Our last class

Tuesday nights are going to feel so different without grabbing our pillows, handbook, dinner to-go and heading to Bradley class together. Before we started classes, we both knew bits and pieces about labor and childbirth, but no idea of what the whole picture could look like from start to finish. To be real, I didn’t even know how the placenta really worked until right before I got pregnant… I just knew it creeped me out a little.pillow

Taking Bradley classes together was amazing, not only for all of the information we gained, but also the fact that we got to experience and practice together. I feel like it made me much more confident about the birth process, and it confirmed what I already knew: Tom is an incredible husband, and is going to be my perfect coach. You can read more about Bradley *here*, but here’s a short list of what I took away from our classes.

1) Pregnancy nutrition and exercises. Bradley was a kick in the pants for me to be extremely mindful of my protein intake and make sure that I was getting enough to support my growing baby. It also felt good to know that our Bradley instructor supported my active lifestyle teaching fitness, and helped reassure the husband that it was indeed safe. (He was a little worried after he saw me teach Zumba at the high school event)

2) Stages of labor, positions and relaxation techniques for each stage. I had no idea that there were stages of labor –I figured it was excruciating contractions and then you eventually push the baby out- and it really helped to practice relaxation techniques during each class. We did a lot of visualizations and breathing, and my favorite one so far: pretending to be a leaf floating down a river. It sounds totally crazy, but it works for me. I also liked the color visualization.

It was also extremely helpful to learn which positions help in each stage of labor and will be the most effective for encouraging the baby to come out.

3) Techniques to prevent tearing. Sometimes tearing can happen no matter what you do, but each week we had “Kegal homework” and little tips on things that can be done during labor to prevent or reduce tearing (like breathing the baby out instead of pushing the entire time, warm compresses, oil, etc).

4) Postnatal support and care. An IBCLC lactation consultant met with us last night to go over breastfeeding. I think our class we took at the hospital was a lot more informational (because it was longer), but it was a nice nutshell-version refresher of the info. It’s also comforting to know that there are many options for support if breastfeeding issues arise. We also learned about the tests that are performed on newborns, what diaper changes and feedings should look like, as well as general tips to take care of ourselves after such an intense athletic event.

5) Labor can cause you to make funny noises and take all your clothes off, and chances are that you won’t care. Our teacher mooed like a champion to show us what it might sound like, and I was pretty impressed (and too shy to moo along, haha). I’m still not sure if I’ll be down with the moo thing, but can totally see myself breathing through each contraction and swearing like a sailor in between each one.

6) Emergency childbirth. What to do if you end up having your baby on the side of the road or at home with no one there. This helped a LOT because it’s been one of my “what ifs” for quite a while.

7) Interventions. The different types of medical interventions that can occur, what to do when you’re making a decision, and the benefits and risks of many popular options. My ideal birth would be one without interventions, but I’m grateful to know what plan B could entail and am ready to roll with it. If the three of us to leave the hospital happy and healthy, that’s all that matters. It doesn’t matter so much how she gets here, I just want her to be ok.

We covered a lot of information, and I’m excited to see what my body is capable of, especially with an amazing birth team by my side. We have a backup doula now since ours lives in Phoenix (and they’re good friends), so I’m very lucky to have two powerhouse nurses with a passion for midwifery helping us out during the process, along with Tom and our midwife.

We took classes from Nancy Capo here in Tucson, and I can’t recommend her enough if you’re in Tucson expecting a little one, or know someone who is. She has been a doula for many years and has had three children (all home births) using the Bradley method. She is a wealth of knowledge and a total sweetheart.

It’s definitely up to each of us to research and find the childbirth class that suits our individual needs and desires. There are so many options out there! Lamaze and hypnobirth are two other popular options.

Did you take a birth class, or how did you prepare for childbirth? What was your favorite way to relax during the process?

Friends sans kids, were you born in a hospital or another environment? I was born in a hospital and an emergency C-section since I refused to leave my comfy waterbed.

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  1. Darien on December 14, 2011 at 5:37 pm

    this is an awesome post, thanks. it shows a lot of the things i didnt know i didnt know, and how much i get to learn when its our time for a baby!

  2. Sophie on December 14, 2011 at 5:41 pm

    how exciting! it’s crazy that all of the sudden our generation becomes a mum. You look beautiful!!
    how long do you still have to go?

    • Fitnessista on December 14, 2011 at 6:01 pm

      3 weeks! full term now though, so any day really!

  3. lauren on December 14, 2011 at 6:10 pm

    We took a birth class and are still friends with a few families from it. It was great fun. My favorite relaxation technique was just focusing on relaxing each part of the body starting at toes and working up. Then when you’re contracting you’re thinking “relax my knees” not “why does my butt hurt so bad?” And I had an emergency c-section, but it was just fine, easy recovery, we’re all healthy, etc. But I do hope for a vbac next time.

  4. Mara @ What's For Dinner? on December 14, 2011 at 6:11 pm

    I was born in a hospital after my mom was in active labor for 38 straight hours. She’d gained over 85 pounds while pregnant and when i was born, i was only 5 lbs 6 oz!!! The doctor said “maybe there’s another one!” and THAT was when my dad passed out!

  5. Sonia (the Mexigarian) on December 14, 2011 at 6:18 pm

    My sisters and I were born in hospitals. My older sis and I were natural births. Complications happened with my little sister and an emergency C-section had to be done. Apparently she strangled herself with her chord. She’s a perfectly healthy and happy 26 year old 🙂

    I will definitely keep in mind Bradley classes whenever Hubby and I get pregnant. It sounds like something that would be very beneficial.

  6. michele on December 14, 2011 at 6:26 pm

    I took Bradley as well and learned everything that you did. I even used my bradley instructor as my doula for my first birth. It was so comforting to have her there along w/ my husband who rubbed my back through every contraction for twelve straight hours ugh!!!! Without Bradley, I could not have had a natural childbirth as it taught me that what was happening was natural and every contraction (although painful) was there for a reason and I visualized that reason along w/ relaxing my breathing. I wish you the best of luck!!!

  7. Lisa on December 14, 2011 at 6:30 pm

    I was born via c-section in the hospital 10 days before my due date bc the cord was wrapped around my neck :/

  8. Stephanie on December 14, 2011 at 6:33 pm

    We start our Bradley classes in January! I have really enjoyed reading about your experience with it; it has helped me with visualizing what the class will be like. The leaf floating down the river is kind of funny to me – I remember my counselor at Girl Scout camp (years ago!!) used that technique on us to help us relax enough to go to sleep. I still use it every now and then!

  9. Tiffany on December 14, 2011 at 6:45 pm

    We took Bradley classes too and loved them so much! They really helped us to feel prepared for pretty much any scenario. My son is 4 months old now! Did she recommend having orange juice after you give birth? Our teacher did. I had some and it was amazing after all that hard work!

  10. Amy on December 14, 2011 at 6:53 pm

    I didn’t feel the need to take any classes with my oldest. I had been around pregnancy/child birth my whole life and had a good handle on what would happen. With #2 my husband didn’t have the same life experience as me so we took an 8 hour all day class, with #3 he decided he didn’t want to do the class again because he didn’t learn anything new. If Bradley classes had been available in our area we would have taken them.

  11. Cindy on December 14, 2011 at 6:54 pm

    I was born in a hospital via C-section because my mom had a C-section with my older sister. Apparently I was a very relaxed baby on a schedule from the start. Very different from my sister who was a terror in the hospital nursery and the nurses finally figured out she would stop crying if they left her in the room with my mom. My mom said that the nurses were shocked when they left her in the room and she was so quiet and told my mom, “if we would have known that all she wanted was to be with you, we would have brought her in hours ago!”

  12. Katelyn @ Chef Katelyn on December 14, 2011 at 6:55 pm

    Goodness gracious hahaha the “moo” still gets me. Tom is going to be a great labor coach. You two are a powah team!

  13. Erin @ Girl Gone Veggie on December 14, 2011 at 7:04 pm

    Thanks for sharing all this! I know you ate meat throughout this pregnancy and am wondering if you feel you would have been able to get enough protein for the baby if you were vegetarian?

  14. Georgia on December 14, 2011 at 7:09 pm

    We took classes too and LOVED them for all the same reasons. Up until that point I think it was hard for my husband to feel really involved (though he tried). The classes were awesome (not Bradley, just from our hospital). We learned soooo much. After the fact, so many of my friends who even have many babies said, “What’s transition?” I was like, oh you would KNOW transition! The classes were awesome. I also know people who quit breastfeeding b/c the baby wasn’t eating enough etc… Going to classes would have let them know that it’s normal!

    Way to go you!!!

  15. Jessica on December 14, 2011 at 7:10 pm

    I am a nurse and in nursing school we had to learn a lot about the birthing process, so that was my learning prior to birth. My favorite way to relax was to get in the whirlpool tub at the hospital, close my eyes, and just focus on relaxing every part of my body and thinking “open”. Sounds dumb, but that is what your cervix and rest of the body has to do for the baby to come out, so I just kept having that thought. And as excruciating as labor pain is, I just kept the thought in mind that every.single.contraction was helping things move along, so it was easier to deal with.

  16. Natalie @ southern fit foodie on December 14, 2011 at 7:11 pm

    I was born in a hospital within 20 minutes of my parents getting there. They said the doctor seriously walked in and caught me. 🙂

    My friend recently had emergency childbirth in her home. She is a nurse (and has one child already), and her husband was home, but still – delivering your own baby??? They said the ambulance got there a full five minutes after her delivery, but both mom and baby were doing great.

  17. Jen G. on December 14, 2011 at 7:13 pm

    My sister was born 11 minutes after my parents got to the hospital (there was road construction). Apparently, the medical team was in the elevator yelling, “Don’t push!” Fortunately, my dad’s a doctor with a lot of training in OB/GYN and my mom taught Lamaze classes, so they weren’t as worried at the prospect that my mom would give birth in the car as others might be.

  18. Julia on December 14, 2011 at 7:19 pm

    My birth story always makes people laugh. I was born in a hospital on an Army base in Texas. My mom (a firm believer in natural childbirth) had been in labor all day but waited until about 5pm to go to the hospital because she knew they would make her lay in bed. When she finally went, the doctor took a look and told her that she wasn’t having me that night. He said she should just sleep because I would come tomorrow or the next day. A few hours later, the labor pains were terrible and my mom couldn’t imagine staying in that much pain for 24+ hours, so she told the nurse she wanted something for the pain. The nurse called the doctor in to examine her, and the doctor looked under the sheet, then looked at my mom and basically yelled “she’s coming NOW!” they started running my mom down the hall to the delivery room on her gurney with a nurse yelling at her to not push. As soon as they got to the delivery room, my mom pushed once and I was totally born with one push. My mom says that the doctor told her that he had never seen a human being progress through labor that quickly ever. Apparently he just couldn’t believe it had happened that way and he told the story to other doctors. She says various doctors wandered in and out of the room all evening, wanting to see the woman who gave birth faster than anyone ever gives birth. She also says that it wasn’t her — she says I just needed to make a dramatic entrance.

  19. Heather on December 14, 2011 at 7:31 pm

    We just finished childbirth classes too. I was a little shocked that the relaxation techniques actually did work. I think my favorite that we learned was to bring your own photo from home to tape to the wall somewhere to use as a focal point. I think having that small comfort will be really nice.

  20. Krista on December 14, 2011 at 8:22 pm

    favorite way to relax? with an epidural. for real.

  21. Averie @ Love Veggies and Yoga on December 14, 2011 at 8:24 pm

    All this will pay off in spades at crunch time. You may not ‘remember everything’ and it won’t matter. Just knowing you have tried, that you have familiarized yourself with things, that you are educated and empowered going into it…is worth it’s weight in gold (and that you took a nursing class!! the birth happens once…nursing happens 12 times a day every day for the next year…:))

    I sat in a chair in the corner, no one was allowed to touch me, don’t talk to me, don’t bother me, just leave.me.alone. That was my strategy. It worked fine. I went from 5 to 10cm in 90 mins in my chair, alone. Hopped up in the bed when I told them it was time to push, and about 25mins later, she was born. A little tearing, nothing horrible; I credit my yoga practice, my breathing, my own personal zen, a little luck, fate, and the stars aligning for having a great birth.

    Here’s to you having an amazing birth and a healthy little girl 🙂

  22. Allison on December 14, 2011 at 8:29 pm

    Gina, while I’m not currently pregnant, following your progress has been so exciting and eye-opening. It’s actually made me feel more comfortable and knowledgeable and it doesn’t seem as scary as it used to, so thank you for sharing your journey! I was born in a hospital, but almost 3 weeks early. I came out on December 22nd, just in time for Christmas! My parents brought me home on Christmas Day and put me under the tree and took a picture since I was the best Christmas present they got that year, lol! I’m secretly hoping your little girl will get here in time to be your best present ever.

  23. Emily on December 14, 2011 at 9:05 pm

    Just checked out those videos of you teaching Zumba to the high schoolers-you are AMAZING lady-I don’t think labor will be a problem for you if you have been working that hard through your pregnancy!!! Wish I could take a class with you! : )

    • Fitnessista on December 14, 2011 at 10:37 pm

      thank you! i wish you could, too!

  24. Shannon on December 14, 2011 at 9:08 pm

    I was an emergency C-section too! My umbilical cord was wrapped around my neck though.

  25. Megan on December 14, 2011 at 9:31 pm

    My husband and I attended a one-day, 9-4 birthing class and despite some of the uncomfortable moments (hello, placenta delivery!), I’m really glad we went. It was nice to get a sense of what will happen that day and to truly learn about what my body will go through, especially – like you said – the stages of labor. I, too, thought that it was water breaking, crazy contractions, push and boom! baby. Soooo not the case!

  26. Laury (the fitness dish) on December 14, 2011 at 9:47 pm

    Wow! I kinda wish you were pregnant before me! I learned so much from this post! I took one all day class and i learned a little but not nearly enough. I read a lot but kind of just went with it, talked to docs and friends. I tore really bad and although my prenatal yoga teacher really focused on kegals and homework of doing them I had a hard time withthem for some reason. I had no idea about the other stuff to help prevent it but am so grateful for this post so I can try and prevent it for next time! You both are going to be such amazing parents. I really admire how you have been throughout your pregnancy! So soon, girl!!!! I’m so excited for you!

  27. Mal on December 14, 2011 at 9:58 pm

    Is it important that your husband goes to every class with you? Mine is so busy right now and will be until about a month after our baby is born, so I’m not sure if we should do the Bradley class if he can’t make it to every class with me. I really want to after reading your experience!

  28. Alicia on December 14, 2011 at 11:04 pm

    We were a Bradley couple, too, and so thankful we did it.
    I went at 39 weeks 4 days with the breaking of my waters. Bradley really helped me make decisions about what was most important to me during labor. I knew I wanted to minimize interventions, but my biggest things on the do-not-want list were the epidural and a c-section. I was able to avoid both. I did have to have piton since I didn’t go into labor on my own (such a hard thing to deal with) but my body was totally ready to have her and I went through labor so smoothly. Staying relaxed between contractions conserved my energy and kept the room calm. Remember to keep any noises you make low. High pitched noises and fear in general just reinforce themselves, building and building. I tried to stay calm and remember that I just had to get through a few seconds of the pain to get to another break. (The breaks are unbelievable by the way. During transition, I almost lost consciousness between contractions. I was so inside myself at that point. I also got lucky because while the contractions were intense during transition, they spaced out very nicely and I got great rest in between. Transition isn’t necessarily as scary as everybody tells you it’ll be!)
    I spent most of my time laboring bent over because I had a lot of pain in my back. I pushed mostly in a squat all over the place, on the bed, on the floor, and holding on to a sling with my doula.
    I was worried about tearing, too. Being athletic, I wasn’t sure how much my muscles would give. I had a 2nd degree tear which is pretty normal for first time moms, and I honestly didn’t even notice. I told my husband that I didn’t even feel the tear when she finally crowned (after 4.5 hours of pushing and the help of a vacuum, another thing I had to give in on but was worth it) and he said “oh, you tore way before that!”
    I didn’t use any pain meds and it was so SO worth it. Baby girl was alert and calm when she came out.
    So much of how you do during labor is mental. We went back to Bradley and told our birth story with a few other couples from our class. It was so funny. One woman said “I got a cervical check and I was a 5. I thought I was going to die I was so disappointed!” And right after I told our story and being checked at a 5 I was totally energized and renewed because I was so paranoid that I’d been making no progress on the pit. It is all relative and your mental state really makes a difference. Trusting in your team and having your partner helps so much.
    I tell people that I know taking classes and being so prepared for my birth didn’t give me control over what happened that day, but it did give me control over how I reacted to it and the decisions I was able to make. You’ve done the best thing for yourselves and your little girl! You can do it!!

  29. Margaret on December 15, 2011 at 12:32 am

    I was born at home. My dad is a total hippie and does not do western medicine. My mom was cool with it being all natural. My parents owned a huge Victorian so all of their family and friends came over and hungout. My mom’s midwives were awesome but at the time in MA a midwife couldn’t be a registered nurse so its a little different then it is now. My mom labored for twenty three hours on an extremely humid early summer day in a house without AC. I find that more impressive then the giving birth without drugs. She was in labor during game 2 of the lakers/celtics 1985 nba finals and my mom is a HUGE lakers fan so she insisted on watching it and freaked out the midwives and all of the dad’s friends who were doing a chant for my birth. (Did I mention he is a hippie?) I was born in the late evening and the next morning my dad took me for my first walk around the neighborhood. Supposedly I didn’t cry until the doctor came to do my first examine the next day.

    I don’t know if its because of my birth story, but I absolutly can’t imagine that if I ever do have kids I would choose to give birth in the hospital. I am much more accepting of western medicine then my dad but hospitals freak me out and I like the idea of my kids being welcomed in to the world at home.

  30. Mandy on December 15, 2011 at 12:43 am

    We skipped the classes, I read tons of books though (most of the ones that you read as well). In hindsight, I could’ve skipped every book that wasn’t “Pregnancy, Childbirth and the Newborn” since it goes over all the “this can happen’s”.. and it’s good to have a general idea of things to be aware of in case labor doesn’t go as planned. However.. it was honestly over so quickly (one day isn’t much in the grand scheme of things) and I hyped myself up way too much for it.

    I now wish I would’ve read about 5 more books about “the newborn” and how my life is gonna get turned upside down. Was completely overprepared for labor and totally not prepared for THAT.

    • Fitnessista on December 15, 2011 at 11:02 am

      i have that book, too and can already tell that it’s going to be a godsend. i also love “baby 411”
      that’s a great tip and one of the first things my friend jeni told me, too. she said “you can prepare all you want for the birth, but that’s going to go however it’s going to go. now’s the time to read about caring for the baby because once the baby is here, you won’t have time to read about it”

      • Mandy on December 15, 2011 at 5:05 pm

        So true! I’ve managed about 10 pages into “Happiest Baby on the Block” since Logan arrived, and we’re going on week 7. On the upside, baby teaches you more than books ever can, but I still wish I would’ve been a little more prepared. Anyway, good luck! It’s getting close now. 🙂

  31. Emily on December 15, 2011 at 8:15 am

    I agree with Mandy! I think it’s easy to get so wrapped up in the birth that you forget you will be coming home with a BABY. Not saying you are, Gina. Those are general “you”s. 😉

    Our daughter is 7 and our son is 4. I was determined with our daughter to not use any pain meds and to go 100% natural. Well, 14 hours in, I got an epidural. And I got one with my son, too. I beat myself up briefly for it. But you know what? We got 2 beautiful, healthy children out of the deal. And in the end, that’s all that it is important.

    It may not go totally as planned. In fact, it likely WON’T. Neither of my births did. But it doesn’t make me any less of a mommy. It doesn’t make their stories any less beautiful.

  32. RachelG on December 15, 2011 at 8:37 am

    C-section because my head was/is too big! 🙂

  33. JennP on December 15, 2011 at 11:25 am

    I think it’s great that they’ve taught you about the interventions so that you can mentally prepare yourself just in case the delivery doesn’t go exactly as planned. In my experience, the women who are dead-set on one particular kind of delivery and don’t open their minds to the possibility of intervention are the ones who have a harder time recovering (mentally and physically) when things take a different turn.

    Obviously you have a preferred method of delivery (we all do/did), but it’s so important to recognize that any birth that results in mom & baby arriving home healthy is a success!! I’m really glad that you included that in your message 🙂

  34. kristina on December 15, 2011 at 11:47 am

    I had my baby last Feb and we did NOT do any classes and I was so lost during my contractions. I had no idea how to manage the pain and it was horrible. I said “yes” to an epidural and that made the whole process so much better.
    I honestly don’t know if I regret not doing the classes…I think our local classes didn’t focus on birthing too much, instead on pregnancy, newborns, etc. I did read A TON on everything though, just not pain management as I always planned on an epidural and didn’t consider that the contractions would be bad even 10 mins apart (before they’d give me the epi)

  35. Jessie @ Graze With Me on December 15, 2011 at 11:55 am

    Childbirth is an ordeal for sure and while it’s good to be prepared, don’t forget that it’s only one day. That was my biggest mistake. I did all my research on pregnancy & labor but “forgot” to read up on newborns! Just something I wish people had told me before I gave birth. That first month kicked my ass.

  36. Sarah @ See Sarah Eat on December 15, 2011 at 12:05 pm

    I was a c-section baby too, my mom was three weeks past her due date and inductions weren’t working either, yikes!

  37. Megan on December 15, 2011 at 1:42 pm

    I loved loved our Bradley class! I had been a labor and delivery nurse before having children, so I felt it was important for my husband to learn as much as he could about it. I myself learned a TON about natural childbirth, and it was amazing to see him learn, jump in, and become passionate about it right along side of me. We had a beautiful birth 🙂

    • Megan on December 15, 2011 at 1:44 pm

      And our Bradley class had a decent section on newborn care. I felt as prepared for L&D and taking home a little one as I could have, being a first time Mom.

  38. Amanda on December 15, 2011 at 4:03 pm

    You’re going to do great! I’ve often thought that being fit – which is likely the result of being comfortable with being uncomfortable – probably goes a long way in the labor and delivery process. No kids, so what do I know, but makes sense to me!

  39. Karen on December 15, 2011 at 7:43 pm

    You will be fine. I did Lamaze class, read alto of Bradley. Had the first baby at 24 and the fourth at 40. Each labor and delivery was different, the second was a c-section due to breech presentation. I had pitocin in the fourth delivery (very late baby,the only late one). I did not require an epidural or other pain management except for the c-section. The things that helped were meditating, imagining my body opening to allow the baby out, back rubs, laboring at home as long as possible, and having my husband tell me that I could do anything for a minute. Your body is made to do this. The first three babies were 6.5-6.8 pounds, the fourth was NINE pounds. Believe me when I say that you will know what to do for your sanity, your safety and that of your baby when the time comes. You get very inner focused and it is hard to speak for yourself as labor progresses. The Pilot will need to advocate for you. He will have help you say yes or no to the interventions you want. In the end the goal is healthy Mom and healthy baby. BTW- I read and understood the whole breathe the baby down thing but when the time comes I just wanted to push!

  40. Kelly on December 16, 2011 at 1:43 am

    Hey! I’ve loved following you on this journey! I took an embryology class this semester (I’m a senior in college) and we learned all about this awesome method of holding after the baby is born. It’s called Kangaroo Care – have you heard of it? Its when the baby lays/sleeps on your bare chest for a couples hours at a time (covered with blankets up to the baby’s shoulders) and its proven to be SOOO good for the baby physiologically (sinks up with your heart rate and breathing, etc.) and psychologically (calming, bonding!). You should totally google it if you haven’t heard of it! I’m far from having kids but I can’t wait to experience all of this! Good luck!

  41. Sarah on December 16, 2011 at 11:28 am

    I think all of my hobbies are a combination of fun and neccessity – it makes it easier to do the neccessary ones when they are fun too! Mine are running, cooking and playing hostess 🙂 I don’t have any kids yet and I’m actually not pregnant, but my twin sister just found out she is and I keep telling her that she needs a Snoogle ASAP, so I’d love to win one for her! Strangely telling her ” my favorite blogger says you have to have one” isn’t enough to make her run out and get one immediately 😉

  42. Jenn on December 16, 2011 at 7:32 pm

    I think it is wonderful to take the classes and learn all the techniques, but after four children I think it is also important to realize that labor and delivery is a real process and things change quickly and easily sometimes. It is okay to change your mind in the midst of things and opt for an epidural or other intervention for pain. Guilt is optional as my mother says. There is no failure in choosing pain meds and there are no gold stars handed out for doing natural childbirth. The most important thing is the end result, which is the health, safety and well being of the mother and the child….the means to the end is not as important.

  43. Jaclyn on December 16, 2011 at 7:38 pm

    My mom had me and my two sisters via natural, and fast labors too – hoping for the same one day !!

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