a job to do and he’ll do it.
    I’ve had three babies — the first at 17 and then last two in my 30s. I went to childbirth classes with the first two and agree that the movies made me feel way more scared than confident, especially the first time. What made me feel better was talking to my baby about it, as hokey as it may sound. I plopped myself down in a chair (not always easy in the ninth month), closed my eyes, held my belly, and let the words spill out. I told him I was afraid and I was sure he was too, but that we would be doing this birthing thing together and that I knew both of our bodies knew what to do. I promised him I wouldn’t do anything to hurt him and that I would continue to love him with all my soul. I even told him about all the great people he was going to meet and the toys I’d bought for him– you know, to entice him to make a hasty exit from my womb! I did the same thing with the last two pregnancies. Toward the end it was, “Okay, it’s time for our little talk.” Did it work? Well, it calmed me down and it seemed like we were both doing our best during each labor and delivery.
    I went the natural route all three times, not because I wanted to be supermama, but because as wimpy as I am when it comes to pain, I’m even more freaked out by needles or anything invasive. With the first two I let them talk me into the narcotic-of-the-moment to “take the edge off,” but that wasn’t much help to me and made it worse. Because your body knows what to do, contractions gradually increase in their intensity. When you “take the edge off” and that stuff wears off, which it does way before you can have another dose, you’re hit with contractions your body hasn’t braced you for. With number three, I didn’t take anything and used hypnosis. It still hurt like hell every time and I remember praying to every being in the universe that would give me a minute. Then the pain stops…not after the baby, but after the placenta is delivered! The labor teachers never told me that there is still more pushing after the baby! But holding your baby somehow makes those final pains bearable.
    I skipped breastfeeding class because I wasn’t in the mood for it. I regret that I didn’t nurse my first baby because all the “adults” around me told I was too young to manage breastfeeding and, sadly, I chose to believe them. I had my husband read the breastfeeding books with my last two and he turned out to be a great coach with that task and he felt needed.
    So yes, you can trust your body and trust your baby, too! You’re already doing a great job!

  56. paula

    in this age of information overload, the ability to wisely filter is incredibly important. perhaps more important that exposing yourself to vast amounts of information.

  57. carolyn

    When I saw the first birth video in our birth class, my first reaction was, “I don’t want to do this anymore. It was fun until now, but the baby can stay in as long as she’d like.”
    As it turns out, I had no choice. But something clicked on during labor and delivery and the fear was replaced by power. It’s truly amazing.

  58. Sally

    Are you doing Birthing From Within classes? I saw the same water birth & elk videos. First of all, the water birth video was completely useless because you cannot see the baby come out! When was had our first, my husband panicked he did not know how the baby would look when he came out (purple), and he thought something was wrong! Also, I really believe the elk video, while informative, contains dated medical information about pain relief. If you decide to go that route (a very PERSONAL decision), know that today’s epidural is really much more “targeted” and highly controlled. It also leaves the system more quickly than they describe. I hope I did not offend anyone with these very personal observations (I feel I always have to make disclaimers when discussing the highly-charged subject of childbirth), but this is how it was for me.

  59. Swirly

    My girlfriend Blair had a “no education” policy before giving birth – no books, videos or classes – and her description of childbirth is perhaps the tamest I’ve ever heard!

  60. Amy

    Andrea,
    You are entitled to everything you are feeling. I have found the time of pregnancy to be information OVERLOAD- from birthing information to baby gear to feeding & parenting philosophies.
    I, too went the natural route (BFW classes, midwife, doula, attempted to birth in a birthing center,) and after 3 days of induced labor then back labor on dry land and in the birthing tub and on a ball and every position that ever existed and then pushing for 4 hrs I had an emergency C-section. OMG- that wasn’t even on my radar. I wish I had prepped a little part of my brain for that scenario… My point is the process is so beautiful and so unexpected that attempt as we might we just can’t script it. The art of letting go is something I wish I had thought about while hormonal and pregnant. Pregnancy was such a truly beautiful, emotional, crazy and intense time that sometimes I wished I had focused more on my big, beautiful body and my powerful hormone-driven moods instead of labor and its process.
    Thank you for sharing your post with us. It is clear by all the responses that pregnancy and birthing are something that STAYS WITH US, it is a defining chapter of our womanly lives. The chance to tell the story again and again is something we do when given the voice. You’re a powerful mamma who will have a beautiful story to tell once you’ve joined us on the other side. Be open to how your story ends. Blessings to you- I’m truly excited for you & Matt. Being parents ROCKS!!!!!!!
    Amy 🙂

  61. Laura

    Hi Andrea, I’ve never had children but my husband and I are trying to decide whether to have one now (me at 40). This sort of stuff scares me too. However, my mom said to me not to worry, that when it starts, all you care about is that little baby and getting him into the world. Another friend said that pregnancy and birth are such a tiny part of the whole huge experience of having a child. Hang in there, we’ll all be with you and helping you.

  62. Sara

    Oh I do agree. That elk video is funny — I remember that. I found it helpful to read really positive birth stories (like those in Ina May’s book), but in some ways many of the videos threw me off. All of them showed a long birth process, since that is the basic assumption. I had a fast labor and kept thinking I wasn’t as far along because it hadn’t been that long. To echo many of the sentiments here, I’d say — trust yourself, you’ll know what you need to know — and the group of people along for the ride will be there for you too. Best of luck to you!

  63. Kathleen

    ((((((Andrea and little one))))))))))))))
    “Knowledge is power”..but also…”Ignorance is bliss”~
    Not to say that you should go in totally ignorant to the birth process…but sometimes too much information is overwhelming! Bravo to you for being brave and real and stating how you feel!
    Birth is different for every mother, it is sooo very personal and each experience is individual and truly “yours”. If you do not feel good about what you are seeing or hearing then your “own instincts” are saying-“hey I can’t take this..I need a break…to step away!” Your feelings of letting go and trusting yourself are so very right–but how do you do that? I cannot tell you–it is again,different for everyone…
    My first experience with birth was very scary, but very empowering…and all I kept thinking throughout the birthing process is that I was “finally going to meet this little one ‘face to face’ for the first time!” And I was mesmerized with that thought so that the fear and everything else did not have room to invade my mind… Your raw honesty is so overwhelmingly refreshing… I wish I could take your fears away…I wish I could give you answers on how not to be overwhelmed…however I believe that if you continue to listen to yourself and speak your mind–and perhaps take a “breather” from the whole “thinking process” about the birth you will feel better….”ignorance” can be bliss if it is just for a day or a few hours…one thing is for sure…you can’t stop a train from running down the tracks…this birth will happen…it will be over before you know it…and then you will have a beautiful new soul to share your life with….
    xxo to you,Kathleen

  64. rougholive

    I can’t wait to be there.

  65. Deby

    I don’t think that there is anything wrong with not wanting to see the videos. I had two kids , no classes because I was pretty certain that the baby would come out, with or without taking a class on how to get them out. I did do some reading, and from having worked in a medical clinic knew the basics. I think some degree of flexibility is key. With my first baby I was set on no pain meds, had a doula and a midwife. I ended up with pain meds, a doctor who I did not really like because my midwife was sick, a doula who seemed disappointed i had pain meds, forceps, an episiotomy etc.. Less than spectacular. 2nd baby I was less resistant to the medical route, ended up being induced because she was late, had an epidural – I understand people’s concerns about the epidural, but for me it made it a much more positive experience, had a male doc – all these things that i thought first time would make for a terrible experience, and it actually turned out to be a much easier and more positive experience than the first, where I had planned everything out. So I’m not sure that there is a magic, right way to things. There are people who have had very positive home birth/natural and those who have had positive hospital births with pain meds.

  66. laura

    Andrea, your birthing teacher sounds like she could do with a little more empathy. She sounds like she may be one of the hippies in the video!! 🙂 Are epidurals a big no no in Berkeley?
    I’d be terrified if I had to squeeze a melon out through a cup. (which is what I’ve heard it compared to!) She should be sympathetic to that! It’s different for everyone and it is not easy. Although, if I were you, then I’d imagine, I’d go to my sister. She shares your genepool and has given birth! What wisdom has she given you?
    My sisters in law tell me that all this, natural is wonderful, you are a woose if you take pain killers is all such horses**t! They say birth is a hugely difficult thing for people to go through. They say it is made MUCH easier by the drugs! 🙂
    Being a never pregnant, never gave birth person, I can’t say, but, I know what I do when I am in pain! I take the drugs! I still experience stuff, it’s just a little duller! 🙂
    Nothing ever comes “naturally”, everyone needs a little guidance and help. If everything does come naturally, then, why were “lactation consultants” invented?! That is also why you have to read books and learn stuff. You learned to walk, talk, swim, ride a bike, read, write. Have you ever done something that didn’t need guidance of some sort? “It’s natural” is something I don’t really buy into. We need help in everything we are first timers at! 🙂
    urban babydot com is a website that spills the truth! 🙂
    Be afraid when you are NOT afraid. be afraid when you think you have it all under control. Fear is natural, primal, adrenaline inducing! Go with the fear. 🙂

  67. Sam

    Your body knows how to have a baby and it will do it with or without you. I am glad I took birth classes because I understood the medical part a little better, so I understood my Dr. and nurses better. But what helped me through labor was my yoga (simple pre-natal yoga, I am very much a novice in yoga. Just breathing and relaxing and knowing that it will end.
    Birth was beautiful- but I really only thought that after the baby was out. Never thought that during. I had 3 un-medicated births- the first not by choice but necessity. I just did what I had to do.
    But I’ve had many friends who have a variety of medical experiences during their childbirths, epidural, c-section, etc., and they were all “Naural Births”. Medicine is there for a reason, and knowing that helped get through it too, knowing you have choices is power. No one knows what they will be like during the birth process. Every birth is different.
    But remember- your body knows what to do- so let it.
    Take care, fear is part of the process, you’ll work through it in your own way. And if you don’t- you’ll still find a way to have the baby!!!

  68. nina

    holy cow, andrea- i wish we were neighbors, because i’d be trekkin’ over to your house right now to talk and talk and talk about this very issue! first let me say that i was the same way…even though i’ve always had a curiousity about birth and the whole process, when i because pregnant myself, i didn’t open a book, and the classes scared the poo out of me. i wasn’t having it. i just went into it trusting myself and it all ended up working out perfectly (although everyone’s different- it worked for me). ironically, i’m studying to become a doula (and loving it) because i do realize that everyone is different, and approaches birth differently, and for some women, learning as much as they can beforehand and having that support and information there is how they are going to best be able to birth. i could talk for hours about this- thanks for bringing it up, and getting my brain going about it-
    you’re going to do great. andrea power!
    xo

  69. Tammy

    I think it is best to have a strong foundation, so if learning the basics makes you feel impowered great. But there does come a point when you need to let go and have your own experience. You can’t go wrong if you have a good support team with you during your labor. And of course you will continue to learn as you go. Finally, I know your feeling afraid of the labor process but once your nine months pregnant you’ll want your baby out of you! That’s a gift from nature.

  70. Carly

    All you need to know is that it’s going to hurt like hell. I’m sorry, but it will. I wish someone had just been honest and told me that.

  71. kris

    Long time lurker — this post, though, makes me break my silence. First off, I’m very pleased that you’re far enough along in your pregnancy that you’re getting ready to give birth. I come from a similar background as yourself when it comes to pregnancy. By the time I made it to term with my daughter, I absolutely didn’t care what happened as long as she made it out alive — the pain of childbirth seemed like nothing compared to the emotional pain of a miscarriage.
    My take (and this might be controversial) is that there’s a tendency to catagorize births into “good births” and “bad births”: good birth = little medical intervention, glowing mama at home in water bath; bad birth = c section, medical intervention. I’ve met women with gorgeous, happy babies who felt like failures because they ended up with a c-section after days of laboring. which is ridiculous and sad.
    For me, the bottom line is that a good birth is one where mother and child emerge at the other side alive and healthy. Everything else is gravy. Yes, one prefers an easy birth over a difficult. But labor simply doesn’t work that way. As those films have shown you, it is unpredictable and intense. But it’s manageable. Really.
    To quote my childbirth instructor (who was wonderful), you do your best to create the birth experience you want — educate yourself, hire a doula, write your birthplan, etc. But ultimately the best way to prepare is to expect the unexpected. And then use your education to make the choices you want.
    You’re a strong person. Anything that happens you will be able to handle. And all those videos you’re watching really won’t mirror your experience. You’ll be inside the experience. And you’ll take it moment by moment, making the best decision each moment demands.

  72. Sergei

    I think it was so rude of your teacher to suggest you to wait outside for the cartoon!
    I am a guy and cannot tell you about the birth from my own expereince 🙂 But I went to those classes with my wife and we both didn’t buy all that breathing techniques and “natural” birth propaganda.
    My wife’s genecologist told her it’s silly to think that being in pain for hours is going to make you feel any better about yourself or your own baby. She suggested to use epidural at the first sign of any discomfortable pain. We took the advice and we were very happy that we did.
    Our birth experience was all filled with joy – no moaning, no screeming, and my wife actually laughed when she was pushing, because she said that it looked funny how everybody gathered around her. As a result we had a beautiful girl who is now healthy and happy and my wife recovered from the whole thing within hours after the birth.
    So I say people should relax and use the advances in medical care to their own advantage instead of putting themselves through pain for the sake of old times. That’s why it’s called OLD TIMES, people – nobody knew better back then!

  73. Aimone

    How much do you need to learn and why read all of the books? To me it boils down to–are you trying for an unmedicated birth or going for the epiural? That’s the starting point of all of this birthing education. To me, why take Lamaze if you KNOW you want an epidural? Then perhaps you want to find out a little about how the hospital works and at what point you can have the epidural and etc. If you want an unmedicated birth and are doing it at home or at a hospital, then I think you want a few techniques under your belt, get a doula or friend coach and get yourself psyched up for it.
    When I asked my friend if she gave birth naturally, she looked at me crazy and said “Oh no. I wanted to ENJOY my birthing process.” They played cards, played music and had a calm, lovely time. I went for the natural, and am happy with my experience, but it wasn’t anything like that.There is no way I would have done it without a great midwife and reading a lot of birth stories to get my confidence up and feel strong. Feeling STRONG–that’s what you want going into this if you’re trying for unmedicated. Some people like reading birth stories, affirmations, yoga, hypnobirthing or…? And then have a good coach to keep you on track, whether it’s a doula or someone you really trust who’s been through it and can keep you confident and comfortable.
    That said, I did have an epidural (also NOTHING to fear) after much pushing and liked both parts of my experience.

  74. Daphne

    I’m a big believer in gathering as much information as feels right (as in, something in me says, That’s Enough!) and then assessing, comparing it to what my inner voice says, and letting go what doesn’t feel right. I haven’t given birth, but it seems like once you’ve got the facts, some tools, and a great support team, the best thing you can do is go on your instincts from there.
    You have a long line of women before you who have given birth. Their knowledge is in you. Trust yourself; if the class feels like ‘too much’ for whatever reason, you don’t have to take in the parts that feel bad.
    You are your own best expert on the topic of your own body, and your own experience.

  75. Deborah

    Oh my goodness… you could copy all these comments and publish a whole book. I haven’t read them all but I’ll just chime in to recommend “Hypnobirthing” by Marie Mongan. I had an amazing experience. It’s the one moment when I felt like a real superhero!

  76. littlepurplecow

    All you really need to know is right there inside of you and it will come into full light when the time is right.

  77. kristine

    I don’t have children and have never been pregnant but what I’d like to share is this: it’s only natural that you would be nervous. It is after all, a miracle the way we are all created and with that said, trust and relax( as much as possible), remembering that this is all far bigger than you. God be with you sweet friend.

  78. Marilyn

    Something tells me that after EVERYTHING you went through to experience what you’re living now, that once your labor begins, all the books and videos and lessons will stay right where they need to–in your head–and your heart will expand with SO MUCH LOVE for this beautiful being you’re creating that the pain will fall into the shadows and your love will step into the light, take you by the hand, whisper in your ear, “Don’t be afraid” and guide you gently through your miracle. At least that’s what I wish for you. xoxo

  79. Leanne

    Hello Andrea!
    I found your site a few months ago by accident & have been enjoying visiting! This is the first time that I decided to comment however! I just wanted to give you my two cents – for what it’s worth! and that is that sometimes too much information can be overwhelming & can make you crazy! I had my 1st child – my daughter, at the age of 23. My daughter’s now 26 & in nursing school – currently in the labor & delivery room & partly why I find this all so interesting…) I moved with my husband from our home in Hawaii -to Ecuador when I was first pregnant with her & didn’t even know it yet. Once I found out – I really ended up having to rely on my own instincts much of the time. I didn’t know anyone in the new city/country that we’d moved to & had unfortunately only taken French in school & my doctor spoke very little english! I had my family mail me a couple of books on pregnancy & babies (Dr. Spock no less! who I’ve since learned didn’t even have kids of his own! & “The Well Baby Book”). They were my bibles at the time & although I know there are much better books out there now – my recommendation would be that you not do what my sister wishes she hadn’t done & that is to buy every pregnancy & baby book under the sun – which can sometimes even contradict one another & leave you wondering just what to believe! Trust yourself & listen to your instincts most of all – you’ll need to learn to do this all along the way as your kids are growing up anyway – may as well start now! I had to laugh about your childbirth videos! Even way back in my day – they were a bit of a trip! My daughter attended a childbirth class at the hospital this evening for nursing school & said they were a little daunting to watch & some of the mom’s & dad’s in the class left more scared than when they came in!! From what I have seen so far – you seem to have a very good head on your shoulders & I think you know that millions of women have been having babies for centuries & you can do this too. Besides – there’s no turning back now right?!! Think what the wonderful outcome will be & focus on that. I promise to keep you in my prayers that you will have a quick & as peaceful & serene a delivery as possible!
    Aloha from Maui!
    Leanne

  80. Adina

    I had the same intuition as you about too much information, so I just refused to go to the only birthing class in the country I am in, and furthermore I avoided all films, even pictures of the process itself.
    What I did though was to read up on all stages of the birth and weight my options carefully. I decided to give it a try the natural way and then switch to epidural in case i could not cope with the pain. that is exactly what happened, and the medical team actually used it as a way to speed up my dilatation- things worked far better after wards.
    I do not regret one bit not watching all those other births, because I could go into it without any expectations and with actually less fear I knew it would hurt, but I did not have 200 images of women in agony dancing around in may head.

  81. Kel

    Just do what seems right for you and your little family.
    When I was PG with my first (of 3), my mother said something to the effect of, “I’m the biggest wimp in the world when it comes to pain and medical procedures — where do you think you get it from — and I had two children!”
    Healthy mom and healthy baby = amazing experience

  82. rachael

    I think knowledge is power, I devoured every book I could get my hands on… but I definitely had the same reaction as you watching the birthing videos. It felt too intimate and raw to be watching, especially with a room full of people. My husband and I both cringed… and after each class I left more terrified.
    But, despite all of the horror stories you may hear, and the scary birthing videos. Every woman will have a different birthing experience. I was prepared for the worst, but my experience was actually pretty great. No drugs, and it was hard work… but a wonderful (tiring/liberating) experience. And I decided from the beginning that I wouldn’t do the Lamaze breathing, because it made me uncomfortable, felt unnatural… and I just thought it sounded stupid. 🙂 I relied on the breathing techniques from my prenatal yoga class instead, and that helped sooo much. In the end you just have to do what feels right for you, and trust yourself. You were born to do this.
    Also, I remember putting a lot of pressure on myself. I was determined to have a natural birth. And I just knew that if I wasn’t able to I would be so dissappointed with myself for not being “strong” or “woman” enough. Like I wouldn’t be a REAL mother if I couldn’t birth my child without pain medication. My advice to you would be to do what feels right for you. Take care of yourself and your needs. You are strong and beautiful, and no matter what the birth experience looks like, the outcome is the same… a beautiful son.

  83. Georgy

    Greetings!
    I have never had children – but, i want to tell you something actual anyway. I am a friend of a lot of ladies who have had children – hey! – I am a “story lady” – i am super friend to TONS of moms and children. About three years ago i knew a friend of mine was going to have a baby. Somehow I “knew” it before the child made it’s presence known. We all called it “my” baby because, somehow this specific birth was extra important to me. Well, two years ago the boy was born. Since i sing, I’m not often available to rush to hospital – but on a Thursday i felt it was time to pray for mom & baby. I sat in my own room and thanked God for everything i could think of, especially that child – and asked for it to go easily for them – I reminded God it was the beginning of a new relationship and new beginnings are supposed to be sweet and tender. When I got home from singing Friday Night there was a phone message from the dad telling me they were on the way to hospital . . . there wasn’t any message after that. When I finally got hold of a family member I learned there was no second call because the baby (Colin Joseph Dill) arrived in seven (7) minutes – with no pain at all.
    So, from a lady who has never had a child, but loves many with all her heart – I encourage you to follow your instincts. That’s what God gave you that “inner knower” for. You can trust yourself, you can trust God.
    ‘bye for now,
    Georgy

  84. surcie

    I’m a reader and a researcher by nature. But when my son was a baby, I think I was making myself a little nutso with the reading. I finally decided not to read about his developmental milestones, etc. unless I had a specific question or concern. Once I put the books away, I actually became a little more confident about my ability to care for and nurture him. IMHO, too much information hurts your confidence.
    You’re a sensitive, intuitive person and those gifts will serve you well.

  85. Teri

    knowledge is power…and your body knows. that’s the thing…your body knows. try to keep your head out of it as much as possible!
    i was psyched that i went to a birthing class to find out things like: which floor is the birthing floor? and what options are available once i’m there? but as far as the how to push out a baby stuff, your body already knows.
    trust yourself. yes, you can trust yourself. your instincts are right on. and however it happens, the moment you meet your son, all this stuff will seem so far away and not important. (that was my experience.)

  86. Jen

    Andrea,
    I so agree with you. After two very educated, well read, well attended pregnancies and cesareans I agree that you know everything. And what you don’t know probably won’t matter. In my case it has provided me with so many what if I had just done this or thats.
    I read so many books. Usually I found myself asking myself what do you think of this book saying x, y, or z. Then if my intuition or my child didn’t fit the bill I would answer, not for me. I tried using the books as a jumping off point to listen to my heart and my partners ideas too. Then there was a time right before the babies came when I stopped reading. I just marinated in the end of the pregnancy.
    In the beginning after the birth I only read about nursing because even though this is natural it is a learned skill for both you and the baby. So I needed the support of a book to remind me that formula wasn’t the only answer. Sometimes my nurses in the hospital were telling me otherwise.
    Then after the first two weeks, I took a break from reading at all. I just got to know our babies. If there was something I wasn’t sure of I would ask the Doctor or my mom or someone else I trust. But, I wanted to have a chance to learn what my inner mom voice sounded like. It took awhile for me to really trust it. I actually didn’t spend time with other mothers until my son was about 6 months. I didn’t realize it then but I was trying to make sure I had the space to figure it out for myself without all those well intentioned ideas about how to do everything.
    I really enjoyed this time in hind site. I hope you find your voice and power. It is there and your beautiful boy knows how to be born. He will help you along with your support team.
    Love and Blessings,
    Jen

  87. carlyn

    I recommend having help lined up for breastfeeding. Nursing was quite hard for me, and doesn’t come naturally for everyone. While I pushed through the difficulties and never needed to supplement, it was a challenge and I could have used much more assistance. However, real people are far more helpful than books for this. My husband and I also took a labor workshop from my prenatal yoga teacher. This was a great way for him to get concrete ideas for ways to support me (physically and emotionally) during labor. Take care!

  88. Jen

    Andrea,
    I so agree with you. After two very educated, well read, well attended pregnancies and cesareans I agree that you know everything. And what you don’t know probably won’t matter. In my case it has provided me with so many what if I had just done this or thats.
    I read so many books. Usually I found myself asking myself what do you think of this book saying x, y, or z. Then if my intuition or my child didn’t fit the bill I would answer, not for me. I tried using the books as a jumping off point to listen to my heart and my partners ideas too. Then there was a time right before the babies came when I stopped reading. I just marinated in the end of the pregnancy.
    In the beginning after the birth I only read about nursing because even though this is natural it is a learned skill for both you and the baby. So I needed the support of a book to remind me that formula wasn’t the only answer. Sometimes my nurses in the hospital were telling me otherwise.
    Then after the first two weeks, I took a break from reading at all. I just got to know our babies. If there was something I wasn’t sure of I would ask the Doctor or my mom or someone else I trust. But, I wanted to have a chance to learn what my inner mom voice sounded like. It took awhile for me to really trust it. I actually didn’t spend time with other mothers until my son was about 6 months. I didn’t realize it then but I was trying to make sure I had the space to figure it out for myself without all those well intentioned ideas about how to do everything.
    I really enjoyed this time in hind site. I hope you find your voice and power. It is there and your beautiful boy knows how to be born. He will help you along with your support team.
    Love and Blessings,
    Jen

  89. denise

    dude
    you are going to be perfect
    just know its ok
    (and my babys WAS BIGUNS.. 10pounders)
    just know its ok
    and the pain
    pfft .. whatever.. its fine
    cause its all worth it
    and thats what mammas do
    you will know from the first twinge
    the pang
    even if you dont know its labor

    you will know your way to be a mommy
    and all the books you read
    well.. you still end up being the mommy you are
    sometimes it seems i can’t evne believe what kind of mommy i am
    HA
    trust your gut girl
    and the baby in there with ya
    your center
    you’ll know
    just what to do
    the baby has to come out
    and trust me
    you want it out
    HA
    then its there
    and it vanishes
    the pain and the labor
    and the intensity of it all
    it is the most beautiful
    amazing creative process that ever was
    birthing a beautiful being into this world
    and the rule books dont matter
    and if you break them.. so what
    you’ll know so much girl
    just who you are
    thru all of it
    let go of that fear
    you are so powerful
    i peronally believe
    ignorance is bliss on some levels
    but each experience is a new one
    and they are all
    just the most
    A M A Z I N G
    T H I N G
    you ever will have known

    i promise
    🙂
    much love beautiful momma
    you rule
    xo xo xo

  90. corilee

    OMG people’s birth stories used to scare the crap out of me. I felt like I had “don’t spare any gory details” written on my forehead. The truth is it’s beautiful *and* scary. Take in only what you need to. Stay centered.

  91. Kim

    When I was being born, they didn’t really do epidurals. My mother demanded the doctor whack her with a sledgehammer, and to please raise me in the event of her death.
    Knowing this, I’m getting an epidural about one week before my due date. The kid pretty much guarantees 18 years of pain. So, get the drugs while you can.

  92. marci lambert

    you’ve been given lots of great advice. all i’ll add is that if you are giving birth in a hospital, it is a good idea to know how hospitals like births to go (come in, get an epi, lie in bed til the doc comes in to deliver–i’m not being critical; it’s a way for them to manage patients). ina may gaskin talks beautifully about how to have a natural birth in the hospital, and i don’t find her scary at all. if you are tired of all the info, at least look into a doula. find someone whom you really feel a bond with; you need to trust her advice. and finally, think about how you’d like your birth experience to go, but be prepared for things to be completely different. it’s okay. no matter how the baby comes out, you still get a baby at the end!
    a while ago, i used to pray everyday for a baby to come into your life. i’m so happy that it happened!

  93. stef

    just know that you will *know* what to do, it’s the most natural thing in this world …listen to your body and yourself and you will be just fine….it is scary, most things are the first time around….
    xoxoxo

  94. Puanani

    I have been reading your site for a month or so and am now moved to write. I am so happy for you and the gift of life you have been given. I went into labor four days after my 22nd birthday. I never finished the Bradley Method birthing book, my husband and I never went to a class. My daughter’s birth was hard, enlivening and the most incredible moment of my life…and it was all mine. All will be fine, trust yourself, it is your dance, you and your child will know the steps. She was born fat and healthy on a futon in a house on the North Shore of Oahu, I even got to cut the cord. That event has shaped our relationship throughout her sixteen years…blessings.

  95. Lori

    Two quotes from my blog’s pregnancy archives:
    — I don’t find the relaxation exercises at the childbirth class very relaxing. We’ve only had one childbirth class (we have the earliest due date of anyone in there, fwiw), but so far I’m finding the part where we get down on the floor and try out different “relaxing” positions extremely annoying. I’m actually able to relax pretty easily by my own methods, and I’ve already tried out several positions that I think would be useful for laboring; however, practicing them (and others) in class is so irritating that I’m afraid that it will ruin whatever solace I might otherwise have gained from them. I think next week I might have to leave the room when we get to that part, just so I can retain my inner calm. — 10.28.04
    — … and then last night at my class, the instructor said, “at the end, we’re going to do a mock labor!” I poked Al and said, “oh! I just read about this on the ‘a little pregnant’ woman’s site!”
    So I’m all excited about this… until the “mock labor” starts. Turns out it’s not the role-playing thing at all. It’s the standard “relaxation” exercises, only this time longer, with extra huffing and puffing that made me feel like I couldn’t breathe (which in turn made the asthmatic in me panic). I mentioned before that I don’t find the relaxation exercises relaxing at all—in fact, I find them downright irritating—and as this “labor” progressed, I felt myself getting more and more ANGRY. And uncomfortable. And needing to pee.
    I got up to relieve my bladder, and when I returned, instead of getting back down on the floor, I sat in the chair behind Al, up against the wall. I was doing my best not to seethe at being duped into sticking around for this huff-and-puff session when our instructor said, “OH! I forgot about the thigh squeezing! Coaches: Remember how last time I had you squeeze your partners’ thighs to simulate contractions? You should do that now. Al, you can turn around and face Lori in the chair and squeeze from where you’re sitting.” Al had barely turned his head toward me when I said, without moving any part of my body except my lips, “DON’T. TOUCH. ME.” — 11.17.04
    I was pretty angry that we’d suffered through all the childbirth classes when I found out A was breech and we were going to have a scheduled C section. We got more out of that show on Discovery Health (Birth Day?), mainly because they occasionally film at the hospital I was delivering at. It’s how we picked the doctor who did my C section. (We had a choice between a doctor we’d met and one we’d only seen on an episode of Birth Day, and we went with the latter. We strongly disliked the other doctor. 🙂

  96. Carole

    Dear Andrea,
    I don’t know why so many childbirth classes put us through watching other people’s birth experiences, simply because every woman’s experience truly is different.
    As human beings, we tend to want information so that we feel in control; we are fearful of the unknown. Andrea, in order to be a good mommy, you don’t need to watch those films or put yourself through anything that makes you feel uncomfortable. Birth is a challenging process, but truly, it only lasts a day or so. The recovery is challenging, physically and hormonally, but I can tell you that not a day goes by without me looking at my son and thinking how it was SO WORTH IT! Further testimony to this is that I am expecting our second child in February, and even though I know I will be experiencing birth and the recovery again, I fear it so much less because I’ve seen the other side now. You CAN do it, and I would just recommend lining up lots of people to support you after the baby comes – like making meals for your family, having someone to call who can watch your son for just a bit so you can take a shower, etc.
    All that said, the breathing and relaxation techniques were helpful to me. I also stepped out of the room when those videos came on. A co-worker gave me a book that my husband enjoyed with graphic photos of fetal development; I refused to look at it (I wanted to keep a positive image in my mind of me holding our fully developed and healthy baby). You do not have to justify these choices to anyone, Andrea. This is your baby! Hooray! And no matter what your experience is, I think it is an important process for us to be able to debrief it – in a journal, with a trusted friend, etc. Inevitably people wanted to share their birth stories or some horror story in detail when I was expecting my first, but I just interrupted them and said, “I appreciate you wanting to share with me, but I’d really rather hear it after I give birth. Thanks!” And usually they would stop and understood, no problem.
    There’s lots more I could write, but I don’t want to overwhelm your comments section!
    Best wishes,
    Carole

  97. Andrea

    When my husband & I went to our first Lamaze class, my husband was acting kind of goofy & immature, horsing around, etc. Needless to say, I was trying to take the whole thing seriously, and I got irritated & I told him so at the next break.
    All of a sudden, he got really serious and said, “Ang, when you look deep in your heart, do you really think that we need to be here?”
    We got up & left & never looked back.
    BTW, the labor & delivery nurse taught me everything I needed to know about breathing in about 3 seconds. Worked like a charm.
    And that focusing on something business, didn’t work for me either. I’m not usually much of a TV person, but there was something about having the TV news on all night long as I labored, with the sound barely audible – it was like a mind-numbing chatter that was downright hypnotising! (The same thing on a regular day would drive me insane!)
    It’s often easy to fall into someone else’s goals for us, even with childbirth.
    Instead, trust yourself. You know!

  98. joanne clark

    I was interested to hear your views on antenatal classes and birthing information. I haven’t given birth myself (yet) but I worked in a maternity unit for 8 years.While part of me wants to embrace the whole natural, ‘hippy’ birthing experience the other part knows this cannot always be possible. Working in maternity opens your eyes to a whole range of pregnancy and birth complications and this can increase your anxiety about having your own baby. On the other hand, the midwives will promote a natural delivery as possible (ie. in antenatal classes). Your mind ends up being caught between the two. My advice to you- if you can call it that- would be to keep open minded about what will happen at the birth. No-one can say for sure they will have a perfect water birth with whale music in the background, just as they can’t say that something will go wrong. Enter into the experience with a positve mind but be willing to accept that things may not go how you had hoped in terms of pain management, breastfeeding etc. Ease up on youself a bit.

  99. Renee

    Andrea, I went through the same classes in Berkeley. I also felt that I didn’t need to know as much and that the classes were making me more afraid. I closed my eyes while watching the videos. (I gave birth in Alta Bates at the end of July).
    In the long run none of it mattered. When labor came, it was different and worse than anything they showed us in the labor class. The fact that I breathed through contractions, did massages etc. etc. had served me badly – I did not give up on the idea of a completely unmedicated labor until it was almost too late for me to give birth vaginally, with or without medications. Throughout these hours of hell I kept telling myself “I am going to meet my son soon”. The thought filled me with so much happy anticipation and I was not afraid. If there is one thing I have learned during my labor, and it was a profound thing for me to learn – that there are some things you cannot control, no matter how hard you try. Labor, hard or easy, is a matter of luck – and courses can only go so far in preparing you towards what’s to come.
    But focus on this: focus on your baby. This journey is not yours alone, but also your baby’s – a journey of two. The world multiplies as you give birth, and fear for one’s well-being becomes a very marginal thing.

  100. Annie

    Hello Andrea,
    I was recently reading through my own journal when I was pregnant with my first child and so many of the same issues came up.
    If you have not all ready done so, read “Birthing From Within” it was one of the most valuable books I read during that pregnancy and the next. For a creative soul such as you, it is a wonderful tool to help navigate the unknown territories that come with birthing our first child. Just remember, you are amongst gazillions of women who have been doing this for a gazillion years!

  101. Desiree Evans

    Oh, how I can relate to what you have written about the birthing videos, the so-called preparation by reading books and magazines and getting advice. I remember them speaking of having a birthing plan during the prenatal classes – what a joke. Nothing went according to how I “planned” it in my head. It was a beautiful experience but after being induced twice and finally being in severe labour the epidural was all I cared about and all that helped me through the process. My baby was whisked away when born because of mecconium (sp?) covering him head to toe and an arm up to its elbow was in me trying to get the placenta out! NOT WHAT I PLANNED! I also remember being told how wonderful and magical it would be when I saw the baby…all I recall is how damn tired I was and this little stranger was crying and screaming! It took weeks for me to feel that motherly bond (breastfeeding also was a nightmare for me) and I felt like a failure for not feeling all the things I was told I should feel. Ultimately the experience is different for every person and no amount of pre-education and planning can prepare you for what’s ahead. The best advice someone could have given me is to go with the flow because any number of things can affect the birthing “process”.

  102. Ann

    The unknown is scary no matter how many classes you attend and videos you see. The best you can hope for is the learn the basic ideas of dealing with the pain and how the whole ordeal usually plays out and then when the time comes you take that info along with your gut reaction to it all and just do it. Nothing truly prepares you for it the first time. Just go with it and experience it. We all get through it.
    Lazame breathing didn’t seem to work for me when I was in labor. I wanted to do things my own way. My husband as a coach only distracted me. I did my own “Lazame”…I hummed Christmas songs while breathing short little puffs! Hey, it worked for me. I took the Lazame info and adjust it to work for me at the time. The nurses thought I was crazy, but I was the only one of us moms in labor that was controlling the pain.
    Something else…I learned how to control my own back labor…just by chance. The bed had a footboard so I braced my feet against it and had the nurse stuff pillows against the head of the bed that was in an upright position. When the contractions got bad I’d press against the footboard to apply the right amount of pressure to my lower back.
    It’s odd that I ended up just dealing with it all myself, but it’s what I found worked for me. Everyone has their own way…their own story and you will too. Keep an open mind and be creative with the info you have learned.

  103. apartments warsaw

    Oh, how I can relate to what you have written about the birthing videos, the so-called preparation by reading books and magazines and getting advice. I remember them speaking of having a birthing plan during the prenatal classes – what a joke. Nothing went according to how I “planned” it in my head. It was a beautiful experience but after being induced twice and finally being in severe labour the epidural was all I cared about and all that helped me through the process. My baby was whisked a I disagree go to http://www.apartments.waw.pl

  104. Johanna

    I did no reading whatsoever about the birth process before my first birth. It wasn’t a conscious decision, I just wasn’t very interested. I spent my last days reading fashion magazines instead ;).
    Everything turned out fine anyway. I only have one advice:
    Let your partner massage you gently on the lower back when you are in pain. It helps a lot.

  105. Rae

    Holy Cow, COMMENTS! It’s enough for a new book on birthing. I remember when I was giving birth to my second baby in San Francisco and my midwives had me watch this video with Russian women who went ice swimming while pregnant and gave birth to their babies in the Black Sea, and the whole family went swimming with dolphins afterward… have you seen this one yet? Anyways, I was on my second, so I could look at the Russian woman in the tub who was SMILING WHILE SHE WAS PUSHING and just feel all like, “Whoa, okay, maybe that’s nice for her, but it will never, ever be me.” There is such a thing as overkill, I think, and especially with your first, because you’re new in the water, (sometimes literally) and you don’t know what you can just brush off. And I think too much knowledge sometimes is really crazy, I didn’t get much out of birthing videos, I got more out of knowing that I could work my way through pain, and that it was a long race with a big reward.
    You’ll be fine.

  106. robin

    I was looking over a book that my sister in law gave to me and I just got back from a friend – the first quote I read was this….
    Quit turning to someone else to do your thinking. You see that little squirrel out there in that tree? She has babies, and she has never read a book. Maybe it is not quite that simple, but it is not half as complicated as the books, neighbours, grandparents and doctors would make you think it is.
    Leila Denmark, M.D.,
    a 102 year old pediatrician
    (the oldest practicing physician in the US)
    And below it…..
    NEVER EAT MORE that you can lift.
    Miss Piggy
    Love it – it is not that simple, but it isn’t that hard unless it has to be. Don’t give in to doubt and don’t fight intervention if you or the baby are at risk. And trust yourself and your team implicitly.

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