We had our fifth Bradley class yesterday evening. It was about first stage labor. I thought it was very informative - the first time I've *really* felt like I'm learning something in class. Don't get me wrong, I don't think the classes are useless. If I wasn't already so well-versed in the nutritional aspects, I would already have learned a lot. I think it's important to include everything we've gone over so far. Part of the Bradley philosophy is not just the birth process, but how to stay low risk and healthy so you don't end up needing unnecessary interventions caused by things you could have prevented by, for example, eating plenty of protein, salt, water, etc.
Last night the instructor had a couple who "graduated" from her class come in to speak to us about their experience. It's always nice to hear or read birth stories from people who made it through without any medication. We are so innundated with birth images from the media that show screaming, irrational, out of control women. It's good to see the other side of birth. We also talked about what is happening to your body during the first stage (basically the whole time up until the pushing), and emotional signposts. Next class will be about transition and the pushing stage. That is the part I am most nervous about, even though I keep hearing that pushing is a relief and easier / less painful than contractions. I keep thinking about the baby coming out of that rather small orifice and, well, it doesn't sound very relieving to me and I'm sure you can see where I am going with this.
I also have a few book recommendations that I keep meaning to do separate posts on, but since I keep getting sidetracked, I will just throw them out there for you.
The first is Real Food for Mother and Baby by Nina Planck.
This is a great overview of proper nutrition in pregnancy. It reads more like two girls sitting down to talk over coffee than a how-to manual. It doesn't tell you to eat 2 of this and 5 of that. Rather it gives principles and general guidelines to follow to ensure you are getting the best nutrition possible for yourself and your baby. Highly recommended to read before you even think about getting pregnant, since it is so important to have proper nutrition in place in the months prior to conception.
Second is the Baby Bargains book by Denise and Alan Fields.
This book has been my bible for what to buy for baby stuff. It is very easy to read and provides reviews and ratings of pretty much any baby product on the market. Invaluable for the crib and carseat safety recommendations. I would have probably spent (splurged) $300 (in gift cards! shut up!) on crib bedding if it weren't for the advice of this book: don't bother with bumpers since you'll have to remove them once the baby can pull herself up, and quilts are useless since you can't really use them until baby is a toddler. My copy is already dog-eared and well loved.
The last book is Taking Charge of Your Fertility by Toni Weschler.
You've likely already heard of this book, but if you're like me, you decided it wouldn't be useful for you because a) you are on the pill or using condoms, b) you're not having trouble conceiving (perhaps you are not even TRYING), or c) you just don't really care that much. I was all three at one point. However, I hope I can persuade you, if you are a woman or if you are married to a woman, to at least give this one a skim. I wish I had read this book years ago. It explains a woman's cycle and the changes she experiences throughout the month. Yes, it does teach you how to chart your cycle so you know when you ovulate, but the information goes beyond learning how to do that. Even the charting info is really interesting. I thought it would be a huge pain to take my temp every morning and record it on a chart, but I decided to give it a try, because I finally got fed up with the pill.
I struggled for years with the pill - trying different brands and feeling each time like I was getting progressively more batshit crazy. Not to mention, when I finally went off it, I became amenorrheic for 18 months. Now, I don't know for sure if it was the pill or my thyroid troubles or something else, but I'm willing to bet the pill had at least SOMETHING to do with it. It took a combination of cutting way back on my exercise, gaining 20 lbs, reducing stress in my life, acupuncture, and natural progesterone cream, to get my period to start again.
So after giving up the pill, and encouraged by the Earth Mother and her husband who came to talk about Natural Family Planning to our group during our Catholic Engaged Encounter marriage preparation weekend, I got this book and started charting my cycles. And I thought it was kind of fun, even! Like a little science expirement. And we got preggers right away. ANYWAY, all that just to say I think this book is worth your while.
PS: I get nothing if you buy these books. I just like them and thought it would be helpful to pass it along.