“Are you going to do the paranormal massage?” Gregory asks me today.
“The paranormal massage. You know that thing the midwife was talking about.”
“She mentioned a paranormal massage?”
There is a distinct advantage to having your birth partner (I’m still not comfortable with that title, it sounds like something from a western movie mixed with labour which is just a weird combination) in the birth classes. A lot of information is handed over - most of it overwhelming – so while I’m stressing out about how much Omega 3 is in my diet, Gregory is obsessing over the paranormal massage. This way we manage to worry about everything that’s said in the two hours, not just the 50% each one of us would likely retain if we were there alone.
We’ve seen the ‘birthing chair’, which looks like a large children’s potty. It’s purple and has little metal handles on the side that you can grip tightly while in the throes of a contraction. “Upright and forward ladies, that’s how we like you to deliver these days. No more castor oil, lemon and an enema for you.”
That’s what they used to do in England apparently, where the midwife did her training, and I was immediately thankful my ancestors had stolen bread and gotten a free ride to Australia.
Haemmoroids have been touched on so to speak, breathing (between birth classes and yoga I’m going to end up a real pro at this inhalation gig) is mentioned as our biggest asset - oddly enough not that reassuring when you consider it’s something you do when you’re watching tv, and a graphic explanation of what it means to push after one mum-to-be asked for clarification. “I don’t really understand what you mean when you say push,” she said and I wondered if she knows how she got into this predicament in the first place.
What do you mean by the paranormal massage? I ask again, truly confused by what Gregory means.
“You know how she told us to get down there and stretch out your vagina to help with the labour,” he says, looking faintly uncomfortable as he suddenly realises he’s speaking quite loudly in the middle of a busy city book store.
After I finally stop laughing I struggle to come up with the correct word for that particular part of the anatomy. “My brother calls that area the notcha,” I tell Gregory, “it’s not your balls and not your bum, it’s your notcha…can’t remember what’s it’s actually called though,” I say, and I turn to my trusty friend, the internet.
The perineum. The area is called the perineum and the massage is called the perennial massage, and according to information on www.birth.com.au, for every thirteen first time mothers who tear, in spite of doing the stretching, only one manages to avoid stitches anyway. Doesn’t seem like very good odds to me.
Notcha massage, Paranormal massage, Perenial massage. Whatever you call it, it still requires me (or preferably my birth partner according to the midwife) to get down there, and slowly stretch my nether regions towards my other nether region until ‘a burning sensation is realised.’
The average labour of a first time mother is twelve hours, which seems long enough to me without starting the pain eleven weeks out from my due date.
I'm going to use some of my baby yoga techniques and imagine my notcha stretching instead. I reckon the odds are just as good.