So it’s nearly the end of the pregnancy now and it’s almost time to meet your baby. Before you can do this however, there is the small matter of attending antenatal classes. For anyone unaware of what these classes involve, they are basically classes teaching you how to be a parent. You’ll learn how to support your partner through labour, what to take to the hospital when the big day arrives and most importantly…what to do when the baby arrives!
The first concept to get your head around is the fact that you will be experiencing these classes alongside another 10-15 pregnant couples, all as anxious and clueless as you are. It’s quite a fun game to play trying to work out which pregnant woman has the largest bump, or which couple look the most terrified. A personal favourite of ours was to try and determine which couple was the youngest. It didn’t take long to realise that actually I was the youngest person in the entire room! Probably the most terrified looking as well.
Week One: Labour
So we arrived for our first antenatal class. We arrived nice and early, as Amy didn’t want to be late, but for my sake so we didn’t end up stuck at the front being picked on to answer questions. The first sight we were greeted with was this…
Now I know that we are going to be learning about babies but I didn’t expect the class to be taught by a baby! They must start them young in this hospital, first hand experience and all that. Clearly the class would be taught by an experienced member of the midwifery team, and the woman for the job was your typical expectation of a midwife. Querky, loud and full of positive energy. Admittedly she was rather irritating when she first walked in, asking random questions to the whole room which was returned with complete silence. But as the session went on, she became more bareable and rather amusing.
One of the first activities she made us do was to split into guys and girls. It was like my high school discos all over again where all the lads would stand on one side of the room and the girls would stand on the other. The task was to find out what the ladies were concerned about regarding the labour and then to see what the guys were concerned about. Being at the end of the line I felt the pressure to think of something unique and thoughtful. All the obvious answers would be taken by my turn so I didn’t want to just say a boring response of “what they all said”. The general answers that were coming from the other guys were…”I want my wife to be okay”…”I hope the baby is alright”…”I don’t want to be useless during the labour”. And then it came to my turn. All eyes turned in my direction and I felt the colour of my face turn to a deep shade of red. I had to say something different, so decided to go with…”I’m worried about all the verbal abuse I’m going to get when I’m being irritating!” Such a loser. Apparently I got a few laughs when I said it, but there’s a chance they were laughing out of pity at my ridiculous answer! On the other hand though, I’ve always wanted to be the class clown, it was always a dream of mine from a very young age. Living the dream!
Week Two: Feeding and Bathing The Baby
So I had survived the first parenting class, just about! It was time for number two. This week we would be learning about how to feed our baby and how to bath them. We turned up at the class and took our seats. I glanced to the left of me to the next chair along and was greeted with this…
Now I know that people are having babies from an earlier age these days but this guy next to me was taking the piss! Didn’t look any older than 2 months old. It was pretty clear that we would be having a go with the model babies this week, which sounded great to me. First thing I did (after taking this picture obviously) was pick him up and plant him on my knee. Obviously after a few minutes I was throwing him up and down and dangling him by his legs. I wouldn’t be doing this with a real baby just to reassure you but it’s very difficult to stop yourself from launching a plastic one into the air like a rugby ball!
In the middle of the room was a table and some towels folded on top of it.
Now I assumed that these would be used to teach us how to bath our babies. This was slightly less clear when the midwife who was teaching the class came out with her opening sentence…
“Okay today guys we will be delivering the baby’.
Oh shit, already?! I’m sure we have like 6 weeks still to go and I still haven’t mastered how to open up the pram without breaking it! The towels must be to clean up all the blood and shit that comes out along with the baby.
Thankfully we did not deliver our babies in this session. Instead we spent nearly two hours talking about the pros and cons of breastfeeding. A delightful topic for any guy. A conversation with other pregnant couples about breasts, nipples and milk leakage…nice!
We did eventually get on to learning how to bath the baby. Apparently dunking them under the water isn’t the correct way to bath a newborn child. That was news to me. If you think about it, babies have been in fluids inside the womb for 9 months, you’d think when they come out they’d at least be able to do a couple of lengths of the bath tub. Apparently not.
Week Three: The Grand Tour
We had made it to the final class. So far, we had learnt how to bath, feed and breastfeed the baby, but now it was time for the best part. The grand tour around the maternity suite. This is where you get to see where the greatest experience of your life will be taking place. The room where as a new father you will see all sorts of things usually only seen on TV or in nightmares. Your missus will turn into a demon in this room so make sure you are aware of your nearest exit and any places that you can hide when she is throwing sharp objects in your direction.
Before you go into a maternity suite, you expect the corridors to be full of pregnant women screaming and shuffling around like something out a mental institute. Surprisingly this wasn’t the case, and the place was shockingly calm and quiet . Surely it’s not always like this. Where’s the chaos that you see on the TV shows? Felt like I’d been given false advertising. We walked into the delivery room, where potentially we would be having our baby, and it wasn’t at all how I expected it to look. The room was smaller than I pictured in my head but it had a cosy and homely feel to it. It was pretty bare with just a bed, a bathroom and a comfy chair for the father to sit on. Behind the bed was the gas and air and all the other drugs women take when they are pushing out a human from their front bottoms. Amy has already made it quite clear that as soon as she arrives she is demanding all the drugs. She makes out that she is going to be in some sort of pain, we are only going to give birth to a baby it’ll be a five minute job. In and Out. The same action that got us into this situation in the first place!
I also noticed that there was a TV in the room too…jackpot! That’ll keep me entertained whilst we are waiting for our son to check out of his small, dark, urine filled accommodation and make his way to his next adventure. Obviously I’d have to watch the TV on the sly when Amy wasn’t looking, I can imagine the shit I would be in for not giving her my full attention.
“THE BABY IS COMING!”
“Cross your legs for 5 minutes love, the footie’s nearly finished”.
The next part of the tour took us into the rooms where women could give birth under water like some sort of submarine. This room was a little less welcoming. The lights were dimmed, there was a large bed on one side and a large bathtub on the other. My first impression may have been slightly better if there hadn’t been a midwife already in the room scrubbing blood off the floor. Considering there was also 10 other guys on the tour with us, it was inevitable that the question on all of our minds popped out…”Can the guys get in the water too?” Glad somebody else asked this, I’d already embarrassed myself enough during these three sessions. Unfortunately men were not permitted to get in the water, which may have been a blessing considering what may be floating around after the baby comes out. Don’t really fancy swimming around with half of Amy’s insides or one of her poos that may slip out.
At the end of the tour we were able to walk down the postnatal corridor with all the newborns in, as the midwife wanted to show us ‘one that they had made earlier’. This was by far the best part of the tour. Everybody wants to see a newborn baby so you can work out what you will be dealing with when yours comes along. They are so tiny! Such little hands and little feet. The baby they brought out was clearly a boy as he was dressed in blue. This wasn’t enough for the midwife, as she then shouted “BRING ME A PINK ONE!” At which point another midwife seemed to go into a room full of new mothers and it can only be presumed that she said to one of them…”Yeah can I just borrow your newly born baby a second to show to this huge crowd of people?” She then walked back with a little baby girl dressed in pink. Poor child must have thought she was meeting her entire family and friends all at once.
So that’s it! Antenatal classes completed. We had all the information we needed and it’s now time to hold our breaths and wait for the shit to hit the fan. The calm before the storm. Nothing will ever properly prepare you for being a first time father, but having some more knowledge definitely put my mind more at ease. I don’t feel quite as useless as I did before the classes so that’s something. I’ve learnt how and when to feed my baby so that he grows up to be big and strong. I’ve learnt how to look after Amy during the labour. However, I think the most useful skill I’ve learnt in the past three weeks is how to express breast milk out of Amy’s boobs.
Please share any of your antenatal class stories in the comments section below, I’d love to hear if they were similar to mine.
5 Weeks To Go!!!!