Thursday, February 18, 2010

birth plans and videos

Last week I was looking forward to my second Bradley class. When I decided to take the course, I was excited to learn more about childbirth, but I still feared that a weekly two-hour class would just become one more thing on my to-do list. To give you an idea of how busy I am: this semester I’m working two part-time jobs, writing my senior thesis, taking three college courses, applying to a teaching assistantship in Spain, participating in Hillel activities, and serving as a representative for student government. Enough about me—the point is that I couldn’t wait to go to the Bradley class last Thursday night. Like I mentioned before, it feels really special to observe someone’s pregnancy. But on top of that, I think the class is so pleasant because the instructor, in keeping with the Bradley Method philosophy, makes it really relaxing and positive.

The topic of the class was birth plans. The instructor strongly recommends creating a birth plan—a plan that you give to everyone on your birth team. You outline all of your wishes for the birth to ensure that your team knows what you want. We looked at a bunch of different examples, which I’m sure you can also find online. Aside from the content of the plan itself, the main question to consider is: “would somebody actually read all of this?” You may want to use a bright-colored sheet of paper, limit the plan to a single sheet, use bullet points, put some of your medical information at the top so it looks like an official medical form, or separate the points into different categories. Here you can select options from a checklist to create your own birth plan.

In the beginning of the class, we watched a video of a really beautiful natural homebirth. I will find out the title so I can share it with you. [ETA: It was called Birth Day.] The video itself was beautifully done—it featured music, artsy camerawork, and good editing, unlike the ones I’ve seen online. The mother, who happened to be a midwife herself, spoke poetically about birth as a creative process. I can’t remember what exactly she said, but it made me realize that not only do we ascribe religious meanings to birth, but also we constantly use birth metaphors to talk about religion. Just as birth can be a religious experience, religion is often described as a birth experience. I realized that nothing she said was explicitly religious, but I read religion into it. Creating life—that’s a pretty literal definition of birth, but it conjures up associations with creation stories, innocence, conversion, spiritual rebirth, renewal, and oneness with the universe. In Orthodox Judaism, women are considered closer to God because we have the ability to create and sustain life.

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