Aka...the class that scares the shit out of you.
I say that in the nicest way possible. Basically I think this class is thrown in there for all the doubters, middle of the roaders, and maybe ever for those of us with a tiny thread of self doubt. Just kidding....kinda. Although I am still on the natural band wagon, this class will make you question your decision, or at least it did for me BUT just for a minute.
First thing we discussed were some basics about pregnancy. We labeled some pictures, talked about ways of keeping yourself comfortable during pregnancy, and started going over the coach's role in this whole ordeal. It started out, as you can tell, harmless enough. Then we introduced the stages of labor...here is where things started to get a little nerve racking.
Labor (according to the Bradley Method) can be broken up into 5, sometimes 6 stages.
Stage One: Early First Stage
This is when the excitement sets in that this might be the real thing. You are still able to walk around, do things like normal, and while contractions may be about 10 minutes apart and lasting 45-60 seconds, they are nothing that you cant work through. You are expected to dilate 0-3 cm during this stage and if at all possible, you should eat, drink, sleep, walk, and/or shower during this stage. This sounds do able.
Stage Two: First Stage
This stage is marked by the realization that this is really it and it is going to be hard but you can do it. You will go from a 3 to about a 6 during this stage and although the contractions are getting stronger and then may come more frequently, you can still talk and move during them. If you are hungry during this stage, you want to eat foods that will stay with you as you have a long road ahead. Getting harder but still do able.
Stage Three: Late First Stage (Hard Labor)
This, for some woman is the shortest part of labor and when you body takes you from a 6 to a 10. You should be at the place you are giving birth at this point and this is when the contractions are going to get a little rough. It is imperative at this point that your coach is reminding you of what you practiced and how important relaxation is. You must let your body go and remember that it is working towards your ultimate goal! Use this time to get comfortable and prepare for the next stages to come.
Stage Four: Transition (aka the part that made me doubt)
This is the last stage before pushing and doesn't necessarily happen to everyone. It is this stage that self doubt can set in and you might think "I can't do this" or "I can't take it anymore". You might be scared, confused, and you may want to give up but it is your job and especially your coach's job to remind you that you are almost there. When you hit this stage, that means pushing is next and you are almost done!
Stage Five: Second Stage
You are 10 cm dilated, you have a new calmness and determination about you and it is time to push! Just because you are told that you should be pushing, doesn't mean you have to. Listen to your body and push when you feel the urge and rest completely between contractions. You may feel a stretching or a burning but that means the baby is getting close. Coach's should keep encouraging during this stage and remind you to take two breaths in, hold your breath on the third and push to the point of comfort during each contraction. For some this takes only a few pushes, for others it may take hours but the end result is the baby!
Stage Six: Third Stage
Some people do not consider delivering the placenta a stage of labor but it definitely can be. It does not come out automatically and can sometimes take up to 30 minutes before it is ready to be labored.
So those...in a nutshell are the stages of labor...are you scared yet? Just kidding. While it sounds difficult, and honestly did REALLY scare me a lot, knowing what to expect has helped ease a lot of my fears and I hope it does the same for others. I really believe a lot of the "fear" that comes with labor, comes from not knowing what the hell is going on and what the hell is happening down south. If you know what to expect, it makes it a lot easier to prepare for.
We also discussed writing our birth plan in class two...oh and I cried during relaxation time...but this post is long enough so tune in tomorrow!