Last July we attended our one-day antenatal class. I remember feeling nervous and excited as we joined the other couples in the room, wondering what exactly we’d let ourselves in for.
It was, unsurprisingly, scary. There were instruments the like of which I devoutly hoped I would never have to see again, let alone have used on me. There were videos that made me profoundly grateful I wouldn’t be able to see the business end when the time came. There were some very disturbing clips of unnaturally euphoric and loved-up American couples going through labour. There was endless propaganda about natural birth and breastfeeding. There were also a ridiculous number of ‘labour updates’ relating to a friend of the midwife who had apparently gone into labour over night and was texting her incessantly throughout the session. ‘Oooh, she’s mucking out the stables to encourage latent labour to end and regular labour to commence’ is not what you want to hear when you’re 37 weeks pregnant and can’t imagine pushing so much as a shopping trolley around the supermarket you’re so fat and exhausted.
On the positive side, we met the lovely midwife support worker ‘J’ who came to visit us at home a few times once Reindeer was born to give me a hand with breastfeeding when I had a bit of a wobble.
Looking back at that session now, I realise that what it mainly did was fill me with even more dread than I already had. By 34 weeks I was already getting sweaty palms and an increased heart-rate every time we drove past the hospital. After the class I just wanted someone to give me a caesarian. Be careful what you wish for as this is what eventually happened. The caesarian itself was great but I could have done without the 5-days leading up to it.
Thinking about the last few months, my itinerary for an antenatal class probably wouldn’t contain as much graphic information. I think there would be two main parts:
- I would focus on what each procedure is for and reiterate that you can say ‘No’ at any point and the midwives and doctors have to listen to that
- I’d give each person an uncooperative 24lb octopus, a 1 foot x 2 feet plinth, changing materials and a bowl of poo. They’d then have to put a nappy on and dress the octopus without covering anyone in poo or giving themselves a permanent injury
This is because I’ve only given birth once, but every day I have to undertake multiple nappy changes. Training for the latter would be more useful in the long-term than terrifying people about birth in the short-term.