Pregnant: 39 weeks + 2 days
Status: Fat. Ungainly. Tired. Up-to-date with all recent TV programmes. Compulsively knitting.
How it all began
The father of my unborn was, after he had spoken to some know-it-all people, recent parents I think, adamant that I should attend an antenatal class. He insisted on how good it would be for me to meet some other women in the same situation and that I would have other yummy mummies to hang out with after my baby is born. (Which I interpreted as having some other women to talk baby stuff with and not annoy him with details about the ‘birth story’, the infant’s digestion or breast-feeding problems).
I protested and I protested more. I couldn’t imagine anything more horrible than sitting in a room with a group of other misshapen females complaining about pregnancy ailments with a tree hugging NCT midwife telling us a lot of biased rubbish about home birth, evil pain medication, homeopathy, the joy of washable nappies and similar topics (pregnancy yoga had already been more than enough for me). But of course father in spe knew better and lecture was followed by lecture.
Finally, worn down, I looked up NCT antental classes in our area. For all readers outside the UK and people who don’t have children yet – NCT stands for National Childbirth Trust and is the UK’s biggest charity for parents. Classes (5 evenings) cost a mere £350 – a lot of money just to meet some other pregnant ladies I have to say…
When I realised that you can’t even book these antenatal classes for one person and that your partner joining you is absolutely required (poor single mothers out there!), I smiled a devious smile. I decided that it would be very good for my boyfriend to meet men in a similar situation to him and that he clearly would be thrilled to hear everything there was to know about different stages of labour and all the unpleasant details that come with it. Oh sweet revenge! So there we go, NCT class booked and I just couldn’t wait to spend 5 evenings from 6 to 9:30 listening to a lot of things I never wanted to know. Faking illness, impending labour and prenatal depression didn’t help, my boyfriend just didn’t know any mercy. ‘Now we have paid’, he said, ‘now we go!’
The NCT Class
Retrospectively, I have to say that it could have been worse. Sarah, the midwife who held the classes was pleasantly down to earth and surprisingly objective, in addition to having a hilarious dry sense of humour. Believe me, humour is what you need when you stare at diagrams showing a biiiiig baby head in the process of coming out of a very small opening. Even though I am a doctor and have learned medical basics about birth and babies during my time at university, nothing could have prepared me for the grisly details of the birth process. Is ignorance bliss? I may think so…
There were only a few moments when I felt slightly irritated, one of them was the recommendation of homeopathy during pregnancy and birth. As a firm believer in evidence based medicine, I know that homeopathy has never been shown to be superior to a placebo. Apparently raspberry leaf tea helps to induce labour (Yeah right!) and acupuncture would really persuade your baby if it’s in breech position. And there was all this advice about crawling on the floor, I can’t remember what this was for, but my boyfriend still thinks that I should definitely do it for his entertainment (bastard he is!) But as I said, a very small amount of rubbish only.
There was one moment though my boyfriend almost walked out and this was when the discussion turned to what babies can hear while they are still in utero. Sarah suggested that the dads-to-be may want to read a goodnight story to the mum’s belly so that the baby gets used to the dad’s voice. While I found this to be a rather good idea as it would absolutely make my day, my boyfriend thought otherwise. Not even my suggestion that he could read the Herald Tribune or, if he really wants, porn to the little one could placate him.
Breastfeeding – as portrayed by NCT
For the session on breast-feeding, another lady came in to teach us everything about the benefits of mother’s milk and that we were basically harming our offspring should we, for whatever reason, not breast-feed. She also spammed me with emails on this topic, I felt like falling victim to a religious extremist! I disliked her so much for her militant views and I am sure that a lot of mothers-to-be that had a session with her and then would not manage to breast feed, would blame themselves terribly for failing and not doing the best for their children. She suggested by the way that we should breast feed until the child is six. Well…
Even though breast milk may be superior to formula milk, I honestly don’t think that it makes a huge amount of difference. I’ve been breastfed only for a few weeks and I have developed normally and am hardly ever ill. In fact almost no-one was breastfeeding their babes in the UK during the late 1960/ early 1970, and as far as I can tell these poor adults, so maltreated as babies, seem to be doing pretty well today…
As a conclusion, we did meet some very lovely people at the NCT class and we even had a couple of outings – imagine a table of 7 heavily pregnant ladies (drinking water) with their scared partners (drinking spirits like water) sharing their bliss, fears and sorrows interrupted by pee breaks in 10 minutes intervals. Pregnancy not a disease? You must be joking!