If there’s one thing that your first antenatal class does for you, it’s bring home the fact that shit’s about to get real. We’re having an actual, real life, push out of your body baby. Soon.
We had this realisation on Tuesday night at our first of three classes, in our local children’s centre with about 10 other couples. They ease you in gently with a ‘round the room’ of when you’re due and which hospital you’re having the baby at, and lull you into a false sense of security by sending round the biscuits (a Club bar, classic) and juice in plastic beakers, I imagine to get you into the spirit of what the next 10 years have in store.
Before long you’re being told that if you’re Dad-to-be, don’t pass out otherwise you’ll be shipped off in an ambulance to a different hospital (we have a habit of separating our maternity units and A&Es around here) and if you really do have to faint, please try and sit down first.
If you’re Mum-to-be, keep smiling (there’s not just one set of lips which relax when you smile, apparently) and don’t dare go to the hospital unless baby’s head is hanging out. I’m exaggerating. Slightly.
The class was no doubt helpful in some subconscious way, but after an hour and a half of being talked at about the contents of hospital bags, getting to the hospital, the signs and stages of labour, I left feeling confused, clueless and in need of another Club bar.
I imagined the classes would be more structured – I took a notebook in my bag which didn’t see the light of day after I realised I’d be a lone teacher’s pet – thinking there might be handouts with key pointers to re-read later, and that the midwife taking the class would have a set list to perform.
This was the case to some extent, she obviously knows the top line info to cover each week and don’t get me wrong she’s clearly a very lovely, experienced lady who knows what she’s doing, but I lost count of the times I heard the phrase ‘now, what else do I need to tell you’, with a serious thinking face to match.
I felt like all of the info she gave us dropped out of my head the second I left the room, and I don’t feel confident that it ever really went into my husband’s. He was too bothered about the fact that my waters could break en-route therefore we’d have to go in my car and not his – a fact he stated out loud and got a very man-based laugh from the room.
My general take out from the class was that, as I’ve learnt with everything to do with pregnancy and labour so far, nothing can be planned. It’s very much a go with your gut kind of thing, following some loose guidelines on when to ring the hospital (either when the waters break or when contractions are at 5 minutes, or three minutes… erm… I’ll call when the first things happens, just in case) and that there are so many variations on how labour can progress for every woman that there’s no point in dwelling too much on the detail as it’ll all go to shit anyway!
Next week we’ll be talking ‘the labour’, so will be a good chance for the husband to practice his not-passing-out technique and for me to practice those positive mantras from my hypnobirthing book to get me through the class. Wish us luck!