When pregnant with my first child the OH and I were offered the chance to attend ante natal classes. It being my first baby I wanted to be there, I didn’t really know what to expect I just knew I wanted to go, the OH on the other hand did not. ‘I’ve done it before, I know what I am doing’ etc etc, to which he was met with a hormonal pregnant girlfriend spouting ‘well I haven’t and you did it the first time round so it’s only fair you do it with me’ , out came a massive sigh and we said goodbye to our Wednesday evenings to sit in a boiling class room with no air conditioning for 2 hours. Just what you want at the height of a very hot summer whilst carrying your own personal radiator round in your tummy. My keenness to attend was starting to waiver.
Now in all honesty it was a bit of weird experience. I should probably start by saying we didn’t go to NCT classes, rather the freebie you get on the NHS. Apparently, so I was told after, your household income had to be in a certain bracket to attend, yet nobody asked us to produce our bank statement on arrival so in we went none the wiser. We walked into a classroom with chairs in a semi circle facing a white board. Collectively we looked a little like the odds and sods table at a wedding, you know the one – the one where all the left over couples that don’t fit neatly into other tables end up. There were the ‘book readers’ the ones that always knew the answer and had always ‘read somewhere’ – the ones that always do well in exams. There were the laid back ones who took the whole pregnancy, new baby thing in their stride (bastards) and then there were the silent quiet ones (myself included) who sat there seemingly a little uneasy about the whole thing and with good reason it transpired. Here’s a few reasons why I was mostly stunned into silence:
1 – At the first session, in fact, the first ‘get to know you question’ was – was your baby planned or an accident? WHAT? Now I don’t know about you but it’s a rare day I meet a pregnant lady and say ‘ah congratulations, forget to take your pill did you?’ But there we were to a room full of strangers greeting each other like we were at some sort of AA meeting for irresponsible parents ‘hi I am Sarah I am 28 weeks pregnant and rather irresponsible it would seem, feel free to judge’
2 – Also at the first session there was a full blown pregnancy suit that could be tried on. Why? There was a room of 12 actual pregnant ladies carrying actual babies and an extra stone in weight – we knew how it felt. Trust me.
3 – The classic what to pack in your hospital bag, yeah yeah we all know, even I’d read something on this. Or so I thought. The midwife running the show pulled out the essentials from the hospital bag one by one and we were all mentally ticking them off (expect me as hadn’t packed mine, and still hadn’t when my baby came) anyway out comes a maternity pad, ah yes yes I know about these, athough I was just going to throw in a couple of Always nighttime pads, same thing right? ‘You’ll need a couple of packets of these‘ the midwife said holding a pad, ‘UMMMM I’m sorry what, packets? ‘ the knowing faces in the room all straightened out collectively as our jaws hit the floor packetS? Did she say packetS? With an S? Turns out she was right and to those of you contemplating your hospital bag, disposal pants – might want to consider chucking a couple packets (with an S) of those in too. You’re welcome.
4 – The feel the toy baby guess how heavy you think it is exercise. The doll was passed round the room and we’re all guessing ‘oh 8/9lbs easy’. Wrong. The doll weighed in at a massive 3lbs. WTF? Next.
5 – The labour workshop. One for the dads. There are three stages to labour, apparently, and the midwife spent a good 45 minutes discussing contractions, with a diagram detailing how horrendous they will be. I kid you not it went a little something like this ‘your contractions are now at the most painful you hate everyone and everything you’re about to start pushing the baby out, your exhausted and someone’s about to set fire to hoo haa aaaaaand you’ve come to the end of stage 1’. Stage pissing one?! how is pushing the baby out stage 1? What else is there left to do? Well a lot actually – it sure ain’t over when it’s over and God forbid you should need stitches they didn’t cover this one in ante natal and there’s good reason for it.
6 – The bath the baby exercise. I shit you not we spent a good 45 minutes on how to bath a baby. I came away from this petrified to wash my baby in case I burnt her, drowned her, took away her natural oils that apparently present on her skin. Evidently you bath a baby exactly how you think you would bath a baby – so don’t stress about it.
So ante natal classes were actually a little daunting but after having my little bundle of joy and finally making it to mother an baby group, this took a good four months, I walked in and saw the familiar faces of the expectant mums from ante natal, oh thank god people I know. We shared birth and breastfeeding stories and cooed over each other’s children. All our babies were born within a few months of each other and we recently celebrated our little ones turning one and all went to each other’s little ones 1st birthdays and I have since made some lovely friends. So was ante natal worth it – yes definitely but not for the reasons I thought it would be.