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They all had matching pillowcases. In fact, some couples had obviously purchased tasteful pillowcases especially for childbirth classes; these were the North Shore couples, wearing golf and tennis apparel, who were planning to have wealthy babies. They sat together through all the classes and eventually agreed to get together for brunch. The classes consisted of sitting in a brightly lighted room and openly discussing, among other things, the uterus. How I can remember a time, in high school, when I would have killed for reliable information on the uterus.

Within six weeks, it has developed all the organs it needs to drool; by 10 weeks, it has the ability to cry in restaurants. In childbirth class they showed us actual pictures of a fetus developing inside a uterus. They didn't tell us how these pictures were taken, but I suspect it involved a great deal of drinking. We saw lots of pictures. One evening, we saw a movie of a woman we didn't even know having a baby. I am serious. Some woman actually let some movie-makers film the whole thing. In color.

The middle slides showed how they got the baby out of the cheerful woman, but I can't give you a lot of detail here because I had to go out for 15 to 20 drinks of water. I do remember that at one point our instructor cheerfully observed that there was "suprisingly little blood, really". She evidently felt this was a real selling point. When we weren't looking at pictures or discussing the uterus, we practiced breathing. This is where the pillows came in. What happens is that when the baby gets ready to leave the uterus, the woman goes through a series of what the medical community laughingly refers to as "contractions"; if it referred to them as "horrible pains that make you wonder why the hell you ever decided to get pregnant", people might stop having babies and the medical community would have to go into the major-appliance business.

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Natural Childbirth by Dave Barry


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