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Birthing Class: Breathing Exercises

One of the things we did in class was a couple of breathing exercises. They had us grab a birth ball, which was basically a yoga ball/exercise ball. After going through all the balls, I picked the smallest one and it was clear that it was too big for me. They had to blow up a special small one for me because I am a tiny tiny woman. (That’s sarcasm, btw, I’m 5’4″.)

They also brought out a small bucket of iced water, which made me wonder what that was for, and I wasn’t happy to hear what we were going to do with it.

All I can say is that it was a torture technique. We were to stick our hand into the bucket while we were to do our breathing exercises. It was supposed to simulate the pain of labor. I wasn’t happy because I really preferred to be blissfully unaware of how exactly painful it was going to be. If anything, it made me more anxious about giving birth, not more relaxed.

But we went through the exercise anyway because we were good students. The room was nice and quiet and all the women were doing the breathing, whether it was the hee hee hoo method or breath in for 4 seconds, breath out for 4 seconds, we were doing it with our hand in that frigid water.

All that torture had a point though, Our husbands had been standing behind us trying to help us to breath, to concentrate on anything besides the cold water. After our turn was over, we switched places and the husbands had to put their hands into the water.

Since I had a teeny tiny ball, which I thought looked like Mars, but hubs was like it’s too small to be Mars, it’s more like a moon, we switched it out to one of the bigger balls so he could sit properly. Then it was the men’s turn.

When Hubs sat down and we got ready to do the exercise, he whispered, ” This is all your fault!” To which I laughed heartily and I realized that the room had busted out into chaos around me, though it had nothing to do with us. The men seemed to have become a rowdy bunch though the music that they’d put on for them was perhaps not the most appropriate. It was shut up smooth it from Salt n’ Peppa, and I think it might have loosened some sort of nervous tension.

After order was restored, the men did their turn and I think it gave them a decent idea of what the women would be going through during labor, hopefully, it would make them more sympathetic, but I don’t think so. I think a lot of the men in that room were big man boys who didn’t want to be there and didn’t see the point. A few people I know didn’t think it was worth going and refused to go to any birthing classes. I will tell you now that I would have never married a man like that. Not the second time around anyway.

Luckily, I have a great husband who will be a hands-on dad.

Then we went through the exercise again with the women, which I thought was not helpful again as I thought it was just a sadistic torture.

The point of the breathing exercises was really to get the women into a meditative state so that we wouldn’t be focused on the pain so much and therefore prolong the need for an epidural. I think this is a good idea especially if you don’t like the idea of being pumped full of drugs.

I plan to go as long as possible because the moment you take the epidural, you’re bed bound and you never know when that baby will arrive, which means you could be pumping narcotics into your body for several hours. I don’t take aspirin for a headache or any pains unless it’s debilitating, so I don’t like the idea of having a lot of drugs in my system.

It’s best to walk about and move around before the actual pushing happens. Laying in bed is probably the worst thing that you could do. It apparently increases the chance of needing a cesarean.

That’s what I’m hoping to do anyway. There’s no award for going so long without pain medication, and there’s no shame in taking it. I plan on getting the epidural, it’s just a matter of when.

Originally published at Samantha Ling. You can comment here or there.

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