We did antenatal classes recently, and it’s a lot more fun than I thought it would be. And also a lot more informative. For example, I learnt that the baby goes INSIDE the uterus. And also that the baby does not, in fact, reside in the placenta at all. Who knew? We covered so much that I’ll write about it in two parts, so here’s the first one.
I’ll admit – I’m totally clueless when it comes to this stuff. Most guys are, I think. And perhaps it’s because we just don’t talk about it. At work the day after this particular class, I was filling my male colleagues in on my new-found knowledge about pregnancy anatomy, and my remarks were received with disgust by some of the men, and surprise by the women, one of whom said she’d never heard men talk about this before!
I don’t know how the other men at antenatal class felt about all this, but I was fascinated. My only concept of pregnancy was that somewhere inside my wife a small human is growing. That’s about it. I hadn’t even thought about what the umbilical cord is attached to! (Spoiler – it’s attached to the placenta, which comes out AFTER the baby is born).
Our instructor also got all the men to practice changing a nappy, and I learnt that when you’re changing a baby when they’re lying down, and you open the nappy from the front to see if they’ve done anything, you should immediately put the front of the nappy back over their bits because the cold air makes them wee. Awesome advice! So that’s how you avoid getting pissed on, apparently.
That was our first class. The second one covered labour, and it’s nothing like I thought. In my head I always imagine I’m at work when Liv goes into labour – I’m in the middle of teaching a class and my phone vibrates and I look at the text and it’s Liv saying COME HOME NOW THE BABY IS COMING and I tell my class Sorry guys, my son is on his way, gotta run! And they clap as I dash out the door and rush home and Liv is standing there with the bags ready and we rush to the hospital and the baby comes 10 minutes later.
Well, that’s pretty unlikely. Labour has stages and the average is 24 hours! Apparently in the beginning the contractions are really small and Liv will just keep on doing whatever for a while and have a bath or something until they start to get stronger and more regular. And that’s when I should come home – if indeed I AM at work – and we just potter around the house for a while (I imagine) until the midwife tells us it’s time to go. Our antenatal instructor said the stages of contractions are like waves at the beach – they start out being like Point Chevalier, tiny little irregular waves, then progress to Mission Bay, where they’re a big bigger and more regular, and finally graduate to Piha where they’re huge and violent and coming all the time. That’s a good way to visualise it, I think. Anyway, I’m happy just knowing a bit more about what we can expect, maybe.
To give us men an idea of what labour is like, we had to practice having contractions. This involved finding something in the room to lean on, and then rocking back and forth while making a mooing sound. Apparently this is what a woman in labour sounds like, according to our childbirth educator. Then we had to find a chair and kneel towards it with out heads down, again making the mooing sound. The girls all thought it was hilarious, of course, but it gave us a taste of what it might be like for them.
So, I’m really glad we took this class – this is all stuff I probably wouldn’t have bothered to find out myself and we’re with a bunch of other people in the same boat. I think it’s that there’s just so much information out there about babies and pregnancy that you don’t quite know what to believe, so you decide not to find out anything at all. That’s me, anyway. Other men have told me they found antenatal classes a bit boring and pointless, that is’ all common sense. Maybe ours was just different, but I loved learning more about what Liv is going through and what actually happens during pregnancy.