Prenatal class. Just the idea of it sent my mind reeling through a crazy collage of images — largely gleaned from B-grade films and sitcom television — involving panting women, lurid leggings and flummoxed dads-to-be trying not to faint. I had no idea what to expect, but seeing as I also have no idea what to expect of childbirth, I figured it was a good idea to go.
As we headed to our local college campus this past weekend to attend two six-hour classes, my curiosity ran high. Would we sit in a circle “hee-hee”-ing and “hoo-hoo”-ing? Would someone faint during a birthing video? Would we get to fondle knitted boobs and diaper dolls?
As it turns out: no, maybe, and kind of (we had the dolls, but sadly no knitted boobs). We only devoted an hour or so to relaxation positions, swaddling and those other things movies tell us to expect. Instead, we learned about delayed cord clamping, the stages of labour and how to cope with them, what it really means to have an epidural and Caesarian section, and when to recognize the baby blues in both moms and dads.
Read more: Should you have an epidural?>
While a lot of the information was familiar, much of the detail was new, or from a slightly different perspective. And there was another huge benefit: When I’m lying in hospital recovering from whatever method we end up using to get the twins out, it will be great to have a better understanding of what the other mums in the labour ward have gone through.
A few things dawned on me throughout the weekend. First up: Labour can take a really long time. The number of situations that could end with “and then you’ll be sent home to wait a bit longer” is pretty astounding.
Second: After learning about C-sections and epidurals, I realized I’m more daunted by the idea of having a major operation than I am of giving birth. Is that weird?
Read more: C-sections: The pros and cons>
And third: Once my uterus is vacated, the top part (a.k.a. the fundus) is going to contract down until it feels like… wait for it… “a hairy coconut”. How’s that for a bundle of joy?
In the end, the biggest benefit of prenatal class is peace of mind. No, we’re still not mentally prepared — who possibly can be? — but we have a deeper understanding of the process and what issues we might want to consider between now and D-Day.
And the biggest challenge? Forget the live-birth video, hardcore medical realities or the mystery of SIDS. Nope, the hardest part was sitting for hours on those rock-hard desk chairs that seem only to exist in education facilities, and doing it all without caffeine. Perhaps that was part of the practical lesson. What better tools than pain, tiredness and momentary tedium to prepare us for parenthood?
Read more: Safe sleep>
Originally published in March 2013.