Our hospital offers several classes in preparation of our new baby. These classes are not required, but I figured they were the best way to get us to learn. After all, I'd read the books, but I wouldn't have practiced the breathing. Jon...well, he's read one book, and excerpts I've marked for him out of others (which is more than most dads), but I still felt his education wasn't complete. Plus, I prefer asking questions and talking to a real person over reading.
Anyway, yesterday we went to our lactation class.
Yes, lactation. Hence the post title.
It had been awhile since I'd signed up for the class. I knew it started at 2pm, but didn't find out 'til we got there that it was FOUR HOURS long. Jon and I were both in need of naps, and learning about proper lactation for FOUR HOURS did not thrill either of us.
The class started with an introduction of the two instructors: Junior and Senior. Sr. is a "been there, done that, fed my kid for 21 months" kind of lady, while Jr. is a "going on my first year of breastfeeding, and I want to make it to 21 months like my mentor" person. This was Jr.'s first solo presentation, with Sr. resolving not to butt in too many times. Sooooo did not adhere to that resolution.
We filled the WHOLE FIRST HOUR by going around the table and mentioning advantages and disadvantages to breastfeeding. None of this was teaching time, just people who don't know much about it trying to come up with stuff. When we made it around the table, we started at the other end and went around again. All this is well and good, except for the extreme bias of Jr. and Sr. Both are strong breastfeeding advocates, which meant that any "supposed disadvantage" was in fact a myth, or null and void because "that woman did it wrong." Being the devil's advocate that I am, I tried my darnedest to come up with disadvantage Jr. and Sr. couldn't refute. Pain? That's a myth. Loss of privacy and potentially awkward public situations? That's the fault of the mother's personality, not of breastfeeding. Dad can't help with feedings? No self-respecting mom would want to give up any of that bonding time. They did finally admit that nursing bras were a necessary expense. By the end of the hour, we had one or two items under "disadvantage" and a column full of advantages.
I'm all for breastfeeding, and hope to do that with Caleb, but I'm very against a one-sided conversation that allows no room for the moms who tried and cried when they couldn't nurse their babies. I've watched several new moms. All of them struggled in the beginning, and some of them were never able to nurse, despite their efforts. So I wish Jr. had mentioned that, because now everyone in the class is going to get very frustrated when things don't go smoothly right off the bat.
Ranting aside, we did learn quite a bit from the class. I won't go into detail here (you can breathe a sigh of relief!), but it will be helpful. And I did get to ask lots of questions, which I like. (Jon, on the other hand, was giving me the evil eye for prolonging the class any longer than it had to go.)
The funniest part of the class was the demonstration part. Just like I had to laugh when Lamaze Lady shook her hips and mimicked pushing out a baby, it was pretty funny to watch Sr. grab her boob for emphasis. Jr. was more appropriate (relatively speaking) and used a fake boob...which was actually even funnier.
The fake boob was a skin-toned plush toy, basically. It looked like a big peach hershey kiss, about a D cup, I'd say. It had a pull-string through the back, so when Jr. pulled the string, we got to see an approximation of an inverted nipple. Just in case we wanted to know. The first time Jr. put the fake boob up to her own chest--and it didn't take much imagination at all to see this very naked boob as her own--Jon and I looked at each other and then I had to look down at my lap, because I was about to crack up. It was just way too funny.
The other demonstration aid was a life-sized baby doll. Each couple received one. There's something awkward about holding a doll in a baby class. It feels wrong to just leave the doll on the table, because after all, the point of the class is to learn how to be a good parent, and leaving babies on the table does not connote good parenting. Well, already in a somewhat non-compliant mood, I left the baby on the table, but I noticed that the grandmothers-to-be who attended never left their babies on the table. Maybe once I'm a mom with a baby of my own, I'll do the same.
We learned a few ways to hold the babies for nursing, and which ones would be most helpful right after birth, when the babies aren't strong enough to hold their heads up. We had to practice getting the baby's mouth in the right position...and then Sr. went around and checked. That was awkward, considering where the mouth has to go.... I was glad when I passed and didn't have to have Sr. reposition the baby or spend any more time on the issue with me than was necessary.
All in all, it was a worthy class. I would still recommend the class to others, because I think that person-to-person is better than any book or video. It would have been better if it had only taken two hours, and Jon has made me promise to never make him go to a class like that again. The only thing that made it worth the full four hours is that it made for a good blog post.
And really, isn't that what life is all about, anyway?