back to school part two: classes and experts
For part one of this series, click here.
As I mentioned in the earlier post, book learnin' ain't everything. Pregnancy and child rearing are rather ... active activities, no? English thesis writing they are not, although you may find yourself studying just as hard for them.
This is where specialized classes and experts come in: you can read for hours about infant CPR, but there really is no substitute for taking the actual first aid course. Same goes for breastfeeding: there's no substitute for having an expert SHOW you (versus tell) how exactly to hold your baby. And, granted, the ultimate master class in childbirth and childrearing happens when you're actually in the thick of it, but it never hurts to be as prepared as possible.
JULIET'S GUIDE TO CLASSES AND EXPERTS
*Not all-encompassing and to each her own, but this is what I felt was most important to tackle pre-baby.
As I think I've mentioned before, we're going to deliver (some day, some how... 40 weeks + 2 day right now...) at Mount Sinai Beth Israel. We didn't really pick a hospital: since my OB practices there, we knew from the start that's where we'd go. The biggest benefit is that Beth Israel is only about a 5 minute drive from our apartment. How far that will be in this weekend's blizzard remains to be seen, ha.
Anyway, the hospital tour is something I'd recommend doing in your third trimester, so it's still rather fresh in your mind when you have to make the trek for real. Beth Israel's tour was only about 30 minutes and hit all the major points: where to go when you're in labor, what kind of paperwork you need to bring, how long you might stay, and what the rooms look like. To be honest, the whole process freaked me out entirely: hospitals are antiseptic by nature and bright and loud. But, at least now I can visualize what kind of environment I'll be in when I'm in labor. I'm also keeping my fingers crossed that even with the blizzard and full moon this weekend, we'll be able to snag a private room post-delivery. But, as Mike has reminded me, there are some things we can plan for and some things we can't. Zen master.
It was important to us to know basic first aid/CPR before we bring the little miss home. After doing a bit of Googling, we opted for a one-day adult/child/infant CPR certification that the Red Cross offers at their midtown location. The class covers everything from how to treat burns to CPR on all ages to what to do if someone is choking. If you're thinking about getting a baby nurse or a nanny, I'd also recommend making sure they are certified in this sort of infant care as well. Bonus: you can walk to Tulcingo del Valle during your lunch break, which has some of the best Mexican food in the city.
MEET THE DOULAS
After reading in Expecting Better that doulas substantially lower the rate of c-sections, I decided to learn more about them at an event Beth Israel holds every few weeks called Meet the Doulas. The hospital doesn't employ them directly, but works with an organization called BirthFocus that trains both labor and post-partum doulas. They called the event "speed dating for doulas": you give them your due date, your price range (there are six tiers to choose from, priced according to how many births they have attended), and then the moderator matches you up with doulas who are available for your date and within your budget. If you find someone you like (which we did! More on that later), you can submit a request to have them be your doula and then you both take it from there. Generally they'll meet with you at least twice before labor, be there during the whole birth process and check up on you at least once after.
I have to admit, while sleep deprivation sounds pretty terrible, breast feeding is definitely what I'm most nervous for. It seems like such a huge undertaking and figuring out feeding schedules, when to pump, how to do it in public ... it's all very overwhelming. I do feel a little bit better after taking a class, though, which we did at Beth Israel a few weeks ago. It was led by a IBCLC (international board-certified lactation consultant) who works directly for the hospital. We went over the basics, she gave us a lot of take home charts (we can mark off her poops!), and now I know that while we're at the hospital, there will be daily breastfeeding classes every morning. We're definitely also planning on having a lactation consultant come to the apartment a few days after we get home. That way we'll know for sure if the latch is right, if she's getting enough, all of that good stuff.
If you do nothing else to prepare for labor, take a childbirth class. We opted for an intensive two-day group session with Tanya Wills, of Manhattan Births. You learn everything from birthing positions, to what to do in each stage of labor, to what happens when you get induced or have a c-section. As I have mentioned before, knowledge truly is power when it comes to your labor. The more you know about your options -- and what you want for you birth -- the less scary the whole process seems. Tanya and her team are also just really cool people: approachable, knowledgeable and available for any and all questions after the class is over.
No, I didn't actually LEARN how to do it, but I have had two sessions (so far). Our doula Kim recommended trying it to prepare my body for labor, so my first session was very introductory. My second I just had yesterday and it was specifically to try to induce. Stephanie, my acupuncturist, said that most women need 1-3 induction sessions, but that her success rate after those was around 80%. Now, obviously, some, if not most, of these women would probably have gone into labor on their own without the sessions, but as I draw ever nearer to my scheduled induction date at the hospital, I'm game to try anything. If you've never had acupuncture, which I hadn't, it's not as scary as it sounds. Most of the needles don't hurt at all going in and once they're in there, you really can't feel them. For the induction-specific session I did have a lot in my lower back, which wasn't the most pleasant, but it was far from intolerable. The worst part was my cat Waffles pulling out one of the needles and trying to run away with it. She has since been banned from the room during treatments.
What kind of prep did you do before baby? Let me know!