The second NCT class was last Friday. I started this post about it after that, but haven’t had a lot of time to get it finished (hence the much greater detail about my trip there as compared to the events of the class itself – this was not actually intended to imply anything about the relative importance of the two). Writing it, I found myself choosing between a fairly dull whistle-stop summary of what went on, and one of my looooooonnnnngggggg detailed posting marathons about all the useful tips and bits of information we were given and where they fitted into what I already knew about labour from my previous reading/direct experience. Since the latter would take up a long post in itself (at least), I opted for the dull summary, and since even getting that far has now taken me over a week and I need to leave for the next class in less than an hour I’ll wind this up now, ready or not, and post it.
Radio bulletin semi-heard by me as I was on my way to the class:
"Blah blah roads blah blah traffic blah blah so the nameofmainroad between Townyoulivein and Villageyouarecurrentlygoingto is still completely blocked following the accident earlier. Blah blah other random bits of traffic information have a nice day."
Or something like that. I might not quite have remembered it word for word. However, I heard this while I was actually still on my way out of town and hadn’t yet reached the road in question. It was the only time in my entire life I can ever remember having heard a traffic bulletin at a helpful moment. What was even better was that a few days earlier I’d discovered that a few crucial pages were missing from my existing map book of the area and reluctantly gone to buy another one, only to find that the shop didn’t sell the handy little booklet I’d previously had, containing maps of our town and a few main surrounding ones, and if I wanted a map of the area I was going to have to purchase a rather more extensive atlas. Oh, well – I was in a rush to get Jamie home for his lunch and didn’t want to take the time to go check out the other bookshop in town to see if they had the one I’d originally wanted so I bought the more extensive atlass, figuring it was bound to come in useful some time, and, oh, boy, did it. Armed with that, I successfully plotted a route involving some of those very twisty country lanes that are difficult to navigate even with a good map and near-impossible without one, and still, despite that delay, arrived first at the class. (By a whisker. The second couple were driving up just as I arrived at Philippa’s front door.)
We were a further depleted group that day – Alex had her hospital appointment that morning. Her husband James had to go back to work after that and couldn’t make it at all, but Alex joined us after her appointment to fill us in on the latest. Her Caesarean is indeed booked for the 16th, but, because she has a low-lying placenta and is thus at increased risk of cord prolapse if her waters break unexpectedly, they want her to spend the five days before that in the hospital. This means, alas, she will not make it to either of the final two classes (although, since the class on the 13th is the one that covers Caesareans, she is going to send James along to make notes). Since the next two classes practically coincide with Fiona’s due date, it’s touch and go how many we’ll still have around by the end.
Philippa kicked off this session by asking us to go round and each give our first name and say something about it – what it means, why our parents chose it, or whatever. (I got to show off a bit, as I used to find out the meanings of names as one of my hobbies and a few of them stuck in my head to this day. Of course, it helped that we have a Shaun, a Sean, and a Joanna, all of which derive from John, so knowing that this means ‘grace of God’ got me quite a long way.) Following this, we moved onto the topic of the day, which was the normal process of labour and the ways in which
we could help it along, or at least avoid hindering it.
Philippa laid out a series of pictures illustrating the uterine and cervical changes in the first stage of labour, and we talked about the physical changes and about the kinds of symptoms we might get as our bodies warmed up for labour/started in labour/got into more active labour, with me chiming in enthusiastically with examples from my own experience (occasionally in response to someone actually asking). We went through series (what is the plural, anyway?) of cards with different pre-first-stage and first stage symptoms in order to discuss the kinds of stages at which we might first put in a call to the midwives and/or head on our way to the hospital/birthing unit. (Not a decision at which I excelled last time around, but that’s all part of the story-for-another-day.)
The discussion meandered off along various detours, of which the main one I remember is a chat about where to give birth – as in, which of the local hospitals. We do not seem to be a particularly tree-huggy lot – no home births planned, and I’m the only one who currently has the birthing centre down as a first choice, although some of the others are toying with the idea. For everyone else, the main choice seems to be between the two different hospitals in the area. Which was quite surprising to me – the bit about there being a choice between two hospitals, that is, not the idea that that might be the choice that others would want to opt for. Whenever anyone has mentioned anything about hospital to me, only one has been mentioned, and I’d just assumed that that would be the one I’d go to should it become necessary. Finding out that I could go for a different one is potentially useful to know, although I do hope this particular bit of information will stay firmly at the potentially useful level and that I’ll never need it in practice.
In between all this, we had some excellent banana-and-date cake
which Fiona had baked for us this morning (good grief – I thought I was
being organised getting myself together enough to make myself some
oatmeal before I left) and spent a bit of time hanging out in the garden and chatting. And also admiring the kittens.
After our lunch break, Philippa talked us through a relaxation exercise (good timing – I doubt if I was the only one that dozed off) and then we moved on to a discussion of different positions that are useful in labour. Then we went through second stage, with a similar series of pictures, and then talked about the difference between natural and managed third stages of labour, with a slightly less illustrious hand-drawn series of pictures, and finished off by going round saying what we’d learned during the day that was likely to be useful to us.
As you may well have guessed, I seem to have emerged as the Class Know-it-all. This was fairly inevitable, given that not only am I the only one who has previous personal experience of the whole thing, but I also have at least some professional knowledge (not that GPs deal with childbirth much these days now that the midwives do all the non-complicated stuff, but a few fragments of my obstetrics classes still stick) and I read quite a lot on the topic last time around. Add to this the fact that I’m the sort of person for whom instructions to Use Your Indoor Voice were invented, and you can see that the others probably got heartily sick of hearing me going on. Still, I think I might have partly redeemed myself by killing the wasp. It had flown in when we stopped for our coffee break and was buzzing around annoying me, so the rest of the class were treated to the spectacle of me pounding it into the sofa with my maternity notes, yelling "Die, you wretched creature! Die! Dammit… it’s only stunned…" As a bonus, I apparently managed to maintain an ideal position for labour (standing and bent forward with legs apart) while doing this, as Philippa pointed out. Not that I plan on killing wasps in my next labour – it would be even worse than reading about scalp disorders.
Enough for now – I’ll go get the product of my first labour up and changed and ready before heading off to the next class.