From fear to maternity: As D-Day fast approaches I attend an ante-natal class
My husband and I attended an ante-natal class last week. It was never my intention to do one – a couple of weeks ago in this column I outlined the reasons I was against them, but, as D-Day fast approaches, I am leaning less towards the laissez-faire style of giving birth.
I am starting to panic a bit at the idea that this big event is upcoming and I have done absolutely nothing to educate myself on it.
I thought I was being all 'cool as a breeze, I don't need to be told what to do, animals can do it, bla bla bla'.. but self-doubt started to creep in a couple of weeks ago when I found myself in hospital thinking my waters had broken.
And at my last ante-natal visit, as I was telling the midwife that I had a feeling the baby would come early, and wouldn't that be just my luck not to have a couple of weeks sitting on the couch eating cream cakes and watching 'Dr Phil', she shook her head knowingly.
"Your baby will not come early," she told me. "You aren't ready psychologically. Nowhere near ready. Babies know when you are ready and you aren't ready."
She had hit a nerve. What about all the women on 'I Didn't Know I Was Pregnant', I ranted later to my husband, trying to get reassurance – thinking that he wouldn't want the hassle of getting out of work for ante-natal classes any more than I would.
They weren't ready and their babies still came. And all the women on 'I'm Pregnant and Addicted to Crystal Meth' or 'I'm Pregnant and Bipolar'...
"You need to stop watching that weird channel," he interrupted.
DMAX has the best programmes on pregnancy. 'Pregnant and Impaled' is the latest one – can you believe that they found enough women who had been impaled while pregnant to make a whole series?
The one this week featured a woman who became impaled on a microphone stand.
But back to the point.
"And I wouldn't mind doing an ante-natal class," he continued. "A couple of the lads at work said they were good. Why don't we do that one-day one?"
I know when I'm beat, and I kind of wanted to do it too, so, last Saturday, my husband and I attended an all-in-one day course run by mother and midwife Doreen Buckley.
And with all my guff, I am really glad I did. It was amazing. She was amazing.
She told us how to recognise labour. She told us when to go to hospital and when it was okay to leave. She showed us how to sit in the car on the way in to the hospital.
She jumped on the table and squatted, showing us how to make the most of each contraction; she told us stories of how the women in Ethiopia, whose babies she delivered while working for Concern, danced through each contraction in celebration.
She showed us the best positions to give birth in. She showed us how to take control of childbirth and use the hospital to help us deliver our babies, instead of allowing them to take over and deliver our babies for us.
She went through each possible scenario that could arise in labour and how to handle it.
It was the most enlightening, empowering lecture that I have attended in my life. I loved every minute of it.
There was lots of practical advice for after, too: that it is never too early to train the baby to sleep; even if you are planning to breastfeed, have some formula at the ready in case the baby vomits all your milk up after feeding; how to deal with unwanted advice from other mothers; what the best bibs to buy are and how it is better to buy baby gowns instead of babygros for the hospital, as they are easier to manoeuvre the baby in and out of.
My favourite was her advice to new fathers. "Don't come in from work and ask her why the baby is crying," she warned.
"And don't say, 'Have you fed him?'"
Apparently, there are 18 reasons that a baby cries, hunger and dirty nappy being just two.
"You come in and take the baby and put the baby in a sling, and you go back out that door again and walk around the block a few times and give her a break," she continued.
"And you have a takeaway with you when you come back in that door. And you keep that baby in the sling and you let her eat her dinner in peace."
Now that's good advice.