Friday, June 26, 2009

Childbirth class IV: Death or Serious Injury May Result

The last childbirth class was mainly on safety and postpartum issues. Not much instruction on how to actually take care of a newborn, though we got handouts. I was slightly disappointed, but I admit that the title of the class doesn't specify anything about what to do once the kid is out and we've got other resources for that.

We started out with a ridiculously boring video on carseat safety. There were a couple of good points in it, but most of the video was shots of various kinds of carseats and booster seats and how they should be installed in various kinds of vehicles, with some crash test scenes for variety and scaremongering, and I've forgotten most of the information already. We did get a handout for a program at Toledo Hospital for free checks of our carseats.

We went over CPR and poisoning briefly (biggest poisoning incidence of children in the US: iron poisoning from children's vitamins) and general baby-proofing. Then we moved into what babies will look like when they come out. The answer is apparently Bill Cosby's assessment, "like a lizard." They'll have coneheads and puffy faces, tiny squinty eyes, covered with acne and vernix (cheesy "cream" on the skin) and lanugo (body hair), cross-eyed, with blue hands and feet, swollen breast tissue (male or female), and birthmarks and rashes everywhere. Supposedly we will think they're cute anyway.

We went over post-birth procedures for the baby: erythromycin in the eyes, shots of vitamin K and potentially hepatitis B vaccine, measuring weight and circumference and height, taking footprints, checking reflexes to assess gestational age, Apgars. We discussed things to expect for new mothers: looking pregnant still, engorgement, pain and bleeding, hemorrhoids, potential PPD, urination and sweating like you wouldn't believe. Jackie was enthusiastic about the products used to treat most of these issues, particularly witch hazel and Dermaplast, and dressed up in a hospital gown, wig, and hospital-issue underwear to demonstrate how they were used.

She discussed breastfeeding for a bit, enumerating all the benefits (not only will it make the baby healthier and smarter and the mother thinner and happier, it will rotate your tires and keep your cat from vomiting on the carpet) and dispensing advice on pumps. She also discussed "babyland," the magical realm in which you spend hours gazing at your newborn while visitors drop by and clean your house for you. She also said that the average mother is interrupted 84 times in a two-day hospital stay, including nurse and doctor visits.

The class ended with review in the form of Jeopardy! with some Family Feud thrown in, the expectant mothers versus the support people. Eric is in Columbus, so I was assiduously taking notes the entire class, but I put them aside for the game. Even so I managed to steal the winning 20 points with "lochia." (Probably the support people had blocked this out of their memories, even though Jackie had been telling us about it a scant twenty minutes ago. I'd like to block it out of mine, but sadly that will not be possible for long.)

One of our classmates hadn't made it because she delivered last Monday, but she brought her baby in for the last few minutes. She wouldn’t say much about how labor went, which seems like a bad sign, but then she'd had to have a C-section and she did seem happy about having the baby out of her (she was very uncomfortable at the previous sessions). She also volunteered (without knowing what we'd been discussing that session) that "breastfeeding slims you down" and Jackie was pleased.

We filled out class evaluations in exchange for our last two handouts ("What to Bring to the Hospital" and "What to Do if the Laboring Mother Panics"), and when I turned mine in Jackie said, "Was your husband not able to come because I cancelled last week? I'm so sorry! I always really liked his comments. Tell him he can call me if he has any questions." This may or may not have been wise of her, but I appreciated it. I think the class was a good idea, overall. We learned some things and got to ask questions, and the breathing exercises were actually useful (and for this last class we tried out labor positions first, which was kind of interesting and kind of appalling). We'll see in approximately five weeks how useful it turns out to have been.

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