Tuesday 15 June 2010


I went to my first antenatal class the other day. Imagine if you will, 12 couples, the women looking uncomfortable and slightly nervous; the men, equally as nervous with a twist of utter boredom thrown in for good measure. So there we were on a Sunday (during World Cup no less, priorities people. At least there could have been a TV set, no?!) sitting on the world's most uncomfortable chairs in the waiting room of the antenatal hospital wing – the thought was it was the one area that had the most bathrooms for those of us with impaired bladders. The men clearly had no problem with this arrangement; it was those of us with human basketballs shoved up our innards that couldn’t find a pain free way to sit that didn’t result in a small baby foot wedged into our ribs.

And as always the leader of the class was an uber-peppy mid-wife put on this earth to lead us through the minefield of giving birth. (I have to admit it always unsettles me a bit to be taught be someone who has not gone through the experience. Then again, she has seen hundreds of screaming women go absolutely primal, so I’ll cut her some slack). The first thing she did was bust out a model of a pelvis, and a ragged beat up doll that resembled Chucky from those evil horror films and began to show us how the baby moves through the pelvis and out into the world. The problem being, it’s not such an easy journey, as the baby essentially has to bend and contort like a pretzel to get through the maze of a pelvis that looks freakishly small. I of course immediately felt compelled to stand up and start doing squats to stretch my pelvis out - ‘Honey, grab a hip muscle and pull damn it, PULL!

She then proceeded to go into every detail of labor; I mean every detail while the couple on my left asked question after redundant question (“so a contraction means the womb contracts in and out?” Um, yep that about spells it out, no surprises there) and the wife of the couple on my right had to translate every single word in a loud whisper to her husband for the entire class as he didn’t speak any English.

The only thought I of course had in my head during all of this was drugs (legal ones people, settle down). When do we get to the part about the pain relieving drugs!!! However, I soon discovered that the whole drug topic is slightly looked down upon – cause you know, passing a child the size of a watermelon through your vajayjay is natural, and should be a pleasure cruise full of love and birth pools and hypno breathing techniques that will whisk away the pain and leave you surrounded by fluffy clouds.

OH SERIOUSLY???? Show me where I stick the needle filled with opiates and I’ll do it myself. My thought is this, I’ve experienced pain in various ways throughout my life. I’ve been hit in the nose with a baseball bat and in the forehead (separate occasions if you can believe it and purely accidental); I’ve had stitches, burned myself, cracked my head open on a bed frame - you know, some painful stuff. And in all those occasions I never used something like hypnotherapy to get me through the experience. It was straight to whatever pain reliever I could get my hands on and fast! So why on earth, during the most painful experience OF MY LIFE (so I'm told), would I think imagining me walking on a white sand beach is going to cut it?! 

The problem with this class, other than having to sit still for six hours was that I’m not sure I want to know every detail of what is in front of me. I suppose part of me likes the myths dispelled, but the other part of me thinks, if every woman’s labor is different, then who knows where the hell I could end up. I could be the woman running loose in the hallways, gown open, screaming like a banshee cause I've been in labor since last Tuesday. Then there will not a birthing pool big enough in the entire universe to tame this beast. Just saying.

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