If there is one thing that I have been consistently told throughout pregnancy, it’s that I should join an NCT group and go to an antenatal class. Well, here’s the thing. I ignored you/them all and we didn’t. The more I talked to people, the more they admitted that the thing they mainly got from the class or course was a group of couples likely to give birth at the same time. We may have shot ourselves in the foot here, but neither Marto nor I are fans of enforced friendship. Naturally becoming friends with someone that has a shared interest or similar passion (blogging and WI being my two examples is one thing) but simply by virtue of having had sex last July? I also read quite a lot of criticism about the NCT not offering structured learning and a lot of the time the classes being dominated by getting to know the other couples. If it had been free, I would have gone. But £280 seemed like a lot of money to acquire a group to have coffee with.
That said, I was keen to give antenatal classes a shot. Sadly, something has been against us the whole time. In Somerset, our midwife casually mentioned the January antenatal classes the day before they were due to take place, seeming surprised that I couldn’t attend at no notice and that Marto was away working in London. They were running classes every other month, so we would have moved by the time the March classes came round. In London, my booking appointment was at the hospital on the very first day after we moved. I enquired about the antenatal classes and was cheerfully informed that the community midwife would organise these for me at the appointment that was provided for some three weeks later. At that appointment however, I found that it was too late for the March classes had already started and not only had they started but they were fully booked and I should have had the foresight to book them as soon as I realised I was pregnant. After some discussion, a place was booked for us on a 5 hour class at the hospital, yesterday.
On Wednesday evening at 6.10pm I was telephoned to say that the class was now not on Thursday but Friday. Marto thankfully was able to swap his days off and so off we trotted to the appointed place this afternoon. It could not have been more shambolic if it had tried. The presenting midwife explained that she had been roped in at the last minute. She couldn’t find any of the props that she wanted. There was no real introduction and she appeared to just want people to question her for the 5 hours as “we would get more out of it” that way.
The room was full of first time mothers and she was asking us what we knew about labour and so on. All of the information she gave was contained in any number of the pregnancy books and she added nothing further nor gave any clarity to the subject. She didn’t even know what if any the hospitals policy was for discharging babies in carseats, saying she didn’t know but then earherly agreed with one man that it was illegal to allow a baby out that wasn’t in a car basket. She fobbed off Marto’s questions about physiology of a contraction by saying it “was complicated” although she did describe it to a level of detail that if you had never heard of a contraction before, you may have learnt something, but gave no further insight.
My question was about the structure of the day. It seemed odd to expect heavily pregnant women to sit in a top floor classroom on a warm day for 5 hours. She seemed surprised by my question. I asked what topics were lined up for the afternoon. She informed us that the breast feeding lady and the physiotherapist would not be attending due to the change in date but we could attend a breast feeding class in late April. When I pointed out that this was after Pip was due, she seemed at a loss, suggesting I attended with the baby. She then handed out some breast feeding DVDs and said we would now be watching it.
At that point Marto and I decided to cut our losses. We retired to our garden, where Marto continued tidying and weeding and I slept in the sunshine. Given I had been up for a lot of the night with practise contractions and cramps, listening to the radio being played by the people upstairs from 4.45am, sleeping and relaxing seemed a good deal better use of the afternoon. Which was a shame, as I think that the classes could have been a really useful forum for learning and discussing, had just a little thought been put into the structure of the topics and each participant been informed of these beforehand and asked to consider what areas they may wish to ask questions.