If you would have asked me a few months ago (9 to be specific) what I imagined when I thought of antenatal classes, I'd of looked a little bemused and described a scene from some American rom com where an earth mother type lady takes a group of wacky women, and unsuspecting men through a series of outlandish breathing techniques designed to help ease the pain of labour.
Last night was my last antenatal class. The hubs and I have attended 6 classes in total each lasting two hours.
Was the experience as I'd previously imagined? Of course not.
Ahead of the first session, I was quite excited and the hubs, was not (to say the least). He was in fact dreading it and had to be convinced to go.
Upon arrival, we were greeted by our teacher, a room full of beanbags, seven fresh faced, pretty pregnant women and seven scared, pale looking men.
Let me start by introducing the teacher.
She is in her forties (I think but I never can tell) and has 3 children. Much to my surprise, she is completely down to earth, non preachy and has a wealth of invaluable easing knowledge that not only reassured me, but helped the hubs come to terms with the realities of the situation and feel prepared for labour as well as parenthood. To summarise. She couldn't have been less "earth mother" if she tried.
Onto the girls. I hoped that I'd make some new friends through the course as I've been told from more experienced friends that they made some incredible relationships throughout their own antenatal classes.
I've not just made friends, I feel like I've joined a support network! After one or two classes, a what's app group was formed and from that moment onwards, every ache, pain and sleepless night was shared with seven other women. I can't tell you how reassuring and calming it is to know that other people are going through the same thing as you at the same time and that someone cares! (I know this sounds stupid and of course my friends and family care about me but I just can't moan in the same way to them as I can to my antenatal girls... They don't understand in the same way)
I can only imagine that this support will grow as baby's start to arrive and our worry's, concerns and nerves ramp up a notch (joy!)
The men. Not only are they a lovely bunch but they all feel the same. Nervous, crazily excited and totally unprepared. Whilst it is the ladies who talk more and share more, it's interesting to watch the hubs (and all the other hubs) come to life as shared concerns and questions are voiced that otherwise would plaque their worried, nervous minds.
Last night, we all said our farewells. Whilst we will of course stay in touch, the course had come to an end and we are all nearing our own "D Days".
It was a very surreal, odd, nerve racking farewell which not only left me feeling excited but left me feeling so so nervous. It is all so real now, nowhere to hide!
What have I learned from the experience?
Outside of the practical advice (useful tips like, only have one visitor a day when the baby is born, only let people stay an hour maximum, stock up on tea and coffee, go to hospital as late as poss during labour to avoid brig sent home etc as well as breathing techniques and labour positions) I've learned the value of being part of a group of women all experiencing the same thing as me at the same time.
Whilst blogging and twitter is a fantastic way to talk to a huge network of people in a similar position to me, and speaking with friends who already have babies or children can be useful, nothing beats personal relationships with people who you can meet up with and talk to whenever you need to going through exactly the same thing as you.
The bottom line. If you or your partner is reluctant to join an antenatal/NCT class of any description, do it!!! You will (I hope) gain so much from it, as will your partner, I assure you.