Baby Hints & Tips

Antenatal class 101

Antenatal class 101Need the low-down on what to expect in an antenatal class? Lou opens the door to catchy sayings, magical boobs and a very handsome fake baby.

I had my son in 2014 at a hospital that had a specialised maternity and child wing. It was as if I had decided to go to McDonald’s, but then walked straight through to the super fancy McCafe. You effectively get the same thing but it’s more expensive; there are fake plants and you get to pretend you are dining out rather than cramming a cheeseburger into your face next to a drive-thru window.

Part of the services that I was offered because of registering to give birth in this particular place was a series of antenatal classes. My stress levels prior to having a child weren’t what I would describe as intense but I was definitely sure that there was someone more capable of giving me straight answers than a cheeky Google search. My husband and I thought it would be a nice opportunity to feel a little bit more prepared and, given that we didn’t yet have any kids running around, we had shitloads of free time. It was a Saturday morning – what else were we going to do? Go to a café, stroll through some shops, go see a movie? Free as birds!

I excitedly signed up for the antenatal classes and then less excitedly filled out a bunch of forms. We were enrolled in three different classes – birthing, breast feeding and then a very general ‘child’. Child? We were intrigued! We counted down the days on our expensive calendar and moved our fiddly knick -knacks around and put porcelain cups on the coffee table and watched adult programming on the television and waited until classes rolled around.

We settled in for our first antenatal class about birthing. The helpful midwife delivered unto us a mantra that I still use in my daily life post-childbirth. “Open mind, open cervix.” Try it yourself. When you’re waiting in a long, dumb line at the bank. When you’re stuck in traffic. When someone makes you go to a meeting that really could have been an email. Open mind, open cervix. Namaste, bitches.

We quickly became irritated, as is our style, when the classes kept slowing down because of other people in them. Why two people who hate everyone thought it might be a good idea to pay to spend time in the company of strangers is beyond me at this point, but strangers they were. And the strangest of strangers.

Our favourite was a very earnest couple who adopted the ‘mature aged student’ approach of asking a question every five minutes and then talking over the trained professional because the guy’s mother was once a midwife twenty years ago. Yes, sorry lady, some woman who is not even here trumps you by very nature of having spawned this display of masculinity coated in a Kathmandu vest and open toed sandals. I think I heard about this guy’s mum so much that I became delirious and started to think that he was my mum. I blame him for the way I sucked up all those complimentary duo-packs of Arnott’s biscuits like a blue whale eating krill – I was clearly out of my mind.

When the question of, “What are you most concerned about in terms of the birth?” people who had questions about things going wrong or surgical anxieties were shouted over by this absolute pearler – “If I’m listening to music during the birth, who will press play on the CD player?”

Give me strength, lady. The baby. The baby is going to stick his arm out of your vag and press play on your fucking Enya CD. Holy snapping dog shit.  The nurse answered, “Probably whoever is in the room at the time” and the woman WROTE IT DOWN. SHE WROTE IT DOWN. I turned to giggle about this with my husband only to find him on the floor doing an actual ROFL.

Someone brought up the issue of vaginal and anal tearing (always my favourite topic at dinner parties) and the guy, in an intensely concerned way that spoke of his very soul, wanted to know exactly what HE could do to ensure that that area of his wife remained as intact as possible. I became a little jealous at this point, as my own husband has never tried to publicly defend and protect my perineum, but when the nurse suggested as much gentle exercise in the lead up he asked how far per day she should be walking to keep her shit tight. The nurse, looking for an exit, suggested incidental exercise and relaxation. When she was pushed, like a baby’s head trying to force its way accidentally out a butthole, she gave the figure of 800 metres. And you had BETTER BELIEVE that the wife wrote it down.

I wonder if they still have that book and look through it fondly? “Remember, honey? 800 metres. I always look out for you.” “Yes, Robert, I’m so thankful. Because of your bravery my fanny farts don’t sound like someone jumping on a sauce bottle. You are the best husband in Kathmandu clothes I could ever have.”

Our favourite was a very earnest couple who adopted the ‘mature aged student’ approach of asking a question every five minutes and then talking over the trained professional because the guy’s mother was once a midwife twenty years ago. Yes, sorry lady, some woman who is not even here trumps you by very nature of having spawned this display of masculinity coated in a Kathmandu vest and open toed sandals. I think I heard about this guy’s mum so much that I became delirious and started to think that he was my mum. I blame him for the way I sucked up all those complimentary duo-packs of Arnott’s biscuits like a blue whale eating krill – I was clearly out of my mind.

 

Someone brought up the issue of vaginal and anal tearing (always my favourite topic at dinner parties) and Kathmandu guy, in an intensely concerned way that spoke of his very soul, wanted to know exactly what HE could do to ensure that that area of his wife remained as intact as possible. I became a little jealous at this point, as my own husband has never tried to publicly defend and protect my perineum, but when the nurse suggested as much gentle exercise in the lead up he asked how far per day she should be walking to keep her shit tight. The nurse, looking for an exit, suggested incidental exercise and relaxation. When she was pushed, like a baby’s head trying to force its way accidentally out a butthole, she gave the figure of 800 metres. And you had BETTER BELIEVE that the wife wrote it down.

I wonder if they still have that book and look through it fondly? “Remember, honey? 800 metres. I always look out for you.” “Yes, Robert, I’m so thankful. Because of your bravery my fanny farts don’t sound like someone jumping on a sauce bottle. You are the best husband in Kathmandu clothes I could ever have.”

When the question of, “What are you most concerned about in terms of the birth?” people who had questions about things going wrong or surgical anxieties were shouted over by this absolute pearler – “If I’m listening to music during the birth, who will press play on the CD player?” Give me strength, lady. The baby. The baby is going to stick his arm out of your vag and press play on your fucking Enya CD. Holy snapping dog shit.  The nurse answered, “Probably whoever is in the room at the time”. I turned to giggle about this with my husband only to find him on the floor doing an actual ROFL.

That antenatal class is burned into my brain but unfortunately I couldn’t use it because I had an emergency C-section. Kathmandu guy would have been proud though, I have a completely pristine butthole.

The breastfeeding class didn’t have our new best friends in it but it did have another midwife. An older lady with, what could only be described as “an ample bosom”, helpfully demonstrated all kinds of different moves and methods to a room full of women who had barely even held a baby before, let alone let it feed off them.

Her method of demonstration was to use a doll and her own boob. A flexible, magical boob that seemed to be everywhere at once. It was up, it was down. It was doing a football hold. It was relieving mastitis with an upside-down feed. That boob swung like a pendulum and hypnotised all of us into thinking that breastfeeding was incredibly easy and that everyone could do it and no one ever had any problems. Damn you, magic boob! You lulled me into false hope!

Our final antenatal class was probably the best one, the mysteriously named “Child” class. It was basically a little first-aid crash course accompanied by nappy-changing, swaddling and burping information. This class was a total waste of time for us because we got distracted by our dashingly handsome and masculine fake baby.

So, look. Is there a point to this? Beyond the fact that I’m too immature to be in a classroom? Possibly. I didn’t get a huge amount of benefit from attending these classes but I can certainly see how they would be helpful to many people. If you’re about to become a parent for the first time it’s certainly something that I think you should look into, if only to expand your circle of information and give you a little bit more confidence.

I only wish I knew who did end up turning on that CD player. One of life’s great unsolved mysteries.

Louise Lavery

About the Author:

Louise Lavery is a writer, a renegade, a mother and a ridiculous human. She's an online editor, print editor, writer for small business, young adult novelist, social media manager, academic and completely terrified of balloons. It just always feels like they're about to pop and give you a little fright, you know? You can find her all over the internet just doing her thing, or at her website here and at Families Magazine.

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