Freaking out … just a little

I attended my first-ever antenatal class on Monday night and what an eye-opener it was. However the biggest realisation for me was learning just how much I didn’t know thus rekindling my romance with Google and leaving me to try to resist the urge to buy every pregnancy/childbirth book on the face of the planet. I am also starting to freak out … just a little.

The group of expectant mothers meets weekly and is facilitated by members of the South West branch of the Australian Doulas. I found out about the group from one of the facilitators who is a friend of mine and a doula herself.

A doula is someone who supports the mother and her partner before, during and after childbirth. While a doula has no medical qualifications like a doctor or midwife they are trained and experienced in childbirth. Most are mothers themselves. They are the ones who will speak up for you during labour and make sure your birthing plan is followed through as best as it can. They are also handy to have around if your partner needs to step out for a moment. Think of a doula as your very own personal birthing cheer squad.

I am keen on having my doula friend at the birth – The Boy not so much. He doesn’t want anyone else in the room. *sigh* That’s a whole other blog post.

Prior to Monday evening my birth plan was simple – a natural birth with no drugs no matter what.

This still forms the basis of my plan however after talking to the other expectant mothers and the lovely course coordinators I am now aware of so many other things which are worth considering.

For example delayed cord clamping which up until 24 hours ago I’d never even heard about. Did you know by cutting the umbilical cord straight after birth your newborn misses out on about 32 per cent of its blood which is filled with all kinds of goodies? According to a 2005 study a two-minute delay in cord clamping increased the child’s iron reserve by 27 to 47 mg of iron, which is equivalent to one to two months of an infant’s iron requirements.

I also learned television has a lot to answer for. Birthing on your back is a no-no. It makes sense too when you think of where everything is positioned. How on earth is a baby meant to navigate itself up out of the womb – being in some kind of an upright or squatted position makes the most sense.

Hopping into the bath at the wrong time can also slow down labour – another thing I was unaware of. It’s also not a good idea to sit in a bath once your waters have broken, unless you’re at the hospital, as it may result in an infection.

There is so much to learn and I can’t wait for next week’s meeting.

Like I said despite this extra knowledge I am now starting to freak out about the birth. What concerns me is would my GP/obstetrician or midwife have told me about any of this? I certainly wouldn’t have thought to ask. When I visit my GP I bring with me a list of questions each time and he’s not entirely forthcoming with information. Am I purposefully being kept in the dark? I am now petrified of the birth being taken over by the ‘professionals’ and my birth plan going out the window. How do I prevent this from happening? I would love to hear from the other mothers out there. What are your birthing experiences? Do you have any advice for first-time mothers? Let me know by leaving a comment underneath.

Maternally yours, Nervous Nelly.

P.S. I strongly advise any first-time mothers to consider taking alternative antenatal classes as well as the ones put on by your chosen hospital. You’ll learn so much more and it’s always good to keep your options open. Not to mention the fabulous other first-time mothers you’ll get to meet.

Adults say the darndest things

So pretty much every mother on the face of the earth – slight exaggeration – warned me how all other mothers (not themselves of course) would soon begin sharing their horror stories or give me well-meaning advice but boy oh boy I didn’t realise just how crazy it would get. Nor was I ready for some of the questions people would ask me.

‘Oh so was it planned?’ ‘Did you mean to get pregnant?’

Wow just wow. I lump this question into the same category as ‘so how much money do you earn?’ None of your Goddamn business. Seriously I would never ask anyone either of these questions. They are both personal and why on earth would anyone need to know the answer. So note to yourselves don’t ask EVER.

Right from the get go – and I’m talking within the first five minutes after revealing the news to family and close friends – the birthing stories started to come flooding out. ‘I was in labour for two days’, ‘Oh you’ll have the epidural’ and various tales of areas being cut and ripped. This was coupled with a smug ‘you have no idea what you’re talking about’ look when I’d reply ‘no I’m going to try (note I said TRY) to have as natural birth as possible’.

Thanks guys – I’ve just told you this amazing news and all you can do is talk to me about how awful childbirth is. Also you’re probably right and I may cave and have an epidural but can’t you just humour me for a while. I can’t wait to hear everyone’s reaction once I tell them I want to try a waterbirth.

Speaking of awfulness why is it that nobody ever has a nice story to share? It’s always the horrors. It’s as though it’s a competition to see who had the most hellish experience. Do mothers develop amnesia once they’ve stopped being pregnant? Do they not remember how horrible it was when other mothers told them their horror stories?

Note to mums – even if you had the WORST experience on the earth, keep it to yourself or at least wait until the expectant mum has given birth herself. New mums have enough anxieties as it is without your own thrown into the mix.

If it isn’t talk of childbirth it’s people with the best intentions telling you what life is going to be like after childbirth.

*screaming baby* ‘ha ha that’s what you guys have to look forward to’

*toddler throwing a tantrum* ‘ha ha that’s what you guys have to look forward to’

Sigh, yes both The Boy and I are fully aware being parents will not be a walk in the park but just once couldn’t the following happen…

*baby smiles at mother* ‘that’s what you guys have to look forward to’

*toddler tells dad I love you* ‘that’s what you guys have to look forward to’

Unbelievably I ran into a girl I had not seen in almost 10 years at the Farmers’ Market the other week and she said to me ‘you’ll never go back to work’. I had not even brought up the topic but apparently this person who I’d not spoken to in a decade could forsee my future.

Another well-meaning friend informed me I would not be doing anything for New Year’s Eve next year. Nothing, not a damn thing. Apparently having a baby leaves one housebound. Housebound and in tears.

So in a nutshell please be aware of what you’re saying when an over-the-moon first-time-mother tells you her amazing news. Don’t forget she’s hormonal, anxious and probably – like me – a bit clueless so will take these things to heart. Before you launch into your own experience pause and think of a special moment guaranteed to leave her walking away with a smile on her face.

Maternally yours, Mum-To-Be.