Ante-natal classes. Do I have to go?

Can you imagine anything more horrifying than spending your hard earned evenings and the occasional Saturday cooped up in a room with a load of pregnant women, a lesser number of pissed off fathers-to-be and one tampon rolling Earth Mother?

Well, you will. Now, add to that the overpowering stench of ylang ylang cloying at your throat and the gentle sounds of pan pipes in your ears while Mother Nature leads all of you in a mass breathe in (and out obviously).You’ll sit there, cross legged on a cushion on the floor silently contemplating the consequences of standing up and shouting Fuck it. I don’t care if the fucking kid never comes out.

Don’t worry. What you’re feeling is perfectly normal. While it isn’t easy hang in there, you’ve accepted so much so far. The changes in Her, the constant ever-changing demands, having to appear interested whenever she pulls out the baby book. But this is a step too far. You feel ridiculous, you’re bored out of your mind and the collected noises of adenoidal breathing and pregnant farts have finally pushed you over the edge.

Bad news dude. However bored you’re feeling is irrelevant. She loves this shit. She is surrounded by other, like minded (that is to say, mental) women with a common goal and common complaints. So, suck it up and sit there trying to look interested.

To help you pass the time there are a number of games you can play. Play the What size was she before game. This is where you pick out a woman at random and try to guess what size she used to be. Ten points for boobs, twenty for arse. You get the idea.

Or why not play the Which dad is having an affair game? This is self explanatory and does make you feel better about
your fidelity. Make up back stories for all the people there. Which dad doesn’t know that he’s not the father? Which woman has been sneaking nips of breast milk when no one is looking? I imagined that the Earth Mother was actually a disgraced nurse who had to quit due to the inordinate amount of patients who died while she was on shift. I think it’s pretty obvious that I didn’t pay much attention during the ante-natal classes. I get bored easily and have a vivid
imagination. Normally I’d picture all the women in the room naked but that wasn’t an option this time obviously so I was left 60 with my serial killer/lactation fetishist fantasies. (That previous sentence sounds like something you’d hear read out by a psychologist in court doesn’t it?).

The thing is though; I should have paid more attention. At least to the breathing exercises. These really help Her during labour and as She’ll be a little distracted it’s a real help if you know what you’re doing and so can help her to focus. I just realised that I used the word help three times in the last sentence. Now. That either means that this is really important or that my subconscious is screaming and I need to get medicated.

Okay, here’s the grown up part. The ante-natal classes are a real help to Her. It’s where She can get the answers to all those questions you’re too disinterested to care about. (She’s a woman. There’s no limit to the number of questions.) She will have a genuine, bona fide expert there to offer advice and support at a time when She is really beginning to realise She’s actually going to have a baby. The impending birth is becoming more and more real to her and her anxiety levels are increasing. Being in a supportive environment is great for her if a bore fest for you. Sit back, admire the boobs and pay attention when the subject of breathing comes up.

There are a few things you, as her ever vigilant protector, need to watch out for however. Firstly, be aware that they may show a graphic video recording of someone giving birth. Ask if they will show the extended directors cut preferably with commentary. Check with Her before the class and make sure that she’s comfortable watching it. If she’s happy then buy some popcorn and sit back.

Alternatively, She may not want to see it and if so skip that class or part thereof. The Earth Mother may try to encourage her to watch it “to help prepare” Her for labour. If this happens threaten to set fire to her dream catcher and run away. Bottom line is that if She doesn’t want to watch it then there’s no one on earth who’s going to make her. If you want a great laugh force the women there to watch the birth on shuttle search rewind. The moment the baby shoots back in should be priceless.

While some classes really do have an Earth Mother type the majority are run by nurses or midwives who are founts of
information. The other thing to be aware of is that despite their qualifications some of these women will be shite. Some will want to regale the women with birth horror stories or cajole them into natural births. Your job is to keep an eye out for these, albeit rare, types and take them out if necessary.

So, to recap. Antenatal classes are great, except when they aren’t and you have three simple jobs. Firstly, find out if there’s going to be a gore filled video nasty and check if She’s okay to watch it. Secondly, make sure the facilitator isn’t some attention seeking doom merchant and if she is make sure it’s a double tap to the head and finally and most importantly; Learn all the breathing exercises and practice them so that when the time comes you won’t be standing there gasping like a fish in a rowboat. Easy.

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