Thursday, November 09, 2006

Day 218 - The First Cut is the Deepest

This follows on from the previous post about our first ante-natal class.

Having got the introductions out of the way, we were split into groups of men and women and handed an anatomical cross-sectional diagram of a woman each. Ours was non-pregnant, the ladies' pregnant. We then got handed a set of laminated hand-cut arrows with the names of various parts of the anatomy on them and invited to place them on the correct locations on the diagram.

'Hope they won't ask us to find the clitoris!' quipped one dad, making us all laugh. In truth, it was pretty basic. A couple of the blokes seemed not to know where the cervix was, and the bladder required a little debate to get consensus but soon enough vagina, rectum, intestines, lungs, stomach, bladder, cervix, coccyx, uterus were duly labelled. Then the midwives took them from us and talked about each part in turn. They remarked that it was the first time both sides had got it 100% correct, but I must confess that I'm a little cynical about that. I expect they say it with every group.

Having aquainted us with the basic anatomy, they next passed out a series of cards with short sentences upon them. In the centre of the room, they placed two signs - hospital and home and asked us to read out the phrase on our cards and say whether we thought it was more likely to refer to hospital births, home births or both. We moved around the circle in order and I was about halfway. I looked at my card. It read, 'An episiotomy is more likely'. As soon as I saw it, I had a flashback to a time in school biology class when I had to say the word 'elasticity' and got so tongue tied that eventually the teacher just said it as a prompt, and rather than repeat it, I just said, 'Yes!' and carried on with the rest of the passage. I have a thing called cross-lateralism, which is a little like dyslexia (it's not really, but it's too long and boring to discuss in detail) and just knew I was going to stumble over the word. I broke it down into syllables and ran the sentence over and over in my head. I was just about to say it when the midwife went into a lot of discussion about K___'s card and by the time she turned back to me, I'd engaged with what she was saying. God knows what I actually ended up saying, but it didn't have an awful lot to do with the word 'episiotomy'.

Rather gallingly, I actually knew what episiotomy was too (though I cheated a bit and asked K___ for confirmation) - it's when they have to cut between a woman's nether regions and her anus in order to accomodate the baby's head. If the woman gives birth in the right position, the chances of this being necessary can be very much reduced, and it tends to be in hospitals, where they tend to want to try and produce babies to fit in with their shift patterns (spot the fucked up policy, kids). D____ was particularly veherment in saying she hated doing it , regarding it as mutilation and one that's normally avoidable at that.

This post was brought to you by the letter 'e' and a pair of scissors.


  1. I had an episiotomy almost four months ago. Our doctor noticed mecomium during delivery, he made 'the cut' in order to speed the birth of our daughter in the hopes that she wouldn't inhale any. Fortunately, she didn't, but they had to take her immediately to be suctioned and cleaned.

    It's certainly not fun. (I'm sure this is way too much info) I ended up tearing too :| but in the end, the human body is amazing and things are usually not as bad as they sound...I was all healed up by my six week check-up.

    Good luck to you and K!

  2. well done, f and k. despite being, technically, a lady, i'm not sure i'd get 100% in an anatomy test. That said, I am a little squeamish about such things, which brought my chain of thought to the matter of birth, and people talking about being "dilated". Well, I just wanted to say that I was never very keen on the being poked and prodded about, and when I had Clara, I had D, the same midwife as you are likely to have, and I think I'm right in remembering that we didn't do any of that centimetres dilated stuff, no prodding, not even looking, as far as I can remember, which as far as I was concerned was A Good Thing. I can't remember now whether she's just not into that, or whether I asked for it, or possibly even whether my memory is a bit flawed, but I don't think it's the latter, because now I come to think of it, there wasn't any of that with Peter either. It might be down to the mum, or the midwife, or the location, but the (front) bottom line is that it is obviously not fait accomplait. You could ask D about it if you liked. It may not be at all a big deal to you, but i'm sure it made the experience better for me. And yes, F, I know... aren't I supposed to be having a blooming baby by now? Trust me, I'm trying...