25 Weeks: Thoughts On Childbirth Class

If you checked into KERF, you probably know that this past weekend Matt and I attended a “Fast Track” childbirth class at our hospital, Martha Jefferson.


When I first started to think about childbirth classes, I looked into what was available here. There wasn’t a ton. From what I heard, there’s a Bradley-like class 45 minutes away for 8 weeks, a few classes at a birthing center nearby and the standard class at the hospital where most women deliver. I do think if the Bradley-like class had been held in Cville we might have done that instead, but neither of us could even imagine a regular hour and a half of driving on weeknights (we hate to drive 5 minutes!), so that one was quickly crossed off the list. As someone who is hoping to deliver naturally in a hospital with a doula, I felt that the hospital’s class was the best for us. I wanted to hear what the place where I would be had to say. Having completed the class, I’m SO glad we went this route.

I’ve listened to tons of podcasts on birth options and different hospital procedures, and it was invaluable to have the class taught by a L&D nurse who knew all the protocols we could expect. And for the most part, I really liked what I heard.

We had the option of doing an “every Wednesday night” class or this one weekend one and I asked some of my mom friends around which they did and was it enough. Two of them had gone through the Fast Track and also had natural births with the same doula that I am using and they said they felt more than prepared, so we moved forward with our $100 weekend course. I think I can probably gain everything I would have learned in a long weeknight regular class from lots of reading, minus the mingling with other couples, which I’m trying to get in through other outlets, so this was definitely the best investment of time.

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The Friday night portion of the class talked a lot about the stages of labor and what to expect in a normal birth. Here are things our instructor shared that I found helpful:

-The instinct to clean the house by scrubbing the floors on hands and knees is actually a really good position to get the baby prepared for labor

-Women need to feel safe and secure in a relaxed mental state before their bodies will allow them to go into labor (this is obviously not scientific, but it makes sense). When you think about animals who go find a quiet place alone to give birth, you can imagine we humans might mentally seek a similar peacefulness for labor to begin. (Ina May’s book confirms this!)

-A big part of labor is pain perception. What are you focusing on and how does that affect the hormones in your body? Are you allowing the maximum oxytocin to flow or are you fearful and scared? If you’re tense, pain will be perceived as worse. If you’re relaxed, you will feel less pain (again, not necessarily scientific, but I like this concept)

-Laughter is a great tool to minimize pain perception. Our instructor listened to comedy during her labor and laughed her way through

-Getting in a tub with the water line at the nipples stimulates them and can help progress labor (while the warm water relaxes)

-Hands should be placed to the side during pushing because putting them under the knees actually makes the pelvic floor more tense

I was glad to hear so much information on how to handle labor naturally in the class – because you never know when the epidural won’t work…

Much to Matt’s happiness (I kid) we did have some role playing, but it was pretty fun : ) Clothespins on the ears and ice in the palm simulated early and active labor. I loved being all over the ball and rolling around while Matt put his hands on my back.

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After practicing with the pain, going to prenatal yoga for a few months and thinking about my personality and previous pain experiences, these are things that I think I will like during labor:

  • Massage
  • Touch
  • Moaning (because I have a history of moaning during hangovers to make me feel better :mrgreen: )
  • Popsicles (duh!)
  • Getting in the tub to relax
  • Yoga ball and yoga-like stretches

Interestingly, during my prenatal yoga class when we are asked to hold poses that I find really tough, I do my best when I take my mind outside of the class. I think about what’s for dinner or an upcoming event and before I know it the pose is over. However, if I really focus on the pose – the pain in my quads, the teacher telling us to put our breath into our quads – I can’t handle the pain. It’s too much perception. I think this is one of the most helpful realizations I have made in preparation for labor. I would have predicted that I’d be the kind of person to really focus on a contraction and what my body is doing to cope. But I actually think I’m going to be one of those “mind goes to a deserted island” types who gets in a zone to get through a contraction. Only the real deal will tell!

I really enjoyed learning more about our hospital during the class, and I got a lot of my questions answered. Here are a few facts about where I’m headed:

  • The hospital has jacuzzi tubs and yoga balls in every room (although water births are not permitted)
  • They have a security system to prevent the theft or mix up of babies (I had never heard of this! It’s like a clothing store alarm!)
  • Skin to skin is promoted
  • You can request to have the first bath done in the room
  • Eyeball antibiotics and vitamin K shots are standard (although you can opt out of either…we probably won’t)
  • Babies stay with the mom in the room and don’t go to a nursery unless requested
  • You are asked to give a blood sample upon admission to type your blood for a transfusion and the IV will stay in while you’re there. (I am NOT happy about this at all and will probably agree to the blood draw but will decline the IV line unless I actually need an IV. I don’t want the psychology of having that in my arm..)
  • Monitoring is done once an hour in early labor, every 30 minutes in active labor and every 15 minutes during transition
  • The beds are really cool and can morph into all kinds of pushing positions – including a squat bar and mirror capabilities
  • They don’t do walking epidurals or the kind that are patient-controlled in intensity
  • 2010 stat: 62% of vaginal birth moms got epidurals (that means 38% didn’t!)
  • 2010 stat: 32% c-section rate (This surprised and disappointed me)

We did talk about interventions and role-played an epidural and a c-section. Obviously if the baby’s health is a concern, thank goodness for interventions, but that doesn’t take away the fact that I am scared of anything but natural birth.

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My only wish for the childbirth class was that they combined a hospital tour with it. The tours are separate on Tuesday nights and require another trip there yadda yadda. It would have been nice to see the L&D area either just before or just after class and save an extra trip back.

Overall, the class made me much more confident in myself, my husband and the place we chose to deliver (sans the C/S rate number..). I’m glad we took the weekend to go through the class together, as the partnership was something we could not have gotten from a book.



No Woman No Cry

Laundering, Stuffing, Folding

Stretch + Grow


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96 thoughts on “25 Weeks: Thoughts On Childbirth Class”

  1. We also did a fast-track class and I think it was the best option for us. After all, I ended up having an unmedicated birth . . . without having to pay the extra $$$ and take classes for a gazillion weeks. I think a lot of it is like what you mentioned — self-preparation. No fancy classes are going to get you the birth you think is ideal, it ultimately comes from within and also circumstances that are out of your control. Looks like you had a good time!

  2. It’s crazy how everyone is so different! I HAVE to focus on the pain to keep from getting overwhelmed by it. I was definitely a moaner though, it helps SO much.

    I’m saddened by the c-section rates too. What’s really pathetic is that rate at your hospital is actually the national average. I have too many friends to count who scheduled their c-sections just for convenience. Why would anyone schedule a major surgery for convenience?!

  3. My hospital also has a similar C-section rate (not sure of the exact number) and I spoke with my doctor about it because I also am hoping to avoid a C-section (although I’m not so convinced on natural labor yet, ha!) Anyway, she was saying that a lot of times the number can be inflated due to reasons beyond just doing C-sections on a whim, which is what I think most pregnant women are afraid of – their labor will get a little difficult and they’ll immediately be ushered into the OR. However, that number can be due to the hospitals in the area and where patients are sent to (we have a hospital nearby our small town that doesn’t perform c-sections so any of those patients get sent to our hospital, which raises the number), that number that your hospital has is probably on par with the national average, just as ours was, and finally, she said that the bottom line is always, always a healthy baby and mom and in todays day and age where medical malpractice is a moneymaking venture for lots of patients (meaning we’re a sue-happy society), they just can’t take any risks when it comes to delivery.
    Maybe they talked about it at your class, but perhaps you could talk to your doctor about the why the rate is what it is?

  4. With the C-section rate, you do have to factor in repeat C -sections. Finding out the percentage of primary sections is helpful, as well as your doctor’s percentages. The doctor is a much larger factor than the hospital itself.

  5. I admit that I have no children, but I’d like to, and I’m not ashamed to say that I plan to have an epidural if at all possible. I have all the respect in the world for women who have completely natural births, but this is one situation where I’m taking my mom’s advice! She said no to the epidural, and 30 years later she’s still telling me “Don’t be a hero! Get the epidural if you need it!” 🙂

    1. I agree! But why would anyone be considered a “hero” for not using safe pain management like an epidural? Refusing an epidural is not a signal of being a great mother, nor is an unmedicated birth a “natural” birth. Your mom sounds like a wise lady!

  6. If you’re going to do the eye ointment and vitamin K, just try to delay it until after the first feeding. That first hour is SO vital for bonding and initiating breastfeeding and poking and prodding the baby before can negatively affect both things. In a perfect scenario, baby comes out and is placed on mom, nurse/OB looks baby over ON mom and mom keeps baby skin-to-skin for at least the first hour. And don’t let them tell you you can’t do this–this is standard in all birth centers and homebirths and they manage to keep baby with mom for usually the first two hours before doing the newborn exam and all the interventions.

    I had my first son taken from me immediately in the hospital (not because anything was wrong–it was just standard procedure) and it definitely affected me. It wasn’t until I had my second at the birth center and he was layed on my chest immediately and began breastfeeding in the first 2 minutes that I realized what I missed with my first 🙁

    1. My birth wish list is coming up soon and delay is included. Luckily mjh promotes immediate skin to skin

    2. While that is definitely the best-case scenario, in the case of a c-section you can’t always have immediate skin to skin contact, because of the cool temperature of the OR. My little girl was given to me wrapped, stayed on my chest, wrapped, while they stitched me up, then went with her dad while I had to stay in recovery for 30 minutes. I was so distressed and disappointed by this — in fact it was my major objection to having to have the unwanted but medically required c-section — but it made NO difference long term. She had skin-to-skin with her dad until I got back to her, then skin to skin with me for several hours. She wasn’t even hungry for about two hours after her birth, so she wasn’t interested in the boob — she had been well nourished right up until the moment they plucked her out. We ended up breastfeeding for 18 months, and if we were any more bonded it would be scary.

      So just from my experience, it isn’t always as bad as you might think to have to miss those first few minutes. You’ll have a lifetime together.

  7. I was disappointed to hear 1/3 of women have C-sections, since I’m afraid of that too! I was happy to hear that I can opt to have the IV stuff set up and ready to go if needed, but I don’t need to be hooked up to one if I don’t want/need it. We did get a tour of the L&D ward, which was nice. Unfortunately I don’t think we’ll get a room with a tub because they reserve those for women who truly plan to labor without drugs. Since we’re leaving that option open, no tub for us.

    One funny thing about the tour was our guide showing us how the mirror in the ceiling drops down so we can watch the birth. We all had horrified looks on our faces, lol.

    Talking with my doctor this week after our weekend class made me feel better, too. She’s on board with everything we’d like to do- of course with the caveat that things change, which we’re totally fine with.

    1. I was also initially horrified at the thought of a mirror. My doula explained that during the pushing part, since the baby will most likely be doing more of a rocking motion as you’re trying to get them through, it may actually be helpful to connect when you see the baby moving through and how you feel when you’re pushing. Made sense to me!

      Also she recommended to ask for an IV port to be placed instead of IV lines when you first get to the hospital. I guess that seemed reasonable too.

      We’ll see!!

  8. Cool little fact…my mother in law is in Risk Management for CMC/CHS (whatever you want to call the hospital system here in Charlotte). She was a big part of forming, writing up and putting Code Pink into place years and years ago…used when Child Abduction/Missing Child alert goes out in the hospital. So so neat!

  9. I hadn’t known about the security system either! I’m guessing it’s the same but the clamp they put on my little girl’s belly button would trigger gates to lock down the entire hospital if someone tried to take her out with it. And I had to show my fingerprints right before they unclamped her in front of me. Honestly, I like those kinds of hospital procedures! Also, that’s great that you can do the first bath in the room. Do it! My little girl had to go to the nursery and my husband went but sitting there all alone (I had an epidural and couldn’t get up yet) was the worst feeling in my life.

  10. I am in nursing school right now doing my clinical rotation in Labor and Delivery and it is amazing! The hospital I am at promotes skin-to-skin as well and holds off the first bath, eye ointment, and necessary shots until after the first hour as long as baby is in good health. As far as your concerns about the IV, I was a little shocked to learn that they will place these in OB triage before the mother is brought up to L&D- but they have a good reason! If you were to become extremely hypotensive (which can cause decelerations in the fetal heart rate) or hemorrhage after the birth, it can be VERY hard to get an IV in since your blood vessels are probably going to very small or collapsed from the drop in pressure or loss of blood. So, many hospitals will place them prior to anything going wrong so that they have easy access in case of emergency. Obviously, not having the IV placed on admission is your right as a patient- but there is definitely a “safety” mentality behind that practice. 🙂

    1. Thanks for sharing that… I have low blood pressure. Do you think that makes me more likely to be hypotensive after delivery? If so, I might reconsider

      1. That’s a good question, but I’m not sure! BP usually increases during the labor process but everyone is different. If were you to get hypotensive after delivery, there wouldn’t be any problems with the baby since he’ll already be out and getting his own oxygen. The biggest worry after delivery is hemorrhage. If that were to happen they would need IV access to push pitocin to get the uterus to contract fully (expelling the placenta and causing vasoconstriction at the placental site) or to start a transfusion if necessary. My best advice is just to talk things over with your physician and they will help you make the best decision for you. And thanks for letting my flex some of my nursing school muscles! I have a test tomorrow and this is really getting my brain working!

          1. I would recommend getting a hep-lock if you don’t want a full IV – that’s what I had, and it didn’t bother me at all during my (completely non-medicated) labor. I would recommend reading Sherry’s birth story on YoungHouseLove.com to see what (luckily very rarely!) can happen that would necessitate immediate IV access. A hep-lock is very non-intrusive but can make a huge difference, considering that seconds can count if you have a true emergency during labor. I wouldn’t risk my health or the health of my baby over a small piece of plastic tubing!

          2. I didn’t want the heplock (sp?) in my arm either since I was trying for a natural birth… Well, that was my plan. But once I was actually in labor, I didn’t care at all so I let them do it. We ended up needing to use it, although thankfully not an emergency, so it ended up helping a bit.

        1. Hi Kath, I’m a Medical Student, also on my OB rotation, and just like Stephanie said, everyone gets IV access to give fluids, and makes it much easier to give pitocin if needed. Most women have a small decrease in their hemoglobin after delivery due to blood loss, and although most women are asymptomatic, you may be more likely to become hypotensive or feel weak or dizzy after the blood loss if your BP is on the lower side. Staying hydrated with IV fluids (esp since you may not be eating/drinking for hours during the delivery) can help prevent this. So talk it over with your doctor before deciding!

            1. Yes you can drink, but sometimes you literally cannot drink enough to replace fluid losses. Another poster mentioned she became very nauseated without IV fluids, this can be due to electrolyte losses, not just water loss. Everyone is different. Im sure you could always request to try without them and have IV access just in case.

      2. I am just curious as to why you do not want an IV? I do understand the want for natural childbirth and less interventions. I am a nurse and it is very difficult to get IVs on people who are anemic and dehydrated. At the hospital where I delivered they put it in when I got there and immediately took it out after I delivered and they assessed me. Another note on that, my sister in law lost a lot of blood after her first delivery and as a nurse she refused a blood transfusion but asked for IV fluids instead which they agreed to. It was necessary for her to have the IV but you can refuse a blood transfusion and opt for fluids instead.

        1. More the mental part of it. I don’t want to feel like I have to treat that arm specialty because I have an open vein. But with lots of tape it will probably be ok

          1. I didn’t have to treat my arm in any special way because of my IV. I was all over the place in my bed and barely noticed the IV. If you choose to get one I hope the same goes for you!

            1. I agree that it’s a major pain and I wish I had more options as well, but I promise you…you won’t even notice it while in labor. I will suggest avoiding an internal monitor though..you WILL notice that.

              1. I think everyone gave you good advice with this. I am an ICU rn and cover codes and changes in condition in maternity when they happen. (they seldom do). If you become dehydrated, it might be hard to get an IV in you. Sometimes when a patient has low blood pressure its hard to get an iv in them, but its usually only the times when the low blood pressure isn’t their norm (aka they are bleeding or dehydrated). IV’s are actually called saline wells, not hep locks. hep lock is an old term as they used to lock every IV with heparin (a blood thinning medication). These days we just flush them with normal saline. In my practice patient safety is always #1, but i always respect the patient’s decision as long as i’ve done my job to educate them and they are making an informed decision. Best of luck!

  11. Unless mom has an STD or a vaginal yeast infection, there’s no need for the eye gel, so we declined it but we did take the Vit. K. (I find that it’s much easier to decline things if you know exactly why they’re needed.)
    I know the c-section rate was disappointing to you, but it’s pretty much the national average, so I wouldn’t be too worried about it.
    As for the IV, I had to have one during labor and it was not bad at all. I had lots of people to help me move around so it didn’t slow me down. I was even able to use the tub (but it turned out I hated it!) You could ask for a heplock instead!
    Guided visualization really helped me through labor, especially during the last of the first stage and transition. My doula talked me through each contraction by either describing a place that I loved (my garden :D) or helping me concentrate on relaxing every part of my body. My husband smoothed the muscles in my face while I honed in on her voice. They made an awesome team! If you think the visualizations will help you, talk to your doula about places that make you feel relaxed. (Also talk about things that don’t work for you. We practiced a water visualization in my class that I just didn’t like, so I told my doula not to do it)
    Lastly, vocalizations are very good and, like everything else, you’ll know what feels good at the time, but be sure to keep them low. High vocalizations reinforce tension, so keep everything low and slow 🙂 Moaning through transition worked for me.

  12. What surprised me most is the pain was incredibly more painful and different than I was expecting and there would have been no way I could keep going without the epidural. Laughter, positions, etc. would not have helped. I just squirmed in the bed and cried. It was absolutely miserable. And then the epidural made it all better! I was also surprised in a good way that I could feel things with the drug. I don’t think a clothespin or ice is comparable, but if they say so ok.
    I like hearing about other ways and hospitals! Our security system was very good too. One rule is that babies in the hall must be pushed in a bassinet and not carried. They had a security tag too with an alarm that was removed only when we left the maternity floor and hospital.

  13. I never would have guessed, but focusing in on the contraction timer app really helped me ! I would sort of zone out as I watched the numbers go by and it emphasized to me that each contraction would end! Of course as you know I went with an epidural as I had planned, but this was helpful beforehand (plenty of pain for me!! 🙂 )

  14. Sounds like your hospital has a security system like ours. Make sure your husband and all visitors bring a photo ID with them when they visit you! Your hospital may or may not check. We did, and everyone got scanned into this niffy computer system when they arrived so we could keep track of who was there and when and where they were going. It helped when people got lost, but it was also a huge help in keeping people *out* that had no right to be there. Yes, people show up at the hospital on a regular basis because they “want to see the babies in the nursery” or would try to cause problems.

  15. I like this post 😉
    1) What are your thoughts on the vit. K shot for newborns? I’ve done some reading recently that says the shot they give has ssssooooo much vit. K — some people think that drops would be better. Do you know how much (units) should be sufficient for a newborn to prevent bleeds versus how much is given in the shot? I’ve been (slowly) looking around for information, but haven’t had any luck yet.

    2) For my labor w/#1 I did all the same things you are thinking of (massage, moaning, dancing, popsicles, yoga ball, tub — i let my body decide). I love *love* that you had the epiphany about your yoga poses and going outside the pose & thinking of other things to distract yourself. With my first labor, I was very into “how should I deal with this” and I got totally scared during 7cm transition & it stalled my progress. I plan to attempt to “go outside myself/ situation” and try to get through that part better this time. I need to work on this and asap!

    3) My awesome L&D nurse (with my first delivery) said the squat bar on the beds weren’t very good at our hospital, so she recommended turning around & gripping the top edge of the bed for support & then squatting (with the bed in the upright position). It worked well for me and that is how I delivered.

    4) You can request a hep lock instead of an IV line. I was NOT excited about getting an IV b/c I wanted to move when I saw fit. Turns out I needed an IV b/c I threw up so much I got really dehydrated and when I got the fluids, I felt SO SO much better. Once they got the fluids in they gave me the hep lock back.

    5) You should see if they give a c-section rate for those women who have doulas attend their births 🙂

  16. Hi Kath,
    (Fellow Davidson Class of ’05 commenter here!) I want to add one more comment about the IV: My husband is currently in medical school and during his L&D rotation, he worked with an OB who insisted that all laboring women have the IV needle inserted in their hand at the begining (they don’t have to stay hooked up, but they need to have ready access). The reason being: this OB once ended up having to perform an emergency C-Section on a woman who refused the IV (when there was time to insert it) WITHOUT ANESTHESIA and she is still haunted by it. (I still shudder thinking about it).
    I had always told my husband, when the time comes I would not want an IV, but this changed my mind.
    He also makes the point that labor is like running a marathon and you’re gonna need some major fluids at the end of it!

    1. Hey!

      Yikes… That is terrifying. I may reconsider 🙂 guess if it’s all taped down it wont be too much in the way

        1. Another vote to reconsider the IV! It will definitely be much easier to get it in the beginning, just in case you would need it emergently.

      1. Oh, if you want to refuse to be hooked up to something, consider saying no to the fetal heart rate monitor. Recent studies have shown that it leads to *zero* improvement in mom and baby outcome. And if anything, may lead to a worse outcome (ie. increased chace of c-section) as doctors and nurses can tend to overanalyze the slightest change.

      2. I also totally did NOT want the IV. Ended up needing a C-section AND have a hx of low blood pressure. They needed to give me medication via the IV once I was on the OR table bc my blood pressure dropped right before the surgery started and I thought I was going to pass out on the table. It was really helpful and came out as soon as they could take it out (after delivery, recovery, etc). From a psychological standpoint, it annoyed me but (my hubby is a doc) from the medical standpoint I was sold at not wanting to risk not having time or body being challenging to get an IV in if/when needed. My hospital didn’t require them but you knew if you did get one, you were no longer allowed to have a moving labor. Also – I promise – C-sections get a bad rep (and it wasn’t fun) but it wasn’t the worst either!

    2. I realize this is an old post but this is not true. They can not and would never perform a c/s on a woman without anesthesia.

      If an immediate c/s is needed and immediately then general anesthesia is used.

      1. Ditto, if they couldnt get periferal IV access (which is highly unlikely, i’ve gotten iv access on patients in cardiac arrest before) then the doc would do a central line for access and admin the meds that way. I assure you they DID NOT do a section on a woman without anesthesia.

  17. Great, detailed post about the class what you chose, why you chose it, pros, cons, benefits, etc. I think knowing you, knowing your schedule, and just your overall approach, you chose the perfect format/length for you.

    And great that yoga has been so helpful for you 🙂

    “mind goes to a deserted island” — that’s me. That’s what I did and it worked for me. You just don’t truly know til it’s happening what’s going to work and what won’t; having techniques and options at your disposal is key!

  18. Your hospital has some good policies. I was so mad with my first baby, who is four now, that their policy was to take the baby to the nursery for 4 HOURS!!! after the birth (after 30 min to 1 hr of skin to skin and nursing). I missed my daughters first bath and was in the recovery room all alone while my whole family got to be down there watching her get a bath and taking pictures. I was so mad. Luckily the policy changed with my second child and he didn’t not need to go to the nursery except to get a bath, which I missed. I don’t know why they do that. Both babies were on their due date and 100% healthy, no reason.

    I agree that you have to relax instead of tense up. Do not focus on that contraction (except in the earlier stages when you are timing them and figuring out when to go to the hospital, those are not so painful that you really need hardcore pain management techniques anyway). Also, with my second child, which came very quickly and I didn’t have time for an epidural, focusing on breathing in and out really helped. I promise you there was no way I had the mental capacity to sit and think of a beach or the waves or something. Or listen to an comedy act. When it got really intense (transition), all I could do was focus on something tangible right in front of me, which was a nurse telling me when to breathe in and out. No higher mental function possible.

  19. “I do my best when I take my mind outside of the class. I think about what’s for dinner or an upcoming event and before I know it the pose is over.”

    May I make a suggestion? A huge piece of the relaxing effects of yoga and meditation stem from “mindfulness”. In a psychology context, a lot of these practices are borrowed for the treatment of anxiety disorders. While I’m not suggesting that you REALLY DO need to focus on the leg pain, there is greater benefit from focusing on other elements of your current experience. Really thinking about and paying attention to breathing is the most common choice, but also really you can move your focus around and pay attention to just about anything going on while trying to keep your thoughts clear. What noises do you hear? A clock ticking? The air conditioner turning on and off? Notice the pattern of the floor tiles, how the light splotches move when you move your head. What does your tongue feel like inside your mouth? Take a sip of water and REALLY feel what it feels like, tastes like. I’m sure you get the point. I know of research that indicates that doing this is significantly more effective in calming a person and reducing anxiety than thinking about the laundry, dinner, etc. I’m not certain if it will be more or less beneficial for you during childbirth, but it may be worth a shot!

  20. As much as a c-section is not something we wish will happen, they sometimes have to happen to save the baby or the mother’s life. A number is just a number and they can’t force you to get one if both your life and the baby’s life are not in danger. Your own c-section rate could be 0%!

    My hospital rate is 15% (one of the lowest in Canada), but I still had to get one. I’m sure they would have preferred me to deliver vaginally, it’s easier for the staff, there’s less stress, less resources are used, no OR to prep/cleaned, shorter recovery time, less complications, etc). However, it was not possible for the health of the baby (low heart rate during contractions). I don’t think hospitals push moms to get c-sections. Do they?

    1. I personally spoke to a friend here who is an OB/Gyn and he said if given the choice, he’d much rather perform a C-section than help with a vaginal delivery. He said he likes being able to control the entire thing and that by doing a C-section you remove all variables that you can’t control. 😮

  21. This information is so helpful. I found Baby Kerf through HTP, and you’ve been a godsend.

    I was wondering when you started interviewing doulas in your pregnancy, or are you doing this right now?

  22. Hi Kath

    Can you link to some of the podcasts you listened to? I live in France and I’m not sure if our Childbirth classes will be offered in English, so I’m exploring all options 🙂

    Also – have you read Ina May Gaskins A Guide to Childbirth? I’m about halfway through now and it’s fascinating!! She talks a lot about the pain perception theory that you mentioned.


  23. The 32% C-section rate actually sounds kind of low to me! At hospitals in Northern VA it can be as high as almost 50%. And remember, if your hospital has a Level III neonatal intensive care unit, that rate probably includes a lot of emergency Cs and it probably includes elective Cs, too. The true rate would be a lot lower. And the C-section rate of your doctor is what counts the most.

  24. Thanks for sharing this! We’re getting ready to book our own class at MJH, so it’s nice to see a little bit of what happens before we do it. 🙂 I do think we’re going to go with the 6-week class, though, because that’s not just childbirth; it’s childbirth, the L&D tour, and the baby care basics class all combined and with the same fellow parents. And then I’m thinking about doing their breastfeeding class later on, too – if you do that, let us know!

  25. Does your hospital put you “on the clock” as soon as you check in when you’re in labor? That’s a sort of common practice here in Houston – you pretty much have about 12 hours once you’re in the hospital to have the baby, otherwise they’ll take you for a C-section. A friend of mine wasn’t progressing as quickly as the doctor wanted her to, so they called it and said she’d have to have a C-section. She ABSOLUTELY didn’t want that, but it looked like she didn’t have a choice.

    Once the doc called it, everyone left the room and left my friend and her husband completely alone. A couple of minutes later, one of the nurses came back in and said even though the doctor had already decided to take the baby, she could continue pushing. By the time all the nurses and doctors came back to get her for the C-section (about 30 minutes later), the baby was crowning and shortly thereafter, the baby was born.

    Needless to say, the doctor was pissed and the nurse was fired, but my friend was able to avoid unnecessary intervention. There was no problem with the baby’s heartbeat or any other medical problem, the doctor was just done waiting and was ready to go home.

    Anyway, long story to say that I always tell anyone around here to wait as long as possible before going to the hospital because you don’t want to start the clock too early! Hopefully that’s not the case there – it’s just a completely different world here… :/

  26. I only have ONE class to chose from. They only offer ONE during my last two trimesters, ONE date, time, and location– and it is still an hour and a half drive. (yep, I live in the middle of nowhere!!!) And, my doctor didn’t even seem to think it was that big of a deal to attend….. Ahhhh- I’m sorry but I would like to know what the heck is going on before I actually walk through the doors!

  27. Kath, I am so enjoying following both your blogs. I admire how you balance the work, the play and enjoy everything wherever you are.
    Something I noted in today’s post about the IV prompted me to write. If I recall, you don’t like needle sticks, right? I work in an ER. Many people come in for treatment and need blood drawn, so we place access. Some don’t want to keep the IV catheter in the arm. We explain to them that if it is removed and then they need to receive medicines (as you possibly might), it would require sticking them again!
    99.99999% elect to keep the IV in the arm until they are discharged from the ER. Just something for you to consider as you make your decisions.
    Enjoy the vacation at the beach!

    1. That’s true – I do hate needles! That’s partly why I don’t want anything in my veins while in labor, plastic or not. But I think so long as it’s totally taped down and I can bend and move wtihout second thought it will be OK. I was going to say if I need an IV later on, just stick me again, but I didn’t think about not finding a vein in an emergency, so that’s pretty important

  28. I am more aligned with the old Joan Rivers routine on childbirth: knock me out and wake me up when the hairdresser gets there.
    As someone who gave birth 23 years ago, I am greatly amused by this current trend of micro-managing the birthing process. Those of us who didn’t tell the hospitals and staff how to do their jobs, still had healthy babies who didn’t grow up to be sociopaths because the drops were administered before the skin to skin contact. And the generations before us? How on earth did they manage?

    1. Well what was the intervention and lawsuit rate when you gave birth? Things have unfortunately changed. I think it’s great women are taking back an experience that is so important to them, health willing of course.

      1. Things have definitely changed! A little more and then I will hush my mouth.
        I like to think about the contrast between women who give birth in huts and fields and in small villages in third world countries, survive it and raise their babies vs. women with detalied “birth plans.”
        Even by saying “it’s great that women are taking back an experience that is so important to them” diminishes the labors and deliveries that got you, me and many of the readers here today, makes it sound like the labor and deliveries of last few generations of women were somehow less special, less perfect than this current generation’s supposedly more enlightened, totally optimized “birth planned” labor and deliveries.
        Let’s not forget, billions of people have populated this planet born in nothing more than barely sheltered nature. It can be a simple, natural process that does not require the mental and physical preparation of a small-scale military operation.
        I fast-forward ahead and wonder about the upbringing of a child whose birth is so very micro-managed. Will that child’s life be micro-managed too? I’ve been reading other blogs where introducing solids is SO STRESSFUL and which “plan” is best for doing so???!!! Really? A “PLAN”??? Holy overthinking!!! it’s just food people. How on earth did all previous generations survive without this type of food micro/overmanagement??? I recommend a book by Ellyn Satter called “Child of Mine, Feeding with Love and Good Sense.” The jist is prepare good food. Introduce it. Watch for reactions. When older, if they eat it great, if they don’t, they will eat when they get hungry and don’t let food become a power struggle, walk away from the battle every time. Your kid will survive, probably even thrive. Simple as that.
        I am just trying to express an alternative POV here…one that allows women to opt out of this mindset and revert back to something simpler, something less neurotic (sorry if that word sounds harsh but i feel it is apt). Having and raising a baby is a wondrous, beautiful time in life…not a PROJECT to be DOMINATED.
        I feel better now, thanks for letting me say my piece.

        1. Generally I am all about simplicity. And I think that’s why I’ve been thinking a lot about my birth experience. Because births these days aren’t as simple as they should be.

          Also, I bought “Child Of Mine” and really believe in her model of eating

  29. Great overview! I loved having our daughter’s first bath in the delivery room! Our hospital had an awesome “alarm” system. Mom and baby have matching ID bracelets that play a cute little musical tune when matched. If it is the wrong match then an alarm sound goes off. Great to know they are bringing you the right baby! 🙂

  30. The asking for a blood sample to type your blood threw me off. EVERY pregnant woman (who sees a Dr during her pregnancy) gets her blood typed very early during the initial workups. You’ve already been typed via one of the 300 vials of blood you’ve given. The reason for this is to determine if you’re rH negative, because if you were, you’d have to get Rhogam at 20 weeks. If they waited until your labor day to find out what type you were, it would be too late.
    So trust me, your blood type is already in your record. At your next appt just ask your dr. and they will confirm it.
    Sounds to me that the IV they say is for “blood test purposes” is actually just a way to get women to agree to an IV, thus making it easier to receive fluids or pitocin down the line. By throwing in a little fear-mongering (its for a possible transfusion! oooh!) they can get women to agree to anything.

    If you don’t want it, stand your ground. If you do, that is your choice too. But at least its an informed choice and not just going off the “standard” hospital policy. good luck!

    1. I know, this was brought up in our class. But they do it again just in case they can’t access your records and you need something quickly in the middle of the night.

      1. They also repeat the blood typing to look for fetal antibodies when labor begins. If you are Rh-, antibodies can show up in the mother’s blood when membranes break. The RhoGam given at 28 weeks doesn’t last forever, so women who are Rh- get another shot after delivery. If there are fetal antibodies present, another test is done to make sure the RhoGam dose will be adequate or if you need more than the regular dose.

        1. I work in the blood bank at a major hospital in Chicago and have to clarify the errors in Veronica’s comment. Yes, most women have their blood type done during pregnancy, but even if your blood type is historically known, a fresh sample is needed in the event of possible transfusion. A type and screen sample is only valid or 72 hours (per the requirement of the American Blood Bank Association (AABB) and must be done prior to crossmatch of RBCs/transfusion. It is much easier to have a sample drawn on day of delivery then to risk receiving uncrossmatched trauma units of RBCs. Also, during pregnancy, maternal antibodies against the fetus can appear at any time, so even if you were tested earlier for blood type and antibody screen, it doesn’t mean that on delivery day you would still have a negative antibody screen. There are a lot more antibodies besides the RH that can cause hemolytic disease of the newborn, and the sooner the blood bank can have a patient’s sample and have it tested, the easier and safer any potential transfusions will be.

          1. I work in large hospital and blood bank, too, and was appalled at Veronica’s explanation. Great job clarifying that for her! 🙂

      2. I was just talking to my OB yesterday about IV’s– she told me for her, its automatic to have one inserted as the uterus is a muscle, the more fluid and oxygen to the area, the better for it to perform at optimum levels for the duration of labor. This made complete sense to me, among all the other intervening reasons why, such as monitoring mother/baby, injecting anti-nausea meds, pain meds, antibiotics, and preparing for surgery. And you do not have to be tied to the bed while on IV— they are portable. Can still move around and sit on a bouncy ball.:) The only exceptions if you are/become high risk. Monitoring becomes more intense and mobility is limited.

  31. When Jon and I took the childbirth class and we had to lay silently on the floor, he whispered in my ear (I just farted) (he didn’t) and we proceeded to giggle like 2 year olds. I was seriously nervous that we were not mature enough to actually have a kid.

  32. I gave birth via c-section 8 days ago. Like you, I wanted to deliver vaginally (very much so), but mother nature had different plans. My advice is this: don’t be so strongly opposed to it just in case it winds up having to happen. I went through 33 hours of really difficult labor and still ended up needing a c-section. I was disappointed at first, and the recovery has not been a lot of fun, but having my baby here safe and sound is more important to me than not being part of some statistic.

    1. I’m not!! So long as I tried the other way and it’s deemed medically necessary, I’ll be fine with it

    2. Amen, Heather. I was hoping to go natural but my son had other plans (transverse and trying to make his way out through my hip bone, not my pelvis, with cord wrapped around him 3x, including once tightly around his abdomen – if he progressed down the birth canal normally things could’ve gone VERY badly) and I wound up with a c-section. And I really wanted breastfeeding to work out and it didn’t. Sucks, but I have a happy, thriving one-year-old, and that’s all that matters at the end of the day.

      I would make sure to do your research on all possible birth outcomes, so you aren’t blindsided or unaware of procedure details and side effects while it’s happening. I was lucky to have a great doctor and a stellar recovery (do you know they don’t count the number of stitches you get, but the number of full strings they use?), but I wish I knew more beforehand about how it would all go down.

  33. I wouldn’t let the C/S number be a disappointment. Remember, just as much as you want a natural birth, there are many women who prefer c-section – I have several friends who scheduled theirs because they prefer to go that route. So, don’t think that number is a reflection of Drs/Nurses forcing it on patients, or even an accurate reflection of c/s emergencies. For every woman who prefers natural, you will find one who wants vaginal + meds and one who wants c/s.

  34. My baby is 6 weeks old and like you, I spent a lot if of time and energy planning the birth. I should have spent that time learning more about what it’s like to actually have a baby. I ended up with the natural birth that I wanted but I can honestly say, “who cares!” What happens, happens and in many ways labor us out of your control. Just trust your body (and your doula!) and you will be fine with whatever happens.

  35. Hi Kath-I was wondering what brand of prenatal vitamins you have been taking throughout your pregnancy.

  36. I love the idea of using laughter as a distraction for the pain. I am pregnant with my second baby and to be honest, I am more nervous this time around. My first time was five years ago. I worked full-time at a job that required me to be on my feet all day. I think the exercise helped speed the labor. I now work as an office manager and pretty much sit on my butt all day. I have been trying to get in exercise these days but find it a bit more difficult since I am also bigger this time around. (Last pregnancy gained 40 pounds total, now.. a little more than 40! with 6 weeks to go!)

    I had a sonogram yesterday and the doctor is asking that I return for another in three weeks. Based on that sonogram, he might consider inducing me to have the baby three weeks before my due date!

    I certainly love to laugh and love making others laugh but never thought to use it in the labor room. I will definitely be bringing along my iPad to watch comedian Kevin Hart. He always cracks me up. Thanks so much for this post Kath! For me, one of the most helpful ones.

    p.s. I am in that percentage of moms that did NOT get the epidural during childbirth. I have a tattoo, I’ve had piercings that involved needles but a needle in my back?! NO, thanks! I was too chicken to go along with that. I only pushed for 10 minutes so it wasn’t unbearably painful.

  37. Kath, you remind me so much of myself before my first birth!!!!!!!!!!! ! I truly hope that everything goes well for you and that you get the natural birth you desire. 🙂 Giving birth, no matter how the process goes, can be miraculous experience. I’m looking forward to hearing all about your birth story when the time comes … no matter how it reads. Thanks for being so excited about pregnancy and motherhood.
    I also read Child of Mine and have been using her methods (we have a 3 yr old and a 1.5 yr old (pregnant with our third ) with great success. I love her natural approach and it has really helped us not have battles over food. I also really like the concept of mindful eating …. eat when you’re hungry, stop when you’re full. My oldest has really caught on to this and follows it well. (We still have treats for fun on occasion.)
    I know this is off-topic, but while I’m at it … I started reading your blog several years ago while at the beginning of my journey to overcome an eating disorder (still in therapy, but 90% recovered!!!!) and have learned a lot from you in terms of balanced eating. I appreciate the fact that you are mindful while still enjoying a wide variety of foods.
    So, thanks. 🙂

  38. As someone who works in the blood bank of a large hospital and trauma center (that also delivers lots of babies), I would highly recommend the blood draw & IV. If something goes wrong or you hemorrhage after delivery (not overly common, but it does happen), you will need blood VERY urgently and not having your blood drawn when you come in will cause a serious delay in you receiving blood that is known to be compatible with your own blood. Not to be rude or try to scare you, but seemingly normal deliveries can still result in the death of a mom from post-delivery hemorrhage. I just think you should be prepared and not risk your health or the baby’s health over something so trivial. Also, if you’re going to have them stick you anyway, you might as well have IV access. Again, if something goes wrong and you need blood or fluids in an emergent situation, you don’t want them struggling to get access to your veins. Besides, if the port is just there and taped to your hand, despite it being initially uncomfortable, once you get going with labor, I doubt you’ll be thinking about your hand…

  39. Kath, I totally understand not wanting an IV line. Its about more than just being annoying, its the first step in the chain of interventions. Its assuming things will go wrong at some point. When in fact you are an extremely low risk woman at this point.
    There have been so many “I don’t mean to scare you BUT..” stories in these comments, I think thats a real shame.
    No-one dies in a modern hospital waiting an extra 60 seconds to insert a line in, at the time of emergency.
    I would really consider going with your original gut feeling on this one, and decline the prophylactic line. Psychology is a HUGE thing in birth, and if you feel you’d be more comfortable, both physically and mentally without a line in, then thats HUGELY valid, and not at all a bad decision.

  40. Interesting about the IV thing. I delivered my first two at MJH and will probably (hopefully) be there again next week with number three- and I never had an IV in. Maybe because my labors were super-speedy… or gosh- maybe I did and it was just a blur of pain and labor-mania and I’ve forgotten that detail… But I’m pretty confident I wasn’t IV’d at all. I wonder if I will be this next time around?

    I definitely remember getting my bracelet and my childs’ bracelet scanned every time they brought her/him to me. Very secure!

  41. My water broke, and within 6 hours I was pushing. But……I started getting a fever and the baby’s heart started to beat too fast. I was rushed in for an emergency c-section. I ended up having a major infection in my uterus and required IV antibiotics for 6 days. I was very sick and unable to really care for my baby in the early weeks. I did not end up breast feeding either – I was just too sick to try. I had a repeat c-section the second time around, it was just the right choice for us.

  42. I delivered at MJH and had a wonderful experience. The tubs are amazing. After 56 hours of back labor I did wind up getting an epidural. My Anesthesiologist was amazing! He gave me just enough to get rid of the back labor (I could still feel the contractions but the pain was much less) and then we let it wear off during the pushing stage. There were several times when my doctor thought a c-section might be necessary but he was so supportive and we were able to get through it. Even though my daughter had a quadruple nuchal chord (4 times around her neck, 2 times around her body) and swallowed meconium, we were still able to have immediate skin to skin. The nurses are amazing.

  43. Hey Kath,
    I have been following your blog since we moved from Cville to California about a year ago, but have never posted before. I do love following KERF and telling my husband about the new restaurants we are missing out on. At one point in our C-ville lives, we had eaten at every non-chain restaurant in town 🙂

    Anyway, I thought I would post my 2 cents worth about the IV and eyes and thighs. I am a NICU nurse and had my son who is almost 2 at the old Martha Jeff. I went into labor saying I would just see what happens with regards to epidurals and pain management etc. I ended up getting an epidural, but that isn’t my point. I had the IV placed. It was normal saline locked and no issue at all. I was able to walk around, get in the tub, etc with it. It is pretty vital in an emergency to have one and sometimes finding a vein can be the the most stressful part of an emergency. Also, after the baby is born if you are having a lot of blood loss, it is important to have access. I was a pretty heavy bleeder and had two bags of pitocin immediately after my delivery. I was able to hold my son skin to skin and actually attempt to breastfeed within 30 minutes of delivery. Had I not had the IV in place, I probably would not have been able to hold skin to skin because the nurses would have needed to look at my arms/hands and hold them to place the IV to start the pitocin. I would think the immediate bonding would be something you wouldn’t want to miss out on 🙂

    Also with regards to the erytrhomycin and the Vit K, they can wait for up to an hour to be given. They also can be given while you are holding the baby skin to skin. It takes about 2 seconds to give them both. Sometimes people forget that these medicines exist for a reason and are valuable. As a nurse who has seen both the amazing and the depressing things that modern medicine can do, eyes and thigh ( as we call them) is a very minimal intervention that you probably won’t even realize is being given to your baby.

    Anyway, just another vote from a health care professional for being pro IV.

    Good Luck and I can’t wait to hear about your experience at the new Martha Jeff

  44. I just feel like sharing a few things – I rarely comment anywhere, but I have been reading your blog since 2007 and am all excited that you and Matt are having this baby 🙂

    I gave birth at home and did hypno birthing and sat in water for most of the labor. I am only sharing this because I have not really seen this shared anywhere else – I realize this is just my experience though: I wouldn’t say I was in pain during labor at all – just in discomfort. I had this app on my iphone that calculated the duration of the contractions. I focussed on that because they had a pattern: every X minutes I felt uncomfortable for exactly 1.5 minute (I literally looked at the countdown for that 1.5 minute), then I would feel normal again. A little bit like you are sprinting at the end of a running race… You just tell yourself just a minute and a half and then you’ll be realxing for a bit… While a contraction was going, I asked for everyone in the room to stay quiet, so I could focus on how I felt. That’s it!

    Oh and also, another thing I didn’t know about: the midwife had a pressure point on my foot that she would hold if I was in a contraction where I couldn’t focus (say when she was checking to see if I was ready to push) And when it came to labor, I had practiced the ‘soft touch massage’ with my husband but it really was not appealing at all the day of – so be prepared to change your mind on some things as well – your body will tell you on what it wants, lol

    I had an awesome birth experience!!
    I wish you the same – a birth that is just the way you want it, or better 🙂

    Man I can’t wait to see that little boy, hee hee

  45. Kath, I am inspired by your positive, but realistic outlook on birth. It saddens me that there is so much fear mongering going on in these comments. I’m glad to hear that you are enjoying Ina May Gaskin’s books. She’s wonderfully inspiring.

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