Here we go again.
My midsection is stretching to an extent I would have thought impossible had I not experienced it twice before. Insomnia is kicking in, and the indigestion is growing worse. And as the end result of all this starts coming into view, I again feel that strange mix of thrilled anticipation and terror.
I am entering the third trimester of pregnancy with my third child.
So much is familiar and yet so much is new, because every pregnancy and birth is unique, as is every child. I ask myself if I am prepared for what's in store -- labor, delivery and the dramatic highs and lows of the postpartum period -- and my answer is different depending on the day and hour.
When a ParentMap co-worker gave me a copy of "Childbirth: A Multimedia Course and Resource Kit," an interactive CD-ROM created from the combined knowledge and dedication of four Seattle mother-professionals, I was intrigued. The prospect of getting a refresher course on the childbirth experience, along with some new tips, was appealing -- particularly in the convenience of my own home.
Having now spent time with this new product, I am tremendously impressed with its depth, comprehensive scope and engaging format. It is truly a unique and valuable resource for anyone preparing for the birth of a baby -- from a new mom- or dad-to-be to the most seasoned of parents.
"Childbirth" is organized broadly into eight lessons (which comprise the bulk of the CDs content), a resource kit, and a dictionary of terms.
The lessons cover everything from the final weeks of pregnancy, to the various stages of labor, to delivery plus special situations and postpartum care for mom and newborn. In addition to clearly written text, each lesson incorporates a variety of media -- video, audio, images and graphics -- to illustrate the information and demonstrate critical skills. For instance, video clips show expecting moms how to breathe during contractions; positions to use for pushing; and how to feed, bathe and burp a newborn. The videos are superbly done, using actual medical personnel and parents with their babies, not actors.
As a mom on her third time around, I was particularly drawn to such topics as sibling reactions to the new baby and how to cope with postpartum bodily changes. And I was pleased to find instruction on some perpetually challenging areas of newborn care, like how to administer medicine to a baby.
The resource kit contains templates to help parents create birth plans, prepare for doctor visits, organize baby showers and design birth announcements. It also includes an extensive list of baby names, and -- most memorably -- video coverage of an actual birth.
Jodilyn Owen, a labor doula, parenting educator and mother of three who reviewed the "Childbirth" CD calls its content "excellent and very trustworthy." Says Owen, "A lot of what's out there on birth and postpartum subjects is not based on well-designed research, and parents often receive conflicting information from different sources. 'Childbirth' puts solid, unbiased and research-based information on a large array of topics together in one place."
In all, the CD contains more than 20 hours of instruction but is clearly organized, so users can get detail in some areas and navigate quickly through others based on what's relevant to them -- knowing that they have the option of returning to skipped sections later as the need arises.
Which is in part what makes "Childbirth" so empowering. Users with time constraints or who live far from hospitals offering birthing courses, as well as moms on bed rest, can benefit from the flexibility of the software, which can be run on a laptop.
The product is also empowering in its philosophical approach. It is refreshingly balanced and nonjudgmental on such controversial topics as breast-versus-bottle feeding and the use of pain medication during labor. It highlights alternative options, including home birth, midwives and doulas. And through its wealth of information and useful templates, it empowers women to help make the choices to direct their own birth experience.
Says Owen, the message of the CD is really "the beginning of being an active, thoughtful parent. It helps set that tone for mother- and fatherhood."
"Childbirth" is not intended to replace the birthing and newborn care classes offered by hospitals, which have their own unique benefits, but it is a wonderful second option. As Owen puts it, the CD is "an excellent supplement to the personal relationship you get from taking a childbirth class. It allows you to delve deeper into the topics you hear about in your class, taking in the information in a way that's meaningful particularly to you."
The four creators of "Childbirth" are Allison Fitzgerald, M.D., a family medicine physician with 15 years of experience delivering babies; Gali Rosen, an educational-program developer; Sandra Kaplan, a technical writer and editor; and Rebekah Ashton, a registered nurse who works as a childbirth educator.
Rosen, Fitzgerald and Kaplan created a company called Modus Five to sell the CD-ROM, which is available at Amazon.com for $49.95 -- a bargain for such a comprehensive and thoughtfully produced labor of love.
Allison Dworkin is ParentMap's special projects editor. S
Here we go again.