So, you have heard the news, and all of a sudden, you’re hit with the concept of the ‘antenatal classes’. Basically, a class to prepare you to whatever is about to happen. Don’t be fooled, these will not provide you with all the answers for the 18 years to come. You’d be lucky if they bring you up to speed with the next few months!
To dodge or not to dodge?
Around a pint, lads will be lads. They’ll tell you how they never went to these things and were out drinking with the boys. Don’t be a d*ck. Go to these things!
Go for yourself but go for your partner as well!
She has a little human growing inside her, surely this is mildly scary for her! And you being by her side can only be a good thing (brownie points!). Let alone that I can guarantee you will learn a few things or two in there!
So, DON’T DODGE!
It’s in there, it’s coming out!
The midwife will be blunt with you. Composed but straight to the point:
There is not a million ways the baby can come out. It’s either going to come out from your partner’s lady-parts or through the belly. And it will be messy (blood, maybe poop, vomiting, shouting, swearing,…). But there is no need to worry, the room is packed with people who know exactly what to do.
So, other than learning as much as you can, being there and being supportive, there is not much you can do. Just let the experts do what they do best.
Babies are loud
Skip a few hours, baby is out (that was easy). Now, your job, as mentioned before, is to keep them alive.
These teeny-tiny little humans, despite their deceptive size, can be loud. Very loud! And to add to that, after a while, you will know exactly which cry is your child’s, which will trigger some chords you didn’t even know you had!
That cry will have the power to get you out of any coma and put you on high-alert mode, ready to defend your motherland from the Russian invaders.
Nappies are no laughing matter
You will be shown how to put a nappy on a baby, And it looks easy: the plastic doll is not wriggling, the nappy is clean, and you are not sleep deprived. In reality, it’s a whole different operation.
Did you know that baby-poops have different colours, depending on the age of the child? All of a sudden, peanut butter and pesto are no longer food items!
You will also, more than likely, be exposed, during your early stages of fatherhood, to the so-called ‘poo-nami’. -Good luck!
Be advised, every parent gets poo’ed or pee’d on mid-nappy change. Once, twice… even three times! (You’d think you’d learn after the first time!)
But you’ll be amazed what you can overcome, in the name of being a father.
Couples are your new friends
All of a sudden, you will start seeing a shift in your social circle. You will be forced into hanging out with people you’d never thought you’d be close to. Parents at the park, the creche, birthday parties… You will have much more in common with these people than the non-parent part of society, and that’s okay!
Just know that, in that class, nobody has a clue of what is happening, you’re not on your own! So ask questions, as many as you can, now is your chance to get an opinion! But don’t believe everything they tell you (ie: you child will not grow to be an alien if you don’t breastfeed them, and they will be okay if you don’t follow a rigorous routine -though it helps!)
Nobody has a clue!
There is no manual for being a dad (or a parent for that matter). Every child is different, every pregnancy is different and the best judge for what is best for your child is you (and your partner). Listen to what everything people have to say (read all the leaflets you’re given) but know that a lot of it is bull-poop.
At stages, the antenatal classes may seem redundant and boring. The things that will stick in your brain though will surprise you — and you get to hangout with the mother of your child, which is pretty awesome.
Half way through the class, there will be a break. Tea and cookies will come out and… well, elbows will be thrown around, chest will become inflated. Just make sure you manage to grab some for you and the missus before it is too late.
There is no space for politeness when cookies are in play!